PHI BETA KAPPA, which was founded in 1776, is the oldest and most respected academic honors society in the United States. Its main purpose is to recognize students who have achieved distinction in the liberal arts and sciences. Further information about the history and purpose of the organization can be found on the National Phi Beta Kappa Society homepage .
You do not need to apply in order to be considered for Phi Beta Kappa. If you meet the minimum grade standards, the UCLA Scholarship Resource Center will automatically forward your Degree Progress Report or Degree Audit Report to the UCLA Phi Beta Kappa Council. The Council will then examine your academic report in detail to see whether you satisfy Phi Beta Kappa’s “stipulations for eligibility,” which are described below.
Here are the minimum grade standards that the UCLA Phi Beta Kappa Council has established:
|TOTAL UC UNITS
|90 – 110||3.85|
|111 – 125||3.80|
|126 – 139||3.75|
|140 & above||3.67|
Although Phi Beta Kappa requires high grades, it also requires elected members to have completed ambitious programs in the liberal arts and sciences. Here is a summary of the current stipulations for eligibility established by the National Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Stipulation 1 (120 Units of Liberal Arts and Sciences Coursework): Phi Beta Kappa honors achievement in the liberal arts and sciences. According to the national PBK stipulations, “The liberal arts and sciences encompass the traditional disciplines of the natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences, and humanities. Select courses in other programs of study may be included only if they unambiguously embody the liberal arts and sciences.” The PBK standards also say that “applied or pre-professional coursework” shall not be considered in determining eligibility. (Examples of applied and pre-professional courses are in the areas of management, accounting, and law.) To be eligible for Phi Beta Kappa, a UCLA student must have taken 120 units of liberal arts and sciences courses; that is, at least two-thirds of the 180 units that UCLA requires for graduation. Successful PBK candidates will often have taken some courses outside the liberal arts and sciences, but the grades in these courses cannot count toward Phi Beta Kappa, and the courses themselves cannot exceed one-quarter of the units that the student offers for graduation.
Stipulation 2 (Ambitious Course Combinations in the Liberal Arts and Sciences): The strongest Phi Beta Kappas have earned outstanding grades in ambitious courses that come from different branches of the liberal arts and sciences. Here are some examples of obvious elects to Phi Beta Kappa: a student who combined advanced music with advanced mathematics courses; a student who took advanced French as well as advanced philosophy courses; a student who combined advanced chemistry with advanced history courses; a student who took both advanced Chinese and advanced biophysics courses. As required by the national stipulations, the UCLA Council pays particular attention to courses a candidate has taken outside his or her major and how advanced these courses were.
Stipulation 3 (Intermediate Second Language): Phi Beta Kappa continues to place emphasis on language study as indispensable to the type of liberal education the Society honors and encourages. Specifically, elected candidates must have taken at least one course at the intermediate level or above in a second language. The National Society’s stipulation reads as follows: “Candidates shall have demonstrated, by successful work in high school or college, or in the two together, a knowledge of a second or non-native language at least minimally appropriate for a liberal education. In no case shall this mean less than the completion of the intermediate college level in a second, or non-native, language, or its equivalent.” Many UCLA students have passed out of UCLA’s language requirement or have been exempted from it. Because Phi Beta Kappa requires greater competency in a second language than does the College of Letters and Science, if your degree progress report does not indicate intermediate competency in a second language, but you nevertheless possess it, you may wish to contact us about your eligibility.
Stipulation 4 (At Least One Course in Mathematics, Logic, or Statistics): This stipulation provides as follows: “The candidate’s undergraduate record shall include at least one course in college-level mathematics, logic, or statistics, with content appropriate to a liberal arts and sciences curriculum. The course should introduce the student to mathematical ideas, abstract thinking, proofs, and the axiomatic method.”
How To Accept Your PBK Nomination
- Visit the National PBK website.
- Under the Membership tab, select New Member Registration and then the red New Member button.
- Complete the requested information.
- When prompted, enter the UCLA chapter passcode, which is listed on your PBK invitation letter.
- Pay the one-time total of $90 in membership fees by credit card or PayPal.
- Complete your registration before May 31.
- Make plans to attend the UCLA Initiation Ceremony on Wednesday, June 12.
Note: For information about attending the UCLA Initiation Ceremony, including the reservation of tickets and parking, visit the PBK page on the College Commencement site.
For Students Not Attending the Ceremony
- We encourage you to pick up your new membership packet from the UCLA Scholarship Resource Center office in 233 Covel Commons, Monday through Friday between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
- Membership packets will be available beginning in late May.
- If you change your mind after the RSVP deadline and want to attend the Initiation Ceremony, please contact the PBK coordinator at 310-825-4112 right away.
The Phi Beta Kappa Spring Initiation Ceremony is an annual event that honors the inauguration of newly elected Phi Beta Kappa members of the academic year. The election criteria and schedule are listed in the “About” section. Those elected in the Spring will receive invitation via MyUCLA in late April.
After opening remarks from the Eta Chapter President of Phi Beta Kappa at UCLA, the Honorary Phi Beta Kappa Initiate will be inducted and will give a short speech. New members will be inducted into the Society by learning a Phi Beta tradition.
After the induction, each student will come to the stage to announce his or her name and future plans (graduate school, career, volunteering, extended vacation, etc.). The entire ceremony should last approximately two hours, from 7:00 until 9:00 p.m.
A reception outside of the Palisades Room will immediately follow the ceremony. Hors d’oeuvres, refreshments, and dessert will be served.
The 2018-2019 Eta Chapter officers will also be present at the ceremony and will look forward to meeting all new PBK Initiates.
President Professor Mark F. Grady (Law)
Vice President Louise Underdahl (UCLA Phi Beta Kappa Alumna)
Councilor Dr. Bahman Chavoshan (Medicine)
Councilor Professor Michael Hackett (Theater)
Councilor Adjunct Professor Jennifer Judkins (Music)
Councilor Professor Joseph H. Manson (Anthropology)
Councilor Professor Susan Perry (Anthropology)
Councilor Emeritus Professor Charles West (Chemistry and Biochemistry)
Councilor Professor Robert Winter (Music)
1. How do I find out if I have been elected to Phi Beta Kappa?
You will receive a MyUCLA notification in the election period you qualify for. If you are still unsure if you have been elected, you may contact the PBK coordinator at 310-825-4112. Please be sure to include your UCLA student ID number and the quarter you graduated.
2. How do I get considered for Phi Beta Kappa? Do I apply?
Students are initially evaluated for consideration based on the degree expected term (consideration in Senior Year & some exceptional Juniors), UC units completed, and GPA. For Spring and Summer candidates, Winter units and GPA will be included. There is NO application and thus no need to apply. The election criteria and schedule are listed in the “About” section.
3. I’m not in the College of Letters and Science. Am I still eligible for Phi Beta Kappa?
Yes, all students who meet the eligibility requirements will be reviewed regardless of UCLA college/school affiliation. However, please bear in mind not all students will have access to view their election status. To verify your election to PBK, please contact the PBK coordinator as outlined above at 310-825-4112.
4. If I am invited to join, am I automatically a member of Phi Beta Kappa?
No. You must choose to accept your invitation to join. Membership involves a one-time payment, which covers the PBK National fee, administrative costs of the program, and the initiation ceremony. However, once you accept membership, you are a lifetime member and no additional fees are needed for your membership to stay active.
5. Is the ceremony mandatory for membership?
The ceremony is not mandatory; however, we encourage you and your guests to participate and celebrate your induction into this prestigious honors society.
6. If I cannot attend the ceremony, how do I get my certificate?
Please contact the PBK coordinator at 310-825-4112.