The Best College Fraternities in the United States

LifehacksStudent Life
Aug 25, 2019

Joining a fraternity is a time-honored tradition in many colleges and universities across the United States. For many students, going through college is not complete without being part of a fraternity. While fraternities are often thought of as nothing more but organizations who love to party, there’s actually more to the Greek life than this reputation. A fraternity provides a supportive environment for its members, whether it's through academic support like writing term papers or life after college. But more than this, a fraternity’s activities can develop leadership skills, build a sense of civic duty, and encourage community engagement. In other words, the frat life can foster excellent personal, social, and professional qualities among its members. While we’ve previously discussed how to choose the best fraternity to join based on your individual goals, we will now look at some of the best college fraternities to join. These organizations show that college frat life can be fun and fulfilling at the same time.

Best Fraternities in the United States

Sigma Phi Epsilon

Who they are:  Sigma Phi Epsilon was founded in 1901 by 12 students of Richmond College in Virginia. The organization’s central aspiration is to encourage the holistic development of young men, thereby turning them into individuals with good health, leadership abilities, and excellent character. The three principles that guide Sigma Phi Epsilon are virtue, diligence, and brotherly love. The organization has grown to become one of the largest in the country. Today, Sigma Phi Epsilon has over 220 chapters across the United States as well as 14,000 collegiate and 320,000-lifetime members.

What they do:  Apart from local drives and charity events, Sigma Phi Epsilon has programs that aid members in their personal, educational, and professional development. Chief among these is the Balanced Man Program, which is a four-year program designed to foster the five main areas of wellbeing: intellectual development, physical health, leadership , career growth, and relationship with the fraternity. This program is intended to produce well-rounded individuals with competencies that enable them to achieve success.

Sigma Chi

Who they are:  Sigma Chi was founded in 1855 by seven students of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The founders included Benjamin Piatt Runkle, who designed its badge, and Daniel William Cooper, who served as its first consul. The founders envisioned a brotherhood that helps men of ability and character become leaders in society. The organization is guided by its three core principles: friendship, justice, and learning. Since the mid-19 th century, the fraternity has grown to become one of the largest Greek organizations in the United States, with 237 undergraduate chapters and another 129 alumni chapters across both in the US and in Canada. As of current, Sigma Chi has over 255,000-lifetime members across the globe and another 15,700 who are in college. In its 164-year history, the organization has initiated over 350,000 members.

What they do:  Sigma Chi is best known for its philanthropic activities. For decades, Sigma Chi has raised money for various charitable organizations. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the Huntsman Cancer Institute, in particular, are Sigma Chi’s beneficiaries. For instance, Sigma Chi has already raised millions of dollars for cancer research and has recently pledged another $20 million for women’s cancer research. Sigma Chi is also known for embracing diversity. The organization seeks good character in its members regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background among others. With its broad presence and its solid reputation for giving back to society, Sigma Chi is, without doubt, one of the best fraternities to join.

Kappa Sigma

Who they are:  Another excellent fraternity is Kappa Sigma or Kappa Sig for short. This brotherhood was founded in 1869 by five students at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Its founders included prominent businessman William Grigsby McCormick of the illustrious McCormick family. Kappa Sigma’s mission centers on promoting leadership, education, service, and development of values. Its mission is grounded on the four pillars of fellowship, leadership, scholarship, and service. The organization is one of the largest fraternities in the world today, with over 300 chapters across North America as well as 280,000 lifetime and 20,000 collegiate members. Kappa Sigma also strictly enforces a no-hazing policy.

What they do:  Most activities of Kappa Sigma are localized, with chapters holding their own civic drive on their respective campuses. However, the organization is also noted for its broad programs. These include the Champion Quest, which offers members training for holistic development; Brothers in Action, which provides education geared towards values formation and career preparation; and Military Heroes Campaign, a charitable program that assists veterans and their families. The brotherhood also manages the Kappa Sigma Endowment Fund, which was established in 1948 to fund charitable causes including the provision of financial aid to members. Since its founding, the fund has contributed millions to various programs including over $5 million on scholarships alone. Any student who regards social engagement as a critical requirement when choosing a fraternity should certainly consider Kappa Sigma.

Pi Kappa Alpha

Who they are:  Like Kappa Sigma, Pi Kappa Alpha traces its roots to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The organization was founded by six graduate students in 1868. Its members are commonly known as “Pikes.” As a fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha seeks to develop its members into successful, intelligent, and morally upright individuals with the capacity to uplift the communities to which they belong. Pi Kappa Alpha is also one of the largest fraternities today. The brotherhood currently has over 280,000-lifetime members as well as 15,000 college members in over 220 chapters across the United States and Canada.

