Founded by five students at the College of William and Mary in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest, most widely recognized academic honor society. Chapters on campuses at leading U.S. colleges and universities evaluate students and invite the most outstanding arts and sciences students to join. Only 10 percent of higher education institutions have Phi Beta Kappa chapters, and only 10 percent of arts and sciences students at these institutions are selected for membership. To graduate Phi Beta Kappa, you must have been inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society upon graduation from your college or university.
Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences
To be invited to join Phi Beta Kappa, at least three-quarters of your course credits must be for courses in the liberal arts and sciences. The committee that selects students for membership consists mostly of professors, and the group looks closely at the breadth and depth of your study, paying particular attention to the variety and level of courses you have taken outside the requirements of your major. Committee members also look for elective courses beyond the introductory level.
Knowledge of a Second Language and Mathematics
Candidates for induction should demonstrate success in a second language, either in high school, college or both. You must have completed an intermediate college-level course in a second, or non-native, language or have met its equivalent through a placement exam. Phi Beta Kappa candidates must have completed at least one college-level mathematics, logic or statistics class or passed an equivalency exam.
A candidate for Phi Beta Kappa must demonstrate commitment not just to learning but also to the honor society's two other principles: friendship and morality. The 1985 bylaws require “good character,” which is evaluated through consultation with the deans and faculty members. To graduate Phi Beta Kappa, become involved in a variety of extracurricular clubs or activities as well as academic groups to build your character and become more well-rounded.
To graduate Phi Beta Kappa, research the organization and understand the full scope of the requirements. An invitation for membership is a privilege, and membership in this group will help your resume stand out when you are applying for jobs after graduation. Membership is for life and offers you exclusive networking opportunities with other high achievers. Induction sets you apart from others and indicates your impressive skills and qualities.
Rachel Pancare taught elementary school for seven years before moving into the K-12 publishing industry. Pancare holds a Master of Science in childhood education from Bank Street College and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Skidmore College.