Phi Beta Kappa

About PBK

Established in 1776, the Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation’s oldest and most respected scholastic organization in North America. Its purpose is to honor high achievement across the classic liberal arts—in the humanities and fine arts, in the social sciences, and in mathematics, life, and physical sciences.  We embrace and we encourage a broad liberal arts education, and we welcome new members who’ve demonstrated intellectual curiosity and academic excellence across a wide range of fields and disciplines.  

The UCSB chapter, California Lambda, was established in 1967 and it has maintained a high standard of admission.

Eligibility and Selection

Election is by invitation only, and we only elect about one percent of graduating seniors each year. Election in the junior year is extremely rare.

To be eligible for consideration, a student must meet the following criteria: they must have a grade-point average of at least 3.75 for juniors, or 3.6 for seniors; they must have completed at least four quarters of a single foreign language; and they must have taken at least plane geometry and algebra through quadratics.  Students who show 15 P/NP units in academic coursework are normally disqualified, although exceptions are made for candidates in the College of Creative Studies and for others who’ve demonstrated extraordinary achievement in all other respects.  All candidates must show a pattern of coursework that reflects evidence of “genuine intellectual curiosity, one that extends beyond the minimum requirements of the General Education program in the College of Letters and Science.”  That is, we will only elect candidates who’ve taken a broad pattern of courses across all three of the major divisions in the College of Letters and Science—in the humanities and fine arts, in the social sciences, and in math, life, and physical sciences—throughout their years at UCSB.

Nearly all academic departments at UCSB have faculty members who’d been elected to Phi Beta Kappa during the course of their own college education. We encourage students to contact those faculty members, as well as their department undergraduate advisors and the officers of Phi Beta Kappa at UCSB. Candidates should also visit the national Phi Beta Kappa website for further information.

Induction Ceremony

Each spring, during commencement weekend, the UCSB chapter holds an induction ceremony for new members and their family and friends. After the ceremony, all are invited to a reception.

Community and university PBK members are encouraged to attend the ceremony and reception to welcome new members.

Spring 2020 Induction Ceremony

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the spring 2020 ceremony will not be held in person. Students who accept their invitation will be emailed further information about virtual induction to the organization as well as a future celebration of their accomplishments.

Questions about the UCSB Phi Beta Kappa chapter may be directed to Haley Orton, orton@ucsb.edu.