What they do:  The level of civic engagement is certainly a vital factor to consider when choosing the best fraternity to join. This is why Pi Kappa Alpha also ranks among the best fraternities to join. Each and every chapter of the brotherhood sponsors one philanthropic event and one community service event every year as a volunteer experience . The chapters also work with other organizations by providing manpower and financial support. Among the brotherhood’s main initiatives is raising money for cancer research. For example, Pi Kappa Alpha had raised over $30,000 for the Taylor Trudeau Cycle for Life, a non-profit dedicated to leukemia research. The organization had also already raised over $250,000 for the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Holding community service events in all its chapters makes Pi Kappa Alpha an ideal choice of fraternity for any student who wants to make a difference.

Lambda Chi Alpha

Who they are:  Lambda Chi Alpha, also known as Lambda Chi, was founded in 1909 by Boston University law student Warren Cole. Although the fraternity was initially successful, a reduction in the number of members during the Great Depression prompted Lambda Chi Alpha to merge with Theta Kappa Nu. Lambda Chi was established with the aim of molding ethical and responsible members. The organization’s three pillars are growth, service, and leadership. Since its re-emergence in the late 1930s, Lambda Chi has grown to encompass 9,500 undergraduate members and 295,000 initiates in over 190 chapters across the United States and Canada. 

What they do:  Similar to the other fraternities on this list, Lambda Chi has been active in providing assistance to various charitable causes, with an emphasis on the education sector. The organization provides scholarships to qualifying members through a variety of programs such as the Chirurg Scholarship, the Clarence Mickelson Scholarship, and the Kirk and Nancy Pond Scholarship. Apart from granting direct financial aid, the organization also provides sponsorship for leadership seminars. Partnerships with non-profits have also been at the center of Lamda Chi’s advocacy. Together with Feeding America, the fraternity has provided food to over 15 million at-risk families. Lambda Chi is also an advocate for mental health through its partnership with the Jed Foundation. As a leading fraternity, Lambda Chi gives its members a holistic experience when it comes to social engagement.

Sigma Nu

Who they are:  Sigma Nu was founded in 1869 by James Frank Hopkins, Greenfield Quarles, and James MacIlvaine Riley, who were at the time cadets at the Virginia Military Institute. Rejecting the hazing that they witnessed at the institute, the three cadets came together to establish their own fraternity. They envisioned a brotherhood dedicated to developing leaders guided by the three core principles of love, honor, and truth. Like many of the successful fraternities featured in this article, Sigma Nu’s growth has been exponential. The fraternity currently has 166 active chapters in North America and has initiated around 230,000 members since its inception.

What they do:  Sigma Nu has also been active when it comes to charity events and philanthropy. The organization has been holding numerous fundraisers for many years. More recently, Sigma Nu raised over $50,000 for the American Cancer Society and the Melanoma Research Foundation through a concert. The Sigma Nu Mentor Network is also one of the fraternity’s offerings for its members. This program provides members with mentorship, networking, and other services in order to optimize their personal and professional development. Through this initiative, Sigma Nu members are given opportunities to succeed in their chosen paths. Career development is a common goal among college students, and this is why Sigma Nu should be considered among the top options when choosing a fraternity.

Alpha Phi Alpha

Who they are:  Alpha Phi Alpha holds the distinction of being the first African-American intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity in the United States as well as the largest predominantly African-American fraternity in the country. The brotherhood was founded in 1906 at Cornell University by seven students who sought to establish a support group for students facing racial prejudice and marginalization . Since its founding, Alpha Phi Alpha has grown to become an international fraternity. It has over 700 chapters across the world and over 290,000-lifetime members. Although it was previously an organization exclusive to African-Americans, Alpha Phi Alpha has been open to various races since the 1940s. Some of its most prominent members include the civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., the writer W.E.B. Dubois, and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

What they do:  Since its inception, Alpha Phi Alpha has been extensively working on numerous initiatives. The organization manages the Alpha Phi Alpha Education Foundation, which promotes education in various sectors; the Alpha Phi Alpha Charitable Foundation, which addresses diverse global issues; and the Alpha Phi Alpha Building Foundation, which seeks to conserve community infrastructure. Some of their programs are the Brother’s Keeper, which brings aid to underserved families and communities; Go-to-High-School, Go-to-College, which encourages completion of education; and Project Alpha, which provides support to young men. Addressing problems and challenges faced by people of color has also been part of the fraternity’s agenda, especially given its history as a predominantly black organization. Finally, Alpha Phi Alpha also has partnerships with many non-profits including the Boys Scouts of America and the Peace Corps. When it comes to promoting change and progress, Alpha Phi Alpha is undeniably one of the leading fraternities.

Why Join a Fraternity?

Joining a fraternity is no simple matter. The view that fraternities are just for partying is untrue. College frat life goes beyond fun activities. Rather, real frat life involves awareness of one’s own potential for excellence and desire to be of use to others. Great fraternities seek to elevate the status of its members as well as promote change and progress in society. Although there are certainly many organizations capable of providing nourishing experiences to their members, the fraternities featured in this post are known for their high standards and contributions to society. For this reason, students who are looking for the best fraternities to join should look into these organizations. In the end, the secret to choosing the best college fraternity to join is by setting high standards upon oneself and finding the fraternity that can optimize one’s potential for growth, development, and success.

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