Honor Societies for Non-Traditional Students
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Pinnacle Honor Society

Pinnacle recognizes nontraditional students enrolled in 4-year degree programs for the peak of their academic careers. Pinnacle issues charters to accredited colleges and universities which, in turn, select outstanding adult and other non-traditional seniors and "rising seniors" for recognition at the local and national level. 

While Pinnacle sets minimal standards for selecting students to be honored, Pinnacle permits each chartered institution to define "non-traditional" according to its local definition. This approach yields a vast array of truly non-traditional students who are honored each year all across the country. Each student selected for recognition through membership in Pinnacle will receive an honor cord, lapel pin, a diploma seal, and an official membership certificate.

Students selected for membership can either become part of a locally organized chapter or simply be named to the National Chapter. The locally created and registered/recognized student organizations take every imaginable form. Some are honor societies in the strictest sense of the word, existing solely to honor their members. Others meet campus social needs, leadership needs, even activism needs on some campuses.

Spire Honor Society

Spire is the most important national honor society for non-traditional students enrolled in 2-year academic programs, Spire was founded for the purpose of recognizing the unique achievements of adult and other non-traditional students enrolled in Associates Degree programs.

The founders of Spire noticed that non-traditional students, who are typically less involved in campus life, often married, and usually employed while attending college, were rarely selected for campus honoraries. It seems that the typical lifestyle and daily responsibilities of these students prevented them from being widely considered for membership in most campus academic, service, and leadership honoraries, thereby whitholding from this entire category of students the career-enhancing advantages of such membership.

Spire was created to provide adult (defined as 25 years old or older) and other non-traditional students (such as young single parents, handicapped students, students who earn degrees while working full-time, international students, and other similarly situated students) with the same level of recognition which outstanding traditional students have always received.

Chartered Institutions

Pinnacle (4-year degree programs) and Spire (2-year degree programs) are honor societies that recognize non-traditional students. With over 150 chartered institutions on more than 175 campuses, Pinnacle and Spire honorees can be found in every corner of our nation.

Pinnacle & Spire Chartered Institutions are committed to building a foundation for success for their nontraditional students. Starting a Pinnacle and/or Spire Honor Society charters can have an positive impact on your campus. This is a great opportunity for you to stand out, and a great compliment to your adult learner program. Don't just say you support nontraditional students, show that you support nontraditional students by becoming a Pinnacle and/or Spire Honor Society Chartered Institution today!

There is no cost to the institution for creating and maintaining a Pinnacle and/or Spire Chapter.



Pinnacle Honor Society (4-year degree program) and Spire Honor Society (2-year degree program) both honor nontraditional students for their outstanding academic achievement, at colleges and universities across the country.

Pinnacle and Spire Honor Societies recognize nontraditional students for their achievements and support their academic and professional success. We understand the multiple roles and challenges that nontraditional students face when they return to college because we are nontraditional students. Whether you are a single parent, veteran, displaced worker, deployed military, or meet any of the other characteristics of a nontraditional student, we know that it can be difficult to balance work, a career, college, raising a family, caring for aging parents, along with all of the other things that you must do. Your decision to return to college was one of the most important decisions in your life, and you should be very proud of your success. We are proud of you and know that you have and will continue to do great things!

Today, over 70% of students enrolled in colleges and universities across the country fall into the category of being nontraditional. Of that 70%, many will not complete their degree program, much less complete it with honors! This is quite an accomplishment and one that we hope you will value throughout your personal and professional life. We also hope that you will encourage others to follow your same path and set an example for others. Congratulations on your success!

Standards of Membership

I. All students selected for induction in PINNACLE and/or SPIRE must meet the following criteria:

   A) Qualify as adult or non-traditional students under locally-derived and maintained definitions;
   B) PINNACLE students: preferably have senior status, although exceptional juniors may be selected for         

       membership, and graduate students may be selected for membership in the Graduate Division; SPIRE

       students: must be within 12 months of graduation;
   C) Pinnacle students should have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale (3.0 with exceptional 

       circumstances), not necessarily including hours taken as a student of traditional age (3.4 GPA for graduate students);       

       Spire students should have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. 
   D) *Have been involved in at least three (3) campus and/or community activities; (see exemption below)
   E) Demonstrate leadership, persistence, and future promise;
   F) Maintain the highest ethical standards.


*Standards of Membership Section I (D) Exemption:

Although we hold our honor societies and members to a high standard, we also recognize the need to be understanding and flexible during these unprecedented times. As of August 2020 and until such a time when colleges/universities have returned to normal operations, an exemption of the Standards of Membership, Section I (D), which states, Have been involved in at least three (3) campus and/or community activities, has been established in order for students who are presently unable to commit to volunteering their time and actively participating in campus organizations and events, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to be able to still be recognized for their hard work and educational achievement. We ask that you use your own discretion when considering this exemption, perhaps considering prior volunteer work or involvement in campus-related activities, and/or any other demonstrations of leadership or persistence.

II. Students must be selected for membership using any inherently fair selection method.

III. No more than twenty percent (20%) of the non-traditional student population on the campus can hold

     membership in PINNACLE and/or SPIRE.


IV. Induction of new members can take place no more frequently than twice per year.


V. If a campus chooses to create a local chapter of PINNACLE and/or SPIRE, the chapter must be a registered or   

    recognized campus organization and must meet all local standards for such registration or recognition.

