About Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest Academic Honor Society, founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary. Their website is www.pbk.org.

According to their website, Phi Beta Kappa “celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences.” PBK defines liberal arts as humanities, social science and science fields of study.

Phi Beta Kappa membership is for life. According to the national PBK website, alumni members include 17 U.S. Presidents, 38 Supreme Court Justices, and 136 Nobel Laureates.

There are currently 280 colleges and universities across the country with a PBK chapter. Ten percent of the nation’s liberal arts colleges have PBK chapters and ten percent of the undergraduates at those institutions are awarded PBK membership.

Key Phi Beta Kappa Principles

  • Freedom of inquiry
  • Liberty of thought
  • Personal freedom
  • Scientific inquiry
  • Creative endeavor
  • Tolerance of other’s views
  • Intellectual integrity

Phi Beta Kappa’s goals include:

  • Advocating excellence in the liberal arts and sciences
  • Offering scholarships
  • Fostering lifelong learning through social, cultural and educational programs


In addition to forming chapters at liberal arts colleges who have outstanding liberal arts programs and students, PBK is also interested in liberal arts colleges with:

  • Strong community outreach programs
  • Writing intensive courses
  • Liberal arts lecture series
  • Liberal arts scholarships