Phi Beta Kappa Criteria for Membership
In order to become a member of Phi Beta Kappa, an individual must be initiated through one of the 270 chapters at select universities and colleges. Students are invited to become a member of Phi Beta Kappa “primarily on the basis of broad cultural interests, scholarly achievement, and good character.”
Membership is limited to no more than 10% of the graduating class and 2% of the junior class. Students may not apply for membership. Juniors with a GPA of 3.75 or higher and seniors with a GPA of 3.5 or higher are automatically considered as candidates for the selection process (see below). Students must have completed no fewer than 90 credits in order to be eligible.
Out of the pool of highly qualified students with high GPA’s, the chapter identifies exceptional students who excel in the liberal arts in general, with intellectual interests that extend beyond the requirements of their majors. The selection committee, formally known as the Committee on Members-in-Course, requests information on each candidate from the registrar and from academic departments and programs.
Over a period of several days, the Committee carefully examines this information and identifies individuals who best exemplify the ideas of the Society (scholarship, broad interests, and character). The final list is then voted upon by the active members of the chapter.
In accordance to the society’s stipulations regarding membership, “weight shall be given to the breadth and proportion of the program of each candidate as shown by the number and variety of courses taken outside the major.” Therefore, candidates who have taken advanced courses beyond college requirements and across a wide range of disciplines are more competitive than those who have not.
Evidence of intellectual curiosity and a broadness of mind may be demonstrated by activities such as independent research, thesis, or other scholarly activities that have achieved a level recognized by members of the faculty in the candidate’s major department.
Candidates should also have demonstrated “a knowledge of mathematics and of a foreign language at least minimally appropriate for a liberal education.”