Each year no more than five percent of graduating seniors and one percent of juniors are invited to join the UCI Chapter, making it more selective than Latin Honors.

Phi Beta Kappa Membership is known in the United States as an exclusive mark of academic distinction, and is widely recognized as a mark of excellence by graduate schools and future employers.

Membership in Phi Beta Kappa is by invitation only; students may not apply. Membership is based on outstanding academic achievement in the liberal arts and sciences. The caliber of the candidate’s work should be of exceptional distinction and shall be elected primarily on the basis of broad cultural interests, scholarly achievement, and good character.

A review of an individual candidate’s academic record reveals that they have participated in a broad, and strong liberal arts academic program and that candidates meet liberal unit numbers and GPA requirements.

Only graduating seniors and high achieving juniors (third year students who entered UCI as freshmen) are considered for membership. A faculty committee of Phi Beta Kappa members makes the final decisions regarding membership


Information about additional criteria

High scholarship: Graduating seniors elected to Phi Beta Kappa on average have a cumulative GPA of 3.60 or higher, and juniors have a GPA of 3.75. However, no one is elected to Phi Beta Kappa solely on the basis of GPA.

Residency requirements: Students must have completed at least six quarters of work in residence at UCI. This residency requirement also applies to transfer and second baccalaureate students.

Good character: All UCI students are assumed to be of good character unless there is evidence of academic dishonesty. In accordance with UCI policy, students with recorded evidence of academic dishonesty may be excluded from consideration for academic honors at graduation, including election to Phi Beta Kappa.

Coursework in the liberal arts and sciences: Candidates must have completed a broad and rigorous course of study in the liberal arts and sciences. The term “liberal arts and sciences” refers to courses designed principally for knowledge, understanding, or appreciation of the natural and social world in which we live. The liberal arts and sciences include most courses in the humanities, social sciences, biological sciences, and the physical sciences. In general, primary consideration is given to the breadth and variety of courses taken outside the student’s major and beyond the campus general education requirements. Indicators may include Campuswide Honors Program, EAP/UCDC/Sacramento Programs, senior thesis, a second major or a minor, or undergraduate research and high GPA.

Why Join?

You were nominated for membership by a committee of Phi Beta Kappa members drawn from the UCI faculty and administration.  They reviewed your academic records for excellence and breadth, and they determined that you met the rigorous standards for membership.

Not every college or university even has a Phi Beta Kappa Chapter. There are only 280 Chapters, which comprise approximately 10% of all four-year colleges and universities in the U.S.  Chapters are approved only after a committee of the national Phi Beta Kappa Society evaluates the school’s curricula.  Without a Chapter, a school cannot nominate Phi Beta Kappa members.

It is an honor extended only to the best students. It is a crowning jewel on your undergraduate résumé.

For more information on how Phi Beta Kappa recognizes outstanding academic achievement in the liberal arts and sciences, and our membership eligibility stipulations, visit the national website.

Membership Benefits

Students who accept their membership into Phi Beta Kappa will receive the following:

    Recognition at the annual Phi Beta Kappa Induction Ceremony, UCI’s only campus wide academic honors event.

    Honorary one-year membership in the PBK Alumni of Southern California (Alpha Association), which includes an annual newsletter, intellectual and cultural activities throughout the year, as well as scholarships and grants to support students’ further learning. Learn more about the Southern California Alumni Association here as well as their recognition by the national organization for their 100 years of fellowship and service to the community here.

    Right to list your membership on your academic résumé and wear the Phi Beta Kappa key, a highly recognized symbol of academic achievement.

    Lifetime subscription to the Key Reporter, the newsletter of the national Phi Beta Kappa Society. It reports on PBK members in the news and contains intellectually provocative reviews of new books.

    Get to know some of our members in the Notable Members page!