Third International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology
John M. Davis,
Texas State University-San Marcos,
San Marcos, Texas, USA, &

Virginia Andreoli Mathie,
Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology,
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA


Higher education has become an important global enterprise and two organizations have ranked universities worldwide. The Chinese Institute of Higher Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University uses academic and research performance indicators to identify the world’s 500 best universities. Using different criteria, The Times in the UK ( also produced its rankings of the top 200 universities worldwide.

At the national level, McLean’s, a Canadian weekly magazine, and U.S. News and World Report, annually publish rankings of universities and colleges in Canada and the United States respectively. At the departmental level, several studies have identified excellent U.S. psychology departments (Goldberger, Maher, & Ebert Flattau, 1995; Spear, 2007).

For the individual student, excellence is recognized by grades in individual courses and by university honor designations such as “Cum Laude”. In universities in the USA individual achievement is also recognized through membership in scholastic honor societies. This presentation focuses on Psi Chi, the honor society in psychology for four-year colleges and universities, and the ways in which Psi Chi encourages and recognizes excellence in scholarship.

Psi Chi’s purpose is to encourage, stimulate, and maintain excellence in scholarship of the individual members in all fields, particularly in psychology, and to advance the science of psychology. Its mission is to produce a well-educated, ethical, and socially responsible member committed to contributing to the science and profession of psychology and to society in general. Since its founding on September 4, 1929, Psi Chi has installed more than 1,075 chapters and inducted more than 535,000 lifetime members.

Induction into Psi Chi acknowledges students’ high academic achievement, but Psi Chi and its chapters offer programs beyond induction that encourage and recognize excellence in scholarship, professional development, and leadership. For example, Psi Chi provides grants to support student research, opportunities for students to present research at psychology conferences, research awards for outstanding student research, and opportunities for students to publish research in the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research. Psi Chi also promotes academic excellence and professional development through articles in the magazine Eye on Psi Chi and presentations at chapter, regional and national psychology meetings. These articles and presentations provide information about research, training, and careers in psychology. Psi Chi encourages a commitment to the profession by providing opportunities for members to network with psychology professionals across the country.

Psi Chi members develop leadership skills through chapter leadership positions, and enhance these skills through participation in Psi Chi’s National Leadership Conference. Psi Chi offers individual and chapter awards to recognize outstanding leadership. Psi Chi also encourages members to be leaders in providing service to their schools, local communities, and the world community. Programs and resources offered by Psi Chi chapters can address each of the 10 goals outlined in the American Psychological Association’s (2007) Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major. Helping departments achieve these goals is another way Psi Chi encourages and supports academic excellence.

Psi Chi welcomes the opportunity to work with schools in other countries to establish Psi Chi international affiliate chapters.

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© 2008 Victor Karandashev