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How to Meet National Honor Society Requirements

Reviewed by Candace Bowers
Managing Editor
Written by Elise Nass
Updated: July 5, 2024
8 min read
Deadline19 days left to apply
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Are you a high-achieving student? As a former NHS member and graduate of a high-tier university, I can assure you that acceptance into the National Honor Society recognizes your academic efforts and boosts your college applications.

In order to apply, you'll need to meet a few requirements. These criteria can vary depending on the specifics of your local chapter, so check with them as well.

Main National Honor Society Requirements

  • Scholarship: Maintain a minimum GPA (typically 3.5 or higher).
  • Service: Complete a required number of community service hours.
  • Leadership: Demonstrate leadership skills through roles in school or community activities.
  • Character: Exhibit strong personal character and good conduct.

Don't think of these requirements as hurdles barring you from a strong college application. Instead, consider this: if you aim to exceed all the National Honor Society Requirements, you'll end up with a well-rounded student resume even if you aren't accepted.

Striving for a high GPA, community service hours, and leadership positions will be helpful to you no matter what your goals in life are. Acceptance to NHS is just an added bonus. Think of the NHS requirements as guidelines for finding success in your student career.

Role of the National Honor Society

The National Honor Society (NHS) is a prestigious organization that recognizes and encourages academic achievement, leadership, character, and service among high school students. Students can also get a head start by getting involved in the National Junior Honor Society, which is available at the middle school level.

Key benefits of NHS membership include:

  • Access to exclusive scholarships and awards— the NHS has awarded over 16,000 scholarships to deserving students since the organization was founded
  • Opportunities for leadership development and community service
  • Enhanced college applications with recognition from a respected organization

Create your free profile with now for more student resources. Access hundreds of exclusive scholarships to help pay for your education and save up for college.

Image Courtesy of NASSP

NHS Eligibility Requirements

Meeting the national honor society requirements is crucial for students aspiring to join an active NHS chapter. It not only showcases their dedication and hard work but also enhances their college applications.

Here are some practical tips and strategies to excel in each of the key categories: Scholarship, Service, Leadership, and Character.

Scholarship Requirement

Meeting the scholarship requirement is a cornerstone for National Honor Society (NHS) membership. Students must maintain a cumulative GPA that meets or exceeds the minimum threshold set by their school chapter.

Minimum GPA Requirement for NHS Membership

To be eligible for NHS, students must demonstrate consistent academic excellence. Here's what you need to know:

  • Cumulative GPA: A cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 is usually required.
  • Consistency: Maintaining this GPA involves consistent performance across all subjects, not just excelling in one area.
  • Course Difficulty: Taking advanced placement (AP) or honors classes can also positively impact your GPA and reflect your commitment to academic rigor.

Students who demonstrate academic excellence can also apply for merit scholarships that have GPA requirements. Apply for merit scholarships by GPA today and start saving up for college.

Tips for Meeting Scholarship Requirements

  • Maintain a High GPA: Aim for consistency in your academic performance. Pick a plan from these regular study schedules to optimize your study sessions.
  • Utilize Resources: Take advantage of library resources, online courses, and study groups. These tools can help you gain a deeper understanding of challenging subjects.
  • Stay Organized: Keep track of assignments, tests, and project deadlines. Use planners or digital calendars to manage your time effectively.
Image Courtesy of NASSP

Service Requirement

The National Honor Society emphasizes the importance of community service, holding it as one of its four pillars.

Community Service Hours

High school students aspiring to join NHS must complete a specific number of community service hours. These hours serve as a testament to your dedication and willingness to contribute to society. Each school chapter may have its own requirements, so it's crucial to check with your local NHS advisor for precise details.

Types of Volunteer Work

Service can be performed through various school or community activities, such as:

  • Local charities and shelters: Offer time at food banks, homeless shelters, or animal rescue centers.
  • School-based initiatives: Participate in clubs that promote community involvement or help organize events for secondary schools.
  • Environmental projects: Engage in cleanup drives, tree planting, or recycling programs.

These activities not only fulfill service hour expectations but also provide valuable experiences that can be highlighted in college applications.

Participating in community service projects often presents opportunities to showcase leadership qualities. Leading a project or coordinating volunteers can demonstrate your ability to manage and inspire others—traits highly valued by both NHS and colleges.

In addition, engaging in community service means you are eligible to apply for community service scholarships. Membership in a group like NHS will also make you a more desirable candidate for these scholarships.

Evaluation Criteria

Faculty members evaluate your community service based on the following:

  • Consistency: Regular involvement in service activities.
  • Impact: The significance and reach of your volunteer work.
  • Commitment: A genuine dedication to serving others over merely fulfilling hour requirements.

Understanding these criteria helps you plan meaningful activities that align with the NHS's standards. Through consistent effort and impactful contributions, fulfilling the service requirement becomes an enriching experience that promotes personal growth and readiness for future leadership roles.

Tips for Meeting Service Requirements

  • Volunteer Regularly: Look for ongoing volunteer opportunities in your community. Consistent service demonstrates commitment.
  • Join Clubs: Participate in school clubs that focus on community service. This can provide structured opportunities to earn your service hours.
  • Document Hours Meticulously: Keep detailed records of your service hours. This will be crucial when submitting your NHS application.
Image Courtesy of NASSP

Leadership Requirement

Demonstrating leadership abilities is a cornerstone of the National Honor Society (NHS). To meet this criterion, you need to show active participation in school or community activities where you have taken on leadership roles.

Opportunities for Leadership

Leadership positions within your school's NHS chapter provide excellent opportunities to promote leadership. As a member, you can volunteer for officer roles such as president, vice president, secretary, or treasurer.

