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, 1960.
For more than a year this committee worked on the constitution and other administrative matters. The name Phi Alpha and the key were adopted from the local chapter which existed at Florida State University. The constitution and formal organization were complete in 1962, and six chapters qualified to become "charter chapters." They were: Florida State University, Michigan State University, Ohio Northern University, Central State College, University of Dayton and the University of Tennessee. Over 155 chapters are now in existence, and the addition of new chapters is continuing.
Phi Alpha offers membership to social work students, faculty and practitioners, and each chapter is free to develop a program to meet local needs. The National Council is the policy-making body and meets each year at the time and place of the Annual program meeting of CSWE. Each chapter has one voting representative on the Council.
The national office is located at East Tennessee State University. You may contact them at:
East Tennessee State University
Post Office Box 70645 Johnson City, TN 37614-0645
Phone: (423) 439-4372
Fax: (423) 439-4471
An undergraduate student is eligible for membership after achieving the following requirements:
a. Declared social work as a major.
b. Achieved at least junior status.
c. Completed at least nine (9) semester hours in upper-division fundamental social work courses. (i.e. SWK3050, SWK3060, SWK3780, SWK3790, SWK3410)
4. Achieved a minimum overall grade point average of 3.5.
5. Achieved a minimum grade point average of 3.75 in required social work courses.
Eligibility is checked after grades post following each Spring Semester in between the junior and senior year with an Induction Ceremony to follow in the Fall Semester.
Membership is available to all full-time social work faculty.
Each chapter may select two persons each year for honorary membership. This recognition is available to persons outside the program who have made a significant contribution to the program and/or society. Membership certificates for honorary members are provided by the National Office without cost to local chapters.
Membership dues include a charter fee of $20 for each new chapter.
Services Provided by the National Office
Annual meeting in conjunction with the CSWE-APM.
A chapter membership certificate.
Phi Alpha banner for each chapter.
Individual membership certificates.
A Phi Alpha ribbon and button for each member.
Information about ordering items with the Phi Alpha logo, pins, pendants, medallions, plaques, shirts, and caps are available from outside vendors.
Medallions, plaques, pins, and paperweights are available for members to purchase for graduation. Order materials are provided by the Social Work Department.