Phi Beta Kappa eligibility

Phi Beta Kappa at the national level has approved changes to its stipulations for membership. They will have a significant effect on potential Phi Beta Kappa candidates graduating in 2012 and beyond. Students and faculty should note that the stipulations will require additional foreign language courses beyond the minimum required for graduation at Elon.

What are the implications of the Spring 2020 Pass/Fail Policy on Phi Beta Kappa?

Stipulation 1

Eligible students shall be candidates for a bachelor’s degree. The student’s record shall include coursework in the liberal arts and sciences equivalent to at least three-quarters of the credits ordinarily required for a bachelor’s degree in these fields. Ninety-nine hours of liberal work will be required for Phi Beta Kappa membership at Elon University. The liberal arts and sciences encompass the traditional disciplines of the natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences, and humanities. Select courses in other programs of study may be included only if they unambiguously embody the liberal arts and sciences.

Because Phi Beta Kappa honors excellence in the liberal arts and sciences, applied or pre-professional coursework shall not be considered in determining eligibility. This stipulation excludes professionally focused courses and courses devoted to the acquisition of practical skills.

Stipulation 2

Weight shall be given to the breadth and depth of study in liberal arts and sciences, taking into account the number, variety, and level of courses taken outside the requirements of the major, and the proportion of the candidate’s overall program those courses constitute. Consideration shall also be given to the number of elective courses taken above the introductory, or general education, level.

Stipulation 3

Candidates shall have demonstrated, by successful work in high school or college, or in the two together, a knowledge of a second or non-native language at least minimally appropriate for a liberal education. In no case shall this mean less than the completion of the intermediate college level in a second, or non-native language, or its equivalent.**

Consideration for PBK membership at Elon University will require students to meet one of the following foreign language stipulations:

  • The student must have credit for a 2020 level (or 222 level in the old numbering system) foreign language course or have placed beyond 2020 (or 222).
  • The student must have completed course work in a language for a fall or spring semester abroad in a country in which that same language is a primary mode of communication AND either 1) have prior credit for a 2010 level (or 221) foreign language course in the same language, or 2) placed into 2020 (or 222) in the same language before the semester abroad.

Stipulation 4

The candidate’s undergraduate record shall include at least one course in college-level mathematics, logic, or statistics, with content appropriate to a liberal arts and sciences curriculum. The course should introduce the student to mathematical ideas, abstract thinking, proofs, and the axiomatic method.

Stipulation 5

In keeping with the Founders’ interest in fostering not only academic excellence but also friendship and morality, invitation to Phi Beta Kappa should be extended only to persons of good moral character.

** In order to be considered eligible for induction into Phi Beta Kappa, any student who meets the honor society’s regular requirements, excepting the foreign language requirement, and has a documented disability that exempts him or her from Elon’s foreign language requirement may be considered for induction if he or she takes 12 hours of course work from Elon’s list of foreign language substitution courses.  All 12 hours (3 courses) must focus on the same region in order to provide the student with the same level of depth that a student who met the requirement through the study of a foreign language would meet.  Students with questions about this policy or selecting appropriate courses should contact the president of Elon’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter.