Studying psychology in college brings with it many benefits. You get to learn more about the human condition. You have the opportunity to explore classic psychological studies. You might even get to participate in conducting experiments yourself, particularly at the master’s and doctoral levels.
Additionally, studying psychology helps you build the skills needed to help others in your future career. Whether you go the clinical route to help clients work through mental health difficulties or you go the research route to study human behavior in more depth, your education will equip you to make a positive impact on the lives of others.
But going to college isn’t just about classroom learning. Instead, a well-rounded college career should include experiences from outside the classroom.
For many students, this includes attending or participating in sports, taking part in on-campus activities like dances, joining clubs, and joining Greek organizations as well.
Of these, Greek organizations might have the highest profile for the typical college student. Greek groups give you a chance to meet others with similar interests and help you get adjusted to college life. In that regard, joining a Greek organization can help you transition from your life as a kid at home to an independent student at college.
Greek organizations for college students vary depending on the particular school you attend, your major, and other interests you bring with you to campus. For example, if you want a fraternity for engineers, there’s one for that, if you’re majoring in education, you’ll find a Greek group for that too. And, of course, if you want Greek organizations for psychology students in particular, you can find those as well.
Psychology students actually have many options to choose from compared to many other majors because the field of psychology has such a long history in academics. As a result, many Greek groups have formed. Here are five of the best Greek organizations for you to consider joining.
As an honors society, Psi Chi seeks out the best and brightest psychology students for membership. As the organization’s purpose statement outlines, Psi Chi’s purpose is to “encourage, stimulate, and maintain excellence in scholarship.” Likewise, the organization lends itself to the advancement of the science of psychology.
When Psi Chi was founded, just 14 schools were part of the charter. Today, though, it has grown into the largest psychology organization for students with more than 1,150 chapters and 750,000 members worldwide.
To promote learning and growth among members, Psi Chi publishes the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research (which allows graduates to publish research after finishing their degrees) and offers more than $400,000 in grants and awards for research each year. The organization also hosts six regional conventions each year as well as two national conventions annually.
Due in large part to this commitment to academic excellence and achievement in psychological research, Psi Chi was the first student organization to be formally affiliated with the American Psychological Association. Psi Chi also has some psychology heavyweights amongst its ranks, including Florence L. Denmark, Albert Bandura, and B.F. Skinner.
To join Psi Chi, you must maintain a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale in psychology classes as well as maintain a cumulative grade point average that’s within the top 35% of your college or university. Before you can apply to join, you must have declared psychology as your major or minor and have completed at least three semesters of full-time collegiate coursework and at least nine semester credit hours of psychology courses.
Phi Beta Kappa
The oldest of all honor societies for liberal arts and sciences, Phi Beta Kappa has a long history of excellence in education.
Founded during the Revolutionary War in 1776 by five students at the College of William & Mary, this honor society seeks to foster academic excellence amongst its members. This commitment to education is reflected in the organization’s motto, “love of learning is the guide to life.”
The key for this organization is helping members develop the skills they need to be successful learners now and in the future. And for more than two centuries, Phi Beta Kappa has held the distinction of being one of the nation’s premier honor societies. With 290 chapters across the nation and more than 500,000 members, it’s an exclusive club that includes members from a highly diverse set of backgrounds and life experiences. In fact, Phi Beta Kappa is so exclusive that just 10 percent of colleges and universities have a chapter, and those chapters select only 10 percent of arts and sciences majors to join.
As a psychology student, you’re welcome to join this society, so long as you meet the high standards of admission, which include the following:
- You must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree and at least three-quarters of the courses taken must be in liberal arts and sciences.
- Your course load must include a variety of liberal arts and science courses. Likewise, courses should be varied in their level (i.e., 1000, 2000, 3000, and 4000-level courses). It’s encouraged to take higher-level courses too, including those outside the area of one’s major.
- You must have demonstrated knowledge of a second or non-native language.
- You must have completed at least one college-level course in statistics, math, or logic.
- You must be a person of good moral character.
Other Greek Organizations for Psychology Students
Aside from the two largest honor societies described above, there are other Greek organizations you might consider.
Psi Beta is a national honor society for psychology majors at two-year colleges. It’s purpose is to encourage and stimulate students’ interest in psychology while also recognizing academic excellence of its members.
Additionally, Psi Beta seeks to encourage students to develop the professional skills that they’ll need as they advance their studies, graduate, and enter the workforce. Like many psychology Greek organizations, Psi Beta also has a focus on research, community service, and leadership development.
To join, you must:
- Complete at least one psychology course with a grade of B or higher
- Complete 12 credits of college coursework with a GPA of 3.25 or higher, or with a GPA that is within the top 35 percent at your school.
