Starting a Chapter

New Policy Regarding Virtual/Online Schools:
Effective September 2009, a new policy regarding the ability for virtual and online schools to establish chapters of NHS or NJHS is being implemented.

So you want to set up a new chapter of NHS or NJHS at your school?

Follow the five-step process below to charter an Honor Society chapter at your school.

The Chartering Procedure

Step One: Make a Commitment to Establish a Chapter
Step Two: Contact the National Office
Step Three: Complete a Charter Application
Step Four: Submit Your Completed Charter Application
Step Five: Following Approval, Establish and Maintain the Chapter on Campus

Step One:

To develop and maintain a chapter, a school must:

  • Follow the National Constitution's guidelines as found on this site or in the National Handbook in all matters.
  • Select a faculty member to serve as chapter adviser. (Principals may appoint co-advisers, although the national office requests that a single individual be identified as the official contact for the chapter). This adviser also serves as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Faculty Council (see below).
    NOTE: No principal or assistant principal may serve as the Honor Society adviser (per the national constitution).
  • Appoint a five-member Faculty Council to develop and administer the selection, discipline, and dismissal procedures for the chapter.
  • Agree to provide the facilities and material support to maintain the chapter including appropriate time and resources for the chapter adviser to develop his or her professional skills as an activity adviser.
  • Maintain an active annual affiliation with the national office.

Step Two: to obtain a charter application. Download the NHS application or NJHS application below, or contact us by e-mail at or phone at 800-253-7746, option #4. Please identify a specific contact person (adviser or principal) and the full name and complete address of your school when contacting the national office. Applications can only be sent to school principals or their surrogates. Parents and students cannot apply for a charter, but may print out this information and submit it to local school officials for their consideration.

Step Three: Charter applications should be typed and all appropriate information provided. To complete the charter application, the principal must first identify and appoint a chapter adviser. In addition, the principal will need to appoint a five-member Faculty Council whose duties will be outlined in the handbook sent to all successfully-chartered new chapters.

Download your NJHS Chapter Application:

You will be asked to provide the following among the questions on the form:

  • A chapter name (which can simply utilize the name of the school as in "South Lakes High School NHS" or "Langston Hughes Middle School NJHS"). Do not use Greek names or letters in your chapter name, please.
  • Nonpublic schools are required to provide proof of accreditation by supplying a copy of the schools accreditation letter or certificate with the name of the accrediting agency and the date of your school's formal accreditation and expiration. Accreditation must be completed and on record for the school to gain approval for a chapter. A list of the accrediting agencies accepted by the national office is found below and also will be provided in the charter application. This list includes the six major regional accrediting agencies among other groups. Proof of formal approval by the school's state department of education can be submitted in lieu of accreditation.
  • Payment of the chartering fee of $125 must accompany the application. This fee will automatically include affiliation with the national office for the remainder of the current school year (through June 30). This affiliation is required by the national constitution (Article IV, Section 3). Payment can be by check or credit card; no purchase orders are accepted in payment for this fee.
  • The principal's signature is required to indicate approval of the application and the stated conditions.

Step Four:
Once the form is completed in full, it should be returned with payment to the national office where it will be processed. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for approval and processing.
Should you wish to check on the status of your charter application, you can either e-mail the national office at or call us at 800-253-7746, option #4.

Step Five:
Once your charter has been approved, a letter of congratulations, a copy of the NHS or NJHS Handbook, and other relevant information from the national office will be mailed to the school to the attention of the adviser identified on the charter application. The principal, adviser(s), and Faculty Council should then review the handbook and develop the following guidelines:

  • Selection Procedures, including a proposed calendar for this process that indicates the proposed induction ceremony date. This procedure must be published and available for review as per the national guidelines. NOTE: A recommended selection procedure is found in the national handbook.
  • Discipline and Dismissal procedures: The relevant handbook chapter contains the required procedures for these situations. Local chapters may wish to elaborate on or extend the national guidelines and should do so in writing to guarantee compliance with local school system policies and to assure consistency in the implementation of the procedures.
  • Chapter bylaws. All chapters must develop local bylaws. It is recommended that student members be involved in the formation of local chapter bylaws. Bylaws should make reference to all obligations of membership including participation in both the annual chapter service project and individual service projects (as required by the national constitution). Information on writing your new bylaws is available in the national handbook and from other local schools with existing chapters of NHS or NJHS.

    Note: To facilitate the development and distribution of these new policies and procedures at the local level, many chapters complete their charter application and then use the following year to write and publicize the upcoming opportunity for membership to the student body and their parents. This process, though time-consuming, allows the students to prepare for being considered as a candidate for membership, and helps convey a strong message about your school's commitment to undertaking all activities in the most professional manner possible. In essence, this would be time well spent to assure that things are done well from the start.


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