In 1976, Professor Albert Clark, F.S.C., established Theta Alpha Kappa at Manhattan College in Riverdale (the Bronx), New York, for the purpose of recognizing the academic achievements of students in religious studies and theology. Since then, Theta Alpha Kappa has chartered more than 350 chapters in educational institutions throughout the United States, ranging from small religiously affiliated colleges and seminaries to large public research institutions. It is the only national honor society dedicated to recognizing academic excellence in religious studies and theology for undergraduate and graduate students.
Induction requires nomination by an active chapter at the student’s institution. Undergraduate students must have a 3.5 GPA (on a 4-point scale) in at least 12 semester credit hours (or 18 quarter credit hours) of relevant coursework in religious studies and/or theology, a 3.0 GPA overall in at least three semesters (or five quarters) of residency, and a class rank within the top 35%. Graduate students must have completed at least half of the credit hours in their religious studies or theology program with a 3.5 GPA.
In addition to encouraging the activities of local chapters, Theta Alpha Kappa maintains a vigorous national program of scholarship awards and fellowship competitions. The Undergraduate Achievement Award provides for each chapter to claim a $100 scholarship every other year for the student it nominates. For a chapter designated as small, this in effect returns to the chapter two-years-worth of its annual dues. Each year TAK awards fellowships to three TAK members towards graduate programs in religious studies or theology. Additionally, its primary publication, the Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa, offers annual prizes and the publication of outstanding student papers.
Theta Alpha Kappa is a related scholarly organization of the American Academy of Religion, an affiliate organization of the Society of Biblical Literature, and a member of the Association of College Honor Societies.
Frequently Asked Questions
The national board of Theta Alpha Kappa (TAK) is presently preparing revisions to this entire website to make its contents more accessible. Until those revisions are implemented, please consult this list of frequently asked questions. Contact us at theta_alpha_inquiries@ThetaAlphaKappa.org if you have additional questions.
How can I join Theta Alpha Kappa?
Induction into TAK is only possible for current students at academic institutions (undergraduate or graduate level) in the United States that have local chapters of the honor society. It is not possible to be inducted after one has already graduated, or if there is no active chapter of the honor society at the institution where one is currently enrolled. Likewise, it is not possible to be inducted by contacting the national board with one’s credentials, because inductions may only occur at the local instititional level. The honor society does not have chapters at high schools, two-year community or junior colleges, or at academic institutions outside the United States, and there are no plans to create such chapters at this time.
Does my college, university, or seminary have a chapter of TAK?
Please look for your institution in the TAK directory (https://thetaalphakappa.org/chapter-handbook-and-directory/). If your institution has a chapter (and it is not marked as “inactive”), your next step is to make contact with the chapter representative (TAK’s term for the faculty advisor at your school). Check with the chair or department administrator of your department of religious studies, religion, theology, biblical and theological studies, etc., to find out which professor is the chapter representative.
What are the academic criteria for induction into TAK?
The national criteria for inductions into TAK are consistent with the standard requirements for all honor societies that are members of the Association of College Honor Societies (https://www.achshonor.org). Please note that these national TAK standards are the absolute minimum requirements and are not negotiable. Local TAK chapters may have more stringent standards, including on matters like GPA and number of courses taken, or stipulations that students considered for TAK induction must major or minor in specific programs. Please contact the chapter representative at your institution for details.
Here are the national eligibility criteria from the TAK constitition:
Undergraduate students matriculated in qualified institutions … are eligible for induction if they have 1) completed at least three semesters (or five quarters) at an institution having a local TAK chapter in good standing, 2) completed a minimum of twelve semester credits or eighteen quarter credits in courses representing religious studies or theology, 3) attained a grade point average of at least 3.5 (on a 4-point scale) in such courses, 4) attained at least a 3.0 grade point average in their total academic program to date, and 5) been ranked in at least the upper 35% of their class in general scholarship at the time of induction or met equivalent standards at the discretion of the chapter representative.
Graduate or post-baccalaureate degree students matriculated in similarly qualified institutions, and in degree programs in religious studies or theology, are eligible for induction if they have 1) completed at least one half of the residency requirements for their current degree program at an institution with a local chapter of TAK, and 2) attained at least a 3.5 grade point average in this course work.
