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Phi Beta Kappa

Initiation into this honor society is a high honor and a celebration of a student's excellent and distinguished program of study in the liberal arts and sciences.  If elected to membership, Ohio State faculty have judged your program of study to be among the most rigorous and exceptional in the College of Arts and Sciences.  If you have questions about Phi Beta Kappa, please consult an ASC honors advisor.

About Phi Beta Kappa

The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the oldest scholastic honorary in the United States, dating from its founding at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, on December 5, 1776.  Phi Beta Kappa celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences.  Phi Beta Kappa's campus chapters invite for induction only the most outstanding arts and sciences students at 280 of America's colleges and universities. 

Epsilon Chapter of The Ohio State University was chartered on December 8, 1904.

For more information: The Phi Beta Kappa Society

Phi Beta Kappa Membership at Ohio State

Membership in Phi Beta Kappa is not a graduation honor, but an honor accorded to students in the Arts and Sciences who have performed with excellence while completing a program of exceptional strength and breadth.  Students do not apply for this honor.  They are selected by a committee of Ohio State faculty, which examines the records of all juniors with a minimum 3.8 cumulative grade point average and all seniors and recent graduates with a minimum 3.5 cumulative grade point average.  Those with the very strongest records are elected to Phi Beta Kappa and given the opportunity to join this most prestigious of national liberal arts honoraries.  Elections are made in the spring of each year.  Students accepting membership to the society are honored at the annual initiation ceremony and banquet held in the spring.

Standards for Election at Ohio State

In addition to excellent grades, the faculty committee looks for students completing programs demonstrating outstanding strength and breadth in the liberal arts.  To be considered for election to Phi Beta Kappa, students must complete rigorous course work in mathematics (usually calculus), world languages, and a variety of arts and sciences disciplines.  Some potential indicators of exceptional strength and breadth may include the elements listed below (note that this is by no means an exhaustive list).  The programs of study of students elected to Phi Beta Kappa typically demonstrate several of these elements:

  • Course work beyond the minimum required hours in at least some areas of the general education curriculum;
  • Course work beyond the introductory level (i.e., beyond the 1000- or 2000-level) in fields unrelated to the student's major;
  • An integrated pattern of course work, which--for example--might include a minor or a second major;
  • A major program which exceeds the minimum requirements in that discipline;
  • Course work in more than one world language or work beyond the minimum general education requirement in a single language;
  • The stronger introductory sequence where two or more sequences are offered, as in physics, chemistry, or mathematics;
  • Honors courses and upper-division courses (particularly 4000-level courses);
  • A research thesis project;
  • More than the minimum number of hours required for graduation;
  • A minimum of courses dropped (W's) or taken under the "pass/non-pass" option.