Difference Between Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 04, 2023


Difference Between Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta

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Alpha Kappa Alpha vs. Delta Sigma Theta - Quick Difference

Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) and Delta Sigma Theta (DST) are two of the oldest and most notable historically Black sororities in the US, created as part of the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Despite their similarities, both sororities have different histories, values, and programs.

Founding and history: Nine college-educated African American women founded AKA on January 15, 1908, at Howard University in Washington, D.C. African-American college women founded it. Later, 22 college-educated African American women founded DST at Howard University on January 13, 1913. DST was founded to address social and political issues and promote sisterhood and activism.

Symbols and colors: AKA employs the ivy leaf, mirror, and pearl. Salmon pink and apple green represent the sorority. The torch, elephant, and Fortitude statue are DST symbols. DST uses crimson and cream.

Values and principles: AKA emphasizes sisterhood, scholarship, and service. Their mission is to foster high academic and ethical standards, unite college women, study and solve girl and women's issues, and serve humanity. DST emphasizes sisterhood, scholarship, and service, while their Five-Point Programmatic Thrust emphasizes social and political action, public service, and community empowerment.

Programs and initiatives: Both sororities run community programs and initiatives. Emerging Young Leaders, Environmental Ownership, and Global Poverty are AKA's signature programs. DST's Five-Point Programmatic Thrust focuses on economic development, educational development, international awareness and involvement, physical and mental health, and political awareness and involvement.

Despite these differences, Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta are committed to helping their members and communities. Both organizations have made significant contributions to society.


As a college student, you will come across hundreds of organizations, each serving a different purpose but all working towards building networks in the community. Sororities are one of the common non-profit organizations that strive to mitigate social issues through charity programs. Two of the major sororities are Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta.

Alpha Kappa Alpha vs. Delta Sigma Theta

While both the sororities strive to help the African American community through local activities, the main difference between both organizations lies in the principles they abide by. Alpha Kappa Alpha(AKA) serves and abides by the motto “By Culture and By Merit” whereas Delta Sigma Theta(DST) runs by the principle of “Intelligence is the Torch of Wisdom”. Another prominent difference lies in how the two organizations came to exist. While AKA was formed independently, DST was formed by a few members of AKA and some outsiders, who desired a few changes in the former organization.

Difference Between Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta in Tabular Form

Parameters of Comparison Alpha Kappa Alpha Delta Sigma Theta
Establishment Founded on 15th January, 1908 at Howard University Founded on January 13, 1913, at Howard university
Members currently Over 3,00,000 members Over 3,50,500 members
Number of Chapters 1024 Just over 1000, including alumnae
Headquarters Chicago, United States Washington, D.C
Motto of the sorority “By culture and by merit” “Intelligence is the torch of wisdom”
Symbol adopted Ivy Leaf Lady fortitude and the delta torch
Colors adopted Apple green and Salmon pink Cream and Crimson
Flower A Pink tea rose An African violet flower
Nicknames used Pretty girls, Ivies, Alpha women, AKA Reds, Devastating divas, Deltas, DST

What is Alpha Kappa Alpha?

Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc, also referred to as AKA is a historical intercollegiate service organization that serves as an African-American Sorority. AKA was founded on January 15, 1908, at Howard University by African-American women who are educated at a college level. It is also the oldest Greek-lettered organization founded by such women. The formation of such a sorority in its day and age had a historical impact and broke many barriers in society. The sorority now has more than 3,00,000 members in about 1024 chapters in the United States, both graduate and undergraduate.

History of Alpha Kappa Alpha

Around 1907, Ethel Hedgemon, a Howard university co-ed, desired to create a network that would support women to battle the male-dominated and biased society. The purpose of the network was to bring together like-minded women who could encourage each other and fuse ideas and new perspectives, creating solutions for the betterment of society. Her ideas were encouraged by Ethel T. Robinson, a faculty member at the same university, who supported Ethel’s opinions on sorority life by relating them to her own experiences. Following this, she made conscious efforts to realize her dream by recruiting like-minded classmates all through the spring of 1907. The next period of summer involved all the ladies conducting research and discovering new ideas and perspectives for their organization that would later be brought to existence. Ethel, with the help of another soon-to-be member, Marie Woolfolk presented their ideas to the administration, who were quick to grant their approval. Thus Ethel’s dream came to life when the sorority, consisting of Ethel herself and 8 other co-eds, was formed in 1908. Following this, the women would have their bi-weekly meetings officially in the Miner hall.

