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Sigma Pi Sigma (ΣΠΣ), founded at Davidson College on December 11, 1921, is an American honor society in physics. The society is an organization within the American Institute of Physics. It is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies. The society's stated goals are to honor outstanding scholarship in physics, to encourage students' interest in physics, to promote public service, and to provide a fellowship of persons who have excelled in physics. The society has some 75,000 historical members.[1] Election to Sigma Pi Sigma results in membership for life.

Sigma Pi Sigma
FormationDecember 11, 1921
TypeHonor society

In 1968 the American Institute of Physics' student sections and Sigma Pi Sigma merged to create the Society of Physics Students.


Sigma Pi Sigma chapters are restricted to colleges and universities of recognized standing that offer a strong physics major. The chapters receive into membership undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members, and a few others in closely related fields. Students elected to membership must attain high standards of general scholarship and outstanding achievement in physics. Certain high numerical standards for admittance are established by chapter bylaws and the national constitution. Undergraduate candidates must be in the upper one-third of their class in general scholarship to meet the minimum standard that chapters may use. A higher minimum average is often established for physics courses. Undergraduate candidates must have completed at least three semesters of full-time college work and at least three semester courses in physics that can be credited toward a physics major. Graduate students and faculty members may be elected at any time. Students who are not physics majors can be elected, provided that they meet the standards and have demonstrated an interest in physics. A chapter can elect to active membership qualified students and faculty members in nearby colleges that do not have a Sigma Pi Sigma chapter. Physicists in industry and government laboratories, as well as secondary school physics teachers, can be elected on the basis of their professional record.

Honorary membersEdit

Honorary Member is the highest level of membership in Sigma Pi Sigma. Only distinguished physicists and related scientists who have made valuable contributions to physics at the national level are eligible for this honor. Local chapters may nominate candidates, but election is only by the National Council.[2] Sigma Pi Sigma has elected over a hundred Honorary Members, including John C. Mather, William D. Phillips, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Jill Tarter, Carl Wieman, and Robert Ballard.[2]


  1. ^ "About Sigma Pi Sigma". Sigma Pi Sigma. n.d. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Honorary Members". Sigma Pi Sigma. American Institute of Physics. n.d. Retrieved December 12, 2018.

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