Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa Emblem

Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society.  The Greek letters ΦBK stand for the Society’s Greek motto that translates as “love of learning is the guide of life”.  Since its founding in 1776, the Society has endeavored to promote, honor, and advocate for liberal arts education, intellectual fellowship, freedom of inquiry, and creative endeavor. Currently only 286 colleges and universities have earned the right to have chapters, and each can invite at most 10% of their seniors to join each year.   If you have been invited to join Phi Beta Kappa – congratulations!  You have been individually selected by faculty members of Phi Beta Kappa on our campus to join this elite group, by virtue of your outstanding academic record.

Phi Beta Kappa at UC

The University of Cincinnati Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was chartered in 1899, making it the fourth oldest chapter in Ohio. Initially, the chapter was officially affiliated with the Academic Department of the University. It was then possible to get a Bachelor of Arts in Civil Engineering from the Academic Department, provided one fulfilled the normal requirement of 3 years of both Latin and Greek. In 1904, the Academic Department was renamed the College of Liberal Arts, and in 1906, it became the College of Liberal Arts (simultaneously losing its Professor of Civil Engineering, who became, all by himself, the College of Engineering).

Phi Beta Kappa has always been essentially a society based upon liberal education, that is, study of literature, history, philosophy, mathematics, natural sciences, and languages. Students in the College of Arts and Sciences, regardless of major, are considered eligible for membership because of the core requirements of the college. Students in other colleges who meet the membership requirements may be invited to join. The Chapter elects members in the fall (for students graduating in August and December) and in the spring (for April graduates and a small number of highly qualified juniors), with initiation ceremonies in November and April.

Please contact us with any questions or comments about the Phi Beta Kappa Chapter at UC:

Todd Herzog, Chapter President
Professor of German Studies

Susan Prince, Chapter Vice-President
Professor of Classics

Matthew Kraus, Treasurer
Professor of Judaic Studies

Resources for Members

Phi Beta Kappa Society National Office

Phi Beta Kappa Society on Facebook

Phi Beta Kappa Store