Membership Selection

Students are considered for membership based on their grade point averages in liberal arts studies, typically ranking in the top 10 percent of arts and sciences majors at the University. Other factors considered include breadth and depth of areas of study, honors program involvement, undergraduate research activity, and other campus involvement and leadership. Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions that define membership selection more specifically.

Most students are elected to Phi Beta Kappa during the spring of their senior year, though a few may be elected during their junior year.  Students are selected by a committee of faculty in the PBK chapter and are approved by the chapter as a whole.  Students cannot apply to Phi Beta Kappa.

Phi Beta Kappa recognizes academic excellence in the liberal arts and sciences.  To be eligible students must complete at least 90 hours of coursework in “liberal subjects” (see below) by the time they graduate.  The primary criterion for selection to Phi Beta Kappa is academic excellence as measured by GPA in liberal subjects (not cumulative GPA).

In addition to GPA, the chapter looks for other signs of strong and well rounded liberal arts education.  These include participation in the university honors program and in undergraduate research, high levels of competence in foreign language, study abroad, achievement in mathematics beyond minimal Butler graduation requirements, and breadth of study as evidenced by substantial coursework across a variety of disciplines.  In keeping with Phi Beta Kappa’s requirement that students be of good moral character, students who have violated Butler’s academic integrity or student conduct policies are generally excluded from consideration.

Phi Beta Kappa distinguishes liberal subjects from subjects that are primarily applied and professional in nature.  Most courses in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are in liberal subjects, though some, including internships and practicums are not.  Courses in the professional colleges may count towards liberal arts GPA if they are liberal in nature.  Examples of such courses include most economics courses in the College of Business and music history or theory courses in the Jordan College of Fine Arts.

The number of students elected in a given class is approximately 10% of the number of students majoring in liberal arts disciplines.  While most students are elected in the spring of their senior year, up to 2% of eligible students may be elected in their junior year.

Students graduating in December will be considered for election to Phi Beta Kappa the semester after they graduate.

Students from all colleges are evaluated for Phi Beta Kappa – but in practice the requirement of ninety hours in liberal subjects makes it likely that most students will come from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Our criteria follows the National Phi Beta Kappa organization’s stipulations for membership.