Pi Sigma Alpha

Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, is the only honor society for college and university students of government in the United States. Presently, there are 658 Pi Sigma Alpha chapters on campuses across the country, to include the Nu Delta Chapter of the University of Alabama in Huntsville which was established in 1982.

The Organization was created at the University of Texas in 1920 for the purpose of bringing students and faculty together to generate a better understanding of politics and government. Success at the University of Texas prompted other universities to follow the same course by applying for chapters of their own. With the number of chapters mounting, the first national convention was held in 1922 to ascertain a clear course for the honor society. From this national convention, a gradual swell of chapters accumulated throughout the United States. Now there is at least one college or university in every state with a Pi Sigma Alpha chapter. Pi Sigma Alpha is the third largest honor society in the American universities.

As an honor society, there are membership requirements. They are as follows:

Undergraduate Students

  1. Must be at least a junior who is currently enrolled and has completed sixty (60) semester credit hours with at least ten (10) semester credits in Political Science;
  2. Of the ten completed semester credits, at least one upper-division course must be included and the average for all Political Science courses must be a 3.2 or higher and for all coursework the average must be a 3.0 or higher. (There is no requirement to be a Political Science major for membership)

Graduate Students

  1. Must have completed eighteen (18) semester credit hours in graduate coursework, with at least fifteen (15) hours in Political Science with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher in all graduate coursework.
  2. Must be pursuing a degree in Political Science to qualify for membership Membership in one chapter is transferable to membership in another chapter when the member (student or faculty) moves to another institution where there is a chapter.

The National Office of Pi Sigma Alpha is located at:

National Office of Pi Sigma Alpha
1527 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036.
Tel. (202) 483-2512
Fax. (202) 483-2657

Pi Sigma Alpha seeks to promote excellence in the study of political science through a variety of programs, some of direct benefit to student members and local chapters and others benefiting more generally the profession of political science. These programs provide awards, scholarships, and lecture-funding, and other benefits for members, chapters, political scientists and political science programs.

Pi Sigma Alpha Opportunities

Howard Penniman Scholarship

(Each scholarship is $2,000.00)
The Howard Penniman Scholarship is awarded annually to up to five (5) members entering graduate studies in Political Science.Requirements:

  1. Nomination drafted in letter format from the chapter advisor;
  2. Completed application packet with supporting documentation;
  3. A statement by the candidate expressing his or her involvement in the local chapter and volunteer activities with the department and university.
  4. A statement describing the relation of Political Science to his or her career goals;
  5. Letters of recommendation from two (2) faculty members;
  6. Official school transcript;
  7. Passport-style, black and white photograph of the applicant, not larger than 2"x 3". Note: Pi Sigma Alpha no longer offers scholarships for graduate students entering his or her second year of study.

Deadlines: Nominations are due by May 1, and the winners are announced by June 15.

Best Papers and Honors Theses

(Each first-place winner receives $250.00 and runners-up receive $100.00 each)
Annually, Pi Sigma Alpha bestows $250.00 on each first-place winner for the Best Undergraduate Class Papers and Best Undergraduate Honors Theses. Each chapter may nominate one per year in each category. Runners-up each receive $100.00.


  1. Paper must be submitted in triplicate;
  2. Cover page must be department letterhead with the nomination signed by the Chapter Advisor;
  3. The letter must include the author's home (summer) address and an affirmation by the Chapter Advisor that the paper was written for a political science class or honors thesis.(Note: Chapter Advisors should not include their personal evaluations of the papers or the authors.

Deadlines: Nominations are due June 15 and the winners are announced July 15.

Washington Internship Scholarships

(Each scholarship is $2,000.0 and The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars provides $2,500 toward housing costs)
Pi Sigma Alpha bestows four awardees with Washington Internship Scholarships annually. These internships must be in political science, be located in Washington, D.C., take place over the summer or fall term, and academic credit must be awarded for the internship. (At lease one scholarship is reserved for a member participating in a program of The Washington Center of Internships and Academic Seminars).


  1. An application package;
  2. A statement of how the Washington, D.C. internship relates to the applicants course of study or career plans;
  3. A statement by the candidate describing his or her involvement in Pi Sigma Alpha chapter and voluntary activities in the department and the university;
  4. A letter of recommendation from the Chapter Advisor
  5. A letter of recommendation from one (1) political science faculty member ;
  6. An official transcript

Deadlines: Nominations are due April 15 and winners are announced June 1.

Contact Information
Dr. Anne Marie Choup
Associate Professor
Office: Morton Hall 250C
Phone: (256) 824-2312