Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., commonly referred to as AKA, is the oldest Greek-Letter organization in America, founded by black college women in 1908 on the campus of Howard University. There are 983 chapters and more than 265,000 members worldwide. Membership is offered in undergraduate and graduate classifications and can be obtained only through the sorority’s membership intake process, which is not shared publicly.
Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Purpose and Targets
The purpose of Alpha Kappa Alpha is “to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards; promote unity and friendship among college women; alleviate problems concerning girls and women; maintain a progressive interest in college life; and to provide service to all mankind.” To accomplish this purpose, the sorority focuses its service efforts around five target areas: educational enrichment, health promotion, family strengthening, environmental ownership and global impact. The sorority maintains partnerships with and supports organizations like the American Heart Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the United Nations Association of the Unites States of American Global Classrooms Project. Famous members of Alpha Kappa Alpha include actress Phylicia Rashad, the late Dr. Maya Angelou and civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
Undergraduate versus Graduate Chapters
Alpha Kappa Alpha is comprised of both undergraduate and graduate chapters. The requirements for joining an undergraduate and graduate chapter are relatively similar but differ in classification. Undergraduate chapters are open to women who attend an accredited 4-year college or university as a full-time student. Conversely, graduate chapters are comprised of women who have bachelor's or advanced degrees from an accredited 4-year college or university.
Joining an Undergraduate Chapter
Undergraduates wishing to join Alpha Kappa Alpha must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours during the semester in which application is made. The student also must have a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Interested candidates should obtain applications from the adviser for the undergraduate chapter or from the sorority’s website. The application asks candidates to demonstrate knowledge of the sorority, provide her academic background and submit evidence of community service and campus involvement. Two letters of reference must also be submitted with the application. Candidates must submit their official applications at rush, which is an officially-sanctioned activity. Rush information is posted at least two weeks in advance, barring any specific college or university requirements. Candidates who do not attend rush are not eligible for membership. Applications are reviewed by members in the chapter and they select who will be invited to participate in the membership intake process.
Joining a Graduate Chapter
Interested women should check the sorority’s website to find a chapter located in her area for her to join. Women interested in joining the sorority may attend public events, social activities and cultural presentations sponsored by the sorority in order to familiarize themselves with the organization. Attendance at such events is not required. A woman wishing to join Alpha Kappa Alpha must possess at least a bachelor’s degree and have graduated with a cumulative 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale. According to the sorority’s website, she also must demonstrate that she has “the motivation and talents to help promote, implement and extend policies and programs of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.” Instead of a formal rush, graduate women must attend an information session. After that session, candidates selected for membership are given a letter of invitation to participate in the membership intake process.
A native of Nashville, Tenn., Dannelle F. Walker is an education lawyer and policy maker. Her areas of expertise include teacher liability, educator ethics, and school operations. She holds a JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law.