- Have an interest in psychology
- Have good standing in the community
By inviting students and alumni from all academic backgrounds to join, Alpha Chi gives psychology students the ability to interact with students from other majors.
Formed in 1922, it is among the oldest honor societies and includes students that are studying engineering, business, philosophy, among many other college majors. There are approximately 300 chapters nationwide, and each year, about 10,000 new members are inducted.
As long as you are in the top 10% of your class, you can join the ranks of Alpha Chi and enjoy all of its benefits, including:
- Leadership opportunities
- Service opportunities
- The ability to collaborate with other academics
Pi Gamma Mu
Yet another Greek organization you might consider joining as a psychology major is Pi Gamma Mu, whose mission is to promote excellence in the social sciences.
Founded in 1924, this honor society is one of the oldest in the field of social science and has grown to include more than 150 chapters around the world. Throughout its history, Pi Gamma Mu has strived to nurture scholarship in social sciences, foster leadership, and encourage members to dedicate themselves to serving others.
Since this is a social science-focused society, psychology students have the opportunity to learn from and work with students from other disciplines, like political science, sociology, economics, criminal justice, and anthropology, just to name a few.
To join Pi Gamma Mu as an undergraduate, you must meet the following criteria:
- Complete 37.5 percent of the total credits required to graduate
- Complete at least 20 semester credits in the social sciences with an average of B or better
- Rank in the top 35 percent of your class
The ability to interact with similar yet distinct fields will give you a way of seeing psychology from an outsider’s perspective. Psychology doesn’t exist in a vacuum and you’ll want to know exactly how psychology is applied in other disciplines to obtain a better understanding of human behavior.
Benefits of Joining a Greek Organization
Regardless which of these psychology Greek organizations you join, you’ll derive many benefits of membership.
As noted earlier, one of the primary advantages of joining a Greek organization is that it helps you meet people who share similar interests.
When you’re a student that’s fresh on campus, meeting people is one of the most critical and important tasks that awaits you. Building camaraderie with others, forming friendships, and making social connections will help you feel more grounded, more involved, and more a part of the campus community.
As a result, the connections you make with people in Greek organizations can help you make the transition from high school to college. Where you once had your family and friends to support you in your academic endeavors at home, your brothers or sisters in a Greek organization can be your support system for your academic endeavors in college. This transition from high school to college can be immensely difficult, so having a support system like this can make your likelihood of success much greater.
While the support for your academic career is nice – and necessary – Greek organizations also help you build another aspect of your college experience – the social one.
Though college is a lot of work, you can’t spend the entire time you’re there attending class and studying. You need to have a good balance between attending to your academic responsibilities and having time to decompress and have fun. Greek organizations help you do just that.
You’ll find that the psychology Greek groups discussed earlier provide you with opportunities to kick back and relax with your fellow psychology enthusiasts. The types of social activities you can expect will vary, but BBQs, tailgating, and theme parties are common. Additionally, many Greek organizations focus on bettering the community, so you will have opportunities to take part in community service activities with your Greek friends as well.
When you join a Greek group, you’ll find that there are opportunities to learn and develop skills that you might not be able to foster in a classroom environment. For example, Greek organizations often host events that give you the chance to take a leadership role, delegate authority, and work with other people. Likewise, Greek events foster the ability to set and meet deadlines, evaluate your performance and the performance of others, and build other valuable skills that will help you be successful in life and work later on in life.
And, as noted earlier, Greek organizations are often heavily involved in community service activities. Not only does this afford you the ability to help others in your community, but it can also give you perspective about your place within the community and how you might be able to use your education and training in psychology to make the world around you a better place. From a career perspective, taking part in community service can help you make connections with potential employers. Furthermore, many employers look positively on applicants that have community service experience under their belts.
Is Greek Life for You?
While there are plenty of reasons to join a psychology Greek organization, there are some features of Greek life that you might not like.
If you join a sorority or fraternity, living in a house with your brothers or sisters can be rather lively, which could impede your ability to study. There are the stereotypes of drug and alcohol use and hazing to contend with as well.
Likewise, being in a Greek organization is a big time commitment. You’ll need to very quickly develop a schedule that allows you to give yourself the time needed to work on academic pursuits while still fulfilling your obligations to the organizations of which you are a part.
The important thing is to really spend time reflecting on what you want out of your college experience. Greek organizations can be a hugely positive part of that experience, but they aren’t for everyone. You’ll have to determine what your specific needs and wants are and whether or not Greek life can help you fulfill those needs and wants. Of course, if you do decide to join a Greek psychology organization, any one of those listed above will be a great place to start.
B.A. Social Studies Education | University of Wyoming
M.S. Counseling | University of Wyoming
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Updated September 2021