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 may not 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
|80 – 110
|111 – 125
|126 – 139
|140 & above
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.”
Our chapter accepts the following means of satisfying this stipulation: Course credit for a UCLA or community college course at the intermediate level or higher (eg Spanish 4, etc); equivalent course credit granted for an AP exam score or placement exam; evidence that a student’s first language is not English (for example, having graduated from a non-US high school or having taken an ESL course). Please note that the PBK language requirement is (in general) at least one quarter more than the College’s GE language requirement. If you have met the language requirement in a way that is not reflected on your transcript, you may reach out to our chapter to discuss how to document it.
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 $100 in membership fees by credit card or PayPal.
- Complete your registration.
- Plan to attend the initiation ceremony on June 14, 2023.
New members will be eligible to participate in our Initiation Ceremony on June 14, 2023. The ceremony is held in the Covel Commons Grand Horizon Room at 7pm on June 14. If you are elected in Spring ’23, you will receive more details prior to the event.
We suggest that elects arrive 30-45 minutes prior to the ceremony and line up outside of Covel Commons, at the triangular lawn area. You are welcome to wear your cap and gown or business casual attire.
In the Commencement Ticketing system, elects will be able to reserve up to 4 guest seats and request an additional 4 seats on the wait list. If we have space to open the wait list, we will notify you prior to the event.
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 us on Message Center. 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 via Message Center.
4. Are transfer students eligible?
Yes, provided that they meet the unit and GPA requirements.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. If I cannot attend the ceremony, how do I get my certificate?
Certificates are mailed to elects after the ceremony – normally in July, to allow the national PBK office sufficient time for processing. If you have questions, please contact the PBK coordinator via Message Center.
8. If I am elected but don’t join, may I still list PBK as an honor on my resume?
Unless you officially join PBK, you are not a member. If anyone contacts our chapter to verify your status and you have not joined (we receive these requests regularly), we would have to tell them that you are not a member of our chapter.