Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honors organization. For more than 200 years, the Society has pursued its mission of celebrating and advocating excellence in the liberal arts and sciences, and its distinctive emblem, a golden key, is widely recognized as a symbol of academic distinction.
Students are elected to Phi Beta Kappa for their scholarly attainment in the liberal arts and sciences. Undergraduate members of Phi Beta Kappa are chosen from the top 12 percent of the fourth-year class and the top 4 percent of the third-year class. Students must have earned at least 60 hours at the University of Virginia to be eligible; credits earned at other institutions are not counted in these computations. If you meet these basic criteria you are automatically considered, so it is not necessary to apply.
Students chosen for Phi Beta Kappa not only have earned a high grade point average but also have consistently demonstrated scholarship in the liberal arts and sciences. Generally speaking, students elected will have:
- Chosen courses that reflect a scholarly commitment to the breadth and depth of the liberal arts,
- Demonstrated proficiency in challenging advanced-level courses, and
- Carried a challenging course load (usually considered to be 14-15 credit hours most semesters).
More specifically, nominees will have taken at least two courses in each of the following areas: humanities, social sciences, and the natural or physical sciences. They will also have taken at least one intermediate course in a foreign language and one course in college-level mathematics, logic, or statistics. All course work must be done in college or university (No AP credits fulfill the criteria). In sum, the students who are elected choose programs that have breadth, depth, and rigor. Extracurricular activities are not taken into account.
We hope that students interested in being elected to Phi Beta Kappa will consider these criteria with their advisors as they select their courses throughout their years of study at the University. However, individual consideration is granted each transcript and election is determined by PBK faculty, not by a set of fixed criteria.
We invite you to visit the web site of the National Headquarters of Phi Beta Kappa.