How much does it cost—now and in the future—to become a member of TAK?
The national induction fee for TAK is $30, and this includes a formal certificate of induction and a one-year subscription (two issues, usually for the fall and spring of the next academic year) to Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa.
Induction into TAK means lifetime membership, so there are no additional national membership fees or dues (though local chapters may add additional local fees at their discretion).
If you wish to renew your subscription to the journal, you may do so for $20/year (see https://thetaalphakappa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JTAK-Subscription-Renewal-Form.pdf). One’s ongoing membership in TAK is not affected by one’s JTAK subscription status; the latter is completely optional.
Can I purchase items that identify me as a TAK member?
An inducted member may purchase TAK regalia, such as an honor cord (to wear at graduation) or a pin, but such items are not included in the $30 national induction fee. See our vendor’s website (http://www.kenjernigan.com/Theta-Alpha-Kappa/) for ordering information. Your local chapter may have policies or traditions about use of honor cords or other regalia, so be sure to consult your chapter representative before placing an order. Also, see the policy below about personal use of the TAK logo or name for other purposes.
What TAK awards or scholarships are available for students?
The honor society offers several awards and scholarships for students, including the Albert Clark Awards (https://thetaalphakappa.org/clark-awards/), Graduate Fellowship Awards (https://thetaalphakappa.org/graduate-fellowship-competition/), and Undergradute Achievement Awards (https://thetaalphakappa.org/undergraduate-award/). Please see the information about each of these programs elsewhere on our website, including their eligibility criteria.
Please note that TAK does not offer awards or scholarships for students who are not enrolled in institutions with TAK chapters, nor does TAK offer any scholarships beyond our Graduate Fellowship Awards program.
What is Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa, how do I get a subscription, and how do I submit an article for publication?
JTAK (https://thetaalphakappa.org/journal-of-theta-alpha-kappa/) is the official journal of the honor society. Issues are published (in print format) in the fall and spring of each academic year, and PDFs of past issues are available in the AtlaSerials® (Atlas®) database (see https://www.atla.com/research-tool/atlas/). The journal publishes articles written by undergraduate and graduate students, and all articles are reviewed by professors (thus the journal is “peer-reviewed” for academic quality). The journal also publishes news from local chapters and updates of other kinds about national TAK programs.
Each inducted member receives a one-year subscription to the journal (usually for the fall and spring issues of the first academic year after induction). Optional renewals are available for $20/year (see https://thetaalphakappa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/JTAK-Subscription-Renewal-Form.pdf). Complimentary subscriptions to the journal are provided for chapter representatives and for libraries at institutions that have a TAK chapter.
Articles considered for publication in the journal must be submitted through the Albert Clark Awards essay competition (https://thetaalphakappa.org/clark-awards/). The journal publishes the winning (first and second place) essays in both the undergraduate and graduate categories along with other excellent articles submitted in both categories. The journal does not consider articles submitted through other means.
Does TAK have a religious affiliation?
Though TAK was founded at a Roman Catholic college and most of its early chapters were chartered at Catholic institutions, the honor society has no religious affiliation and is open to any student and academic institution that meets the society’s academic qualifications. The society has chartered over 350 chapters at a wide range of colleges, universities, and seminaries, including public universities and private institutions (with or without religious affiliations). TAK is a nonsectarian, nonprofit honor society that seeks to encourage, recognize, and promote student excellence in the academic study of religion and theology, regardless of the particular religious expression or perspective of the individual or academic institution.
What can I do if my institition does not have a chapter of TAK?
If you are an undergraduate or graduate student in religious studies and/or theology, please talk to your professor and/or your department chair about your interest in TAK and ask them to consider starting a chapter. If you are a professor or academic administrator, please see the information elsewhere on our website (https://thetaalphakappa.org/starting-a-chapter-2/) for information about how to start a chapter, and contact the national board directly (https://thetaalphakappa.org/contact/) if you have any questions.
What does a chapter representative do?
A chapter representative is the faculty member who leads a local TAK chapter at one’s institution and represents the chapter in its communications with the TAK national board. The chapter representative is responsible to induct new members of the local chapter, ensure that chapter fees are paid annually to the national organization to keep the chapter in good standing, report activities and achievements of local members in news updates for JTAK, and (as possible) participate in TAK’s national annual business meeting (see https://thetaalphakappa.org/annual-meeting-information/). The society offers a complimentary TAK induction for chapter representatives who are not already members of the society (https://tinyurl.com/TAKChapterRepMembership), and we ask that changes of chapter leadership be reported promptly to the national board (https://tinyurl.com/TAKChapterRepChange).
