The 15 Most Popular College Fraternities That Students Pledge To

Fraternities are created with the stated purpose of camaraderie and brotherhood, with all its members usually bonding over the same interests, whether they are academic, social, or even religious.

Going for your first Greek life comes at a cost– from fees for recruitment and social events to membership and housing dues, similar to the costs involved in sorority houses.

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While so many college women and men alike look at fraternities negatively, often stemming from the usual portrayals of popular culture, Greek life can provide its members with so many advantages.

Greek members can forget about wild parties, physical abuse, substance abuse or hazing! Fraternities have so many things to offer to old and new members—from critical values to academic achievements to leadership, alumni members involvement, and philanthropy.

The Lowdown:
The term ‘fraternity’ may be defined in different ways. But in colleges and universities, ‘fraternity’ refers to a male student organization. A fraternity is built on shared aspirations and common interests, giving way to a brotherhood with a commitment beyond college life. This brotherhood does not stop with their shared knowledge and efforts towards a common goal for the members. Fraternities form a lasting and solid brotherhood where everyone learns and grows together.

A Gallup survey back in 2014 revealed that men with fraternities are more contented than their non-Greek colleagues, but they are also physically healthier, less stressed financially, and better engaged in their workplace.

Plus, with fraternity alumni that include 18 US presidents, 85% of Supreme Court justices, about 76% of US Senators, and 85% of the top Fortune 500 executives, this alone tells us how important joining a fraternity is.

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Pi Kappa Alpha

Pi Kappa Alpha was founded at the University of Virginia in 1868 and is now one of the world’s largest organizations. Pi Kappa Alpha is dedicated to developing intellect, integrity, high moral character, and success as an internationally recognized fraternity.

Popularly known as ‘Pike,’ this brotherhood comprises gentlemen who share common ground on ideals, honor, truth, and loyalty.

Pike’s roots could be traced back to when Waller Tazewell and Frederick Southgate Taylor worked together in Room 47 West Range to create a new fraternity. After some time, several of their schoolmates joined until they finally formed the brotherhood.

Pi Kappa Alpha is very keen on cultivating excellence among its members. Many of its chapter members get higher GPA than Greek and campus averages. For its new members, study hours, brotherhood mentoring, and tutoring are offered to help them adjust to college life.

Besides being accommodated in the chapter house, Pi Kappa Alpha members are also provided with the experience to help them learn skills and build relationships critical to their foundation as professionals and leaders in the future.

Living in chapter houses, members live up to the rules of the fraternity founded on the values of Scholars, Leaders, Athletes, and Gentlemen.

Pi Alpha Kappa raised nearly $2.2 million between 2014 and 2015 for its various philanthropies and conducted more than 300,000 community hours for service projects.

Alpha Phi Alpha

Founded at Cornell University in New York, Alpha Phi Alpha holds the honor of being the very first Greek-letter social fraternity for men of African-American descent.

It was started in 1906 by seven higher education students that realized the need to create a brotherhood within the campus community among African descendants in the US.

The founders worked hard to establish a brotherhood that exudes fellowship and good character principles. Later on, the fraternity expanded, making chapters in other universities and colleges, mostly African-American institutions.

The fraternity’s primary goal was to help correct centuries-old injustices faced by African-Americans—whether social, economic, educational, or political.

As a leading Greek organization, the fraternity’s strong commitment to the African-American community is indeed commendable. Alpha Phi Alpha provides shelters and scholarships to underprivileged families and even spearheaded a few mentoring programs for the new breed of leaders.

Tau Kappa Epsilon

Built on charity, love, and esteem principles, Tau Kappa Epsilon has a rich history that spans more than 121 years. Its first fraternity chapter was established on January 10, 1899, at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Tau Kappa Epsilon has various chapters in different colleges and universities, including Loyola University Chicago, Connecticut State University, and Texas Tech University, among many others.

This fraternity is keen on campus life and personal development and character advancement to uncover the greatest potential. The Greek system helps its new members reach social, moral, and mental development.

