What is Phi Beta Kappa?*

Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's first Greek-letter society and its oldest academic honor society. For more than two and a quarter centuries, the Society has embraced the principles of freedom of inquiry and liberty of thought and expression. "ΦBK" are the Greek initials representing the Society's motto: "Love of learning is the guide of life."

What does Phi Beta Kappa do?*

Phi Beta Kappa celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. Its campus chapters invite for induction the most outstanding arts and sciences students at America's leading colleges and universities.

The Society sponsors activities to advance these studies — the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences — in higher education and in society at large. Its national office sponsors various awards, fellowships, lectureships and scholarships; it works with other institutions with similar goals to advance the liberal arts and sciences; and publishes two quarterlies, including the award-winning magazine The American Scholar.

How many colleges have Phi Beta Kappa chapters?*

Phi Beta Kappa has 290 chapters at American colleges and universities.

How many students are invited to join?*

10% of U.S. colleges and universities have Phi Beta Kappa chapters. These chapters select only 10% of their arts and sciences graduates to join.

What does it mean to be a member?*

To be a member of Phi Beta Kappa indicates that you are among the top college graduates in the arts or sciences at your school. In addition to academic excellence, the ideal member has demonstrated a high degree of intellectual integrity, tolerance for other views, and a broad range of academic interests.

How many people are members of Phi Beta Kappa?*

Phi Beta Kappa has more than 500,000 living members.

Who are some Phi Beta Kappa members we might know?*

Members include 17 U.S. Presidents, 41 Supreme Court Justices, and more than 140 Nobel Laureates.

How do you become a member of Phi Beta Kappa?*

Most members are invited to join as undergraduates. They are evaluated on the basis of their undergraduate records at the institution that houses a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. All chapters elect seniors and some elect juniors, although juniors must meet a higher standard.

National stipulations for membership and model chapter constitution and bylaws are provided as guidelines, but each chapter determines the specific categories and criteria for membership.

On rare occasions, a chapter may elect alumni or honorary members. In these cases, the members are evaluated according to what they did after completing their undergraduate degrees.

What are Phi Beta Kappa's member benefits?*

  • Lifetime membership in Phi Beta Kappa; no renewal required
  • Lifetime subscription to The Key Reporter, the Society's publication for members
  • Opportunities for continuing education and professional networking through Phi Beta Kappa's alumni associations and donor groups, like the Secretary's Circle and the Fellows of Phi Beta Kappa
  • Discounts from Colonial Williamsburg (the birthplace of Phi Beta Kappa), and Financial Times online
  • Access to social network for members through the Phi Beta Kappa website and on LinkedIn
  • Subscription discount for The American Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa's award-winning magazine

What About Alpha Sigma Nu?

LMU has hosted since 1939 a chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu, a national honor society comparable in status to Phi Beta Kappa within the Jesuit network, recognizing students of Jesuit institutions for their scholarship, loyalty and service. While requirements are different, qualified students may be inducted to one or the other, or both organizations.

* Source: Phi Beta Kappa