Evaluation of Leadership

Oftentimes, a faculty member will evaluate this requirement by looking at your involvement in school or community activities where you've held significant responsibilities. They assess not just the positions you've occupied but also the impact of your leadership on those around you.

Tips for Meeting Leadership Requirements

  • Take the initiative: Seek out leadership roles within school clubs, sports teams, or community organizations. Demonstrating initiative is key.
  • Attend Workshops: Participate in leadership training programs or workshops offered by schools or community centers.
  • Mentorship Programs: Find a mentor who can guide you through developing strong leadership skills.
character requirement for nhs
Image Courtesy of NASSP

Character Requirement

Exemplifying strong character traits and maintaining a clean disciplinary record is crucial for National Honor Society (NHS) members.

1. Strong Moral Values

Members are expected to demonstrate integrity, honesty, and respect in their interactions within the school chapter and broader community.

2. Clean Disciplinary Record

A spotless record indicates a commitment to upholding school rules and community standards. Any infractions could jeopardize your eligibility.

3. Community Involvement

Participation in school or community activities that reflect positively on your character is important. Whether through community service hours or involvement in school clubs, these efforts highlight your dedication to making voluntary contributions for the betterment of society.

4. Evaluation by Faculty Members

Your character will be assessed by faculty members who observe your daily interactions and contributions. They play an active role in determining if you meet the criteria for membership based on your conduct and ethical behavior.

Tips for Meeting Character Requirements

  • Model Integrity: Always act with honesty and integrity both inside and outside school. Your actions reflect your character.
  • Engage Positively: Treat peers, teachers, and community members with respect and kindness.
Image Courtesy of NASSP

Obligations and Benefits of NHS Membership

Being part of the National Honor Society (NHS) comes with specific commitments and significant advantages that can shape your academic and personal journey.

Commitments Expected from NHS Members

As an NHS member, you are expected to:

  • Attend Meetings Regularly: Consistent participation in local chapter meetings is crucial. It ensures you're up-to-date with events, projects, and announcements.
  • Engage in Community Service: Volunteer work forms a core aspect of NHS membership. Each chapter has its own set of required service hours that you must fulfill.
  • Exhibit Leadership and Character: Uphold the values of leadership and character both within and outside the school environment. This means maintaining respectful behavior, helping peers, and leading by example.

Advantages of NHS Membership

NHS membership offers numerous benefits:

  • Enhanced College Applications: Colleges and universities view NHS membership as a mark of distinction.
  • Scholarship Opportunities: Many scholarships prioritize or exclusively consider applicants who are part of honor societies like NHS.
  • Networking Opportunities: Connect with like-minded peers, mentors, and professionals through various NHS events and network opportunities.
  • Skill Development: Gain valuable skills such as leadership, time management, teamwork, and organization through active participation in NHS activities.

The National Honor Society isn't just about meeting requirements; it's about embracing opportunities for growth, making a positive impact on your community, and preparing for future success.

Image Courtesy of NASSP

Frequently Asked Questions About NHS Requirements

Can you re-apply for membership in the National Honor Society?

Yes, students can apply again if they are initially rejected from the NHS. You are unlikely to receive personalized feedback on why your application didn't make it the first time. Before you reapply, check that you have met all the requirements.

Ask peers or a trusted faculty member to look over your application and provide advice on what you could change to increase your odds of acceptance. You may also want to give it some time and improve certain areas of your application— for example, adding more community service projects— before you apply again.

How can I find opportunities for community service to fulfill the service hours requirement?

Finding community service opportunities can be straightforward:

  • Local Chapter: Check with your school's NHS advisor or local chapter for approved volunteer activities.
  • Community Organizations: Partner with local non-profits, libraries, hospitals, or shelters.
  • Online Platforms: Use websites like VolunteerMatch or local community boards to find events and organizations needing help.

How many hours of community service are required for membership in the National Honor Society?

The specific number of service hours varies by school and chapter. Generally, expect to complete around 20-30 hours per year. Always verify the exact requirements with your local chapter or faculty council. is committed to providing free resources to students. Sign up for a profile and start applying for scholarships today! Make sure to check out the scholarship blog for helpful tips and tricks students can use in their everyday lives. 

Elise Nass
Content Writer

About Elise

Elise is a skilled and knowledgeable writer. Her understanding of scholarships and internships enables her to craft insightful and informative content that resonates with students, helping them navigate the often complex processes of applying for financial aid and career opportunities.

Elise graduated from New York University with a double major in English and Psychology, as well as a minor in Creative Writing.


Through challenging university coursework and corporate experience, Elise has become an expert in several different types of writing, including literary analysis, content pieces, formal scientific writing, SEO editing, and more. Elise expanded on her knowledge while interning in marketing, using her understanding of SEO to boost website traffic and customer engagement.

She’s published a short story in The Foundationalist literary magazine and has also won several short story writing awards at the regional and international levels. Elise loves to craft content that helps students navigate college life and scholarship applications. She makes use of syntax and tone to write readable, engaging pieces. Elise has a solid understanding of linguistics and grammatical structures across multiple languages thanks to her fluency in English and proficiency in Mandarin and Cantonese. 

Elise first joined in 2022 during her undergraduate studies, explored other pursuits in 2023, and happily returned in 2024 as a Content Writer. Motivated by her writing skills, she aims to make educational resources more accessible for students of all backgrounds. Additionally, she believes it's important to add to the available information on student loans and student finances in a way that's user-friendly and easy to understand.

Quote from Elise

“I try to create content that would have helped my younger self— stuff I wish I knew when I was starting college.”

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