Greek life members are provided with many opportunities in the Greek system. Whether in or out of the chapter house, they make strong connections from interpersonal to the community to educational and professional success.

TKE, just like any other Greek organization, has its advocacies as well. The TKE Foundation was established to support leadership opportunities and training programs and promote academic achievements through grants and scholarships of more than $500,000.

TKE has also partnered with St. Jude children’s Research Hospital as part of its philanthropic activities.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon

The first fraternity to ever integrate a leadership education program with campus life is Sigma Alpha Epsilon. While similar-sounding to the Alpha Sigma group, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is different.

Established at the University of Alabama, this fraternity is one of the nation’s oldest and biggest fraternities. Since its founding in 1856, this fraternity has initiated more than 300,000 members throughout its 200-plus chapters.

Not to be confused with Alpha Sigma, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Greek system emphasizes the importance of being a True Gentleman through exemplifying strong convictions and focused principles.

It offers different programs for its members, such as the Phoenix Member Education Program, which provides brother-to-brother lessons, member onboarding, and accolades.

Sigma Phi Epsilon

Founded on November 1, 1901, Sigma Phi Epsilon is the country’s largest fraternity.

Sigma Phi Epsilon was founded at Richmond College (now the University of Richmond) by 12 founding fathers who lived up to their beliefs and ideals and established the standards for their succeeding members.

A prominent Greek-letter society, Sigma Phi Epsilon is most prominently known for its Education Foundation, an initiative of William L. “Uncle Billy” Philips, the fraternity’s founder. It is aimed to give scholarship funds to undergraduate and university students amidst the growing cost of a college education.

The Sigma Phi Epsilon foundation established SigEp National Housing, a program that supports the housing needs of the fraternity.

Kappa Alpha Society

Through the initiation of John Hart, the Kappa Alpha Society was established in Union College in 1825.

As a literature lover and free thinker, Hart initially established the Kappa Alpha organization as a literary secret society of intellectuals that lived the Greek life!

Kappa Alpha Society is recognized as the first social fraternity on college campuses in the US. Its Greek system focuses on helping undergraduate members to become better individuals while promoting lifelong friendships among its members and alumni.

During its early days, the Kappa Alpha Society encouraged the discussion of liberal ideas. At present, it has nine active chapters with numerous alumni members.

One of the advocacies of Kappa Alpha is education. Thus it established the John Hart Hunter Education Foundation, Inc., which gives scholarships from $500 to $2000. This program is designed to acknowledge outstanding undergraduate members who excelled academically.

Sigma Chi

Seven young college men dreamt of making a better fraternity that would make their collegiate experience more valuable, thus the birth of Sigma Chi.

Founded at the college campuses of Miami University in Ohio in 1855, Sigma Chi has almost 260,000 members living the Greek life! After 164 years, the fraternity has initiated more than 350,000 men. It has also established the Sigma Chi Foundation, an educational and charitable tax-exempt organization that provides stewardship and financial resources to Sigma Chi.

The Greek organization also heads the Sigma Chi Leadership, providing leadership opportunities for training and certificates to undergraduate students as part of how members live the campus life. It also teaches volunteerism among its members via leadership workshops and other events.

Lambda Sigma Upsilon

In 1979, 20 Latino college students within the Rutgers University residence halls decided to gather together to fight for their rights as minority students. After numerous gatherings, they formed a brotherhood called the Latino Social Fellowship, and later on, it was called Lambda Sigma Upsilon. Today, the fraternity strives for inclusivity and diversity in campus life.

The HIV/AIDS Research and Awareness program is specifically established to honor founding members. Every year, the organization donates thousands of proceeds thru fundraising events, banquets, raffles, tournaments, and other philanthropic programs.

The LSU Foundation is a non-profit foundation that targets helping high school and college Latino students obtain leadership development and educational advancement opportunities. These are made thru scholarships and grants.

Kapa Delta Rho

Having been in existence for 100 years, Kappa Delta Rho’s Greek letter story began on May 17, 1905, at the residence halls of Middlebury College.

