NSHSS vs. NHS: What’s the Difference?

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

As a student, you may have heard from more than one honor society inviting you to join. In addition to the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS), there is also the National Honor Society (NHS). 

We’re often asked what the differences are between these organizations. Here is a brief description of each and some additional context about these honor societies.

What Is the National Honor Society?

The National Honor Society (NHS) is entirely separate from NSHSS. Although the two organizations are sometimes mistaken for each other, there are distinct differences in how they operate.

The NHS is chartered through schools, which means that admitted students are part of their institution’s chapter of the NHS. Each chapter is headed by a faculty member who accepts applications, and students can be admitted if they meet the criteria for scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Some of these requirements have to do with academic achievement, and some relate to conduct outside of the classroom.

What Is the National Society of High School Scholars?

NSHSS is also an honor society. We invite high-achieving students for membership. Students who join are recognized for their achievements and are eligible to apply for scholarships, attend events, participate in leadership activities, and connect with other academic scholars. 

When you join other honor societies, your affiliation will end after high school graduation, but that’s not the case with NSHSS. Membership in our organization is granted to the individual and is valid for life, which means NSHSS opportunities continue through college and as you begin your career. 

Membership is also flexible and portable. A student remains a member of the NSHSS even if they change schools or are homeschooled. Also, our criteria for joining are universal. 

It’s important to remember that students can join both organizations, and many NSHSS scholars are also part of the NHS. Our NSHSS website’s FAQ section hosts an interview with a student who joined both societies. She remarks that as a global organization, joining NSHSS helped her get an international perspective on her studies. 

Our FAQ has a helpful section with more details about the differences between NSHSS and the National Honor Society. 

Is NSHSS Pretending to be the NHS?

Sadly, some negative NSHSS reviews have alleged that our organization is attempting to pass as the NHS. We believe this information comes from people who simply haven’t done their research. We have taken some steps to differentiate our organization from this or any other honor society.

Our Branding

First, our logo is entirely distinct from the National Honor Society. Our logo features a circular crest and a red and gold color scheme, while the NHS logo is blue and includes a rectangular crest. There are no visual similarities between them, and it would be virtually impossible to mistake one for the other. These visual elements appear online as well as on all our printed materials.

Our Name

When we distribute invitations to students, we are careful to spell out the name of our organization in full. However, even in cases where we use our acronym, there is only a passing similarity to the NHS. Our acronym—NSHSS—contains five letters. It’s easy to distinguish it from the NHS, as well as other honor societies.

Relationship with Schools

We work hard to have positive relationships with schools. This includes supporting students who wish to form chapter organizations at their schools. 

However, our main priority is our members. This differentiates us from the NHS, which works exclusively through local schools. Students who choose to join our organization will be joining the NSHSS as individuals, independent of their school structure. We recognize scholars, not just the institutions they’re affiliated with.

Lack of Competition

Finally, we want to be clear that we are not in any way in competition with the NHS, nor do we ever disparage their organization. We encourage students to discuss this on our social media pages and include their positive experiences with the NHS.

We believe that both honor societies have an honorable place and are worthy of consideration by all. Many students choose to join both NSHSS and NHS. That is a decision that we absolutely support.

If you do your research and are interested in joining the National Society of High School Scholars, please let us know! We are happy to help you navigate the application process and answer any questions you might have. We also cover this topic in the following blog, "Is NHS Better than NSHSS?"