Phi Beta Kappa • Requirements

The Phi Beta Kappa Society (PBK) is the most prestigious academic honor society of the United States for the brightest college or university students.

The PBK was founded in The College of William and Mary on December 5, 1777. It is one of the first societies with the main objective of training its members in liberal arts and sciences. While looking for excellence, it has also inspired the foundation of other academic honor societies.

Because it is such a prestigious institution, many students want to be part of it. If this is your case, in this article, we will show you which requirements you need to fulfill.

What are the Phi Beta Kappa requirements?

phi beta kappa requirements

The PBK memberships are given to college or university students. Unlike other university societies, the only way of becoming a member is by receiving an invitation from the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

The invitation involves a highly selective and merit-based process, which is done by the Executive Committee to select the brightest and most honorable students.

Below you will find the specific requirements any person must fulfill to qualify as a possible member.

Liberal arts and Sciences studies

You can receive an invitation if your bachelor’s program includes a course in liberal arts and sciences; these areas encompass disciplines like mathematics, humanities, social and natural sciences.

To the PBK Society, the course may qualify if it is equivalent to at least three-quarters of the credits usually required for a bachelor’s degree. For example: You need to accomplish a minimum of 150 semester hours of work if the degree requires 200 hours.

They also consider courses in other areas if they involve liberal arts and sciences somehow. And, PBK only excludes pre-professional, and applied courses that only lead to the acquisition of practical skills.

Quantity and level of the courses

To PBK, it is also relevant (for students’ eligibility) the breadth and depth of the courses related to liberal arts and sciences.

They will also consider the level and number of courses you take apart from the main ones to get the degree; this refers to the courses the student chooses to obtain a better knowledge of other areas in the same major.

For example: If your major requires two courses, you should take 3 or 4 instead. This way, you will impress the Executive Committee because of your interest in accomplishing a competitive profile.

Foreign Language

In order to be a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the student must speak at least one nonnative language, appropriate for a liberal education.

The student must have accomplished at least the intermediate level of the language course at school, university, or both.

In case you are bilingual and have the documentation to prove it, you surely meet this requirement.

Course in college-level

Another requirement to receive a possibly PBK invitation is having completed at least a college-level course in mathematics, statistics or logic.

The course’s content has to be related to liberal arts and sciences. This has the intention of showing the PBK you have skills in quantitative reasoning; remember that the society’s purpose is academic excellence.

Moral Rules

PBK’s ideals not only focuses on the student’s academic record; they also look for an exemplary behavior at school and university.

Only students of good moral character may receive an invitation.

Note that the requirements previously described were approved and certified by the Executive Committee on June 1, 2011. If you need more information about eligibility, look for your chapter office’s contact details here:

phi beta kappa chapter directory

Additional Considerations

If you want to become a Phi Beta Kappa member, you should start your preparation from high school to accomplish an attractive student profile by the time you get to college.

Being part of PBK will offer you the opportunity to expand your knowledge, and have the recognition as an honor student. 17 U.S presidents, 41 Supreme Court Justices, and over 140 Nobel Laureates were members of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

PBK also has articles, podcasts, and relevant information to understand more about the society; click here to see all their publications:

phi beta kappa publications and podcasts