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Since 1776, Phi Beta Kappa has championed education in the arts and sciences, fostered freedom of thought, and recognized academic excellence. As America’s most prestigious academic honor society, PKP honors the best and brightest liberal arts and sciences undergraduates through a highly selective, merit-based invitation process. 

PKP advocates for the importance of liberal arts and sciences education through their National Arts & Sciences Initiative, and equips members with information and tools to thoughtfully engage in American society as leaders, volunteers, and citizens.

Through a diverse network of high achievers, PKP provides opportunities to engage and network through events, quarterly publications, monthly newsletters, and podcasts to provide perspectives on public affairs, literature, science, history, culture, and career development.

How To Join

Only 10 percent of U.S. colleges and universities have Phi Beta Kappa chapters, and these chapters select only the top 10 percent of their graduates to join, making Phi Beta Kappa membership one of the most prestigious honors a student can receive.

If you are a final-semester senior, you may be enrolled in one course needed for requirements. If you qualify AFTER graduation, please nominate yourself in the semester following graduation. 

Membership Requirements:

  • Grade Point Average: 3.9 for Junior Year Induction; 3.8 for Senior Year Induction
  • Complete the liberal education requirements of the College of Arts & Sciences, including its foreign language requirement:
    • 4th semester proficiency in one language
    • 3rd semester proficiency in one language and 2nd semester proficiency in a second language
  • Complete 2 classes at 300-level or higher OUTSIDE your major (e.g. BCH401G for a BIO major or HIS540 for an ENG major)
  • Complete 90 hours of course work in the liberal arts disciplines (includes most classes offered by A&S and select classes in other colleges, such as Fine Arts and Communications)
  • Complete at least 60 hours of course work at UK.


Phi Beta Kappa was founded on December 5, 1776, at the College of William and Mary. Since then, Phi Beta Kappa has evolved to become the nation's leading advocate for the liberal arts and sciences at the undergraduate level. The UK chapter is the first in Kentucky (Alpha), and was founded by President McVey. The only other Kentucky chapter is at Centre College. 

The national office of the Society was originally located in Williamsburg, VA. In 1954 it moved to Washington, DC where it still resides. Phi Beta Kappa now has over 50 associations (groups made up of Phi Beta Kappa members) across the United States. They support the ideals of the Society through academic, social, and community-based programs.

Learn more about the history of Phi Beta Kappa here.

Awards & Fellowships

The Phi Beta Kappa Society offers a variety of awards that support their mission to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, foster freedom of thought, and recognize academic excellence.

Below are highlighted awards and scholarships, learn more about all available funding opportunities at:

Mary Isabel Sibley Fellowship

Established in 1934 by Isabelle Stone (ΦΒΚ, Wellesley College) in honor of her mother, the Mary Isabel Sibley Fellowship was designed to reward women pursuing graduate work with the experience of researching and living abroad. The Sibley Fellowship is awarded annually, alternating in the fields of Greek and French. The award may be used for the study of Greek language, literature, history, or archaeology, or the study of French language or literature. It carries a stipend of $20,000 and is not restricted to members of Phi Beta Kappa or to U.S. citizens.

Learn More

Walter J. Jensen Fellowship

The Walter J. Jensen Fellowship was established in 2001 by Professor Walter J. Jensen (ΦΒΚ, UCLA) for the study of French Language, Literature, and Culture. It aims to help educators and researchers improve education in standard French language, literature and culture and in the study of standard French in the United States. The fellowship is awarded for at least six continuous months of study in France and carries a stipend of $17,000.

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Key of Excellence Award

The Phi Beta Kappa Society’s National Arts & Sciences Initiative energized support for the arts and sciences among decision makers entrusted with American higher education. To build greater awareness of their value to the nation, the Key of Excellence Awards recognized innovative efforts to engage communities with the arts and sciences. Programs awarded Phi Beta Kappa’s Key of Excellence receive a $10,000 cash prize and special recognition at a local event designed to bring together policymakers, business leaders, and Phi Beta Kappa members in support of the arts and sciences.

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Sidney Hook Memorial Award

The Sidney Hook Memorial Award recognizes national distinction by a single scholar in each of three endeavors — scholarship, undergraduate teaching, and leadership in the cause of liberal arts education.  The award was established in 1991 in memory of the distinguished American philosopher and Phi Beta Kappa member, Sidney Hook (1902-1989). Funding for the award was made possible by a grant from the John Dewey Foundation. Award recipients are honored at the Society's Triennial Council Meeting.

Learn More

Contact Us

Interim Faculty Advisor:
Pearl James

Chapter Coordinator:
C. Lynn Hiler

General Information:

Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence

Location Detail
224 Funkhouser Building