Skip to main content

Advising Handbook

Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most prestigious academic honors society in the United States. Founded at the College of William and Mary in 1776, with the Iota Chapter established at the University of Rochester in 1887, it recognizes outstanding scholarly attainment in the liberal arts and sciences. Scholarship and good character are the determining criteria for membership. New members of this honorary society, both seniors and juniors, are recommended by the faculty (who are not necessarily Phi Beta Kappa members) and elected by faculty and administrative staff members who are members of Phi Beta Kappa themselves. The transcript includes a notation when a student is elected.  Each year in November, in conjunction with the College, the chapter presents the “Suzanne J. O’Brien Book Awards” (formerly known as the “Iota Book Awards”) to the most distinguished members of the previous year’s freshman class.  For further information, including election procedures and criteria, see the website at