Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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?
Many prominent individuals are Phi Beta Kappa – 17 U.S. Presidents, 39 former and current U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and more than 130 Nobel laureates are members. Visit the national Phi Beta Kappa website for a complete list.
What are Phi Beta Kappa’s member benefits?
As a lifetime member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, you share membership with some of the most accomplished politicians, scholars, writers, and businessmen in the world. This honor sets you apart from the rest and shows your capacity for critical thought, analysis, and good writing — skills that are continually sought after by employers.
Visit the national Phi Beta Kappa website for a complete list of benefits.
I've been invited to join several honor societies. How do I choose which ones to join?
It is common for good students to get invited to join one or more honor societies. These honor societies ask students to pay money to become members, and students often wonder whether it is worthwhile to spend the money and/or which invites to accept. This link provides an excellent review of how to determine which ones to join.