Phi Beta Kappa

Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest academic honor society, inviting into membership outstanding seniors who have attained a liberal arts education with demonstrated breadth and depth. The organization gets its name from the first letters of the Greek phrase Φιλοσοφία Βίον Κυβερήτης which in English means "Love of learning is the guide to life."

Only 280 colleges or universities shelter a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. New chapters are awarded only after successful completion of a rigorous screening process. UIC's chapter, Iota of Illinois, was established in 1976.

New student members of Phi Beta Kappa are elected by faculty and university staff who themselves are members.  Elections at UIC occur once a year, usually during the week of spring break.  Successful candidates are notified shortly afterward by mail, with letters sent to the students' address on record (usually their permanent home address).

Membership selection is based on a number of factors, including (but not limited to):

  • A minimum GPA of 3.7 (on a 4.0 scale)
  • At least 90 degree credit hours earned, 60 or more of which were earned at UIC
  • At least 90 credit hours in liberal arts and sciences courses (as opposed to applied, professional and/or technical courses)
  • Completion of advanced-level courses beyond those in the declared major
  • Demonstration of successful coursework in a foreign language and in mathematics

To become a member, a student elected to Phi Beta Kappa needs to respond to the invitation and participate in the initiation ceremony. A lifetime membership fee must be paid prior to initiation. Students who take the initiation oath are awarded membership certificates and may then order the society's official membership badge, a personalized Phi Beta Kappa key.

The Phi Beta Kappa Society also, among other activities, publishes the award-winning quarterly The American Scholar, sponsors college visits and lectures by top scholars, and awards prizes to authors of outstanding new books on science and the humanities. Many Phi Beta Kappa graduates keep active through programs sponsored by associations of members located across the United States and abroad.

For more information about Phi Beta Kappa in general, see the organization's national web site:

For more information about becoming a member at UIC, contact your academic advisor, the chapter secretary or the chapter president.

Contact information:

Scott Shippy, Chapter President
(312) 355-2426