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Bulletin Archive

This archived information is dated to the 2011-12 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa is a nationwide society honoring students for the excellence and breadth of their undergraduate scholarly accomplishments. Membership in the Stanford Chapter (Beta of California) is open to undergraduates of all majors. To be elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Stanford, a student must achieve academic distinction in the major as well as in courses across a broad range of fields.

Approximately a tenth of the members of a graduating class are elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Of this number, about one fifth are chosen in their junior year, the remainder in their senior year.

The chapter's election guidelines define breadth of study as excellence beyond the major field. To be considered for election, a student must have taken at least three courses of 3 units or more at Stanford by the time elections are held early in the Spring Quarter with a letter grade of 'B-' or better in each of the following three major domains of knowledge: humanities; science, engineering, and math; and social sciences. Students who transfer in their junior year must have taken at least two courses at Stanford in two of the major domains and at least one course in the third domain, and must have completed a minimum of 75 units of academic work at Stanford by the end of Winter Quarter. Students who transfer in their sophomore year must have taken at least two courses at Stanford in each of the major domains.

There is no direct correlation between Stanford University General Education Requirements (GERs) and Phi Beta Kappa breadth requirements. The elections committee analyzes the content of individual courses to determine which major domain requirement they may satisfy. IHUM, PWR, and first-year language courses do not satisfy the PBK breadth criterion.

A grade of '+' or 'CR' is not considered a sign of distinction. Minimally satisfying the breadth criterion is not considered a sign of distinction.

The academic records of eligible students are automatically reviewed, so no special action is required for students wishing to be considered for membership. Anonymity in the election process is ensured by removal of the students' names from their academic records before consideration. Students who desire that their records not be made available for consideration by the Stanford chapter of Phi Beta Kappa should inform the Registrar, 630 Serra Street, Suite 120, Stanford, CA 94305-6032.

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