Determining Membership Eligibility per Sigma Bylaws

Membership can be conferred in one of the following membership categories:

  • Student
    • Undergraduate students
    • Master’s students
    • Doctoral students
  • Professional
    • Nurse leaders

Candidates for membership at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels are typically enrolled in the college or university where the chapter is located to be considered for membership in that category. In the case of an at-large chapter, students are typically enrolled at any of the schools participating in the at-large chapter. If there is no chapter at the institution of higher education where the student attends and the institution has an accredited nursing program, student member candidates may be considered for membership in another chapter.

Guidelines outline membership eligibility requirements. Guidelines are also available to outline exceptions to the eligibility requirements. 

Membership Eligibility Guidelines
Interpretation-Membership Eligibility Guidelines

Sigma acknowledges that different countries have different entry points for becoming a registered nurse. If additional clarification is needed, contact the staff at headquarters. 

The developing honor society should create a written procedure for how it will determine membership eligibility for each nursing program based on bylaws requirements. This includes defining the induction class(es) and how/if the Exceptions Criteria will be utilized. 

NOTE: Membership eligibility criteria cannot be altered or modified from the stated criteria in the bylaws by a developing honor society or a chapter.

Frequently Asked Questions about Determining Membership Eligibility

Q: Can nurses who are already members of Sigma be inducted into our honor society?
A: No, they cannot be inducted. Sigma members are only inducted once. They can join your honor society in addition to the Sigma chapter that they currently belong to, regardless if they are active or inactive in that chapter. Any Sigma member that wishes to become part of an honor society may simply pay the regular honor society renewal fee and join as a regular member. There is no need for these individuals to submit an application or go through the induction ceremony; however, many honor societies do recognize the Sigma members joining their honor society at some point during their induction ceremonies. (If the honor society is approved to become a chapter, these Sigma members who are also members of your honor society will be invited to add the new chapter membership or transfer their membership to the new chapter.)

Q: Can alumni of our nursing program that would not have qualified for membership as a student be considered as candidates for nurse leader membership?
A: Yes. As long as the alumni meet the requirements stated in the bylaws for a nurse leader.
View nurse leader candidate criteria.

Q: Can alumni of our nursing program that would have qualified for membership as a student if their had been an honor society in existence be considered?
A: As an honor society, you have the option of considering these members as alumni members within the student membership category if it has been no more than one year since their graduation. If they met the student criteria for membership while they were a student, even though there was not a honor society at that time, they can be inducted within that student category.

Q: There is a nurse in the community that does not have a baccalaureate or equivalent degree, but has done some state and nationally recognized leadership initiatives to influence health care. Is a baccalaureate or equivalent degree an absolute requirement for membership?
A: Yes, nurse leader candidates are required to have a minimum of a baccalaureate or equivalent degree. The degree does not necessarily have to be a degree in nursing as long as the potential member is a registered nurse, has made achievements in the field of nursing, and is legally recognized/licensed to practice in his/her country. Chapters may nominate individuals who do not qualify for Sigma membership as Honorary Members of Sigma and the Sigma Board of Directors will review their application. View honorary membership information

Q: In considering a students' Grade Point Average, do we have consider the cumulative GPA or can we invite candidates based on GPA of students' nursing courses?
A: Per Sigma bylaws, the cumulative GPA is used.

Q: In determining a class of candidates/inductees, can we group them according to cohort and then determine the top 35 percent of each cohort or do we have to group all students together and consider them as one class?
A: First of all, ranking (or the top 35 percent rule) does not apply to students of graduate programs. So, graduate student eligibility is determined according to academic achievement and completion of at least 1/4 of the nursing curriculum. Baccalaureate student eligibility is determined according to academic achievement, ranking (top 35 percent) and completion of at least 1/2 of the nursing curriculum. 

Chapters may choose to separate or combine the students based on the characteristics of their students or different programs within the school of nursing. For example, traditional four-year degree students could be considered as one cohort or class, RN to BSN students as another class, accelerated BSN students as another class, and graduate students without a baccalaureate degree [i.e., RN to MSN students] as yet another class. The key is to be consistent year after year with the process that you choose and be consistent in communicating the process to prospective members.