I'm a single mother, administrative assistant, first-generation college student, and a proud, Pinnacle honors graduate. 

  • Become a Chartered Member

    Membership Requirements

    In order to become a chartered institutional member of Pinnacle and/or Spire, institutions will complete a brief Application for Charter. Once you have received your Pinnacle or Spire Institutional Charter, the following semester, you will receive an invitation to select your Spring or Fall class of honorees for membership. You may choose to honor students once each year or once each semester, it's your choice.

    There is no cost to chartered institutions to create a local chapter, and the cost to students selected for membership is a one-time lifetime membership fee of thirty dollars ($30).  There are no additional fees to the members, unless local chapters choose to adopt a small annual dues structure. Each new member will receive an official Pinnacle or Spire honor cord, lapel pin, diploma seal, membership certificate, and official letter of acceptance.

    Adult students and other nontraditional students who have achieved at least junior status (preference is given to seniors on most campuses), have at least a 3.0 GPA (3.4 for graduate students), and at least three (3) campus/community activities are eligible for membership.

    The degree of activity depends on the individual schools and the campus membership. In fact, Pinnacle & Spire Honor Societies offer two levels of institutional involvement. The school can choose to sponsor a local chapter of Pinnacle or Spire, or it can simply choose to nominate students for membership in the National Chapter and forego the formality of a local chapter. In addition, each campus establishes a committee to select new members. It is the responsibility of the campus selection committees to make selections which are keeping with the letter and the spirit of the Standards for Membership.

    Pinnacle & Spire are proud of our large and diverse institutional membership list. Over 150 chartered institutions, teaching classes at over 175 sites from coast to coast, represent the full spectrum of American higher education. Some chartered institutions have recognized nearly 1,000 deserving students.

    To apply for a National Pinnacle or Spire Chapter on your campus, please review the  Standards for Chartering above, then complete the online form below. If you prefer, you may also email the form by clicking on link Charter Application link below,  download the Application for Charter and email it to office@pinnaclespire.org. There are no costs to the institution to begin a local chapter. There is a one-time lifetime membership fee for students in the amount of $30. Students will receive an honor cord, lapel pin, membership certificate, diploma seal, and official letter of acceptance.

Charter Application



To provide recognition of nontraditional honor students enrolled in 4-year and 2-year degree programs who have had to overcome significant obstacles to achieve academic success. 



Pinnacle and Spire Honor Societies: To provide adult/non-traditional students across the country with the same opportunity to be recognized for their academic achievements as traditional students, and to be the #1 nationally recognized honorary society for adult/non-traditional students.

The Pinnacle & Spire Promise

Pinnacle & Spire Honor Societies promise never to sell your students' biographical volumes, contact information, or anything else. Nor will Pinnacle sell your members' names to list brokers as all-too-many organizations do.

Our goal is simple: to recognize worthy students. Period.


Pinnacle was founded in April of 1989 when the first mailing was made to a select group of 100 colleges and universities around the country informing them of the creation of a recognition society for adult and other non-traditional students and offering them the opportunity to join. However, Pinnacle was actually created in the minds of a half-dozen higher education faculty members and administrators during a series of meetings throughout the 1980s.

The first discussion took place in the spring of 1980 in San Antonio, Texas. The stories were the same from all over the country: even the best non-traditional students had a difficult time being accepted for membership in the "traditional" honorary societies represented on the nation's campuses. Some campuses reported that no adult student had ever been accepted for membership in the traditional honoraries. As the years went by the discussions began to focus on how the recognition needs of adult and other non-traditional students could best be met. Eventually, the group settled on the idea of creating a special honorary society for adult/non-traditional students.

Still the idea was placed on hold for a couple of years until Frank Julian, the Vice President for Student Development at Murray State University in Kentucky, decided to step down from his long-held post and turn his attention to full-time teaching. Frank devoted a part of his interim sabbatical to getting the new organization off the ground. The year was 1989.

In the winter of 1988-89, during a telephone conference call, the name of the new organization was created. The group was considering a number of possible names for the organization when an adult student said, "I don't care what you call it. All I know is that if I were to be selected for membership and recognition, it would represent the pinnacle of my life's achievements." Thus, the name Pinnacle was given to the new honorary society.

The first two mailings drew 25 positive responses and the organization was off and running. It had 50 chartered institutional members by the end of the second year when its sister organization, Spire, was created for students with two-year degrees. Today, over 150 institutions hold membership in Pinnacle/Spire and the number just keeps on growing as word of its existence spreads throughout higher education circles. Member institutions represent a broad cross-section of American higher education, from large public universities to regional universities, to small private colleges, to historically black institutions, to single-sex colleges.

On January 1, 2019, Pinnacle and Spire began a new chapter as Pinnacle and the Association for Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education (ANTSHE) officially and successfully merged! As we look to the future we will continue with the same dedication and vision that the founders of Pinnacle and Spire had to celebrate non-traditional students and their educational success. The future for Pinnacle and Spire is bright and so is the future for the many students who are honored through selection for membership in America's fastest growing honor society.

Image by Jesse Dodds
A-Z List of Charter Members


19134 Olde Waterford Road

Hagerstown, MD 21742



Tel: 301-991-2222

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© 2021 by  Pinnacles&Spire Honor Societies. Proud partner of the Association for Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education (www.myantshe.org).