In 1977, the first chapter of the Alpha Delta Mu Honor Society was incorporated at Morgan State University in Maryland. The society quickly expanded to other post-secondary schools nationwide to promote excellence in social work education and professional social work practices. The honor society's motto is "Advocate of the People," which encompasses the organization's dedication to supporting and improving the lives of diverse individuals and families wherever they live.
To qualify for Alpha Delta Mu membership, colleges and universities must hold accreditation from regional and national organizations recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Additionally, post-secondary schools must offer degrees at baccalaureate or higher levels in social work and maintain program accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education. Affiliation with CSWE demonstrates that curricular studies contain relevant, evidence-based instruction designed to encourage superior scholarship and professionalism in the field.
A faculty member acting as the chapter's adviser then writes a letter accompanying a petition establishing the program's status and agreeing to follow all Alpha Delta Mu Honor Society guidelines. Once the petition is approved by the national office, a charter membership is granted to the institution.
Types of Individual Memberships
Membership fall under the categories of active, alumni and distinguished members. Each category has criteria for acceptance:
- Active members are currently enrolled in CSWE-accredited social work programs and have completed at least six semester hours of classes in the field. They may be junior or senior undergraduates with a minimum 3.0 GPA or graduate candidates with a minimum 3.5 GPA.
- Alumni are formerly active student members who are no longer associated with any institution with an established chapter. They may participate in alumni activities at any school where an official Alpha Delta Mu chapter exists.
- Distinguished members have earned national or international recognition for their contributions to social work education, research or practice.
It is allowable for local chapters to impose higher scholastic qualifications than those suggested by the Alpha Delta Mu national organization. Furthermore, students seeking initial, active membership must demonstrate their leadership capabilities, high ethical standards of behavior, and desire to promote social work services.
Benefits of Belonging to Alpha Delta Mu
At the student level, the benefits of belonging to Alpha Delta Mu include access to educational and supervisory support from mentors in the local chapter. Mentors may be upper-level seniors, graduate candidates or social work professionals who are society alumni participating in chapter activities. Mentors often pair up with students individually but chapters also use them to host study groups for comprehensive exams. Belonging to an honor society like Alpha Delta Mu can also further internship and career opportunities by providing a strong credential to add to resumes and opening up networking opportunities among social work professionals that can lead to future employment.
Most college honor societies charge a one-time fee between $20 to $125 for lifetime membership. Fees should not be a reason to forego membership, however, as most programs also offer accommodations for deserving students who may not be able to afford the cost outright. For aspiring social workers, participating in a professional organization like Alpha Delta Mu Honor Society can be a worthwhile endeavor that focuses specific directions of study and influences future career decisions.
See also: Scholarship for Social Work