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Department of History

College of Arts & Sciences

Alpha Epsilon Epsilon Chapter
Department of History
           East Tennessee State University          


The International Honor Society in History, Phi Alpha Theta, was organized at the University of Arkansas on March, 17, 1921. Since that time about 700 chapters have been organized, including our chapter at ETSU, in 1989/90 under the leadership of Dr. Drinkard-Hawkshawe, Chair of the Department. Phi Alpha Theta is the second oldest, after Phi Beta Kappa, of the major honor societies.

Phi Alpha Theta is composed of chapters in accredited colleges and universities. Membership is not restricted to History majors only. All student who have completed the required number of History courses and who have maintained high GPAs are eligible for membership. Phi Alpha Theta is also a professional society. Its objective is the promotion of the study of History through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication, and the exchange of learning and thought among historians. It seeks to bring students, teachers, and writers of History together both intellectually and socially, and it encourages and assists in a variety of ways, historical research and publication by its members.

 The symbolism of the Society is a Star, a Serpent, the Colors, and the Flower. The six-pointed star, which is composed of two triangles, is worked in black and laid on a circular frame, the whole encircled by a Serpent. That which governs the universe may be thought of as having three attributes: Parenthood, Spirit of Life, and Reason, which are symbolized by one of the triangles. Ancient philosophers believed that people and the world were made of three elements: Spirit, Blood, and Water. These are represented by the second triangle of the Star.

The triangle with the apex below the base symbolizes the guiding principles of the universe.
The Greek letter PI . . . signifies Progonos, for Parenthood.
The letter PSI . . . signifies Psyche, for Spirit of Life.
The letter LAMBDA . . . signifies Logos, for Reason.
The letter ALPHA . . . signifies Haima, for Blood.
The letter UPSILON . . . signifies Hydor, for Water.
The letter PSI . . . signifies Psyche, for Spirit of Life.

The union of these two triangles forming the six-pointed star (the Ancient Assyrian sign of divinity) symbolizes the intimate relation of the infinite and the human. By some ancient peoples the Serpent was regarded as a symbol of eternity, good fortune, and plenty. In our symbolism it signifies happiness, fruitfulness, and eternity.
Superimposed on the black within the two triangles are the three letters, PHI, ALPHA, THETA, - Philia, Anthropos, Theos, - signifying Love, Humanity, God.
The colors of our society also denote the relation between the human and the infinite. The red symbolizes the blood, which is essential to human life, while the blue symbolizes the sky, which to many ancient peoples signified the divine. The flower, a deep red rose, symbolizes beauty, charm, and fervency.
Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave, SOC 107, Tampa, FL 33620-8100
Phone: (800)394-8195 / (813)974-8212 - Fax: (813)974-8215 E-mail:

 Requirements for Membership


An undergraduate student must have completed a minimum of twelve hours in History. The students grade in all of those history course must be a minimum of 3.1 on the scale used at ETSU. In addition, that student must rank in the highest 35% of the class. In practice, since a percentage ranking is not currently used at ETSU, this means that you must have at least a 3.0 in two-thirds of your earned hours of course work.


A graduate student must have completed at least one-third of the residence requirements for the Masters degree (12 hours) before being eligible for membership. A minimum GPA of 3.5 is required and no grade in the graduate record may be an "F" or its equivalent.


Faculty members above the rank of graduate assistant, who are teaching in the field of History, shall be eligible for membership without being required to satisfy the provisions listed above.

For more information regarding membership, awards, scholarships, benefits and activities, please see Dr. Doug Burgess, the faculty advisor for Phi Alpha Theta at ETSU

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