University of Iowa

Honors at Iowa and Phi Eta Sigma

Honors societies are selective organizations that invite students to become members based on high levels of achievement. They offer a variety of opportunities for their members. Prominent among these are recognition for leadership experiences, scholarship competitions, and service activities. The University of Iowa Honors Program has a long historic association with the honor society Phi Eta Sigma, to which students are initiated as freshmen.

This honors society started in 1923 to celebrate outstanding scholarship by freshmen for the purpose of promoting excellence in scholarship, mind, body, and character by beginning college students of superlative promise. The University of Iowa established the forty-ninth chapter of Phi Eta Sigma in 1945. There are now more than three hundred fifty chapters in institutions of higher learning nationwide.

Message from your 2018 Phi Eta Sigma Officers: "Welcome to the official Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society page! Our organization is committed to promoting academic excellence, community service, lifelong leadership, and fellowship among our members. Feedback and communication are imperative to these goals, meaning we’re very member driven! Our organization holds events such as blood drives, development workshops, and study-ins. Everything is about personal growth. Everything is about you! If you’re a freshman looking for a flexible, success-oriented organization on campus, keep an eye on your email for a spring induction invitation."


Q. What will be my responsibilities if I join this group?

A. Once invited, all it takes to join and be a member is to register online as directed and to pay the one-time only national dues. We hope you will also come to the induction ceremony, brainstorm activities at our spring organizational meeting, apply for scholarships, and attend events.

Q. Is this a sorority or fraternity, and is this group affiliated with the University of Iowa or is it national?

A. Not a sorority or fraternity—an honor society, both national and local. The University of Iowa Phi Eta Sigma is a local chapter of a national honor society.

Q. How are scholarships distributed? Are they need or merit based?

A. Merit based.

John Briggs Award

Phi Eta Sigma emphasizes honor for students of high distinction. Here at the University of Iowa, it has long supported a Dunlap Collegiate Scholarship each year for a third-year member of great achievement in Honors at Iowa. Also in collaboration with the University of Iowa Honors Program, the Iowa Chapter of Phi Eta Sigma presents the John Briggs Award each May to its graduating senior with the top grade point average.

Eligibility and Application

The Honors Program presents the John Briggs award, a cash prize, to the senior member of the University of Iowa chapter of Phi Eta Sigma with the highest grade point average, provided the member has completed at least 90 of 120 hours at the University of Iowa. The award will be presented at the Honors Commendation Ceremony the Friday of spring finals week.

Every PES graduating senior is encouraged to apply for this award by emailing by the Friday before spring finals week. Include your name and 8-digit University ID number.

Other Honors Societies

Mortar Board and Omicron Delta Kappa are other honor societies recognized as student organizations by the University of Iowa. They are overseen by Diversity at Iowa.

Many academic disciplines and professions also have national honors societies for excellence in their fields. Their standards, aspirations, and activities vary. For further information, please contact specific colleges and departments at the University of Iowa.

Other regional, national, and international societies and professional organizations offer a variety of benefits for varying commitments. Honors at Iowa is unable to advise you on your decision to join any of these and we encourage you to contact the Better Business Bureau with questions.

Featured Image: 
2018 Officers and Banquet Committee