Recruitment and Selection

Selecting new members of Mortar Board to carry is exciting, and the most important internal activity of your chapter. Mortar Board is more than a century old, and the selection (and tapping, initiation, and orientation) processes each year allows for the sustaining of Mortar Board on your campus.

As a student governed society, you are the only ones who can select candidates to carry on the honor of Mortar Board membership on your campus. (But, as a reminder, chapters need national approval before tapping your candidates. As leaders among leaders, we know you are very busy. But, you were chosen for your excellence in scholarship, leadership, and service. And now it is your turn to select the next class.

The Basics

National Requirements for Membership

Please go over these requirements and make sure you and the entire chapter understand them. These are the requirements outlined in Mortar Board’s Bylaws.


Academic requirements for membership

To be considered for membership a candidate must: 

  • be in good standing and enrolled at the institution;
  • be in their junior year or hold equivalent status in units or hours depending on the institution’s prolonged or accelerated curriculum for a particular academic program;
  • intend to graduate no sooner than one academic term, summer not included, following initiation; and 
  • hold a grade point average that places them in the upper 35% of the student body with junior standing or at least a B average, whichever is higher. 



A candidate meeting the academic requirements for membership may be considered for selection to membership based on distinguished ability and achievement in scholarship, leadership and service. 


Chapter Size

Each year your chapter should select the right number of members for the honor of membership in Mortar Board and to carry out the work of Mortar Board. 

  • You may select no more than 50 members or 1.5% of the student body with junior standing, whichever is greater. You should select no fewer than 15 members or 10% of the student body with junior standing, whichever is fewer. (Exceptions can be made, please reach out to the National Office.) 
  • Prepare to accept/select more than your goal chapter size. Some selected members will decide to not join. This varies based on the chapter and should be factored into your chapter number. The National Office and your Region Coordinators will connect with you to determine goal sizes.


Coming soon- for questions contact

Candidate Request and Submission Process

The Candidate Request (CR) and Official Membership Report (OMR) are the most important Mortar Board reports of the year. They provide Mortar Board with vital demographic information about new members so their eligibility can be reviewed and approved by the National Office and membership can be recorded on the official roll of the Society. Although they may have been selected, members may not be tapped or initiated until they have been submitted on the Candidate Request and subsequently approved by the Mortar Board National Office. Please submit the Candidate Request immediately following the selection process and two weeks before tapping. Be sure to spell names correctly, as all membership certificates are issued using the information provided. Once the Candidate Request is received, candidates can be approved and your chapter will be mailed a package with important materials needed for tapping, initiation, and orientation. 

Download the Candidate Request here


Information to report to the National Office on the Candidate Request

  • Name of school and chapter 
  • Date of tapping (or range of dates, if applicable) 
  • Date of initiation 
  • Date of officer transition 
  • Campus mailing address for the person (preferably the advisor) who will receive the membership pins and certificates 
  • Certified candidate list including demographic information, to be approved by the National Office 


Forms your chapter may need during selection:

  • Honorary Membership Petition – may be conferred by a collegiate chapter or the National Council only upon a person who is not a college student, who has earned a baccalaureate degree, and who has made a distinguished contribution toward the advancement of the goals and purposes of the Society. Chapters may select up to three honorary members each year at no cost.
  • Gift Membership – We never want financial limitations to be a barrier to membership. Each chapter is allowed one gift membership. Use this form to submit your gift member.
  • Payment Plan – If your members need to spread their membership dues over a few months, they are welcome to use our payment plan option.


If your chapter needs an exception granted, you may submit a petition:

Tips for Success

Leverage your campus connections!  

Each Mortar Board member in your chapter has unique involvements and interests.  You come from many majors, different student organizations, sports teams, and on- and off-campus jobs. Tell all your groups (or email your listservs) the benefits of Mortar Board and that it is nomination/application season.  


Be organized and intentional in the process. 

While it’s your responsibility to select the candidates for membership, Mortar Board, Inc. (and the National Office) verifies your selection for approval. The Candidate Request (CR) process, and corresponding timeline, is extremely important for this reason.  Please send your completed Candidate Request form to the National Office for review and approval as soon as possible after your selection meeting, and at least 2 weeks before your tapping date(s).  


Ask for help if you need it.

Your Region Coordinators are national volunteers who have seen recruitment and selection on campuses near you, and they’d love to help advise, brainstorm, troubleshoot, and celebrate your recruitment and selection journey. The National Office works with chapters across the country – those who are excelling, those who are struggling, and everywhere in between. Both groups are here to support you and your chapter. If you need anything – advice, templates, tips – don’t hesitate to reach out. That’s what we’re here for.


Have fun! 

Have fun with the process. Enjoy a break from papers, lab work, grad school essay, and cover letters to enjoy reading applications. These candidates may be friends you just haven’t met yet!  And, have fun as a chapter during your selection meeting. Bring treats, dress comfortably, get to know each other better, share a meal, and bond as a chapter.

Membership Recruitment & Selection Handbook


Eligibility List

Eligibility List


The best way to know which students are academically eligible is to request a list of eligible students from the Registrar or Institutional Research. Typically the chapter advisor helps to obtain the eligibility list.

You do not need to ask the registrar to provide GPA’s, only the names and emails of eligible students based on class rank, the top 35% of junior standing (or corresponding GPA if class rank is not possible.)  Note: because you do not need to have the registrar actually provide the GPA’s, only the eligible students directory information, it is not a violation of FERPA. This is how other achievements are also determined – cum laude, other honor societies, scholarships, etc.) 

