Bylaws 101 for Developing Honor Societies

What is a...?

Bylaw: The governing statement defining chapter structure and operations. Bylaws are designed to be non-specific in nature. They outline the laws of the organization, rules for management, operation of groups, and the duties and responsibilities of members and leaders.

Guideline: A resource created by the International Governance Committee that helps leaders utilize the chapter bylaws.

Policy: The chapter's interpretation of a bylaw describing how the chapter puts the bylaw into action. A policy cannot be in conflict with the bylaw.

Procedure: A detailed description of the process supporting a specific policy. A procedure cannot be in conflict with the bylaw.


Sigma Utilizes Three Sets of Bylaws

International Bylaws 

  • The governing document of the Sigma organization.
  • Delegates vote on changes to International Bylaws at the House of Delegates sessions at Biennial Convention every other year.
  • Sigma Board of Directors approves two adaptions of the International Bylaws:

Honor Society Bylaws

Developing honor societies are provided with current Honor Society Bylaws template and bylaws guidelines document every two years.

  • Honor societies that intend to apply for chapter status are expected to adopt and follow the honor society bylaws as their general framework for honor society governance and operations throughout the honor society and chapter development process.  

  • Honor Society Bylaws Template - This document is to be completed and saved as the honor society's current bylaws document. The template contains fill-in-the-blank lines for honor societies to insert their information. Items may be added only in the sections that are highlighted in the Honor Society Bylaws Guidelines. Honor societies shall update and adopt bylaws every two years as new templates are provided. The honor society shall submit the most current honor society bylaws template with the Chapter Charter Application.
  • Honor Society Bylaws Guidelines - This document is to be used as for reference. Yellow highlighted areas indicate the only areas of the bylaws that may be modified. No other sections may be altered without the express consent of the Sigma Governance Committee. Links provide guidelines for proper interpretation of the bylaws.

  • How to Complete and Adopt Honor Society Bylaws


Chapter Bylaws

Chapters are provided with the current chapter bylaws template and bylaws guidelines document every two years. Chapter bylaws are used by official Sigma chapters as a general framework for chapter governance and activities for the biennium.

  • Developing honor societies do not utilize Chapter Bylaws until AFTER the Chapter Charter Application is officially approved.

  • Chapters that intend to add a school of nursing and become at-Large will use the chapter bylaws template to create proposed at-Large chapter bylaws. The proposed at-Large bylaws will be submitted with the Chapter Charter Amendment Application. The chapter adding the school of nursing will continue to operate under their current, adopted chapter bylaws until the amendment application is approved and the chapter is re-chartered.

Differences Between 3 Bylaws Sets 2017-2019 - Read this document to see how the honor society bylaws differ from the chapter and international bylaws.     


Sigma Guidelines

The Sigma Governance Committee has established several sets of guidelines to help honor society and chapter leaders to interpret and use bylaws.

Your Honor Society's Policies and Procedures 

Each honor society is strongly encouraged to create its own policy and procedure manual from which you can develop standard operating procedures that will direct honor society operations, streamline processes and serve as an aid that will help new officers become familiar with the workings of the honor society and prospective chapter.

As a developing honor society, it is recommended that the board begin with the development of the following policies and procedures:

  • Procedure for Recruiting and Inviting Members
  • Procedure for Tracking and Collecting Annual Membership Renewals
  • Financial Procedures
  • Leadership Succession and Election Procedures
  • Procedure for Communicating with Members



More samples coming soon!

Many policies and procedures will be developed after the honor society becomes a chapter.


Connect & Engage