Living by their motto, “Honor Super Omnia,” this fraternity aimed to have a better set of standards in defining brotherly and manhood, with both these ideals serving as their guide through life.

Kappa Delta Rho also makes it a point that its commitment continues even after graduating from college, thus the birth of the Kappa Delta Rho Foundation. This education and charitable corporation serve as financial support for the character development, leadership, and educational campus life programs under the National Fraternity of Kappa Delta Rho.

It also supports the Leadership and Educational Manuals/Publications/Materials for the Legion, the Williams Leadership Academy, Undergraduate Intern Program, Quill and Scroll, and many more.

Kappa Delta Rho’s educational programs have a long impact. Every August, the Williams Leadership Academy conducts sessions that emphasize to KDR members effective leadership skills both in the professional world and in their respective chapters.

Sigma Nu

We can trace back the roots of Sigma Nu to the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington back in 1869.

They eventually formed a “Legion of Honor” and were later renamed the Sigma Nu Fraternity. The fraternity was initially kept a secret until the founders decided to come out on the first day of January 1869.

One year after, the Virginia Military Institute-based organization began to expand. It established a chapter at the University of Virginia, followed by another chapter at the North Georgia Agricultural College. Today, Sigma Nu is proud of its 166 active chapters. They have initiated roughly 235,000 men since its establishment.

Sigma Nu, which originated in Virginia Military, lives by the vision of “excelling with honor.” It aims to hone men of character who are bound to become future ethical leaders, guided by the principles of truth, honor, and love. It also fosters lifelong commitment and friendship among its members.

Sigma Nu has raised more than $1.5 million for charitable projects and logged more than 350,000 community service hours for years. The fraternity also joins several philanthropies, such as The Amazing Snake Race.

Alpha Tau Omega

Otis Allan Glazebrook, Alfred Marshall, and Erskine Mayor Ross founded the Alpha Tau Omega at the Virginia Military Institute.

The fraternity was created out of Christian-not-Greek principles. Every year, this fraternity ranks as one of the top ten national fraternities as far as the number of memberships and chapters is concerned.

It has more than 250 chapters (both active and inactive), with 200,000 members and 65,000 undergraduates.

Alpha Tau Omega set up the ATO Foundation as part of their advocacy. This foundation would raise funds annually to provide more than $150,000 in scholarships to its members. Because it is very keen on the importance of true leadership, the grants support different programs aimed at helping the members become amazing leaders.

Delta Chi

Delta Chi was established on October 13, 1890, at Cornell University and was borne out of the wanting to create a second law fraternity at Cornell.

Since it was founded, the fraternity has continued to uphold its core values and expectations of equity, inclusion, and diversity. It also now has the DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) workgroup to review the fraternity’s laws and resolutions.

In 1954, the Delta Chi Educational Foundation was created. This is a non-profit foundation that conducts leadership training programs and provides various scholarships, such as the following:

  • Graduate Student Scholarship
  • Washburn Scholarship
  • Duane and Mary Meyer Scholarship

Delta Chi has dozens of prominent alumni like American actors Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner, the 23rd US President Benjamin Harrison, US Representative Jim Banks, Henry Hartsfield, former FBI Director William S. Sessions, and many more.

Lambda Chi Alpha

Whether Lambda Chi Alpha was founded in 1909 or 1911 remains unclear. On November 2, 1909, a meeting was held to reorganize the Cosmopolitan Law Club, the society of law students of Boston University, into a Greek letter society which eventually ended up with the birth of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.

Nonetheless, the fraternity has successfully grown and expanded to other universities. Chapters started to open at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Agricultural College.

Because Lambda Chi Alpha firmly believe in diversity in race, sexual identity, ethnicity, class, religion, and cultural background, they established the Lambda Chi Alpha Education Foundation. This aims to develop, fund, and support educational projects for personal growth, service, leadership, and fraternal relationships.

