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The Global Honor Society for Public Affairs & Administration

PAA Chapter Handbook
Norwich University held its first Pi Alpha Alpha induction during its June 2013 residency. We are very proud of both our students and alumni and look forward to watching our chapter grow. Daniel Alcorn, Chapter Advisor - Norwich University

Chapter Handbook


The Purpose of this document is to guide Pi Alpha Alpha® (PAA) Advisors and Student Officers in operating their chapter of PAA. PAA is a program managed through NASPAA, the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration and guided by leaders in PAA.

Please note that chapters vary greatly in their activities and engagement. Each chapter has the ability to decide for itself what its function within its academic institution should be. However, all endeavors should relate directly to the Pi Alpha Alpha purpose:

The purposes of this society shall be to encourage and recognize outstanding scholarship and accomplishment in public affairs and administration, to promote the advancement of education and practice in the art and science of public affairs and administration, and to foster integrity, professionalism and creative performance in the conduct of governmental and related public service activities.

 The information in this document provides suggestions for operating a chapter of PAA. Unless otherwise stated these are recommendations and not obligations. Please contact if at any time your chapter has questions, comments, or concerns. Additionally, please feel free to share any recommendations, PAA best practices, or PAA news.




The requirements needed to establish a chapter are;

Resources for these items can all be found on the PAA website. The application to start a new chapter can be found at Once your information is submitted NASPAA will be in contact during the approval process. Once a chapter is approved, NASPAA will send the new chapter a charter, and the chapter will need to pay a onetime fee of $150.

For students looking to start a new chapter, we suggest contacting your programs department chair, or administrative staff to help in the process. You can also contact with any questions.


Chapters will be deemed inactive if three years have passed without inducting new members.

After a chapter becomes inactive, NASPAA staff will attempt to contact and reengage the chapter.  Periods of inactivity are likely to happen, and so no chapter charter will ever be rescinded due to inactivity.  However, while inactive, a chapter may not participate in PAA specific activities or opportunities.


To reactivate a chapter, the chapter must inform the NASPAA staff of the updated Chapter Advisor's name and contact information and other relevant information.  After this information is reviewed by NASPAA staff the chapter may induct students again. They should also reach out to interested parties, including department graduate assistants, student officers of other groups, or faculty members to build interest in the honor society.  Membership in PAA is a distinct honor and open to only those who are eligible, but participation should be inclusive and encouraged among all students.

chapter obligations


The role of the Chapter Advisor is to encourage excellence in public service and engagement in PAA activities. Advisors should be an advocate for PAA, and encourage activities and promote opportunities that advance members in their public service careers.  Additionally, the Advisor should encourage students to strive to qualify for membership and to become leaders.

The chapter obligations are the responsibility of the Chapter Advisor. However, depending on the policies and procedures of your own institution and degree program, student officers or other program staff can perform these duties when deemed appropriate by the Chapter Advisor.  Other program faculty and staff are also encouraged to participate in PAA activities including planning events and serving on award committees.


Any changes in the Chapter Advisor must be communicated to PAA.  It is a good idea to keep all chapter PAA information in a way that can be easily transferred, readily accessible, and understood by a new Chapter Advisor, or student officers. The information should include, at least, procedures for identifying new members, running an induction ceremony, and event planning notes.


A chapter does not need to submit an annual report if their inductions were submitted and processed by our third-party vendor Kenneth E. Jernigan and Associates.  However, if your chapter was particularly active by inducting a larger than normal number of students or sponsoring several events beyond your induction ceremony please share that information with NASPAA in an annual report.  Conversely, if inductions fell off significantly or no students were inducted at all, please share that information with NASPAA as well.  NASPAA would like to know about any challenges your chapter experiences.  Finally, the annual reports will be used to generate nominations for best chapter of the year, advisor of the year, and to apply for chapter grants.  The annual report form can be found on the Pi Alpha Alpha website.  The deadline to submit an annual report is June 1.



At least once per year a transcript audit should be conducted to identify students who are eligible to become members.  Chapters may also wish to determine whether a candidate is free from any disciplinary judgments before nominating them for membership.


