Should I join NSHSS or NHS?

When students and families receive invitations to join prestigious organizations like the National Honor Society (NHS) or the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS), it’s easy to feel flattered and eager to accept. However, before making a decision, it’s essential to take a closer look at what each organization offers. In this article, College Transitions will provide a comprehensive analysis to help answer the question—Should I join NSHSS or NHS?

What is the National Honor Society (NHS)?

Established in the 1920s by a high school principal in Pittsburgh, PA, the National Honor Society (NHS) quickly gained popularity, spreading to over 1,000 high schools nationwide within a decade. Today, NHS chapters can be found in all 50 U.S. states, Canada, Puerto Rico, and various U.S. territories. Membership in NHS is free of charge.

What is the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS)?

Founded much later in 2002, the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) has already inducted over 2 million members from more than 170 countries worldwide. Students from over 26,000 high schools have joined NSHSS. Unlike NHS, NSHSS membership is on an individual basis rather than through local high school chapters, and there is a membership fee of $75 to join.

Also read Guide to Securing Grants for College

What are the NHS acceptance criteria?

To gain acceptance into NHS, students must meet specific criteria set by their local chapter, which must align with the national eligibility requirements to some extent. At the national level, NHS requires a minimum of:

  • A 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Completion of community service without compensation
  • Demonstrated leadership ability (as defined by the local chapter)
  • Demonstrated character, often involving a clean disciplinary record, honesty, and courtesy

What are the NSHSS acceptance criteria?

Acceptance into NSHSS is based on a variety of criteria, providing multiple pathways for students to qualify. Some may view these diverse criteria as a means to attract as many $75 membership fees as possible. Students may receive invitations if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • 1280 SAT or 1150 PSAT score
  • 3.5 cumulative GPA
  • 26 ACT score
  • A score of “4” on any AP exam
  • Rank in the top 10% of their class
  • Total IB score of 36 or higher
  • IGCSE Grade A or higher

Before deciding to join either organization, students should carefully consider their own academic achievements, goals, and the value they expect to derive from membership in these societies.

Is joining the National Honor Society (NHS) worthwhile?

In short—yes. Joining your high school’s NHS chapter provides valuable opportunities for meaningful volunteer work within your school and community. What’s more, NHS membership comes at no cost. However, contrary to popular belief, being an NHS member doesn’t significantly enhance your college admissions prospects. Admission officers already have access to your high GPA, and volunteer work, whether through NHS or independently, is evaluated similarly.

Also see Federal SEOG Grants: Eligibility and Award Amounts for 2023-2024

Is joining the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) worth it?

According to the College Transitions team, paying the $75 membership fee for NSHSS is not advisable. We don’t recommend students pay for membership in any honor society. While NSHSS does offer legitimate scholarship opportunities to its members, we caution against applying for scholarships that require an entry fee. This principle extends to the numerous scholarship opportunities offered through NSHSS.


when considering whether to join the National Honor Society (NHS) or the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS), it’s essential to weigh the benefits against the costs. While NHS membership provides valuable volunteer opportunities at no cost, it doesn’t significantly impact college admissions. On the other hand, NSHSS membership comes with a fee and may not be worth the investment, especially considering the availability of scholarship opportunities without entry fees. Ultimately, students should prioritize involvement in activities that align with their interests and goals, rather than joining organizations solely for perceived prestige.