Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society: All You Need to Know

August 24, 2020
By AdmissionSight

Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society: All You Need to Know

Mu Alpha Theta is the US honor society for mathematics designed for both two-year college and high school students. Over a hundred thousand students come together in events throughout the year hosted by thousands of local chapters to celebrate their love for math, improve their skills, and build up an impressive portfolio for achieving their academic and professional math-related goals.

The popularity of Mu Alpha Theta has grown so much over the past few years that it is now recognized in 23 foreign countries. If you take a closer look at the Mu Alpha Theta name, you’ll notice it’s a transliteration of the word math into Greek.

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The primary goals of Mu Alpha Theta are to promote the practice and enthusiasm of mathematics in two-year colleges and high schools, to encourage more students to join the field, and to develop a deep understanding of the subject overall.

Originally founded at the University of Oklahoma in 1957, Mu Alpha Theta has become the primary mathematics honor society for students across the country. Currently, there are more than 2,633 schools with local chapters that have a combined total of 124,000 student members.

Whether you’re set on pursuing a degree or career in the field of mathematics or you simply enjoy spending your free time solving complicated problems, Mu Alpha Theta might be a great opportunity for you.

The AdmissionSight team is always encouraging students to get out of their comfort zones to participate in groups or pursue extracurricular activities that can help further their understanding of particular subjects. Mu Alpha Theta is especially a good idea for students that are already enrolled in high-level math courses such as weighted or AP classes.

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We’ve put together the following outline to help all interested students better understand what Mu Alpha Theta offers, how to join, and much more.

What does Mu Alpha Theta do?

For students who haven’t heard about Mu Alpha Theta, the organization’s role or purpose might be unclear. While there are many advantages of joining the group and countless ways it positively impacts members, there are a few outlined purposes of Mu Alpha Theta that the organization actively pursues.

a group of high school student taking an exam

At its core, Mu Alpha Theta seeks to offer schools a method for encouraging and recognizing students who both excel and enjoy mathematics. Many high schools are without programs that can champion those who love performing complicated functions in their free time and who wish to practice math at a higher level than is offered in the standard curriculum. Mu Alpha Theta seeks to give individual chapters at high schools a formula for accomplishing this.

On a national level, Mu Alpha Theta holds an annual convention for both teachers and students. The organization hosts this event somewhere else each year and puts on math-related events. The purpose behind the convention is to increase awareness of the group and to get math lovers from around the country to interact with each other in a fun and challenging activities.

Students who are always on the lookout for special awards will be happy to know that Mu Alpha Theta also actively offers rewards for student participants. In fact, the organization even provides some support to faculty advisers that help put on their local Mu Alpha Theta chapters. These awards come in the form of grants and scholarships.

Hosting competitions is another important contribution that Mu Alpha Theta makes to math enthusiasts around the country. Participating members can compete with each other through a variety of different tests to put their math skills to the test. The Mathematical Minutes Video Contest, Log1 Contest, and the Rocket City Math League are a few of the most popular.

What are the benefits of participating in Mu Alpha Theta?

We understand that high school students don’t have time to participate in every extracurricular activity, a special club, or an academic program.

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Your time is valuable and limited, making it hard to determine which uses of that time are worthwhile and which are a waste. To help make your decision easier, we’ve outlined some benefits of participating in Mu Alpha Theta:

  • You’ll improve your math skills – One of the most important advantages of joining the Mu Alpha Theta honor society is improving your math skills. Not only do you need to have an impressive grasp on mathematics to join the group, but the various activities and competitions in which you’ll participate will also further hone these skills. After all, one of the primary goals of the groups is to help high schoolers improve their mathematical understanding.
  • You’ll connect with fellow math lovers – Do you find yourself writing up your own math problems after finishing your math homework or researching complicated math theorems during your free time? If so, Mu Alpha Theta is the perfect place for you to find like-minded students. Within this community, you can connect and collaborate with fellow math lovers and compete in some events along the way.
  • It’ll look great on your college application – Other than maintaining an excellent GPA throughout high school and receiving high scores on standardized tests, one of the best ways to make your college application stand out is through participation in extracurricular activities. As the national honor society for mathematics, your affiliation with Mu Alpha Theta will catch the attention of admission officers at any school. This is a great way to improve your chances of gaining admittance to your ideal college.
  • It’s a prestigious organization – With over 50 years of experience, well over 100,000 members, and 23 countries participation, Mu Alpha Theta is a highly-esteemed organization. As a result, every accolade or award associated with this organization will be given significant weight by colleges, admission officers, and future employers. The prestige associated with participation in this group will advantage those that take advantage of it.
  • You’ll be eligible for awards – If the aforementioned reasons weren’t already enough, you’ll also be pleased to know that participation in Mu Alpha Theta makes you eligible for awards as well. Mu Alpha Theta offers several scholarships to outstanding members who show unparalleled dedication to the group and mathematics overall. The National Organization also provides grants and scholarships to students in order to help offset some of the financial burdens created by college tuition.

What kind of scholarships are available through Mu Alpha Theta?

The primary scholarship offered to members is worth $4,000 and is offered through Mu Alpha Theta’s Educational Foundation. This scholarship is offered annually to one member from a pool of several thousand. Any senior in high school who is graduating is eligible to be nominated. They also must be current and active members of a local Mu Alpha Theta chapter.