How much are annual chapter dues?
Annual chapter dues vary based on the size of the institution: $50 for small institutions (under 1700 students), $75 for medium institutions (1700–4000 students), or $100 for large institutions (over 4000 students). The national TAK treasurer sends invoices for chapter dues to chapter representatives each year in September/October. Note that $100 of these chapter dues may essentially be recouped every other year if a chapter presents the national-funded Undergraduate Achievement Award (https://thetaalphakappa.org/undergraduate-award/) to one of its worthy students!
How does a chapter representative induct a new student member?
Please see the instructions for the standard induction order/registration process on our website (https://thetaalphakappa.org/new-member-induction-form/). Please note that the instructional video is based on a previous version of our website and will be updated as part of our website revisions that are underway, but you should still find it helpful.
The national induction fee is now $30 (not $25, as it was when the video was made). A chapter must be in good standing with the national TAK organization in order to induct members, i.e., a new chapter must have paid its new chapter fee and received its Greek letters and chapter number, and an existing chapter must be current on its annual dues.
If you are unable to meet with your students in person for induction (your program is taught online, you have COVID-19 restrictions, etc.), please contact the national board (https://thetaalphakappa.org/contact/) for additional guidance about how to proceed.
Extensive revisions are underway on the former “chapter handbook” referenced elsewhere on our website. We plan to offer helpful resources in new formats when the revisions are completed. For now, please see brief information about a possible induction ceremony outline (https://www.dropbox.com/s/84pn3uxhhxmiiaq/sample%20TAK%20induction%20ceremony.pdf?dl=0) and reflections on the history of the society from a prominent early leader (https://www.dropbox.com/s/ydoqif7g653rgbs/reflections%20of%20Al%20Clark%20JTAK.pdf?dl=0). Feel also free to contact the board directly with any questions (https://thetaalphakappa.org/contact/).
How should a local chapter be organized?
Local chapters are free to determine their own organizational structures and activities as long as the chapter is current on its annual chapter dues payments, is led by a chapter representative who fulfills the responsibilities of the position as described above, and engages in programs and activities consistent with the purposes of the honor society as explained in the national constitution. Every local situation is different, and the national board encourages flexibility for local chapters to develop programs and practices that will be most beneficial in their own contexts. As such, there are no national requirements for chapters to have officers or to conduct any kinds of programs (beyond dignified induction ceremonies for new members).
Does TAK have a Facebook page?
Yes, @ThetaAlphaKappa. Please use this forum to connect with TAK members at other institutions and to promote projects and activities of your chapter that might be of interest to others.
Who speaks for and/or represents TAK on current or controversial issues?
Only the national board is authorized to speak on behalf of TAK as an organization, and we do not assume responsibility for our members’ conduct or comments on social media or elsewhere. While the board recognizes that our society’s membership includes people and academic institutions who espouse a wide range of perspectives on numerous issues, such views should not be assumed to represent those of the honor society as a whole. Instead, our organizational focus as a nonsectarian, nonprofit honor society is to encourage, recognize, and promote student excellence in the academic study of religion and theology through our local chapters, multiple scholarship opportunities offered by the national organization, publication of student articles in Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa, and other national programs. The society is committed—like our partners including the Association of College Honor Societies, American Academy of Religion, and Society of Biblical Literature—to policies of professional conduct and against discrimination and sexual harassment, and such policies appear in our constitution and the national TAK board’s policies and procedures manual, but we do not typically issue public statements.
Can I create materials or items with the TAK logo?
The logo of Theta Alpha Kappa, TAK, and its name “Theta Alpha Kappa, the national honor society for religious studies and theology,” is a registered service mark. Chapters are authorized to use the logo and service mark only for official chapter activities—such as on stationery, invitations, or banquet programs for official business. Any other uses, such as use of logo on apparel and other paraphernalia, are usually not permissible. Questions about these uses should be directed to the organization’s president (https://thetaalphakappa.org/contact/).