Today, the Greek letters fraternity has more than 180 chapters, making them one of the country’s biggest fraternities with more than 300,000 members, with about 9,000 showing active involvement.

Beta Theta Phi

Beta Theta Phi was founded on August 8, 1939, after eight young college students convened in the Hall of the Union Literary Society at Miami University.

Beta Theta Phi is also the first fraternity or organization ever to conduct a general convention.

One of Beta Theta Pi’s paramount moments was the creation of the Men of Principle Initiative. Following this step, it launched an ambitious effort for cultural change, thereby advancing the frat’s inter-fraternal leadership and further focusing on the members’ GPA, leadership programming, accountability, recruitment, and volunteerism.

Beta Theta Pi is also a strong advocate of social awareness and education. It established the Men of Principle Scholarship, which acknowledges unaffiliated male students in college chapters, recognizing them for exemplifying the values that Beta Theta Pi holds, like intellectual growth, mutual assistance, and integrity.

Members of the fraternity are also encouraged to join in organizing events like the Keystone Regional Leadership Conferences, as well as sessions of the Wooden Institute and Leadership College at the General Convention.

Since the fraternity’s inception, it has initiated more than 200,000 men, most of them later becoming influential.

Nu Alpha Kappa

Nu Alpha Kappa is the biggest Latina-based fraternity established at California Polytechnic State University on February 26, 1988. It was created to help Latino students defeat culture shock in a predominantly Anglo institution.

It also runs the National Leadership Development Conference for every chapter leader, gathering them for a week of professional development. It also introduced the NAKFest, an athletic event, and the National Sports League.

Nu Alpha Kappa also created the National Alumni Association, which grants academic scholarships to deserving and eligible undergraduate and graduate brothers. Since 2014, the fraternity has raised more than $170,000 in scholarship funds.

Pros and Cons of the Greek Life

fraternities - men in conversation

Similar to the sorority life for college women sorority members, the Greek life in fraternity membership is about living the stated purpose!

There is so much more to becoming a part of fraternities and sororities than partying or mastering the Greek alphabet when joining a fraternity. There is also professional, recreational, and even social stuff you can do in the individual organizations. However, Greek life is not for everyone.

There are advantages and disadvantages to joining a fraternity.

Pro: Networking

University administrators attest that networking is a major advantage to fraternity members. The Greek life that is fraternities and sororities offers you one of the most solid foundations for social networking across fraternity chapters. College women and men build networks that are proven beneficial to college students, especially for internships, recommendations, and even employment.

There are about nine million alumni of social fraternities working in the real world. When you join any of these organizations, you get an instant connection with anybody in that circle.

As you move further with your college education, these connections can significantly increase your value for listing references, landing interviews, or obtaining letters of recommendation.

Con: The Price

The sorority life and fraternity membership price, much like on-campus housing, can cause a huge dent in your college budget. For example, at a public institution, the fraternity dues can run up to $1000, and this figure only includes national organization dues, chapter dues, and insurance.

How about the other incidental fees that go with being Greek in fraternities and sororities? T-shirts, membership pins, and tickets to big and formal events. All these costs can quickly add up!

Pro: Philanthropy

Greek life, whether in sorority chapters or fraternities, is known for its advocacy, philanthropies, and other activities to benefit the community. Just like sorority members, most fraternity chapters provide ways for active members to get involved in any philanthropic endeavor.

Other fraternities and sororities have leadership positions and designate active members whose sole focus is to participate in the fraternity’s advocacies. Each national organization gives awards and recognition for its most outstanding chapter. Those who win are undoubtedly extremely active in community service and philanthropy.

Con: Time Commitment

During the pledging process in fraternities and sororities as honorary national organizations based out of different colleges, understand that getting free time as fraternity and sorority members is impossible. Most of your hours outside class are spent either completing tasks, meetings, or just being present in your chapter house or fraternity house.

These time commitments in your fraternity life (like it is with sorority life) will eventually cause a huge impact on your study and sleep schedule. Some schools often impose restrictions on rushing, especially when you’re still a freshman.

