What is SPS?

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a professional association explicitly designed for students. Membership, through collegiate chapters, is open to any one interested in physics. The only requirement for membership is that you be interested in physics. Besides physics majors, our members include majors in chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, mathematics, medicine, and other fields. Within the SPS, Sigma Pi Sigma, a nationally recognized scholastic honor society, elects members on the basis of outstanding academic achievement. This two-in-one Society operates within the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

The SPS is essentially a self-governing Society created to serve the interests of physics undergraduate and graduate students. It was formed in April 1968, from the union of the AIP Student Sections and Sigma Pi Sigma. The Student Sections had been established by AIP. Sigma Pi Sigma originated as a local honor society at Davidson College, NC, in 1921.

At present there are over 650 active chapters of SPS on campuses across the country. Approximately 6,000 students take part in the chapter activities, making SPS the fourth largest physics society in the country. Over 450 chapters include the honor society as part of their activities. Total historical membership in Sigma Pi Sigma, including alumni, exceeds 75,000.

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Why Join SPS?

The SPS exists to help students transform themselves into contributing members of the professional community. Course work develps only one range of skills. Other skills needed to flourish professionally include effective communication and personal interactions, leadership experience, establishing a persoanl network of contacts, presenting scholarly work in professional meetings and journals, and outreach services to the campus and local communitites.

Locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally, the SPS offers the opportunity for these important enrichments to the student's experience.


There are chapter meetings where students may make presentations, invite local guest speakers, plan science outreach programs (such as "Physics Circuses" in local elementary schools, or tutoring services on campus), or organize a deparmental picnic or a science film-festival. Chapter meetings are limited only by the imaginations of the members!

SPS members in at least their junior year may apply for SPS Scholarhips ranging in amounts from $4,000 to $1,000. The chapter may apply for a Marsh White Award and a Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate Research Award. The Marsh White Award funds science outreach programs in the local community. The Sigma Pis Sigma Undergraduate Research Award supports research projects conducted by the chapter.


The SPS is organized into 18 Zones. At the seminannual Zone meetings, students from many chapters meet to enjoy fellowhsip, present research papers, tour laboratories, hear nationally known distinguished guest speakers, and exchange ideas on topics of mutual interest, such as ideas for science outreach to grades K-12, or career options besides physics that are open to one with physics degree. Attending Zone meetings is the most effective way to build and maintain a healthy chapter. AIP and SPS placement services are available to members of SPS. Specific Zone meetings may include a placement center, linking new recipients of BA/BS degrees with potential employers.


The policies of SPS are set by the National Council, which is elected by chapters withing geographic Zones. Faculty members are nominated by chapters to represent their Zones as Councilors. If elected they will serve for three-year terms. The President of SPS and the President of Sigma Pi Sigma are elected by the chpaters for two year terms. Both Councilors and Associate Councilors participate in Zone activities and in the annual policy-making meetings of the Council. Councilors organize committees within Zones and serve on committees of the National Council.

SPS chapters with a Sigma Pis Sigma chapter award recognition and distinction to students who have achieved high scholarship, by electing them to membership in Sigma Pi Sigma.


The SPS sends two to four students per year to represent the USA in the International Converence of Physics Students (ICPS). There are also a few SPS chapters outside the USA.

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What Does It Cost?

To cover in part, the cost of the Society's services, members pay annual national dues, $20.00. Dues for those with non US addresses is $30.00. The remaining costs are covered by AIP funds. Members receive a membership card and may purchase lapel emblems or pins. Local dues are set by the individual chapters.

You Will Receive

Physics Today
SPS Newsletter
Journal of Undergraduate Research in Physics
Career Placement Service
Eligibility for scholarhips, travel grants, and other awards
Free membership with one AIP Member Society for UNDERGRADUATES ONLY, for up to three years.

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What Is AIP?

The American Institute of Physics (AIP) was founded in 1931 as a membership corporation of the leading societies in the field of physics. It combines into one operating agency those functions on behalf of physics which can best be done by the societies jointly. Its purpose is the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and its applications to human welfare. It is a major publisher of scientific journals.

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How Does Sigma Pi Sigma Function?

Sigma Pi Sigma is a nationally recognized scholastic honor society within SPS. It is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) and is an affiliated society of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Membership is limited by the national SPS Constitution to individuals who have completed at least three semester courses in physics that can be credited towards a physics major and who are in the upper one-third of their class in general scholarship. Higher standars can be set by local bylaws.

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Information by:
National Office
Society of Physics Students - Sigma Pi Sigma
American Institute of Physics
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740
Tel: (301) 209-3007, Fax: (301) 209-0839



Tutoring sessions are offered by the physics department office. See Live Oak Hall room 1128 for information.

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Contact Information:

Contact us via email at spsphysics@my.csun.edu

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