Nomination Criteria for Membership in Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa exists to recognize academic excellence and above-average intellectual curiosity among UCSB students in the liberal arts and sciences. Membership is by invitation only. To be eligible for consideration, a student must have a GPA of at least 3.75 for juniors and 3.40 for seniors, have completed four quarters of a single foreign language (equivalent to intermediate level), and have taken plane geometry and algebra through quadratics. Each senior candidate must have completed 60 units of coursework at UCSB (each junior, 120 units), excluding professional, vocational, technical, recreational, and remedial courses and all those taken on a P/NP basis. Grades earned on other campuses of the University of California are factored into a candidate's GPA. Students who have taken more than 15 P/NP units are generally not eligible, although exceptions are made for candidates in the College of Creative Studies and occasionally for others exemplifying extraordinary achievement. No exceptions are made for junior candidates. Phi Beta Kappa will evaluate the transcripts of all students who meet the minimum GPA and foreign language requirement. Students are identified by computer search and by members of the faculty and undergraduate advising staff.

Election to Phi Beta Kappa requires that the candidate has demonstrated evidence of genuine intellectual curiosity beyond the minimum outlined above. The faculty selection committees evaluate a student's entire academic record at UCSB. Some of the following ways in which this may be demonstrated are:

  • A range of courses in different disciplines, taken beyond the minimum general education requirement of the college and beyond the requirements for a student's major;
  • Participation in (presuming successful completion of) a departmental senior honors program;
  • A GPA significantly higher than the minimum, normally 3.6 or higher;
  • At least one additional quarter of language study above the minimum;
  • 0 pass/no pass units.

Required mathematics courses (plane geometry and algebra through quadratics) are usually taken in high school. The foreign language requirement may also be partly fulfilled in high school. Two years of high school study count for one quarter of university-level study and three years as three quarters. Candidates who complete four years of language before entering the University must take at least one quarter here at the intermediate level (language 4 or higher). However, an Advanced Placement score of "4" or "5" in a foreign language will fulfill the Phi Beta Kappa foreign language requirement. Both the mathematics and foreign language requirements may be satisfied through the P/NP option or by proficiency tests.


Supplemental Notes:

  • Senior standing begins at 135 units. A junior must have completed at least 84 but no more than 134.5 units. "The candidate shall have completed at least four full quarters of work ... in residence at UCSB, and be fully registered for the fifth quarter" (Chapter By-Laws III.1.a). But note: "....Students who complete their college course at the end of summer session and become eligible at that time may be considered with the eligible group of the next academic year" (Chapter By-Laws III.2).
  • A candidate in the College of Creative Studies must have at least 60 units of graded work (i.e., not P/NP) to qualify as a senior, 120 as a junior.
  • A senior candidate whose record shows exceptional breadth and whose GPA is appreciably higher than the minimum required (3.75 or more) may be allowed 20 units of P/NP. No exceptions to the rule of 15 are allowed for juniors.
  • Foreign language requirement: The intermediate course normally begins with language 4 for modern languages, including Hebrew. Greek and Latin begin the intermediate level at 101, 102, and 103; Arabic at Religious Studies 10D; etc. Prospective candidates may check with the Chapter Recording Secretary if unsure about satisfaction of the foreign language requirement.
  • Inadmissible courses are all those taken elsewhere than at the University of California, except the required courses in mathematics and foreign languages. The intermediate foreign language requirement, if not fulfilled at a UC campus, may be fulfilled on any campus that has a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. All courses wholly or primarily professional, recreational, remedial, or technical in nature are inadmissible, including ALL courses in the following majors: Art Studio, Health Sciences, Computer Science, Library Science, Education, Military Science, Engineering, Music Performance, Ergonomics, Physical Activities, and Exercise and Sport Studies.