Undergraduate Membership Criteria
In general, students elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa are seniors who have demonstrated academic excellence in challenging courses across a wide range of fields in the liberal arts, including mathematics, humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, fine arts, foreign language, and literature. Phi Beta Kappa members enjoy intellectual challenges and knowledge for knowledge’s sake.
Membership is by invitation only; one cannot apply. The selection process is not absolute, in the sense that there are no minimum criteria that, if met, guarantee an invitation to membership. Election in any given semester depends on which students are in the pool of candidates and which resident members of the chapter—faculty and staff—attend the relevant chapter meeting.
Be sure your transcript and CATS Report are accurate and up to date by the end of the add/drop period in your last semester. It is particularly challenging for transcript reviewers to determine which students are graduating in December/January. If you are graduating at the end of a fall term, please feel free to email the chapter to let us know. Contact information and a timeline are listed at the bottom of the page.
At the most basic level, students need to have completed at least 90 credits, with at least 60 of those credits taken at UVM, and a 3.65 or higher GPA. For students in that broad pool, resident members then look at each transcript to see if that student has met—or, in some cases, exceeded—the seven College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) distribution requirements. In terms of foreign language, exceeding the CAS requirement is essential: we are looking for students who have at least intermediate foreign language skills, so through level 52 or higher. For mathematics, we are particularly interested in students who have exceeded the CAS requirement by taking calculus and/or multiple courses that meet or exceed the basic CAS requirement.
For students outside the College of Arts & Sciences, measuring against the seven CAS distribution requirements may be relaxed somewhat, given the more limited opportunities to take electives. For example, a non-CAS student might be viewed as having fulfilled the spirit of the fine arts requirement if he or she earned one credit for performing with a university ensemble, since membership in that ensemble implies a lengthy commitment to mastering an instrument. For non-CAS students, chapter members are looking for students who find the time to take as much liberal arts coursework as they can, given the limits imposed by their major curriculum.
For all students, chapter members also consider whether a student’s transcript as a whole reflects a significant engagement in liberal arts coursework, rather than strictly practical, professional, or explicitly pre-professional coursework.
Transcript reviewers are enthusiastic about students who have exceeded the minimum requirement in several of the CAS distribution areas, challenged themselves with intermediate and advanced coursework, and demonstrated interest and excellence in diverse fields via coursework, study abroad, and declared majors and minors. Transcript reviewers are also enthusiastic about students who have taken courses in the seven distribution areas at UVM, rather than strictly via AP/IB or transfer credit.
Please note that the national Phi Beta Kappa Society has general stipulations for membership that are binding for chapters chartered after 1952. The Alpha of Vermont, founded in 1848, adheres to those stipulations in a general sense, but maintains its independence.
There may be relevant information that is not on your transcript. Students or their academic advisors are welcome to contact the chapter at email@example.com to provide information supplemental to the transcript. We are interested in three major things:
- If you are a native speaker of or fluent in a foreign language, but you have not taken foreign language courses at UVM or another collegiate institution.
- If you are a serious musician, artist, dancer, or actor with a portfolio or list of performances for us to examine, but you have not taken fine arts courses at UVM or another collegiate institution.
- If you had a previous career or period of life that covers an area of liberal studies in which you have not indulged at UVM or another collegiate institution.
Last modified September 11 2014 08:35 PM