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    National Honor Society Requirements for 2023

    Posted October 24, 2023, 11:35 am by Jason Patel
    Four high school students stand with notebooks

    You’ve probably heard of the National Honor Society, but do you really understand what it is, who gets in or how being a member could pay off for you as a high school student? Getting into NHS requires a lot of work and dedication, and the National Honor Society Requirements vary from chapter to chapter. You'll need to meet the GPA requirement and other standards to be considered for membership. But it can be well worth the effort, not only for college applications but for the skills you’ll learn.

    In this article, we'll cover:

    Have more questions about National Honor Society requirements or college admissions? Check out TeenLife's Guide to College Admissions!

    What is National Honor Society?

    Group of five high school students compare test scores

    When it comes to recognizing high school students for their achievements, the National Honor Society (NHS) is the leading organization and has been around since 1921. Until its creation, there were hundreds of educational groups for high schoolers in local communities, but no organization that united students and educators across the nation. However, under the leadership of Dr. Edward Rynearson, principal of the Fifth Avenue High School in Pittsburgh, the National Honor Society grew from one school in 1921 to more than 1000 chapters in 1930. 

    Now, more than 100 years later, over 1 million students in all 50 states, several U.S. territories, and Canada participate in the organization’s mission. NHS formally recognizes the academic excellence its members bring to the organization and requires them to be engaged for the duration of their high school careers.

    What is National Junior Honor Society?

    Group of middle school students stand in line and smile

    The National Honor Society has a number of ancillary and secondary organizations under its banner, with one of the most popular being the National Junior Honor Society. 

    The National Junior Honor Society was created by the The National Association of Secondary School Principals just eight years after the National Honor Society was established. According to the association's website, it's goal is "to create enthusiasm for scholarship; to stimulate a desire to render service; to promote leadership; to encourage responsible citizenship; and to develop character in the students of secondary schools."

    NHS’s other sister organizations include the National Elementary Honor Society, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Student Council and the National Junior Honor Society.

    National Honor Society Requirements

    Group of volunteers in matching shirts smiling and laughing

    There are national standards that all chapters follow when selecting the members for their chapter. The requirements are based on four pillars: scholarship, service, leadership and character. Each chapter is required to publish its own qualifications for membership, based on the four pillars of NHS:


    Per National Honor Society requirement guidelines, students must, at a minimum, have a cumulative GPA of 85, B, 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, or equivalent standard of excellence. Each school chapter is allowed to require a higher cumulative GPA. Here's a quick breakdown of the 2023 National Honor Society requirements, based on information posted on the associations website.


    This involves voluntary contributions made by a student to the school or community, done without compensation.


    Student leaders are those who are resourceful, good problem solvers, and idea contributors. Leadership experiences can be drawn from school or community activities while working with or for others.


    The student of good character is cooperative; demonstrates high standards of honesty and reliability; shows courtesy, concern, and respect for others; and generally maintains a clean disciplinary record.

    As you can see, the scholarship pillar is strictly defined by the NHS: students must have a GPA of 3.0 or your school’s equivalent standard. The remaining pillars aren’t as easy to define, though each student who applies for membership can expect to provide information on any volunteer work they participate in, leadership roles they hold, and what makes their character excellent.

    These national standards are only guidelines for each chapter. Some chapters may require a higher cumulative GPA or have a minimum number of service hours that students must complete to stay eligible from year to year. Each chapter is required to publish their selection requirements, so you’ll have little to no guesswork when completing your application. If you have any questions about the requirements, you should seek at the faculty member who serves as the chapter advisor.

    National Honor Society Benefits

    Group of high school students sit on steps and look at books

    As a member of NHS, you’ll be engaged in opportunities that positively influence your school and community through service projects. You will complete these projects as a team with your chapter or individually. Service leadership is something colleges look for in applications, so this will make you a strong candidate when you’re applying to colleges.

    With high standards for membership, you’ll be motivated to keep a high GPA that keeps you eligible for NHS membership in your chapter. This is another area that will increase your chances of getting accepted to your college of choice. Overall, being a member of NHS will enhance the competitiveness of your college applications.

    There are other National Honor Society benefits however. In addition to having stellar credentials when applying to college, you’ll have resources to help craft your application to its highest potential and ensure you’re aware of how to take advantage of all financial aid options available to you. Members are also able to apply for the NHS Scholarship program that provides additional funding for your college education.

    Being in NHS also opens up a variety of leadership training opportunities that are only available to members. The Leadership Experience and Development (LEAD) conferences provide training for students to have a positive influence in their school and community environments. NHS members from all around the country attend these conferences, which make NHS a great practice arena to begin developing networking skills and building your personal network.

