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Questions and Answers About Psi Chi Membership
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by Amie Austin Hearn, Psi Chi Director of Membership Services - Psi Chi National Office
As Director or Membership Services, I am asked a variety of questions from members and faculty daily. After much deliberation, I thought the questions and answers listed below would be the most beneficial to be published in this issue of Eye on Psi Chi, right before the rush of spring inductions.
Q The Psi Chi National website has 3.0 listed as their minimum overall GPA requirement, so why does my chapter require a higher GPA to join?
A The Psi Chi national overall GPA requirement is not a 3.0; it is the top 35% of each class in general scholarship. Each chapter is responsible for calculating the cut-off for the top 35% of overall GPAs for sophomores, juniors, and seniors at its institution. In rare instances, if the cut-off for the top 35% falls below a 3.0 then, and only then, is the minimum 3.0 accepted.
Example 1: At John Doe University, the overall GPA cut-off for the top 35% of the sophomore class is 3.45. The cut-off for the top 35% of the junior class is 3.32 and the cut-off of the senior class is 3.66. Chapters have two options. The first option would be to use these cut-offs; any sophomore applying would have to meet the requirement of 3.45 whereas juniors would need to have at least 3.32, and seniors would need at least 3.66. The second option is probably the most practiced and in my opinion the easiest to manage. With this option you simply take the highest GPA of the three classes, in this example it would be the senior class with a 3.66 cut-off, and make that the required GPA across the board. To support this decision, you can refer to page 3 of the Psi Chi Chapter Handbook (www.psichi.org/pdf/handbook.pdf): “any chapter may establish minimum scholastic qualifications that are higher than those listed.” Whatever procedure your chapter uses should be documented in your chapter by-laws.
Example 2: At Joe Smith University, the overall GPA cut-offs for the top 35% are 2.93, 3.21, and 3.30 for sophomores, juniors, and seniors, respectively. In this case, sophomores applying for membership must have an overall GPA of at least 3.00, juniors must have at least 3.21, and seniors must have at least 3.30 (or all applicants must have at least 3.30).
Please keep in mind that I have addressed only ONE of the many requirements for membership because it is the most misinterpreted.
Now that your chapter has a better understanding of how the GPA should be determined, you might find that your chapter by-laws need to be adjusted. This leads me to my second question.
Q My chapter would like to establish higher academic requirements for new inductees. Is this allowed and if so, how do we implement the new requirements?
A Yes, raising the academic requirements is allowed. However, a vote must be held and a change in the by-laws is required. To implement a change in your chapter’s by-laws (see pages 5–6, Officer Handbook at www.psichi.org/pdf/ guide.pdf) the change must be presented at a regular chapter meeting and receive two-thirds affirmative vote from those present at the meeting. If the suggested change does not receive two-thirds affirmative vote, then it cannot be implemented.
Example: Sara is the Psi Chi chapter president. She has been assisting the Psi Chi chapter faculty advisor in the process of inviting new members to join. They discover that for the past eight years, the cut-offs for the top 35% for sophomores, juniors, and seniors fluctuated between 3.25 and 3.42 and seem to be getting lower each year. These somewhat lower overall GPA requirements allow a large percent of the student population majoring in psychology to apply for Psi Chi. Sara and the advisor feel it would be more of an honor to be a member of Psi Chi if the standards for membership were higher. They decide they would like to raise the requirement to 3.50 for all classes. They present their idea at the next regular chapter meeting. The Psi Chi members who are present at the meeting have the right to vote. After Sarah’s presentation, the members’ votes exceed the mandatory two-thirds affirmative. Now it is up to the Psi Chi chapter officers and chapter advisor to work together to adjust the chapter by-laws. Once the by-laws have been changed, the chapter is allowed to implement the overall cut-off GPA of 3.50. The advisor should recalculate the 35% cut-offs for each class periodically to make sure 3.50 continues to be at or above the 35% cut-offs. Chapters would follow similar procedures for any type of change to their chapter by-laws.