Student Organizations in Social Work

Phi Alpha

A Brief History

The concept of a national social work honor society came from a group of undergraduate social work students at Michigan State University in 1960. Investigation revealed that local chapters existed at three schools. Those three schools along with a few other schools formed a National Honor Society Committee in November 1960. For more than a year, this committee worked on the constitution and other administrative matters. The name Phi Alpha was adopted from the local chapter existing at Florida State University.

The constitution and formal organization were completed in 1962, and six chapters qualified to become "charter chapters.” The charter chapters were Florida State University, Michigan State University, Ohio Northern University, Central State College, University of Dayton, and the University of Tennessee. Over 380 chapters are now in existence, and the addition of new chapters is continuing.

Phi Alpha offers membership to social work students, faculty, and practitioners. The National Council is the policy-making body and meets each year at the time and place of the annual program meeting of the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE). Each chapter has one voting representative on the national council.

Membership Benefits

The following are the benefits of membership in Phi Alpha:

  • Recognition of academic excellence
  • Social Work’s internationally recognized honor society
  • Social Work’s largest honor society
  • Students have met high standards
  • Respected by employers, social workers, and college admissions
  • National presentation opportunities
  • Lifetime membership
  • Membership certificate & lapel pin

Phi Alpha Honor Society for Social Work. Source.

Membership Requirements

Students must meet the requirements by the national organization as well as the local chapter requirements. Students who meet the requirements may apply each year in January for induction in April. The following are the national and local chapter requirements that are necessary for consideration for membership:

Undergraduate Students:

  • Student has been admitted to the social work major.
  • Student has achieved sophomore status.
  • Student has completed three social work courses.
  • Student has achieved an overall grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Student has achieved a 3.25 grade point average in required social work courses.
  • Student has demonstrated adherence to the social work Code of Ethics.
  • Student has demonstrated potential to be a successful social work professional.

Graduate Students:

  • Student has completed at least one term of 12 semester hours of course work in the MSW program.
  • Student has achieved a minimum overall grade point average of 3.5 based on a 4.0 scale.
  • Student has demonstrated adherence to the social work Code of Ethics.
  • Student has demonstrated potential to be a successful social work professional.

Application Process

Students must apply for membership. Application forms are sent to all social work students each January. Additionally, the application form can be obtained upon request from the Social Work Program, Administrative Associate.


The Ohio University Chapter elects officers and plans an induction ceremony each spring. The chapter also engages in community activities.

Phi Alpha Faculty Advisor:

Alicia Castro, MA, MSW, LISW-S

Morton Hall 567

Student Social Work Association

The Ohio University Student Social Work Association is a student organization with the purpose to serve, educate, and promote activism in the field of social welfare and prepare students for the professional field of social work. The SSWA provides opportunities for students to interact with the community to broaden their knowledge of the issues related to social services, as well as opportunities for students to interact with professionals in the field in order to gain a better understanding of the different positions within the field.

Recent SSWA activities include:

  • Providing Thanksgiving food boxes for local families
  • Cooking dinner for Good Works’ Friday Night Life free community meal
  • Organizing a Social Work apparel sale and other fundraising projects
  • Volunteering at the CASA/GAL Reindeer Run for Kids
  • Hosting a presentation about AmeriCorps
  • Attending Advocacy Day at the Ohio Statehouse
  • Organizing a Self-Care Day for students and faculty

Through engagement in the activities of the organization, students at the university benefit from diverse social connections, participation in teamwork, and the opportunity to contribute to the wellbeing of the community. Along the way, the student strengthens the value of service, develops confidence as a leader, and enhances professional skills.

Membership: Undergraduate and graduate students from all majors are welcome to become members. SSWA is active on the Athens campus as well as on regional campuses.

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Student Social Work Association Faculty Advisor:

Alicia Castro, MA, MSW, LISW-S

Morton Hall 567