Students in Saint Leo's online psychology degree program, and those enrolled at the university's centers, now can be invited to join Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology.

B.F. Skinner, considered one of the most influential psychologists of the twentieth century, was a distinguished member of Psi Chi.

So were George Albee, a clinical psychology pioneer, and J.P. Guilford, who was known for his theory of human intelligence.

Psychology students who are accepted into Psi Chi, the prestigious international honor society in psychology, are in good company.

And while they also may wear special regalia – honor cords, stoles and medallions – at their graduation ceremonies, even more importantly, they have the opportunity to belong to an almost 85-year old organization that is recognized globally for academic excellence.

Expanding chapter membership

Psi Chi has chartered more than 1,100 chapters at colleges and universities around the world. Since Saint Leo was awarded a chapter in 1997, membership has been available to University Campus students.

Earlier this year, that opportunity was expanded to both students enrolled in the university's online psychology degree program and to psychology students at any of the university's education centers.

Dr. Tammy Zacchilli, associate professor of psychology who has been the Saint Leo chapter advisor for four years, says that originally Psi Chi would only grant chapters to 'satellite campuses' if they employed full-time faculty at those locations. That policy has changed to enable universities, such as Saint Leo, with students at numerous locations and online to join the campus chapter. Dr. Lara Ault, associate professor of psychology at the Gainesville Education Center, is co-advisor and is in charge of membership for online and center students.

Benefits of membership: scholarship and community

Zacchilli says that belonging to Psi Chi offers valuable opportunities for psychology students who are dedicated to their academic and professional careers. In addition to providing resources to help students with networking or research, members interact with other students who have similar interests, participate in service, and attend academic conferences where they can meet leading psychologists.

The organization emphasizes scholarship and the enrichment of the mind as well as fellowship and building relationships that advance psychology.

"Psi Chi is a great resource for psychology students, providing them with access to a support system to reach their goals. Just having it on your resume speaks volumes about the caliber of your academic work and your dedication to the field," says Zacchilli. "For qualified online students, it's yet another opportunity to cultivate a sense of community with other students and professionals in the field."

Application by invitation only

To join Psi Chi, students must first receive an invitation from either Zacchilli (campus students only) or Ault (online or center students only). Once invited to join, submitting all required documentation before the deadline is key, since applications are process only twice a year -- in early fall and February.

To be eligible, students must:

  • Have declared a major or minor in psychology
  • Be a second-semester sophomore, junior or senior
  • Have completed three psychology courses (courses in progress do not count)
  • Have a minimum 3.0 GPA, preferably higher
  • Be in the top 35 percent of their class

Psi Chi membership costs $55 for lifetime membership and there are also chapter dues. There is an induction on campus in the fall and spring. Other induction ceremonies will depend on availability of faculty at a given location.

For more information, online and center students may contact Dr. Lara Ault at, (352) 424-1490 and University Campus students may contact Dr. Tammy Zacchilli at, (352) 588-8301.

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