Post-establishment developments:-

  • By the end of the academic year 1911-1912, there were already 40 members in the organization.
  • Through the presentation of Negro artists such as U. S. Congressman Martin Madden and elocutionist Nathaniel Guy, Negro culture was widely promoted.
  • The first organizational scholarship also first began at Howard University in 1914. It was the first black sorority and a greek-lettered organization to offer scholarships.

Growth and expansion:-

  • In 1913, the second chapter of the sorority was established at the University of Chicago.
  • The Boulé, which is the regulating institution of the sorority, meets every two years. This is where the sorority then started to congregate members. At the 1920 Boulé, Gracy Edwards wrote the pledge for the sorority. The crest was also designed in the same boulé by Phyllis Wheatley Waters. It was created, accepted, and adopted, all in the same year.
  • Founder’s week was established as a tribute to the founders in the 1921 boulé. Ivy Leaf was also chosen as the official organ of the sorority.
  • A membership pin was accepted in the 1922 boulé that was conducted in Kansas.
  • The pins for honorary members were designed and accepted in the 1947 boulé.
  • Other Greek-lettered organizations such as Omega Psi Phi, Zeta Phi Beta, Delta Sigma Theta, along with Alpha Kappa Alpha, congregated to form the National Pan-Hellenic Council(NHPC) at Howard University. The council presently consists of nine chief fraternities and sororities.
  • The Great Migration proved to be a difficult time, throughout which, AKA would make considerable contributions to the Traveller’s Aid Society, who would go on to help the huge crowds of Southern Black migrating to the North. They greatly helped the people in finding housing and general necessities while settling in the North.
  • Ida Jackson, the international president, made commendable contributions. In April of 1933, during the Great Depression, Ida visited an industrial school in Mississippi and noticed the poor conditions and quality of the school. While some of the faculty there did not have an education past seventh grade, most of the citizens there were trying to earn and make a living through agriculture on plantation land, even if the value began to fall.
  • By 1934 she worked with a total of over 230 students and around 20 future teachers to initiate summer school, where she’d train the potential students that would teach at the school. Night classes were also held for adults.
  • She obtained up to 2600 books for the library, a whopping amount for its time, and made the library the largest of its kind in the whole of Holmes County.
  • Jackson acquired up to $ 1000 by requesting it from the boulé to fund her project of a regional health clinic. Her dream to focus on poverty was realized when the clinic was made concrete in 1938, following which it was developed to be the Mississippi Health Project.
  • To replace NPC which was established in 1938, AKA created the American Council on Human Rights (ACHR). The council’s purpose would be to make appropriate recommendations to the government regarding civil rights.
  • In September of 1945, AKA set up the National Health Office in New York City. The office would promote health initiatives through activities that are coordinated with the local chapters to increase awareness among the citizens. The office would also help increase the number of nurses and develop the health programs at other Black colleges that were historical. However, it was later dissolved in the following years, after the objectives and principles were incorporated into the Sorority’s international program.

Education and Civil Rights:-

Throughout the ages 1950-1970, AKA focused mainly on education and gave rise to several initiatives that would involve reading programs, job training, heritage enrichment, etc.

  • Fashionetta, a fashion show, was created in 1953 to fetch funding for these projects and help expand finances.
  • ACHR continued fighting for civil rights and focused on legislation that concerned equality in education, employment, and transportation.
  • Through negotiations and coordination with the Office of Economic Opportunity, AKA initiated the Women’s center between 1964 and 1965.
  • The Heritage Series, a series of pamphlets consisting of achievements and biographies of notable African-American women, was published from 1968 to 1972. Some of these pamphlets were ‘Women in Medicine’, ‘Women in Business, ‘Women in dentistry’, etc.

Marching towards the 21st century:-

  • African Village Development Program (AVDP) was initiated to minimize poverty in Africa, following the 75th anniversary of the sorority.
  • AKA continued to start mentoring initiatives by establishing ‘ON TRACK’. ON TRACK can be deciphered as Organizing, Nurturing, Team building, Respecting, Achieving, Counseling, and Knowing.
  • The initiative was initially strategized to help over twenty thousand third graders that were close to failing their education. The initiative went on to provide all round development for students that consisted of training in physical health, mental health etiquette, academics, communication, etc.
  • Along with the distress relief programs during the hurricanes and the academic programs, AKA also contributed greatly to initiatives that concerned health awareness.
  • AKA celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2008 with a year-long commemoration. They also made a generous donation of $ 1 million to Howard University to fund their scholarships.