If you need the National Office to assist in communicating with the Registrar or Institutional Research, email

Ideas for Getting Your Application Out

In addition to the eligibility list, we’ve seen great success sending it out on the student organizations listserv. You could also forward the message to other clubs/organizations or to any friends/colleagues you have that are interested.

Many chapters have each member select 2-3 clubs, organizations, or teams to visit. Ask the group’s permission to speak to its members for 5 minutes at the beginning of the meeting. Talk about Mortar Board, your application, and your application deadline.

Email and Messaging Templates

Templates Coming Soon!


What is Selection

Selecting a new Mortar Board class is an important and serious, yet exciting, task. Your chapter must consider how to identify viable new members, how to get the word out on campus, and how to collect applications and nominations. After all of this is done, you will be able to hold your selection meeting. At this meeting, be thorough in your process, as there is a lot to consider. Remember that Mortar Board prides itself on being selective, but not exclusive. Focus on recognizing students for their distinguished scholarship, leadership, and service, not just popularity. All chapter members must be involved in this process to ensure selection success.

How Do You Make Selection Equitable and Fair?

Coming Soon!

Selection Models

Coming Soon!

Length of Time for Selection

The selection process can be time-consuming. Be as efficient as possible by being organized and determined. Consider a practice session with all of your members before the actual selection meeting, and be sure that all members have read all applications and nominations up for consideration prior to the meeting. Your chapter may have only one selection meeting. 


In addition to being organized, be prepared for these considerations: • Make sure members understand all rules of selection:

  • In advance, stipulate a cap on the amount of time allowed for discussion of each candidate. 
  • Request members table discussion of controversial candidates. 
  • Emphasize that everyone does not need to voice an opinion about every candidate. 
  • Maintain fairness throughout the process so that every candidate is treated equally. Reviewing candidates in reverse alphabetical order in round three or four can be useful to this end. Taking a break for five minutes may help everyone refresh and refocus. 
  • Strive to meet your maximum membership number.

Honorary Membership

Honorary membership, as granted by the Bylaws (Article III, Section 3), is a unique recognition reserved for those who have made a notable contribution over a period of years and whose influence has extended beyond the college or university. Candidates for honorary membership must be approved by the National Office before they are tapped. Petitions and supporting documentation must be submitted to the National Office at least two weeks before tapping. Names of persons being considered should be kept confidential (i.e., the nominees especially should not know of the nomination.) The honorary member is considered a regular member and should participate in chapter activities as an active member. At initiation, honorary members will receive a certificate and pin. The membership fee for an honorary member approved in advance of tapping is complimented by Mortar Board, Inc. 


Consider the following when trying to determine if the person(s) you are looking at for honorary membership is (are) the right choice:

  • Have you determined that the candidate is not already a member of our Society? Ask the National Office for help. 
  • Does the candidate hold at least a baccalaureate degree? 
  • Have the candidate’s contributions been above the expectations of the position they occupy? 
  • Has the candidate’s impact extended beyond campus? 
  • Is the chapter considering the candidate because of objective reasons that make them qualified for honorary membership or because of an emotional tie the chapter has to the person? 


Ideas for Honorary Members:

  • University President/Chancellor
  • Provosts, Vice Presidents, and Deans
  • Longstanding Chapter Advisors
  • Directors, Faculty, and Staff who directly support the chapter or Mortar Board’s Ideals

Submit your honorary members here


Many chapters form relationships with members of the campus community who do not meet the criteria of honorary membership. Please consider awarding a Chapter Citation to those outstanding persons whom your chapter wishes to recognize. Contact the National Office. This is a great way to provide recognition.

Special Membership Consierations

Your chapter will likely come across some special situations when dealing with membership selection. Here are some guidelines for how to handle the most common situations. 


Students abroad or away from campus

Remember to inform students studying away from campus about Mortar Board. This group can be defined as students verified by the institution for study abroad or for study at another institution in the United States (verification is a statement from the registrar’s office stating that a particular student is officially enrolled in an off-campus study program). 


Transfer students

The Bylaws of Mortar Board, Inc. (Article VI, Section 1.9) state that an active member of Mortar Board, Inc. who transfers must be accepted on the campus to which they transfer and given privileges of an active member. Please make a special effort to obtain information about previous college records of transfer students. It is the responsibility of each chapter to obtain all transfer and grade records within reason to make a true and accurate judgment of a candidate’s eligibility. Enlist your advisor’s support to make sure you are getting the information you need from the registrar. 


Other exceptions

Exceptions may also sometimes be made regarding candidate GPA and chapter size. 

  • Scholarship – Your chapter is encouraged to select candidates whose GPAs fall below your grade threshold if they demonstrate true academic achievement but extenuating circumstances or a demanding curriculum have caused grades to be depressed. This is a decision your chapter may make at selection without further approval from the National Office. You MUST submit a Petition for Scholarship Exception to the National Office if you are considering any candidate with a GPA below a 3.0. 
  • Special selection – This occurs when a candidate is eligible for a selection exception for an unusual situation that seems reasonable but is not covered in the Bylaws. Exceptions will be considered by the National Office on a case-by-case basis. 

Chapter size – Chapters are encouraged to select no fewer than 20 candidates (or 10 percent of the student body with a junior standing, whichever is less) to remain in good standing with the National Bylaws. Chapters must ensure they have enough nominations and applications for membership to meet this requirement before holding a selection meeting. However, exceptions to this will be made. Please work with the National Office to let them know.