Nursing Honor Society Offers Professional Development

July 5th, 2011


By , BSN, RN

Work hard in nursing school, and you will graduate and get a job — that's pretty much a given. Work really hard in nursing school, and you may get asked to join the nursing honor society, Sigma Theta Tau. Join once, and you're a member forever. You'll be able to buy pretty jewelry with the society emblem, put your membership on your resume, and wear the purple and white cords at graduation. But, what does Sigma Theta Tau really stand for, and what will it add to your career?

The mission of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) is to support the learning, knowledge and professional development of nurses committed to making a difference in health worldwide. Here are some other facts:

  • STTI has more than 130,000 active members.
  • Members live in 86 countries.
  • Forty-six percent of active members hold master’s and/or doctoral degrees; 26 percent are staff nurse/clinicians; 21 percent are nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists or clinical specialists; 18 percent are administrators or supervisors; and 22 percent are educators or researchers.
  • There are 470 chapters on college campuses in Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Wales, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • STTI communicates regularly with more than 100 nurse leaders who have expressed interest in establishing a chapter in other countries and territories, including Chile, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, India, Ireland, Israel, Germany, Jamaica, Lebanon, Lithuania, New Zealand, Spain and Thailand.


STTI as an organization, and along with its nurse members, is committed to improving health by increasing the scientific base of nursing research (PDF). In 1936 it became the first organization in the United States to fund nursing research. Since then, the Society has underwritten more than 250 small or "seed" grants, which often begin a whole body of research.

These peer-reviewed grants are often the first recognition of potent concepts that eventually lead to major, wide-scale research projects and innovation in the nursing profession. Some of these research projects have included recognizing genders based differences in pain response and developing an index to reduce pressure sore risk. With its chapters and grant partners (corporations, associations and foundations) the society contributes more than $650,000 annually to nursing research through grants, scholarships and monetary awards.


STTI is open to nursing students at all levels, undergraduate and graduate, and nurses who are leaders in their community can be nominated. Membership is by invitation to nursing students who demonstrate excellence in scholarship. It is the second-largest nursing organization in the world with approximately 125,000 active members.

Criteria for membership is slightly different between undergrads and grad students. For undergrads, the nursing student must be halfway through the nursing curriculum, have at least a 3.0 grade point average, and rank in the upper 35 percent of the class. For graduate students, one quarter of the nursing curriculum must be completed, and they must have at least a 3.5 grade point average. Nurse leaders must have a minimum of a baccalaureate degree or the equivalent in any field and demonstrate achievement in nursing.


Membership in STTI reflects a high level of commitment. If invited to join, it is tangible proof that as a student you were committed to your education and can be likely counted on to be a hard worker committed to your profession. Dues paid to Sigma Theta Tau (and other professional groups) are put towards fulfilling the STTI mission. They support the work of the organization and fund the journals, grants, conferences, and scholarships. Paying your dues is also a demonstration of a commitment to developing the scholarly activities of nursing — an assurance that will impress some employers and graduate schools.

STTI also offers guidance and resources for nursing research, whether it is for grad school or for other nursing environments. One of the requirements for a facility to be named a Magnet hospital is its participation in nursing research. Being a part of an organization like STTI allows nurses to be around and associate with other who are still looking forward, wanting to grow in their profession.

Practically, the networking benefits are priceless. In this economy, every connection may be a competitive edge. As a student, membership provides you with a chance to meet your professors outside the classroom environment on a more social level, allowing you to develop that relationship. Like any professional organization, you get out of it what you put into it.

STTI alspromotes the professionalism of nursing. As nurses, we need to do all we can to increase respect for our profession both externally and internally. Nurses need to work together to support one another, to protect and promote the art of nursing as a profession. Belonging to a professional organization is one way to meet and work with others who feel the same way.

And, finally, membership does offer some eye-catching jewelry options.

Leave a Reply