Major Projects:-

  • Advocates for Black Colleges
  • Howard University Fund
  • Chapter Scholarships
  • The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Traveling Exhibit

What is Delta Sigma Theta?

Delta Sigma Theta is a non-profit, African-American sorority that strives to assist and provide academic resources to support those in need of it. The organization began with the initial purpose of serving the American-African community, especially women, and supporting them through local programs. The sorority was brought to existence by 22 college-level educated women at Howard University. Currently, the sorority has around 3,50,000 members with over 1000 chapters across the globe, established in commendable geographic locations such as Bermuda, Japan, England, South Africa, West Africa, Jamaica, South Korea, and many others. It is one of the largest sororities in the United States.

Membership to the sorority is granted regardless of race, religion, or nationality to any woman who surpasses their requirements. Any woman wishing to join can do so through the undergraduate chapters or the alumnae chapters if she completes her graduation.

History of Delta Sigma Theta

Around the October of 1912, the sorority conducted a meeting to which the former president, Nellie Quander was invited. There were several suggestions thrown around in the meeting, one of which was to change certain aspects of the sorority such as the color, symbols, and the name of the sorority itself. However, the former president disagreed and opposed these changes. She suggested that certain groups had no right to legally make these changes by their own decision and suggested they hold a poll to solve the matter. The result showed that the majority of the sorority did not prefer any changes. Thus the women that desired to make changes reorganized and held meetings informally throughout the next month. Eventually, after recruiting a good amount of members, people who were both outsiders and also former members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta was founded by twenty-two women on January 13, 1913.

Post-development achievements

  • The new chapter of the sorority was established on February 18, 1913.
  • The initial tasks of the sorority involved building good infrastructure and solid principles for the members to abide byá¹£. Mary Church Terrell wrote the oath for the sorority in 1914 which was adopted immediately.
  • The official hymn of the sorority was written by Florence Cole Talbert and Alice Dunbar á¹£Nelson in 1924.
  • On January 20, 1930, the sorority was incorporated as a perpetual body, surpassing a major milestone.

Growth and Expansion through Initiatives

  • The incorporation of the sorority paved easier paths for the organization to expand its chapters. The sorority thus began the National Library Project in 1937. A good amount of the black community in the Southern rural regions had no libraries or was denied any access to the libraries. The objective of the project was to provide hundreds of blacks in the rural regions, with access to books.
  • The sorority had another moment of pride when they donated their first $1000 to the United Negro College Fund in 1945.
  • After many struggles, the first national headquarters for the sorority was established in 1953.
  • 1955 saw the development of a maternity ward at the Thika Memorial Hospital.
  • The tenth national president, Dorothy Height insisted that there be some common principle that all the chapters must work to achieve. Thus the Five Point Thrust was created and adopted in 1956.
  • These five areas included: 1) Educational Development, 2) Economic Development,
  • 3) Physical and Mental Health, 4) Political Awareness and Involvement 5) International Awareness and Involvement

Programs for Women’s rights and Support

  • Co-Sponsor for National Organization of Women for Equality in Education conference-1960
  • Unwed Mothers program-1968
  • Sponsor for East African International Women's Seminar-1970
  • Fortitude sculpture at the Howard University-1979
  • Summit I to address issues faced by American women-1981
  • Summit II to address issues faced by single parents and provide support-1984

Differences between Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta in Points

  • AKA was formed in 1908 while DST was formed in 1913.
  • AKA was formed independently while DST was formed by a few members of AKA who desired changes in the sorority.
  • AKA has over 3,00,000 members while DST has around 3,50,000.
  • AKA has around 1024 chapters while DST has around 1000 chapters.
  • A few of the nicknames used by AKA are Alpha women, Ivies, and Pretty girls while DST members are referred to as Reds, Deltas, and Devastating Divas


While both these sororities are based on African-American culture, they run by different principles and have different work cultures. Despite these differences, the two communities have never had any serious rivalry amongst them, promoting healthy competition between them. If you are an undergraduate/ graduate looking to join a sorority and cannot decide which, don't fret! We’ve got you covered!



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"Difference Between Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta." Diffzy.com, 2024. Thu. 29 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-alpha-kappa-alpha-and-delta-84>.

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