Every chapter is able to submit up to two applications, no matter how many members they have. The chapter sponsor is responsible for choosing which members, if any, get nominated. All nominees should be excellent mathematics students and should be loyal to his or her Mu Alpha Theta chapter. Nominees must also be active participants in local efforts with demonstrable evidence of service related to mathematics.

In addition to this primary scholarship, there are four other $5,000 scholarships that are awarded to top candidates: The Mary Rhein Memorial Scholarship, The Sallie Scudder Memorial Scholarship, The Paul R. Goodey Scholarship, and The Kay Weiss Scholarship. You can find more information about each scholarship and their accompanying requirements by visiting the official Mu Alpha Theta website. It’s important to bear in mind that funds from these scholarships have to be used within the first 18 months of the scholarship being awarded.

What kind of grants are available through Mu Alpha Theta?

There are fees associated with participating in Mu Alpha Theta chapters and related events. Students, teachers, and organizers have a chance to be reimbursed for some of these expenses through various grants. Here are the five primary grants offered through Mu Alpha Theta and what they offer:

Chapter Grants – This grant offers up to $1,000 for local chapters who want to improve their mathematical offerings for students.

Classroom Teaching Grants – Through this grant, teachers can get $1,500 reimbursed for money they might have invested in giving students improved educational opportunities.

Competition Grants – Many Mu Alpha Theta competitions have entrance fees, and this grant offers $500 to help members cover these costs.

Summer Grant – This grant offers up to $4,000 to help local chapters to host research/summer programs.

National Convention Grant – Through this grant, local chapters can get some costs covered for the National Convention.

Who can become a member of Mu Alpha Theta?

The short answer is that any student can become a member of Mu Alpha Theta, making it an excellent opportunity for all students who are interested. However, as with many esteemed organizations, there are some prerequisites you must meet in order to become a member. It’s important to keep in mind that each separate chapter can institute their own requirements, but there are some fundamental national prerequisites set forth by the organization itself. Here are the minimum standards that all members must meet in order to join:

  • Participants have to be enrolled in high school, in grades 9 through 12
  • Members have to register with Mu Alpha Theta through the school where their current records are located. In other words, students can’t join a local chapter at a school other than the one they’re attending.
  • Students need to have taken two years of mathematics at a college-prep level. This includes geometry and/or algebra. Members must also be currently enrolled in or completed with their third year of college-prep mathematics.
  • On the 4-point grading scale, participants have to average at least a 3.0-grade point average in their math classes only.

While these national requirements extend to all Mu Alpha Theta chapters through the US, individual groups can set more stringent standards and extra requirements. For example, some schools might require participants to pay a membership fee and/or pay for a club t-shirt. Some clubs might also require members to attend a certain number of group meetings or fulfill volunteer requirements related to the subject. It’s always important to check with your school’s branch in order to determine if you can meet all of their specific prerequisites.

What if I don’t qualify to become a member of Mu Alpha Theta immediately?

Given the requirements to become a member of Mu Alpha Theta, there are some people who wish to join that might not immediately qualify. These individuals who wish to continue interacting with the group in the hopes of joining one day are known as associates. Associates aren’t technically members of the Mu Alpha Theta honor society, but they are likely candidates for eventual membership once all of the requirements are met.

two college students inside a library and smiling while looking at the camera

Associates don’t have to pay an initiation fee, but they are allowed to be listed in the records of the National Office if they want to participate in national math contests. Voting is another definitive difference between a member and an associate. Associates aren’t allowed to hold office or vote in their local chapter. This marks a clear advantage for members, but associates are still allowed to attend and speak at meetings.

If you’re beginning to wonder if remaining an associate is worthwhile for an extended period of time…not quite. There’s a one-year limit on being an associate. After 12 months, associates must either be inducted as an official Mu Alpha Theta member if they’re eligible, or they must be taken off the list of associates. If removed, all of the benefits of being an associate would also be taken away. For those considering this step in the membership process, here are the requirements to be a Mu Alpha Theta associate:

  • You must be in high school
  • You have to be enrolled at the school hosting the local chapter
  • You have to have one year of algebra completed with distinction (or an equivalent course)
  • You have to be currently enrolled in a higher-level math course

Tips for joining Mu Alpha Theta

If joining the prestigious Mu Alpha Theta honor society sounds like something you’d be interested in, we’ve provided some tips to help make the process seamless and successful:

  1. Find a local chapter – Before you can even start worrying about qualifying for Mu Alpha Theta, you should check to make sure there’s a local chapter at your school. Keep in mind that high schoolers have to be enrolled at the high school hosting the group. If you find out that there’s not a local chapter at your school, you can go through the process of establishing one yourself. You can read about the requirements here and speak with your principal and math teachers to see if they’re willing to help.
  2. Take the required math classes – As we explained before, one of the requirements for joining the Mu Alpha Theta club is having taken some college preparatory math courses. If you know early on in high school that you want to participate in this honors society, it’s critical to organize your schedule with counselors to make sure you have what you need in order to qualify.
  3. Attend events as an associate – Even if you aren’t a registered member, you can still participate in Mu Alpha Theta events as an associate. This is an excellent opportunity that gives non-members a window into what the organization is like. Not only do you have a first-person view of the proceedings, but you can also speak at these events and give your opinion on how things can be improved.
  4. Talk to members – One of the best ways to get a better understanding of Mu Alpha Theta is to speak with current members. If any of your friends or classmates are participants, their perspective is invaluable for helping you decide whether or not the group is something you’d be interested in or not. Furthermore, they can give you insider tips for joining and participating.

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