Hello, and welcome to Maryland Mensa’s website. Maryland Mensa currently has around 636 members, but there are thousands more who meet Mensa’s sole eligibility requirement: A score in the top 2% on any of over 200 intelligence tests.

If you are interested in joining Mensa, please click on join in the header above (coming soon). Prospective members are also welcome to attend one of our regular speaker meetings, usually held the third Friday of each month at the River Hill Meeting Room, 6330 Trotter Road, Clarksville, MD 21029.

We hold informal get togethers in Frederick, Harford County, and the Eastern shore. There is a more formal monthly dinner in Annapolis where reservations are required. The greatest attraction of Mensa is the diversity of our membership; there are people from all walks of life, with widely varying interests and opinions. Conversation is always fascinating, erudite and unpredictable. 

Along with the regular events mentioned above, there are many other parties, excursions and social events. For special interests, there are national Mensa SIGs (Special Interest Groups). We also publish a monthly newsletter, M-Anation, with articles, puzzles, and a calendar of local events. Our national magazine, The Mensa Bulletin, is published with again puzzles, poetry, essays, and information about what the rest of America Mensa is doing, be it outings or Gatherings. At Regional and Annual Gatherings you would have a chance to meet fellow Mensans from over the world ,not just America; picture, for the American AG 1500-2000 Mensans gathered and expressing as many opinions. European Annual Gatherings do not have as many attendees but are held all over the continent, the British Isles, and in Ireland which has a very active Mensa for a smallish country. 

If you have children under the age of 18, I also encourage you to check out our youth program, Bringing Resources and Involvement to Gifted Homes Together (BRIGHT). You can find more information about BRIGHT here (coming soon).

We also are active, through our non-profit Mensa Education and Research Foundation, in many research projects and in awarding scholarships. Information on MERF can be found here.

Please join us at one of our meetings soon.

Read further for a history of Mensa, more information about our group today, and a history of Maryland Mensa.

In addition we hope new members find our new Mensa Acronym List useful.

Mensa in General

Mensa was founded in Oxford, England in 1946 by Roland Berrill, an Australian lawyer practicing in the United Kingdom as a barrister (a courtroom advocate); and Dr. Lancelot Ware, an English biochemist, barrister, and recipient of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. They had the idea of forming a society for bright people with the sole qualification for membership being a high intelligence quotient. The society today welcomes people from around the world in every walk of life whose IQ is in the top two percent of the general population—that is, an IQ of roughly 132 or better—with the objective of enjoying each other’s company and participating in a wide range of social and cultural activities.

Mr. Berrill and Dr. Ware intended for membership in the society they formed—originally called the “High IQ Club”—to be restricted to the top one percent of the population by intelligence (roughly an IQ of 135 or more), but they made an error in calculating standard deviation.  By the time they realized their mistake, they’d already recruited and accepted members who qualified at the 98th percentile but not the 99th; so they reset their goal to the top two percent.

The word “Mensa” means table in Latin. Mensa is a round table society, where race, color, creed, national origin, age, politics, and educational and social background are irrelevant.

Mensa has three stated purposes: to

  • identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity;
  • encourage research in the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence; and
  • promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members.

Although individual Mensans often hold strong opinions, as you will see in the International Constitution of Mensa, the organization itself takes no stands on politics, religion, or social issues.

There is no single prevailing characteristic of Mensa members other than high IQ. There are members for whom Mensa provides a sense of family, and others for whom it is no more than a casual social activity. Many marriages have occurred in Mensa, but for most people it is simply a stimulating opportunity for the mind. Nearly all Mensans have a good sense of humor, and many—though far from all—like to talk. They often have a lot to say.

Mensans have ranged in age from 2 years old to more than 100, but most around the world are between 20 and 60. In education they range from preschoolers through high school dropouts to people with multiple doctorates. There are Mensans on welfare and Mensans who are millionaires. The range of member occupations is extensive: Mensa has professors and truck drivers, scientists and firefighters, computer programmers and farmers, artists and dentists, military people, musicians, laborers, police officers, glassblowers, actors, accountants, civil servants, and nearly anything else you can imagine.

There are two primary ways to join Mensa:

  • If you’re age 14 or older, you can take a supervised, standard test administered by one of Maryland Mensa’s registered proctors (contact Proctor Coordinator Michelle Hirsh at proctor@maryland.us.mensa.org or 240-476-6464); or
  • You can submit evidence of prior testing in the form of scores from supervised, standardized tests like the Stanford Binet, Miller Analogies Test, and earlier versions of the SAT, GRE, and other college preparatory and military tests.

Either way, if you’ve scored in the top two percent, you’ll qualify for American Mensa.  Then it’s just a matter of paying your annual dues (currently $79).

Today there are about 140,000 Mensans in 100 countries throughout the world. American Mensa—which was founded by Peter Sturgeon, a medical writer in Brooklyn in 1960—currently has more than 50,000 members. British Mensa has the second largest national organization, with nearly 20,000 members.  Some other national membership numbers: 

  • Mensa in Germany has 16,000 members
  • Mensa Sweden 7,200
  • Mensa Netherlands 4,300
  • Mensa Czech Republic 4,000
  • Mensa France 4,000
  • Mensa Hungary 3,850
  • Mensa Finland 3,300
  • Mensa Australia 2,500
  • Mensa South Korea 2,400
  • Mensa Poland 2,200
  • Mensa Canada 2,000
  • Mensa Norway 2,000
  • Mensa Denmark 1,800
  • Mensa Italy 1,800
  • Mensa Spain 1,750
  • Mensa Switzerland 1,600
  • Mensa India 1,500
  • Mensa Japan 1,500
  • Mensa Singapore 1,400
  • Mensa South Africa 1,300
  • Mensa Greece 1,100
  • Mensa Serbia 1,100
  • Mensa Austria 1,000
  • Mensa Ireland 850
  • Mensa New Zealand 600
  • Mensa China (People’s Republic) 400