Physics Departmental Honors Program

The Physics Departmental Honors Program is designed to recognize special achievement by undergraduate Physics majors in the discipline of Physics. The program requirements are rigorous and require substantial participation in physics or physics education research with a faculty mentor from the Department of Physics.

Admission to the Departmental Honors Program

Students majoring in any sequence in Physics may be admitted to the Departmental Honors Program if they have:

  • A minimum of 30 hours of university credit with a minimum of 8 hours in university-level Physics courses
  • A maximum of 90 hours of university credit
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3 with grades of A or B in all university-level Physics courses
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty
  • Prior admission to the University Honors Program
  • Approval of the Chairperson of the Department

In order to graduate with Honors in Physics, a student must remain in good standing in the University Honors Program and must complete:

  • All requirements for a degree in one of the sequences in the Department of Physics with a grade of A or B in all university-level Physics courses, and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3
  • 9 hours of in-course honors in courses offered by the Department of Physics
  • 2 hours of research with a Physics faculty mentor in PHY 290, PHY 390, IDS 285, or IDS 286 with a grade of A

For more information, see your Physics Advisor

Sigma Pi Sigma National Physics Honor Society

Illinois State University has a chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma, the Physics Honor Society. 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.

Sigma Pi Sigma exists to honor outstanding scholarship in physics; to encourage interest in physics among students at all levels; to promote an attitude of service of its members towards their fellow students, colleagues, and the public; to provide a fellowship of persons who have excelled in physics. Sigma Pi Sigma’s mission is not completed in the induction ceremony with the recognition of academic accomplishment. In the four dimensions of Honor, Encouragement, Service, and Fellowship, the mission of Sigma Pi Sigma takes a longer view.

Founded in 1921, Sigma Pi Sigma is a member honor society of the Association of College Honor Societies. The society has over 75 000 historical members. Election to Sigma Pi Sigma is a lifetime membership.


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.