What is the National STEM Honors Society?

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Are you a potential STEM student looking to understand the National STEM Honor Society and how it can help you? Are you looking to find information on society’s potential impact on your career or education in the future? You are in the right place if you can answer yes to either of these questions.

This National Honor Society can be an asset to any high school student’s life, and we are here to help you understand how. Keep reading to find information on what it is, why this national STEM club is important, and even how you can become eligible to join.

What is the National STEM Honors Society?What is the National STEM Honors Society?

There is no doubt that STEM careers can be lucrative and rewarding. However, getting individuals interested in STEM early is the key to retaining innovative individuals within the field. As things like AI become more popular, more pioneers are needed to fill these emerging roles. This society was developed with this demand in mind.

NSTEM is set up in schools nationwide in entities known as chapters which you will find within most national honor societies. However, for your school to have a chapter, it must be started by the school officials; the national organization does not pick which schools get a chapter.

The organization aims to encourage students to pursue careers in the sciences and provide resources that may not exist outside the bounds of the program. Students will be helped, challenged, and pushed forward by their peers and instructors.

STEM aims to get students excited about STEM and be inclusive of students regardless of gender, race, or economic status. For this reason, students do not need to pay a fee to be a part of the organization. All fees are kept to a minimum and paid by the student’s chapter making it affordable for everyone.

The National STEM honor society differs from others because it lets you join as early as kindergarten and remain a member through your tenure in college. This is referred to as K to career. The next section will dive further into the 5 levels of NSTEM and what they mean for you or your child.

NSTEM 5 Levels

The National STEM honor society is available to several age ranges split into 5 levels. These levels consist of the following:

  • Elementary (K-2)
  • Elementary (3-5)
  • Middle School
  • High School
  • College

Each level is meant to serve a different type of student on a segment of their journey into the STEM world.

Elementary (K-2)

Kindergarten through 2nd grade is where a student’s journey begins. There is no GPA requirement for entering the society at this level. Students are encouraged to utilize their natural curiosity. Children at this age are a sponge. Therefore, hands-on learning is utilized to keep them intrigued and learning. The program uses project-based activities to get students hooked on STEM. It is important for teachers and parents to be involved in their child’s education. This means incorporating your child’s lessons at home by making things like recycling, composting, or other chores fun.

Elementary (3-5)

The second level of the elementary program is where students must keep the momentum going. Level 2 consists of grades three to five. The program teaches children how things work and provides real-life examples through stories. At this level, the meaning behind activities is shown and explained. These elementary levels are important because they are the most important step of the feeder program that NSTEM seeks to create.

Middle School

The middle school level is where things start to connect for students. Middle schoolers are beginning to hone in on their problem-solving skills and gain a deeper understanding of how STEM works. Gaining focus in middle school generally means that students are more likely to continue in STEM through their tenure in high school.

High School

Students at the high school level have the ability to access an abundance of resources that can make their transition to college easier. This may include greater proximity to internships and even real-world work experience. Students also gain recognition from simply being in the program.


Much like elementary, the college level is also split into two parts. The first part consists of first- and second-year students, whereas the second part consists of third- and fourth-year students. This level of the program pushes students to a career in STEM. It allows them to work in more collaborative environments and prepares them for the real world.

Eligibility and Requirements to Join NSTEM

Eligibility and Requirements to Join NSTEM

The National STEM Honor Society has set minimum standards for joining the program. These standards vary by the program level a student wants to participate in. Three components make up these requirements. These components include a student’s GPA in their designated STEM classes, yearly enrichment hours, and yearly classroom hours in STEM courses. These requirements will be discussed in greater detail below.

GPA Minimum

For all levels of the NSTEM society, except for the Elementary level, grades K-2, students must meet a GPA requirement. This requirement should not be a cause for alarm. The GPA minimum is only for STEM courses.

Students are required to maintain a B average, equivalent to a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Though this is the minimum a student must maintain, some chapters can mandate a higher standard for STEM courses. This notable difference and the courses used for calculation would be determined by a school’s chapter advisor.

Yearly Enrichment Hours

Enrichment hours are required at every level of the program. These activities ensure that students participate in projects that keep them emersed within the STEM world. These extracurricular activities are designed not only for continuous learning but to continue to stimulate an individual’s curiosity and excitement around the subject matter.

Each program level has a different hour requirement in line with a child’s grade. The minimum required hours will increase as the student continues through the program. These hours are not meant to feel like a chore but a fun opportunity to learn and participate in more activities than you are already doing.

These hours are obtained throughout the year and are not restricted periods when the child is traditionally in school. Though your specific NSTEM chapters may sponsor some content, other event may be utilized at the approval and discretion of your specific Chapter advisor. Some activities that may provide enrichment hours include STEM contests or competitions, chapter meetings, workshops or lectures, internships, or even STEM day/summer camps.

The breakdown for minimum hours needed per level can be found below:

Elementary (K-2nd) Elementary (3rd – 5th) Middle School (6th – 8th) High School College (1st & 2nd Year) College (3rd & 4th)
30 hours 60 hours 80 hours 120 hours 60/120 hours 90/180 hours

As shown in the chart above, all levels have a designated amount of points that can be earned annually. For college students, part-time students only need to earn 60 hours, whereas full-time students will need to earn 120 hours in their first and second years. The same sentiment is given to third and fourth-year students who are part-time vs. Full-time.

Yearly Classroom Hours

Another stipulation that all students, except for grades K-2, must follow is the earning of classroom hours. These classroom hours are for STEM courses only. An NSTEM Chapter advisor determines the specific classes which go towards these hours.

The breakdown of classroom hours can be found below:

Elementary (3rd – 5th) Middle School (6th – 8th) High School College (1st & 2nd Year) College (3rd & 4th)
180 hours 240 hours 360 hours Part-Time 3hrs/semester
Full Time 6hrs/semester
Part-Time 4.5hrs/semester
Full Time 9 hrs/semester

Special consideration is given to schools that do not utilize letter grades. If students are not traditionally graded, teacher recommendations will be utilized instead. In addition, students who do not meet the minimum requirements will have the option to be considered for provisional membership until they can fully satisfy the needed requirements.

Why Join the National STEM Honors Society?

Why Join the National STEM Honors Society?

Joining the National STEM Honor Society is a privilege for anyone in the STEM community to be a part of. The CEO, Ken Hecht, aims for NSTEM to be a feeder program. This means starting with students at the beginning of their academic journey and pushing them through the pipeline into a STEM career. STEM allows students to work not solely inside of the classroom but outside of it as well. Chapter-sponsored activities and the mandated minimum requirements push students of all backgrounds to engage and give them the resources to do so.

You may be wondering what else NSTEM can provide you. However, the opportunities are endless. The list below showcases a few notable reasons why individuals join the STEM Honor Society.

Wrapping Things Up: What is the National STEM Honors Society?

The National STEM Honor Society is an organization built to push individuals into the STEM world. It aims to help provide students of all backgrounds with resources and access they may not previously have had. The five levels of the society reach individuals at all skill levels and feed them into STEM careers. If you could join this program, what’s stopping you?

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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