There’s obviously been a lot of passionate commentary posted here. We won’t disagree that the sororal community is one that is strong. When this article was first created nearly two years ago, it was done so as a way to capture all of our sorority profiles in one place (and at that time, we’d, admittedly, only completed ten), it was never meant to place one above another or diminish the value of another. Although, we recognize, the headline says otherwise. Since that time we’ve written, to the best of our knowledge, profiles on most, if not all, of the major collegiate sorority organizations in the U.S. You can find those here.
The list of ten presented here is in alphabetical order, again, in no way meant to give preference.
Being a part of a Greek organization is often the first order of business for life on campus for college freshman. Typically a rush week just prior or at the start of the fall semester makes it possible for women to visit each sorority house on campus, before an invitation is extended to join one house or another. These sororities can be a major part of a student’s college career, being a source of social activies, cultivating relationships and keeping students accountable for their academic performance.
Ten sororities stand out as some of the oldest, largest and most popular Greek organizations for women. Learn more about their histories, philanthropic efforts, traditions and even celebrity alumnae.
Founded 1885 on the Depauw University campus in Greencastle, IN by the dean of the music school, in an effort to cultivate a music culture for women. The Alpha Chis support charities for domestic violence, and famous alumnae include former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Bachelorette Trista Rehn Sutter.
Alpha Phi was the fourth Greek organization ever founded for women, in 1872 at Syracuse University. The sorority promotes sisterhood and character with philanthropic efforts focused on cardiac care and research. Famous alumnae include actress Jeri Ryan and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey.
The Chi Omega sorority was founded at the University of Arkansas in 1895, with the purpose of promoting friendship, scholarship, campus socializing and personal and career development. The Chi-O women support the Make-A-Wish Foundation and is currently the nation’s largest sorority. Celebrity alumnae include actress Lucy Liu and Tamira Cole, the sorority’s first black member and 2009 Miss Black Kentucky.
Not feeling as though they fit in with the other sororities at Boston University, four women began Delta Delta Delta in 1888. Their goal was for the women to be “kind alike to all” and to “think more of inner self and character than of personal appearance.” The Tri-Delts support children’s cancer charities, namely St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. In 1992, a famous SNL skit made the sorority a household name. Celebrity alumnae include actress Elizabeth Banks and CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric.
In 1873 at the Lewis School for Girls, Delta Gamma began with a purpose of helping women strive for excellence. The sorority has historical ties with the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. The philanthropic efforts of the DGs is focused on Service for Sight, matching their motto to “Do Good.” Celebrity alumnae of Delta Gamma include actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus and ESPN Sports Reporter Jill Arrington.
Delta Zeta was founded at Miami University in Ohio in 1902 by six women. This was the same year that women were given status to enroll as full-time students at Miami University. Their purpose was to cultivate friendship, knowledge, social culture and unity. The Delta Zeta women support organizations for the hearing or speech impaired. Famous alumnae include The View co-host Joy Behar and “Brady Bunch mom” Florence Henderson.
The sorority was founded in 1897 at the State Female Normal School, now Longwood University, by four women aged 15 to 23. Their objective was to perpetuate friendship, fellowship and sisterly love. The Kappa Deltas support four organizations — Girl Scouts, Prevent Child Abuse America, Children’s Hospital of Richmond, Virginia and Orthopaedic Research Awards. Famous Kappa Delta alumnae include former Miss USA and actress Ali Landry and the Army’s first three-star general Claudia Kennedy.
The KKG sorority was founded at Monmouth College in 1870 by six women. It remains one of the oldest and largest active Greek organizations. The principle ideals set forth by the founding women were friendship, scholarship and leadership. The official philanthropy of Kappa Kappa Gamma is Reading is Fundamental. Famous Kappa alumnae include actresses Ashley Judd and Sophia Bush.
The Pi Beta Phi sorority was also founded at Monmouth College in 1867 by a group of women who wanted their own version of the men’s secret societies. The Pi Phis philanthropic efforts focus on literacy organizations like Champions Are Readers. Celebrity alumnae include actress Jennifer Garner and former First Lady Barbara Bush.
The State Female Normal School, now Longwood University, also produced the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. Founded in 1898 by nine women pursuing education degrees with the purpose of promoting friendship and happiness that would help build a purer womanhood. The Zetas philanthropic work benefits breast cancer awareness, with their national charity being The Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Famous ZTA alumnae include ESPN reporter Erin Andrews and President Gerald Ford’s daughter Susan Ford Bales.
Also see our list of Famous Sorority Sisters.