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Frequently Asked Questions


How selective is Phi Beta Kappa?

10% of colleges and universities have a chapter. Each chapter is allowed to elect 10% of the graduating class.


What do the Greek letters Phi Beta Kappa mean?

The society’s name refers to the Greek phrase Φιλοσοφία Βίου Κυβερνήτης meaning that the love of learning should be the guide to life. In selecting new members, we look for the most curious students who have taken a broad range of courses in the sciences, humanities, and social sciences.


How are members selected?

Wellesley’s Phi Beta Kappa selection committee reviews the academic records of eligible seniors. Students with the most intellectual breadth, as demonstrated by a wide range of courses on their transcripts, are the most competitive. The chapter seeks to reward intellectual risk-taking, so GPA is only one factor considered.


What are the benefits of membership?

Phi Beta Kappa is a special academic honor that is noted directly on the college transcript. Future employers and application committees will see that as a sign of distinction.

The national organization maintains a members-only Linked-In group for professional development. The national organization also offers internship, scholarship, and outreach programs to promote the love of learning.

Many cities have PBK alumni associations where resident members meet regularly for book clubs, lectures, and dinners. They offer a way to maintain lifetime learning and to find community after you graduate from college or move to a new city.


Who are some famous members?

Famous members of the society include the Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, COO Sheryl Sandberg, and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, among others.



updated May 27, 2022