Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest academic honor society for students in the arts and sciences, and is a distinguished and exclusive society honoring the best and brightest liberal arts students. Both at IU and across the nation, only about one college senior in a hundred is selected for membership, so being invited to join is quite a distinction.
Phi Beta Kappa was founded in 1776, the same year the Declaration of Independence was signed. The three Greek letters in its name are drawn from the initials of its motto, Philosophia Biou Kubernetes, which translates as “Love of learning is the guide of life.”
Phi Beta Kappa members include 17 U.S. Presidents, 39 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and more than 130 Nobel laureates, not to mention such icons as Alexander Graham Bell, Booker T. Washington, and Eleanor Roosevelt. More recent members include Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, actresses Glenn Close and Kerry Washington, and theoretical physicist Lisa Randall.
Although Phi Beta Kappa was founded at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, there are now 286 chapters across the nation. Gamma of Indiana, Indiana University’s chapter, was established in 1911. Ever since, generations of IU undergraduates have worked hard to excel at their studies so that they might win election to this prestigious society.
IU faculty nominate approximately 250 to 275 students for membership every year, based on their academic record.