    All members are eligible to attend three national leadership conferences. Some states even offer additional leadership training opportunities for their members outside of the national association.

    National Honor Society Scholarship

    Group of high school students apply for National Honor Society Scholarship

    Every year, the National Honor Society offers a number of scholarships to exceptional students who are among its membership. In fact, since 1946, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has awarded more than $21 million in scholarships to outstanding NHS seniors.

    In 2023, the National Honor Society Scholarship will be awarded to 600 students. To be eligible, a student must be: a high school senior, an active member in good standing of a National Honor Society chapter, an NHS student account holder, and planning to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. college or university. This year's $2 million scholarship fund will be distributed like this:

    • 575 National Semifinalists get $3,200
    • 24 National Finalists get $5,625
    • 1 National Finalists receives $25,000

    To apply for the National Honor Society Scholarship, students need to create an account on the associations official website, verify their identity, and complete and submit an application. The National Honor Society Scholarship application opens on September 18, 2023 and closes on November 30, 2023. Applicants will find out if their application status in March 2024 and the top 25 scholarship finalists will get an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. in April 2024.

    Is National Honor Society Worth It?

    High school student smiles thinking about national honor society requirements

    Being a member of NHS has many advantages even if your membership only lasts one year. The resources and leadership development opportunities that are available only for members are wonderful even if you participate once. The service projects and hours you complete will benefit your college applications and resume even if your membership status does not remain intact.

    National Honor Society FAQ

    High school student asks a question about national honor society requirements

    Have more questions about the NHS or National Honor Society requirements? Check out these frequently asked questions below and see if we can help!

    Are There Deadlines to Apply for the National Honor Society?

    Deadlines to apply for your local NHS chapter are determined by each chapter. Only students who are sophomores, juniors or seniors are eligible to apply. Freshman can still seek out the chapter advisor to learn the application deadline and requirements to better prepare their membership application. It’s never too early to learn how to get into the NHS.

    If My School Doesn’t Have an NHS Chapter, Can I Apply to One at Another School?

    If your school doesn’t have an active NHS chapter, you can look into renewing the chapter or requesting a chapter be established. You’ll need a faculty member to serve as the chapter advisor and submit the chapter application. Also, each school has a faculty council made up of five members that review the membership applications and selects the appropriate students.

    It costs $385 each year to start and keep a chapter active. Some schools will make this part of their annual budget, and others may require the student membership to fund raise the fee for each year.

    If you are successful in orchestrating an NHS chapter at your school, be sure to include this on your resume and college applications. It is a great accomplishment that shows initiative and commitment, which are two qualities colleges look for in applicants.

    I’m Homeschooled. Can I Be in NHS at a High School Near Me?

    Full-time homeschooled students can be eligible through a homeschool honor society

    What are Ways to Make the Most of My NHS Experience?

    To make the most of your NHS experience, be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities and resources that are available to you.

    • Engage in service projects put together by your chapter.
    • Create your own service opportunities to give back to your community.
    • Get assistance to make your college experience the best it can be.
    • Make goals to go above and beyond what is needed to retain your membership status.
    • Attend at least one national conference for the leadership development and networking.
    • Develop good time management so you can excel academically and in other areas.

    Student adds National Honor Society requirements to his resume

    Can I Put NHS on My Resume?

    Absolutely! Whether you go to college or not, adding your NHS experience will improve your resume, especially if you don’t have prior work experience. Even though you weren’t getting paid for the volunteer work, initiative and commitment that colleges look for when admitting new students are two values that employers look for in new employees.

    What If I Don’t Get In?

    If you aren’t selected as a member of your local NHS chapter, you are allowed to appeal the final decision. You can ask the faculty advisor more about the chapter’s appeal process. If the appeal results in the same conclusion regarding your membership, this is an excellent opportunity to ask the council for feedback on how to make your application better for the next year.

    What Are Some Things I can do to Get in Next Year?

    To prepare for the following year’s application period, make sure you are aware of all the standards that are required by your chapter for membership. Create a plan to meet those requirements that last the entire year. Schedule time to study and volunteer so you’re not struggling at the end of the year to tie up any loose ends that can compromise your application.

    Ask the leadership of your NHS chapter or the faculty advisor if you can participate in service projects that don’t require membership. If you’re seen participating in service work, that can make the service, leadership, and character pillars stronger than simply providing information.

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    Jason Patel

    Jason Patel

    Jason Patel is the founder of Transizion, a college admissions assistance and mentorship company. Transizion donates a portion of profits to low-income students in need of college and career assistance. Jason has been featured in the Washington Post, NBC News, BBC, Bustle, Forbes, Fast Company, Fox Business, Reader’s Digest, and a number of other outlets.