Still, so many students opt to “run” in fraternities and sororities during their first semester in college. You can still be both a student and a pledge or fraternity member as long as you have impeccable time management skills. But know that your time commitment to your chapter doesn’t stop once you get accepted into the organization.

Pro: Social Identity and Skills

What do 80% of the US Presidents and 85% of the Fortune 500 executives have in common? Fraternity Advisor said all of them were members of social fraternities during their college years.

Fraternity memberships can help young men cultivate leadership skills, gain that sense of social identity and learn to play with others. Even the smartest college freshman arriving on campus has many things to learn, and joining a fraternity can help.

Joining a fraternity’s traditions, organizational structure, and collaborative activities can help build valuable opportunities to lead, coordinate, and contribute—all valuable skills for your future participation in the real workforce.

Con: Hazing, Excessive Alcohol

While hazing is technically not allowed, so many fraternities submit their pledges to emotional, physical, and psychological manipulation. Since 1959, at least one hazing death has been recorded on North American campuses.

Although fraternities are the age-old secret society that is associated with “hazing, brutality, or sexual assault,” these connotations usually spring from the isolated extreme case that these societies should avoid. Other forms of hazing activities are pointless tasks that may or may not be publicly humiliating. this is part of the fraternity pledge that is used to prove a member’s worth.

The anti-hazing hotline has been set up nationally to report incidents of violence. Call the anti-hazing hotline at (888) NOT-HAZE or (888) 668-4293.

Binge drinkers’ behavior, excessive alcohol, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, substance abuse, physical abuse, and reports of people that experience rape tends to cloud fraternities and sororities. But like social organizations with cultures and sub-cultures, Greek lives should not be about any broken pledge and instead promote responsibility and clean fun.

Most members find it enlightening to ask these questions and revisit the organization’s core values before joining fraternities and sororities :

  • Will substance abuse, hazing, and the activities in fraternities contribute to my personal growth?
  • Will I allow somebody I care about to go through the same experience?

Pro: It’s Fun!

Fraternity and sorority life are almost synonymous with fun! This is one of the most solid arguments for getting into Greek life. As long as you get into the right fraternity, the opportunities for fun are endless. Similar to the sorority experience, fraternity members become part of a circle of friends engaged together at all times in activities to achieve academic excellence, parties to let the stresses of life go, and events to help communities.

However, fun is a very broad word; everybody has their idea of it. If you plan on joining, you will learn that most fraternities share a similar concept of clean and healthy fun.

Choosing the Right Fraternity

The fraternity life (and sorority life!) provides you with a solid community where you can play, learn, have fun, and volunteer with your college brother. If you are bent on joining Greek life, consider that choosing the right organization takes some time.

So, how do you choose the right Greek letter organization where you can build business connections and lifelong friendships?

Tip Number 1: Check the Fraternity’s Reputation

Learn about the values, history, and goals of any prospective fraternity and sorority.

  • What is the reputation of the specific fraternity you wish to become a member of in the Greek community?
  • How do the members use their spare time?
  • Are the fraternities and sororities notable for their advocacy?

These simple but basic questions can give you a step forward before making a smart decision.

Tip Number 2: Look for Like-Minded Brothers

Look for students with similar interests in a fraternity and sorority as yours. College life is overwhelming, and having the right support network in fraternities and sororities can significantly help.

Before committing to a fraternity and sorority, ask yourself what you value the most in a friend. Loyalty? Sense of humor? Honesty? List down positive traits. Go for fraternities and sororities that will match your social life and preferences, as other college women would when choosing their national sorority.

Tip Number 3: Consider Legacy Options

Remember that fraternities and sororities, being age-old traditions, have certain principles anchored in the old ways. If your grandfather, father, or close relative is a member of the same fraternity, it’s best to continue their legacy. By being a descendant of a frat member, you are guaranteed acceptance back in the day

Today, this is not necessarily true in fraternities and sororities. It’s best to check legacy benefits first before you pledge to a fraternity and sorority.

