Phi Beta Kappa

About

Phi Beta Kappa aims to promote and advocate excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and to induct the most outstanding students of arts and sciences at American colleges and universities. Founded in 1776 at The College of William and Mary, the Phi Beta Kappa Society is the oldest honor society for the liberal arts and sciences and is widely considered to be the nation's most prestigious honor society.

Phi Beta Kappa (ΦΒΚ) stands for Φιλοσοφία Βίου Κυβερνήτης or in Latin letters Philosophia Biou Cybernētēs, which means "Love of wisdom is the guide of life."

Eligibility

Selection for membership into Phi Beta Kappa remains the most prestigious nationally and internationally recognized honor for scholastic attainment.

To be eligible for consideration for Phi Beta Kappa, you must be a student in the College of Arts & Sciences and either a:

  • Junior who has completed at least four semesters in residence at Cornell (Cornell in Washington and study abroad are included as semesters in residence) and has a GPA within the top 3 percent of those who meet the semester requirements; or a
  • Senior who has completed at least six semesters in residence at Cornell (Cornell in Washington and study abroad are included as semesters in residence) and has a GPA within the top 7 percent of those who meet the semester requirement. After graduation, if your final term brings your GPA above the minimum set for the top 7 percent, you may also be eligible.

The Phi Beta Kappa Cornell faculty President, the Phi Beta Kappa Cornell faculty Secretary, and staff will closely review students that have less than the required number of semesters in residence on a case-by-case basis to consider students who transferred to Cornell from another institution and/or may graduate early. Transfer students should have a minimum of four completed semesters in residence at Cornell to be eligible. 

Note that only Cornell grades are considered.

Contact

If you have any questions regarding the selection of students to Phi Beta Kappa, please contact:

Professor Daniel Schwarz
Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English
& Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow
President, Theta of New York Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa

Top