Phi Beta Kappa Eligibility Guidelines
Each spring, the resident members of the Hofstra Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa meet to elect juniors and seniors to membership in the nation’s oldest honor society. Election is a rare honor: only 283 colleges and universities have chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, and no more than 10% of an institution’s graduating students may be elected. To be considered for election, a student must attain a high GPA while taking broad and rigorous coursework in the liberal arts and sciences. There is no fixed GPA required, nor is a high GPA alone sufficient for election; in making its decision, the chapter examines a student’s entire transcript.
While there are no criteria that guarantee election to membership, the chapter relies on the following guidelines when making its decision.
- Major. In keeping with the chapter’s focus on the liberal arts and sciences, students considered for election must complete one of the following majors:
- any major in Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences or in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,
- Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences within the School of Health,
- Mass, Media Studies, Speech, Communication, and Rhetorical Studies, and Film Studies and Production in the School of Communication.
- Residency. Students must complete 75 semester hours at Hofstra.
- Liberal Arts Credits. Students must complete 93 credits in liberal arts courses.
- Math. Students must take one math course numbered 30 or above.
- Foreign Language. Students must complete level 4 of a foreign language (or place into level 5)
- Breadth and Depth. We examine the breadth and depth of the candidate’s study in liberal arts and sciences, taking into account the number, variety, and level of courses taken outside the major.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding PBK Election
Do I need to apply for Phi Beta Kappa?
No, you do not need to apply. All eligible students are considered for election during their junior or seniors years.
Do I need a letter of recommendation?
No. Letters of recommendation are neither required nor expected. Occasionally an interested faculty member will send a note to the president or secretary of the chapter to draw our attention to a worthy candidate, but all students receive consideration with or without such letters.
How can I increase my chances of being elected?
First, take a broad range of courses. It is natural for a psychology major to take electives in sociology or a biology major to take courses in chemistry. But the chapter is more impressed by a psychology major who studies physics and music or a biology major who studies philosophy. Second, take advanced courses outside your major. We value depth and rigor as well as breadth. Finally, be sure to satisfy our foreign language requirement by passing a level 4 language course or by placing into level 5.
Do I need to have a double major to be elected to Phi Beta Kappa?
Certainly not. The majority of students elected to Phi Beta Kappa do not have double (or triple) majors. A minor or a second major in a field not closely related to the primary major is one indication of a broad curriculum, but it is not required for membership in Phi Beta Kappa.
Who decides which students are elected?
The resident members of the Hofstra Chapter do. Resident members are Hofstra faculty, staff, and administrators who were elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa when they were undergraduates.
Are transfer students eligible?
Yes, but transfer students must, by the time of graduation, have completed 75 credits at Hofstra.
If I am elected, when will I be notified?
Decisions are made in the spring. Students are normally notified in March of the academic year in which they graduate. A very small number of outstanding students are elected in the spring of their junior year.
Is there a fee to join Phi Beta Kappa?
There is a one-time initiation fee of $65 for life-time membership. Most of this money goes to the national society, and helps to pay for its many programs, including the Visiting Scholar Program. A small portion of the money defrays local chapter expenses. The induction ceremony and dinner is free.
I have a 3.9 GPA. Why wasn’t I elected to Phi Beta Kappa?
A high GPA alone does not guarantee election to Phi Beta Kappa. Students must meet the chapter’s residency, mathematics, and foreign language requirements, major in an eligible subject, and take a broad and rigorous curriculum outside the major department.