(1) Undergraduate Students

Candidates for undergraduate degrees who rank in the upper ten percent of their graduating class may be inducted provided that:

(a)   they have completed 15 semester hours of course work required for the public policy, public affairs or public administration major or its equivalent

(b)   they have maintained an average grade of 3.7 on a scale of 4.0 (A GPA of 3.67 or above can be rounded up to qualify) in all courses included in the major in public policy, public affairs and public administration, and at least a 3.0 in all other course work;

(c)   they have met the requirements of (a) and (b) above and are in the last semester or quarter of their junior year.

(2) Undergraduate Transfer Students
Transfer students who meet the qualifications for undergraduate membership may be inducted after they have completed a minimum of one full year of course work in the school or college to which they transfer and in which the chapter is located.

(3) Master's Degree Students
A graduate student may be inducted from among the master’s degree students who have maintained a GPA of at least 3.7 for 50 percent of the required course work (a minimum of 18 semester hours or 27 quarter hours).  A GPA of 3.67 or above can be rounded up to qualify.  There is no restriction to the number who may be inducted.

(4) Doctoral Students
Doctoral students who meet the requirements for Pi Alpha Alpha master’s degree student membership or who have completed all the requirements for the MPP, MPA or its equivalent, may be inducted without restriction as to number.

(5) Alumni Membership

 Those who meet all the requirements of student membership but who have graduated before induction by a local chapter may be inducted as alumni members. Student members shall become alumni members upon graduation. If an alumni member relocates to a city where there is another chapter, s/he may also affiliate with the other chapter.

(6) Faculty Membership

 Any full-time member of a NASPAA member institution faculty offering course work in public policy, affairs or administration degree program at which a Pi Alpha Alpha chapter is located, may be elected to faculty membership by such local chapter.

(7) Honorary Membership

(a) Local Honorary -- Anyperson who has achieved distinction in public policy, public affairs or public administration and who possess the distinguished qualities that Pi Alpha Alpha foster may be inducted to honorary membership in a local chapter. Local chapters may induct as many as two individuals per year without express approval of the National Council. Prior to induction of more than two honorary members, the local chapter must request and receive approval by the NASPAA Pi Alpha Alpha Special Ad Hoc Committee.

(b) National Honorary -- A person who has made a particularly distinguished contribution to public policy, public affairs or public administration through practice or education may be inducted to national honorary membership.


We highly encourage that when members are notified of eligibility it is done with celebration. Even if an individual chooses not to be a member, they still have made an achievement and worthy of praise. Some chapters send invitations to the induction ceremony along with the eligibility notice.


Pi Alpha Alpha membership lasts a lifetime and cannot be revoked.


The one-time membership fee is $50.  Programs are able to set an additional fee to help with programming costs. It is the responsibility of the chapter to collect these fees, manage the process in a respectful, ethical, transparent manner, and submit payment. If your academic institution does not allow dues to be collected, students should order their materials directly through Kenneth E. Jernigan and Associates.


It is up to the chapter to order the member certificates.  Only the Chapter Advisor can order certificates and other induction materials.  This is done completely through Kenneth E. Jernigan and Associates. This organization handles all financial transactions for PAA (including regalia and merchandise orders), in addition to collecting the information on new inductees.

Once a certificate is ordered, the individual becomes a member of PAA. Certificates can take up to three weeks to be processed, so order any materials needed for inductions at least one month one month prior to induction ceremonies.

The information requested to order certificates:

  1. Inductee Name; First and Last
  2. Date of Induction
  3. University Name
  4. University Address
  5. Chapter Advisor Name; First and Last
  6. Chapter Advisor Email

Please note: Inductee name, date, and university name will all appear on the certificate, and a $10 fee is charged for replacements. Please make sure the information is entered correctly as certificates will be printed exactly as ordered.


For all purchases, visit the Kenneth E. Jernigan & Associates  website.  This company handles all orders. NASPAA has no control over changing orders, or invoices.  Graduation orders may come from either the chapter or an individual.


