What are the National Honor Society Requirements for HS Students?


National Honor Society (NHS) has promoted service and academic performance since 1921. It is one of the most prestigious memberships available to high school students. High schoolers who are serious about grades, their communities and improving their chances of getting into a great college often see National Honor Society as an important step.

What Are the Basic Requirements of National Honor Society?

Generally, the process of being admitted to National Honor Society involves an application that shows a record of service and a history of high academic standing. According to the Honor Society’s official website, “membership is determined by a majority vote of the faculty council, following an evaluation of candidates’ qualifications for membership.”

Why does National Honor Society exist? There are four main purposes that guide National Honor Society chapters:

  1. Create enthusiasm for scholarship
  2. Stimulate a desire to render service
  3. Promote leadership
  4. Develop character in the students of secondary schools

Membership requirements vary between chapters at different schools.

We recently talked to Dr. Jonathan Mathis, the director of NHS at the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) – the founding body of the National Honor Society – to learn more about the club.

“The catalyst a student needed to thrive”

“Schools,” Dr. Mathis noted, “are full of latent potential just waiting to be released through the right opportunities, and there are countless examples of NHS being just the catalyst a student needed to thrive in new ways.”

Dr. Mathis added that most students take full advantage of the opportunities to perform community service – especially when they see an overwhelming need in their own neighborhoods.

“In many cases, the service is linked to specific problems students have identified in their local communities,” he said. “We find them most engaged when they lead the full process of building empathy, defining the problem, identifying solutions, and then of course executing them.”

Are National Honor Society better prepared for college? There is no direct path between NHS and college, Dr. Mathis said, but did note that students who take part in the organization’s activities often receive college prep information and are better prepared for the process of applying.

Dr. Mathis also explained that many NHS programs have introduced a newly-instituted campaign called Honor Your Future Now, which includes “a series of new college-going features, including webinars with college admissions counselors, a custom scholarship search tool, an expanded pool of NHS Scholarship funds, as well as virtual workshops for college admission and scholarship essay writing.”

A More Specific Look at Requirements and Benefits of NHS

Lucas Humphrey is an English teacher and National Honor Society sponsor at George Washington University Online High School. The program functions a bit differently at GWUOHS than it would at a brick-and-mortar school, Humphrey explains, but with the same philosophies.

Students from the online private school meet digitally. Group projects are coordinated online, but carried out in regional groups or simply within the community. The club’s key goals and themes are no different from the traditional classroom setting.

Humphrey says most students at GWOUHS are eligible and interested in joining  by the time they hit their junior year – the first year they are able to apply.

“A lot of students enjoy being able to have the social connection with other students,” Humphrey notes. “It’s a big benefit to a lot of our clubs, being that we’re an online school. National Honor Society really gives them an opportunity to interact with students that are likeminded.”

If a GWUOHS student has a minimum 3.3 grade point average and a clean disciplinary record, they are encouraged to submit an application detailing their records in academics and community service. Most of those applications are accepted.

That’s not to say that students who are too young to apply shouldn’t be thinking of the future, however.

“I suggest to ninth- and tenth-graders who are interested in joining NHS later in high school to get involved in their communities,” Humphrey says and advises students that. “If they really want to join National Honor Society, [to] make sure to keep their grades up and get involved with service work early.”

Does NHS membership help get students into college? Humphrey thinks so – or, at least, believes it can’t hurt. “I would say that membership does have a positive influence on college applications,” he says. “Students can indicate on their application that they are a member of NHS. Any type of any extracurricular activities on their application is going to help.”

NHS: Beneficial to the Bigger Picture

National Honor Society may help strengthen a student’s college applications – but it’s also going to help build character, leadership skills and a stronger community. Ultimately, those attributes create opportunities for a brighter future for both the individual and our neighbors.

Is an online school right for you?

If you or your child is interested in the benefits of attending one of the nation’s elite online private schools, visit the GWUOHS website today to learn more about what we have to offer.


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