Tip Number 4: Ask About Dues

Not unless getting more money is not a problem, you need to check fraternity dues before you pledge. For instance, if you’re thinking about living in a fraternity house or chapter house, expect to pay a lot for rent and other event fees. This is more or less the same with living in sorority houses.

Also at your disposal are resources like the extensive research conducted by Nicholas Syrett, an expert in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, that involved 20 national fraternities and provided insight into Greek life.

How To Prepare For A Fraternity Rush

A fraternity rush is a whole process of how every fraternity recruits non-members. This consists of various social events that start at the beginning of each semester and end two weeks after. This is also called fraternity recruitment.

As a pledge, how do you prepare for this very important event?

  • Be yourself. You are joining a fraternity that fits you. If you feel like the fraternity doesn’t like you, move on.
  • Rush different fraternities. Make comparisons.
  • Reach out. If you have a fraternity in mind, reach out to them, so they will know you’re interested. Rush is very quick and critical, especially if you plan to rush multiple frats. You don’t want to miss out.
  • Be prepared. You should know what you are looking for to make a sound decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is joining fraternities and sororities worth it?

The Greek community and Greek lifestyle are not for everybody, so you need to truly check if the fraternity and sorority life is for you! If you are outgoing and attracted to that sense of brotherhood and camaraderie in Greek life, then joining American fraternities and sororities during college is a great option.

Sorority members in various sorority chapters enjoy on-campus housing perks, as much as their fraternity brothers. Most members would prefer to hang out in chapter houses where, as part of the Greek life’s stated purpose, they involve themselves in activities that benefit society.

Greek organizations, both fraternities and sororities, are known to partner with, among others, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The fraternity and sorority life is about raising funds and volunteering as they do for Children’s Miracle Network.

While sororities have the National Panhellenic Conference or the National Pan Hellenic Council as their umbrella association, male fraternities are encouraged to become members of the North American Interfraternity Conference. Both the National Pan Hellenic Council and the National Interfraternity Council advocate Greek life and its contributions to community causes.

Can you quit your fraternity to join another?

No. You should realize that you should avoid thinking of joining another Greek community. It’s much like getting divorced, and you start to look around and get married again. This is just not right.

You should also understand that all members of Greek organizations who took the oath of initiation know that the fraternity they joined is the only one they will ever join.

The governing body for fraternities, the National Interfraternity Council strongly disapproves of authorizing a member of one fraternity to quit so he can join another.

When is the best time to join a fraternity?

Every school has its way of Greek life recruitment or fraternity and sorority membership rules. Some chapters recruit new members during a ” rush ” process at the start of the fall semester. Others conduct the recruitment even before classes formally start so that the whole process will not interfere with the pledgee’s class schedules.

Most Greek organizations for collegiate men push their recruitment back a semester so that the first-year students will not feel overwhelmed by their options.

For a new college student, adjusting to a new campus life, taking on a massive course load, and living with new roommates for the first time, can be overwhelming. The whole fraternity and sorority recruitment process could be too much for you. To help ease that burden, delayed recruitment could be your answer.

Key Takeaways

Howard University, Yale University, the University of Southern California, and numerous other world-leading higher education institutions share a common idea for academic excellence as much as they value student organizations.

Honorary student organizations or campus organizations like collegiate fraternities and sororities, for example, have become an age-old tradition! Fraternity and sorority ideals point to unity and commitment to advancing the Greek system with a stated purpose that Greek members must adhere to.

Each Greek organization, whether a fraternity or sorority, operates thru a set of rules to advance fraternity and sorority life academically and in terms of interpersonal relationships.

As a male college student, there is no perfect time to join a fraternity! But before you commit, practice due diligence:

  • Check the Greek organizations at your campus and the other school organizations.
  • Choose individual fraternity and sorority organizations that best fit your passions, interests, and cultural identity.
  • It all boils down to choosing the college experience you want to have.

Either way, whether or not you join a fraternity, you will get to know yourself better, which is the real essence of going to college!