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Phi Beta Kappa

The nation's oldest academic honors society.

Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest honorary society, founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Probably the most prestigious honorary for the liberal arts in the United States, it now has chapters at approximately 280 of our foremost institutions of higher learning. The Washington University Chapter was established in 1914 as the Beta Chapter in the state of Missouri.

The goal of Phi Beta Kappa is to encourage humane learning, a goal which includes not merely superior achievement but also a broad range of interests in the liberal arts, depth of understanding, and a high regard for intellectual honesty and tolerance.

Beta of Missouri Chapter Officers

Professor Vince Sherry
Chapter President

Dr. Dirk Killen
Chapter Secretary

Professor Leonard Green
Chapter Treasurer

2022 Induction Ceremony

View the recording of the Phi Beta Kappa Induction Ceremony in the Women's Building on Monday, May 2, 2022.

History of Phi Beta Kappa

Learn more about America's most prestigious academic honor society.

ΦBK National Website


Because Phi Beta Kappa exists to recognize achievement in the liberal arts, it elects undergraduate members from among those students seeking a degree from the College of Arts & Sciences. Students in other undergraduate schools (for example, engineering or business) are eligible only if they are in a combined degree program to earn a second degree (not merely a second major) from Arts & Sciences.

Students do not “apply” for membership. Seniors and juniors from Arts & Sciences are nominated once a year by a Selection Committee made up of Phi Beta Kappa faculty and/or staff members representing the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. The Selection Committee meets each year in early spring.

Together, the Committee completes a name-blind examination of these records and votes on each nomination. Usually the committee nominates about 90 students, which means the lowest grade point averages of each year’s nominees is usually higher than the eligibility cutoffs, although there is no rule about this. Newly elected members are then notified by e-mail, usually in late February or early March. There is a formal initiation ceremony later in the semester.

In making its nominations, the Selection Committee reviews each record for evidence of both breadth and depth of interest in the liberal arts, as demonstrated in a student’s work at Washington University.