The Phi Beta Kappa Society
Gamma of Maryland, University of Maryland
Organized in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most widely respected academic honorary society in the United States. Invitation to membership is based on outstanding scholastic achievement in the study of the liberal arts and sciences. Student members are chosen entirely on the basis of academic excellence; neither extracurricular leadership nor service to the community is considered. Election is held twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring semester.
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Find out more at the Phi Beta Kappa National Office.
Election to Phi Beta Kappa
The process for election to Phi Beta Kappa involves a review in November for those who graduated the previous August and those who will graduate in December, and a review in March for those graduating in May. For juniors (60-89 total earned credits), the review occurs in March. The review is conducted by a select committee of faculty members representing the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The committee reviews transcripts of all students with qualifying grade point averages. Whether a student qualifies for membership in Phi Beta Kappa depends on the quality, depth, and breadth of the student's record in liberal courses. The final decision for election rests with the faculty committee and faculty Phi Beta Kappa members. Only students who have been elected will be contacted. Notices are sent to each elected student’s local address and email address as listed in the University's data system. It is the student’s responsibility to keep contact information (addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses) up to date (through Testudo) and to read all mail and email communications.
Transcripts are reviewed automatically; there is no application procedure for election to Phi Beta Kappa.
Requirements for selection to membership in Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Maryland, College Park, campus chapter include:
1. Grade Point Average: For seniors a grade point average of at least 3.75 overall as well as in all liberal arts and sciences courses taken. For juniors the grade point average is at least 3.85. National PBK rules, however, require that no more than 20 percent of the students elected in any one year can be juniors, so the actual minimum grade point average for junior admission may be higher than 3.85. GPA calculations for PBK include transfer credit.
2. Residence: At least 60 credit hours must be taken at the University of Maryland, College Park.
3. Liberal Courses: For seniors, at least 90 credit hours in courses in the liberal arts and sciences (where "liberal" courses are to be distinguished from professional or technical courses), at least 45 of which must be taken at the University of Maryland, College Park. For juniors, at least 75 total credit hours must be completed, at least 60 of which are in courses in the liberal arts and sciences; of these, at least 45 must be taken at the University of Maryland, College Park. Students would ordinarily be majors in one of the programs in the liberal arts and sciences. However, students with the requisite number of liberal credit hours can be admitted if they have completed at least 5 courses (15 credit hours or more) for seniors and for juniors in a single liberal arts and sciences department/program at UMD.
4. Required Courses: One semester of mathematics, which must be fulfilled by college-level credit hours (including AP credit or IB credit, but not exemption by SAT), and two college semesters of the same foreign language at the elementary level, or at least one semester above that level, i.e.at least one semester of intermediate level coursework at the university level. We will also consider candidates who have completed 4 years of comprehensive language study in a single non-native language before entering the university. Students with such a foreign language background who wish to be considered for admission to Phi Beta Kappa should notify the Phi Beta Kappa office (2110 Marie Mount Hall) in writing and provide the appropriate documentation (an official high school transcript) prior to the month of consideration. Juniors providing late documentation (after March 1) will be considered only as seniors.
One of the basic requirements of Phi Beta Kappa is demonstrated breadth of intellectual interest. Candidates must meet at least the minimums set in the following 3 areas:
Humanities 9 credits minimum (including approved I-Series, Distributive Studies, and Diversity courses).
History and Social/Behavioral Science 9 credits minimum (including approved I-Series, Distributive Studies, and Diversity courses).
Math/Science 10 credits minimum (including approved I-Series, Distributive Studies, and Diversity courses). A laboratory science course is required in this category and this requirement cannot be fulfilled by AP or IB credit.
All of the courses in at least two of the three required areas must be completed at the University of Maryland, College Park, and in the remaining area no more than one AP or IB course can be used to fulfill the requirement. In general, Phi Beta Kappa will accept the CORE classification of courses. In satisfying the distribution requirement, however, a maximum of one course that satisfies multiple CORE categories, allotted to the category that helps the student the most, can be used. AP or IB History course credit will be considered as satisfying only the arts and humanities requirement.
Students with more challenging courses and moderately high grade point averages are preferred by the committee to those with higher grade point averages but a narrow range of courses.
Recommended Criteria Include
- Regular grades (rather than pass/fail) in mathematics, foreign language courses, and distribution areas.
- Some traditional social sciences and humanities courses that require written essays and papers. (Note that internships may be counted as professional courses and not as liberal courses).
The mathematics, language, lab science, distribution and minimal credit count requirements must be completed prior to the semester in which the student is considered for election.
Meeting the above requirements does not guarantee election to Phi Beta Kappa. The judgment of the resident faculty members of Phi Beta Kappa on the quality, depth, and breadth of the student's record is the deciding factor in every case.
Current University of Maryland Phi Beta Kappa Officers
President: Carol Keefer
Immediate Past President: Christina Walter
Vice President: Lisa Taneyhill
Historian: Robert Crane
Executive Secretary: Christina Walter
Doug Roberts, Associate Dean, Contact in the Office of Undergraduate Studies
The UMD Phi Beta Kappa Office Contact Information
2100 Marie Mount Hall
Please call or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment