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Recently I received an invitation for Phi Kappa Phi honor society. I do not know too much about those organizations and I was wandering what are the benefits (or possible disadvantages) of joining?

I was searching online and people keep mentioning that it is good for your resume, networking etc. However, it seems to me that I just need to pay for membership and they will put me on the list, how could it be beneficial for me?

Could you please tell me if worth considering? And is it really beneficial to have those things on my resume? Do graduate schools or employers pay attention for those?

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Welcome to Academia.SE. I would recommend rephrasing the question to ask about the benefits of joining honor societies, rather than if you should join (which is a purely subjective question). –  aeismail Mar 15 '14 at 21:51
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@aeismail Thank you for the comment, I reformulated my question and changed the title. –  NightElfik Mar 15 '14 at 22:35
    
I believe that Phi Kappa Phi membership also benefits applicants for federal employment –  user22222 Sep 24 '14 at 23:21
    
As a once-paying member of Phi Kappa Phi, I would suggest you save your money. The only one that gets major traction is Phi Beta Kappa. –  Compass Sep 25 '14 at 1:55

4 Answers 4

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Do graduate schools pay attention to joining Phi Kappa Phi or other honor societies?

As I understand it, eligibility for membership in Phi Kappa Phi is entirely determined by grades and class rank. If so, it won't help with grad school applications, since the admissions committee already has access to far more information about grades than they would learn from knowing the applicant is a member.

Some fields may have honor societies for which membership conveys more information, but I do not think there is any widely known, field-independent example in the U.S.

In my experience on graduate admissions committees in mathematics, I've never heard anyone discuss honor societies at all.

I joined an honor society as an undergraduate, not because I saw personal benefits to it but because my parents would have been disappointed if I had declined membership. The only consequence for me has been that they occasionally send me a newsletter, but I'm told some people do find membership to be useful or meaningful.

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I joined an honor society as an undergrad. The largest benefit, IMHO, was having access to member-only scholarship applications. Most honor societies offer membership based on your grades--it is basically just an acknowledgement of your academic success as an undergrad, and is not likely to influence your admission to grad school. (Membership in an honor society will help if you decide to transfer as an undergrad.)

It is definitely worth considering mambership, though. There are usually opportunities for members to be active in leadership roles at local,national, and international levels. If you hold such a position, it may influence admissions or hiring decisions, and it certainly won't hurt your chances.

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I am actually already a graduate student but I am considering going to another graduate school for PhD. Thanks for your insight. –  NightElfik Mar 16 '14 at 18:11

On the other side of the coin (just to give perspective, I'm not suggesting honour societies are bad or detrimental!!) some graduate schools (depending on the country you apply for) and potential academic supervisors might look down on you joining an honour society.

Honour societies or Frats/Sororities as many non-US countries will recognise them might make the automatic assumption that you've joined a 'party house' despite that many honour societies are anything but. This is due to the consistent perception of these societies in various films/newspapers etc as being depicted as such, where academics and education are the least of student's concerns.

It really depends on where you are applying and the program you are applying for. If you decide to apply outside of the US, belonging to a general honour society could (I stress could, doesn't mean it will) be detrimental to your application. In Australia or the UK, or Europe or even Canada to a degree, an honour society does nothing for your graduate school application. It's really only relevant for the US.

Honour societies (from my understanding as a non-US person based in Australia) are great for business opportunities and networking for jobs, but I'm not sure about their potential in helping you do research (which is the point of graduate school).

I think if you'd like to join an honour society, you should join one where academics and/or research are the main priority, but also have a think about where you'd like to go to graduate school.

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If honor societies are looked at as a bad thing in some countries, surely one can just leave membership off your CV when applying for grad school and/or jobs there? –  Anonymous Apr 5 at 23:20
    
Absolutely, easy fix :) –  awsoci Apr 5 at 23:22
    
I am not a proponent of academic honor societies (as you may know from elsewhere on this site), but I think that mentioning them in the same breath as fraternities and sororities is simply an erroneous conflation. For instance, many honor societies have no in-person campus activities. They are no more part of "Greek life" than epsilon-delta proofs in calculus. –  Pete L. Clark Apr 6 at 1:21
    
On the other hand: "In Australia or the UK, or Europe or even Canada to a degree, an honour society does nothing for your graduate school application. It's really only relevant for the US." No, I'm in the US and have done graduate applications for years, and I promise I do not care in any way at all about honor societies. It's not good or bad: it's really nothing to me. –  Pete L. Clark Apr 6 at 1:22
    
@Pete: I think the point is that, while you and I and awsoci clearly understand that honor societies are unrelated to "Greek life", people in other cultures may not. Seeing that someone was a member of an organization whose name is three Greek letters may lead them to the "erroneous conflation" you describe, to the candidate's disadvantage. –  Nate Eldredge Apr 6 at 6:52

AS a member of many honor societies, I think it is a great opportunity to join however, the benefits you enjoy mostly depend on your involvement. You can benefit from scholarship opportunities, travel discounts , leadership experiences among many others.

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