Standards for election to membership in Phi Beta Kappa are established by Phi Beta Kappa at the national level and adapted for use at the local level.

National stipulations for election to membership as undergraduates in Phi Beta Kappa include the following:

  • Undergraduates shall be elected primarily on the basis of broad cultural interests, scholarly achievement, and good character.
  • Candidates shall be majoring in the liberal arts and sciences and be pursuing degree programs in a College of Arts and Sciences or its equivalent in which at least three-fourths of the course work is in the liberal arts and sciences. Students must have at least second semester junior rank and have completed at least three full semesters of work at the host institution.

Basic eligibility requirements for undergraduate students:

Students are eligible for election who are pursuing a liberal bachelor’s degree at NC State University. Zeta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa considers the liberal bachelor’s degree to include degrees awarded to majors in all departments in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, all departments in the College of Sciences, the basic science departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Department of Economics in the College of Management, and the Department of Art + Design in the College of Design.

Candidates shall have completed at least three full semesters of work in residence at North Carolina State University and shall be fully registered for the fourth semester.

Candidates also shall have achieved at least second-semester junior status (76 or more credit hours, including 45 or more letter-graded NCSU hours). Candidates are considered to be first-semester seniors when they have 92 or more total credit hours, including 45 or more letter-graded NCSU hours. Seniors with 108 or more total credit hours (second-semester seniors) must also have 60 or more letter-graded NCSU hours.

Zeta Chapter elects to membership students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement. Our bylaws state: “The number of undergraduates elected from any class, including those who may be elected as juniors, shall ordinarily not exceed ten percent, and in no case shall exceed fifteen percent, of the undergraduates expected to receive the liberal bachelor’s degree in that class. A maximum of one-fifth of the members elected from any class may be elected on the basis of junior standing.”

Students pursuing dual degree programs in which one of the degree programs is in the arts and sciences may become eligible for election to Phi Beta Kappa upon completion of 76 credit hours in the qualifying arts and sciences degree program, and upon meeting the additional criteria for election.

Election to membership in Phi Beta Kappa is wholly within the discretion of the members of Zeta of North Carolina Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Election must be from among students who conform to minimum standards set by the national Phi Beta Kappa Society as interpreted by Zeta of North Carolina Chapter.

Curricula which are automatically reviewed for academically eligible students change each Spring semester.

Please note that the above criteria determine that a student is eligible for consideration for Phi Beta Kappa membership. Cumulative GPA is a key element in determining which of the eligible students will be invited to membership. The minimum GPA for recently elected members (seniors and recent graduates) was 3.965. Induction as a junior requires a GPA of 4.0 without any grade less than an A-.

Academic averages are computed on the basis of credit hours taken at NCSU and include only letter grade hours (ABCDF), not Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U hours). Advanced Placement hours can count in the computation of hours for class standing but not toward the total of hours required to be taken at NC State University.

Students not invited who would like to apply need to meet the GPA criteria and should have a distinguished record of performance in liberal arts courses, exclusive of professional and vocational training, internships, and so on. Candidates should demonstrate a broad exposure to the liberal arts, including the fine arts, humanities, languages, mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences. In addition to GPA requirements, participation in Honors courses, undergraduate research, service learning, and study abroad programs, as well as other indications of cultural and intellectual interests, scholarly achievement, and good character, will be considered favorably by reviewers. Indications of a lack of cultural and intellectual interests, scholarly achievement, and good character will be considered negatively by reviewers.

Page updated: May 22, 2020