University of Vermont


Graduate Student Membership Criteria

Election procedures for graduate students differ in some respects from those for undergraduate members, in that the chapter's membership committee must rely upon nominations from persons who are best acquainted with the academic accomplishments of the students to be considered.

Nomination and election to Phi Beta Kappa are not intended merely to recognize excellence in the particular discipline of the graduate student's course of study. Phi Beta Kappa differs from the plethora of other honor societies (1) in its age, and (2), more importantly, in its insistence upon excellence in a range of liberal studies rather than closely focused professional training. Phi Beta Kappa at UVM has for 150 years recognized excellence of undergraduate scholars. We embrace graduate members of our university family whose educational ideals and achievement are consistent with that long accorded to undergraduates.

Those elected to membership as graduate students are therefore likely to be:
  • Persons whose undergraduate work was done at institutions which do not shelter chapters of Phi Beta Kappa and therefore were not eligible for election as undergraduates.
  • Persons who may have faltered academically in some way as undergraduates and were thus excluded by strict parameters applied (here or elsewhere) in an undergraduate selection process.

Graduate student nominees should:
  • Have completed their graduate course work and examinations (including any requisite thesis or dissertation) with clear distinction.
  • Show a comprehensive academic record (both undergraduate and graduate) of high scholastic standing including breadth and depth in the range of liberal studies which constitutes a minimum for consideration in the selection process from which UVM undergraduates are chosen.

Nomination materials for potential Spring election are due April 1. They should include the following:

  1. A letter of nomination from a professor in the student’s graduate program. That professor does not need to be a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
  2. Copies of all undergraduate and graduate collegiate transcripts. Photocopies made from the official transcripts submitted as part of the application to UVM are acceptable.
Send materials to:
Prof. Nicole Phelps, Phi Beta Kappa President
UVM Department of History
133 S. Prospect St., Burlington VT 05405

COST: Students invited to membership may be asked to pay a one-time initiation fee of $55, which is forwarded to the national Phi Beta Kappa Society, and provides the member with lifetime privileges associated with membership (the right to wear a PBK key, for instance, and subscription to the quarterly Key Reporter which contains an excellent section of intellectually provocative reviews of books).

INITIATION: The resident members of the Alpha of Vermont meet twice annually to elect students to membership in the chapter. After those elections, students are contacted and invited to attend an induction ceremony. Only students who attend an induction ceremony and sign the chapter book become members of Phi Beta Kappa.

Queries should be directed to Prof. Nicole Phelps at

Last modified August 18 2014 11:33 AM

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