In order for a chapter to remain in good standing the Chapter Advisor and other officers must in good faith try to carry out the chapter obligations as spelled out within this section.  Chapters unable to carry out these duties must not induct any students and should become inactive and remain inactive until such time when they are able to fulfill the chapter obligations.  The NASPAA Pi Alpha Alpha Special Ad Hoc Committee (Committee) may at any time review the activities of any chapter it believes is not in good standing.  If membership discrepancies, financial mismanagement or other issues are found, the Committee may recommend to the NASPAA Executive Council that the Chapter become inactive.  If egregious errors are made the Committee can recommend the NASPAA Executive Council review the chapter’s activities.  The Executive Council can also require the chapter to become inactive or revoke the chapter’s charter.



Chapters are strongly encouraged to hold an annual induction ceremony. Additionally, they are encouraged to engage members in activities to continue the purpose of PAA in promoting excellence. Every chapter is different and should customize events to align with their resources and interests.  Please note while membership in PAA is limited to only those who are eligible, chapter activities should be inclusive. Events can be hosted by PAA and open to everyone.

Chapters should create their own polices as to who is responsible for events. For instance, managing a networking event can be an excellent opportunity for a student, but financial transactions may be limited by institutional policy and require Advisor assistance.


The officers of the [NAME OF COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY] Chapter shall be a president, a vice-president, a secretary, treasurer, and a chapter Advisor, and their names shall be reported to the National Director of Pi Alpha Alpha. [There may be a secretary-treasurer if the local chapter desires. Also, there may be such other officers as are deemed necessary for the efficient operation of the local chapter, e.g., historian, parliamentarian, etc.] All officers shall perform duties as prescribed by this Chapter and in accordance with procedures established by the NASPAA Pi Alpha Alpha Special Ad Hoc Committee.

The following are examples of events commonly held by chapters:

(1) Networking events

(a) Organize alumni, local organizations, or association members to network with students

(2) Professional Development

(a)  Invite alumni to serve on panels about their respective careers

(b) Provide the opportunity to attend conferences or other professional development events such as workshops on resume writing or speed interviewing

(c) Publicize student manuscripts or projects

(3) Socials/Gatherings

(a) Celebrations to allow students and faculty to talk outside of the class room; this could be on-campus or off

(4) Collaborations:

(a) Work with local association branches such as ASPA or APPAM

  •  Collaborate on speaking events, conferences, networking events
  • Offer scholarships, or fellowships for students

(b) Collaborate with local organizations

  •  Local government officials
  • Organizations related to institution's program

(c) Collaborate with other academics

  • On campus groups or departments
  • Other NASPAA schools  


Inductions are the most common chapter activity. This is an excellent chance to publically recognize PAA member achievements.  Some chapters have a small ceremony, while others make it into a large event. It is up to the chapter to decide what works best for them. It is recommended that inductions at minimum include:

(1) Speech

(a) Recognition of achievement and excellence

(b) Naming of each individual to be inducted

(2) Presentation of certificates

(a) These should be ordered at least a month in advance of the ceremony

(3) Reciting the PAA Oath

(a) Note: students can opt out of taking the oath for any reason

(b)This can be read by the speaker or by all inductees, in sections or in unison

  •  Suggestion: If inductees are reading the oath, it is a good idea to provide them with a copy to read from

Inductions can be held once or multiple times throughout the year.  Eligible members may be identified as soon as 50% of coursework is completed.  The induction ceremony can be combined with a new student/new faculty to launch into a new school year and encourage all students to strive towards excellence.

In addition to the items listed above, some chapters may choose to also do the following at ceremonies

(1) Guest speaker, who may be selected to receive honorary PAA membership

(2) Distribution of awards for students, faculty, staff, or honored guests

(3) Hooding ceremony

(4) Networking following the ceremony with local professionals or alumni

(5) Fundraiser for the department, the PAA chapter, or scholarship fund




These are opportunities well suited for PAA members. Dates and availability may vary. Please visit

NASPAA Annual Student Simulation Competition

NASPAA Annual Conference

NASPAA Paid Internships

PAA Student Manuscript award Students, staff, or faculty may submit nomination to

Public Service Recognition Week

National Student Journal Conference


Students who are members of PAA have already demonstrated qualities that make them eligible for many internships, assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships. There are also many online resources for students to look for opportunities:

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