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Phi Alpha Honor Society


The purpose of Phi Alpha Honor Society is to provide a closer bond among students of social work and promote humanitarian goals and ideas. Phi Alpha fosters high standards of education for social workers and invites into membership those who have attained excellence in scholarship and achievement in social work.

Students may apply for Phi Alpha Honor Society during the fall semester of their junior year. Membership requirements include advanced standing status, overall 3.0 GPA and 3.25 Social Work GPA.  Members commit to 40 hours of community service by the end of their senior year.  Members pay a lifetime fee of $25 to the national office and $5 annually for annual society participation. This $30 sum can be payed to Becky Montoya in Old Main 239B.    

Students will receive a variety of benefits by joining the honor society, including: lifetime membership in an internationally recognized honor society, recognition or academic excellence, national presentation opportunities, as well as a membership certificate and lapel pin. Membership also confirms for future employers, social workers, and college admissions officers that students in Phi Alpha have already met high standars.


The concept of a national social work honor society came from a group of undergraduate social work students at Michigan State University in 1960. Investigation revealed that local chapters existed at three schools. Those three schools along with a few other schools formed a National Honor Society Committee in November of 1960. For more than a year, this committee worked on the constitution and other administrative matters.

The name Phi Alpha was adopter from the local chapter existing at Florida State University. The constitution and formal organization were completed in 1962, and six chapters qualified to become "charter chapters." The charter chapters were Florida State University, Michigan State University, Ohio North University, Central State College, University of Dayton, and the University of Tennessee. Over 450 chapters are now in existence, and the addition of new chapters is continuing.

Phi Alpha offers membership to social work students, faculty and practitioners. Each chapter is free to develop a program to meet local needs. The National Council of Phi Alpha, the organization's policy making body, meets once a year at the Council of Social Work Education's (CSWE's) annual program meeting conference. Each chapter has one voting representative on The National Council.


Award and Scholarship Opportunities

Chapter Service Award - Recognizes outstanding service conducted by chapters. Four $500 awards are presented per year. Phi Alpha reimburses up to $1,000 per chapter in travel expenses to participate in the poster presentation session at the Phi Alpha International Business Meeting at the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting held each Fall. 

Patty Gibbs-Wahlberg Scholarship - recognizes student scholarship, service and leadership. Awards of $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 are presented each year. The first place winner receives an all-expenses-paid trip to present her or his work during the Student Session of the Association of Baccalaureate Program Directors conference held each spring. 

Student Leadership Award - recognizes outstanding student leadership consistent with the ideals and mission of Phi Alpha. The Focus of the application is the student's leadership, service, impact and commitment. The awards are: $1,000 for first, $750 for second and $500 for third. The first place selection will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to receive their award at the Phi Alpha Honor Society International Business Meeting held during the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting. Students are nominated by their Phi Alpha Chapter Advisor. Students must be active leaders of Phi Alpha to be nominated.

Student Membership Support - designed for any student eligible for Phi Alpha membership whose situation makes it a challenge to pay membership fees. Each chapter receives two memberships per academic year at no cost. Chapters are responsible for any chapter fees.

Advisor of the Year - recognizes outstanding service to chapters. Advisors are nominated by their students. A plaque is awarded. Phi Alpha reimburses the winner up to $1,000 in travel expenses to receive the award at the Phi Alpha International Business Meeting at the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting. 

Poster Presentation Competition - recognizes outstanding service by chapters. Awards totaling $1,000 are presented each year. The competition is held in conjunction with the Phi Alpha International Business Meeting at the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting.

Chapter Grants - promotes and supports chapters' engagement in service learning. The program supports activities consistent with the mission of promoting: humanitarian goals and bonds among students. Chapters are funded up to $1,000 to conduct service projects in their communities. $6,000 is awarded each academic year. Chapters must submit a brief account following the service project. 

Chapter Support - supports chapters in organizing membership and new chapter recruitment. Chapters my ask to receive up to $100 toward an event or meeting. Chapters are asked to organize membership and invite students who are eligible to join Phi Alpha. Funds may be used for refreshments, materials or other items. Chapters will also receive a Phi Alpha tabletop display. Chapters are to submit a brief account following the event.