Pi Alpha – The National Honor Society for Physician Assistants

Pi Alpha Honor SocietyPi Alpha is the national Physician Assistant honor society organized for the promotion and recognition of both PA students and graduates. Membership signifies the inductees’ significant academic achievement and honors them for their leadership, research, community/professional service and other related activities. The society also encourages a high standard of character and conduct among students and graduates.
Pi Alpha Applications

At the October 2003 Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) Education Forum in Phoenix, Arizona, the PAEA membership Board of Directors (BOD) passed a motion to support the creation of a national honor society for physician assistants to be known as Pi Alpha. In February 2004, the PAEA BOD appointed the PAEA National PA Honor Society Advisory Committee with the task to oversee the development and maintenance of the Society. The committee’s faculty and student members crafted by-laws, budget and other documents necessary to begin the process of chapter membership.

What is Pi Alpha?

The Pi Alpha Honor Society was organized in 2004 by the Association of Physician Assistant Programs (APAP) for the promotion and recognition of significant academic achievement, leadership, research, community/professional service, and the encouragement of a high standard of character and conduct among physician assistants (PA) students and graduates.

The motto of Pi Alpha is “Scholarship, Service, Leadership.” The organization is committed to lifelong learning and participation in intellectual life.

The society operates as part of PAEA and as such is a non-profit educational organization. Administrative support is supplied by PAEA.

Finances Funds generated by Pi Alpha are devoted to the benefit and support of the Society.


PA Program participation in Pi Alpha is voluntary. A chapter may be chartered at any ARC-PA accredited program regardless of the type of degree granted to graduates. A completed and signed application and fee for chapter membership must be submitted to the national Pi Alpha office for approval. A one-time chapter establishment fee of $200.00 is required.

PAEA is responsible for all activities of the Pi Alpha Honor Society. The PA Program determines who is eligible for membership in accordance with Pi Alpha by-laws and submits a list of nominees to the national Pi Alpha Honor Society at least two weeks prior to the chapter’s date of graduation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Pi Alpha do?

The national society undertakes activities to recognize academic excellence and encourage the intellectual life of its members.

Who is eligible?

  • Current students of PA programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) with chapter status through Pi Alpha (student membership requires a minimum GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and demonstrated excellence in research, publishing, community/professional service, or leadership activities).
  • Full time PA faculty who have three years’ experience with a PA program and who have fulfilled the criteria of distinguished scholarship, as well as leadership or service to a physician assistant program or the profession.
  • Alumni who have met current criteria for induction.
  • Individuals who have rendered distinguished scholarship, as well as leadership or professional service to the PA profession, such as clinical preceptors, and those who are not eligible for election through other means, may be considered for honorary status.

How many individuals are eligible for induction each year?

  • Students and alumni: not to exceed 15% of the graduating class.
  • Faculty: no limit.
  • Honorary: one per graduating class.

How are chapters established?
A chapter may be voluntarily chartered at an institution with a PA program accredited by the ARC-PA. An application signed by the PA program director and at least two full-time members of the PA program faculty must be sent to the attention of Pi Alpha at the Physician Assistant Education Association. Once the application is approved and the initiation fee has been received by the program, a chapter number and welcome letter will be granted to the program.

What are the benefits of membership in Pi Alpha for inductees?

Although Pi Alpha is the official honor society for the PA profession, membership is not just a matter of self-esteem, an item for a resume or mention in job interviews. It implies a lifelong commitment to learning applied to benefit others. It also represents membership in a community of scholars, “a fellowship of learners, rather than of the learned.”

What is the cost of the chapter charter and inductee fees?

  • Chapter charter fee: a one-time, nonrefundable fee of $200.
  • Inductee fee: $25 per inductee, including alumni/faculty and honorary.

What do charter programs and inductees receive?

  • Charter programs receive an individual chapter number and a membership welcome letter.
  • Inductees receive a letter and certificate of membership, a Pi Alpha pin and honor cord.
  • Following induction into the society, students, faculty, alumni and honorary members may wear the honor society membership pin and honor cord at appropriate events.

What is the relationship between PAEA and Pi Alpha?

PAEA proudly sponsors Pi Alpha and provides the administrative support to carry out the work of the honor society, and also provide the Pi Alpha by-laws.