Even though Psi Chi only became an international society in 2009, it has long been a part of international psychology. In fact, it was officially founded at the 9th International Congress of Psychology (ICP), held for the first time in the United States in 1929 at Yale University (Lewis, 1950/1979). Psi Chi has grown in many ways since it began with the signatures of faculty from 14 universities. These 14 charter members accepted another eight universities by January 1, 1930, increasing the number of charter chapters to 22.
By 2002, Psi Chi had 1,000 chapters, and it currently has 1,129. By 1970, there were 61,588 lifetime members of Psi Chi (Hunt, 1979), and now there are more than 660,000! Psi Chi has more chapters than any other university honor society; it’s the largest honor society—in both number of chapters and number of members—specific to one major.
Even though Psi Chi has only been an international organization since 2009, it has maintained a tie to international psychology throughout its existence. For example, when ICP came to the United States in 1963, once again Psi Chi was there (Portenier, 1969/1979). Psi Chi’s Board of Directors (called the National Council then) named 1963 Psi Chi’s International Year and encouraged chapters to participate in ICP events in Washington, DC. Psi Chi members attending the meeting had the opportunity to "learn of recent contributions to the field of psychology by other countries, and the program and activities of Psi Chi became known to countries around the world” (Portenier, pp. 21).
Most recently, Psi Chi was present at the July 2012 ICP held in Cape Town, South Africa. Past and current Psi Chi Board members met with students and faculty from all over the world to let them know about Psi Chi and learn about psychology programs in their countries. Drs. Susie Amato Henderson (Board President at the time), Maria Lavooy, (Southeastern Regional Vice-President at the time, now Board President-Elect), Past-Presidents John Davis and Florence Denmark, Randall Osborne (past Southwestern Regional Vice-President), along with Chief Operating Officer Michele Rumpf and I attended and participated in the event.
Dr. Amato and I also attended the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology meeting in Stellenbosch, South Africa the week before ICP. This meeting was held on the University of Stellenbosch campus and provided lots of opportunities to talk about Psi Chi with students and faculty from psychology departments around the world. Since these two meetings (and the efforts of Psi Chi Ambassadors Drs. Florence Denmark, Harold Takooshian, Bernardo Carducci, Susan Becker, Gina Grimshaw, John Davis, Mercedes McCormick, Joseph Ferrari, Melanie Domenech- Rodríguez, and Paul Hettich), Psi Chi has received requests for applications from universities in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, New Zealand, Columbia, Russian Federation, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. Currently, Psi Chi has applications in progress from universities in Guatemala, Russia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, South Africa, and Australia. Psi Chi has also forged more opportunities to work with APA’s Division 52, International Psychology, and enjoys the advice of its President-Elect Dr. Mercedes McCormick who is currently Psi Chi’s Eastern Regional VP.
Starting with one affiliate chapter before 2009 at the University of Victoria in Canada, Psi Chi has also grown with regard to international chapters. Today, Psi Chi has three chapters outside the 50 U.S. states—two chapters in Puerto Rico and one in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In addition, five new international chapters have joined Psi Chi since the University of Victoria was awarded full chapter status including a second chapter in Canada, and one in Egypt, Ireland, and New Zealand. Two other chapters, in Barbados and in Trinidad and Tobago, have been approved but not yet installed their chapter.
There are many reasons for students, faculty, and alumni to be proud members of Psi Chi, and one of these is how Psi Chi has continued to grow internationally. As more chapters from other countries join Psi Chi, all U.S. chapters should consider how their members might reach out to a chapter outside the United States to exchange ideas and encourage new chapters to make the most of their Psi Chi memberships. If your chapter would like to partner with another chapter via Skype or similar social media, please e-mail
Editor, Hunt, T. (Ed.). (1979). History of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology: Fiftieth anniversary 1929–1979. Arlington, VA: Psi Chi.
Lewis, F. H. (1950/1979). Twenty Years of Psi Chi: 1929-1950. In T. Hunt (Ed.). (1979). History of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology: Fiftieth anniversary 1929–1979 (pp. 1-13). Arlington, VA: Psi Chi.
Portenier, L. G. (1969/1979). The Fortieth Anniversary: 1954-1969. In T. Hunt (Ed.). (1979). History of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology: Fiftieth anniversary 1929–1979 (pp. 16-26). Arlington, VA: Psi Chi.