Academics

Phi Beta Kappa

Founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, the Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation’s oldest honorary society, with chapters at 290 of the foremost institutions of higher education across the country. The Society champions and fosters the value of study in the liberal arts and sciences as the best preparation of students for life and leadership in the years after graduation.

It counts among its over half a million living members a number of U.S. Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, U.S. Senators and Congressional Representatives, academic professors and administrators, business executives, and men and women in all walks of life who continue throughout their lives to value the life of the mind and intellectual activity. Learn more here about why you should accept your nomination. 

Theta of Texas

Theta of Texas, sheltered by Southwestern University, was installed on March 25, 1995. The chapter had 20 charter members and 30 student initiates. Theta of Texas is one of only eleven chapters in the state; the others are located at Austin College, Baylor University, Rice University, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University, Texas Christian University, Texas Tech University, Trinity University, University of Dallas, and The University of Texas at Austin.  For more information about Phi Beta Kappa, please visit www.pbk.org.

The chapter inducts new members the day before Commencement each spring. In addition to inducting new members, the chapter sponsors lectures on campus and supports other endeavors that recognize and encourage scholarship in the arts and sciences.

About Phi Beta Kappa

Election to Phi Beta Kappa is a singular honor, one of the highest you can attain from your collegiate experience; it represents to the world at large that the member achieved a high level of academic scholarship, made intelligent choices, studied the broad areas of the liberal arts and sciences, and set and reached high goals for themselves. Ten percent of U.S. colleges and universities have Phi Beta Kappa chapters. These chapters select only 10 percent of their arts and sciences graduates to join.

Phi Beta Kappa was the first society to adopt Greek letters for a name and to introduce the features that have characterized such organizations ever since, including mottoes in both Latin and Greek, a code of laws, and an elaborate form of initiation.  The Society’s name is formed by the first letter of the phrase Philosophia Biou Kybernetes, translated as “love of learning is the guide of life.

Based on the tenet that the test of education lies not in what people know but in what they are, the objectives of Phi Beta Kappa include not the mere acquisition of knowledge, but also the development of intellectual honesty and tolerance, a broad range of intellectual interests, and understanding. To this end, the Society continues to sponsor a number of programs and awards, including the Visiting Scholar Program, several scholarships and professorships, and three book awards for contributions in the sciences, literature, history, and philosophy.

Qualifications for Membership

New members are elected by the Theta of Texas chapter at Southwestern each spring from among graduating seniors in the top 10 percent of their class with at least a 3.8 GPA. Members must have accrued at least 95 credits of coursework from classes taken at four-year institutions within fields recognized by the Society as the traditional liberal arts and sciences, among them a course in mathematics (or Computer Science I). Additionally, members must demonstrate at least intermediate proficiency in a second or on-native language, have studied broadly across the disciplines, and be “of good moral character.” More details on membership can be found on the Society website:

Phi Beta Kappa Society Membership Requirements