Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and largest academic honor society, is dedicated to promoting excellence in the liberal arts. Founded on December 5, 1776, by five students at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA, Phi Beta Kappa was the first society to have a Greek letter name and to introduce the essential characteristics of such societies: an oath of secrecy (discarded in 1831), a badge, mottoes in Latin and Greek, a code of laws, and an elaborate initiation ritual. Fewer than ten percent of colleges and universities nationwide shelter chapters and together the chapters admit less than one percent of college graduates nationwide.

The national Phi Beta Kappa organization invited Saint Michael’s College to establish a chapter in 2003. To be considered for this honor, an institution must have a faculty with at least ten percent Phi Beta Kappa members. Other criteria include the quality of faculty and their research, the quality of students and extent of student research, the success of students in gaining fellowships and admission to graduate and professional programs, honors programs, and library quality. As the Gamma Chapter of Vermont, Saint Michael’s College is one of only three Vermont institutions to have a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, the others being the University of Vermont (Alpha) and Middlebury College (Beta). Of the more than 200 Catholic colleges in the nation, no more than twenty-five shelter chapters of Phi Beta Kappa.

Election to Phi Beta Kappa is a great academic honor. The number of undergraduates elected in a class cannot exceed ten percent of the number expected to receive a bachelor’s degree in that class. Of these, a maximum of one-fifth may be elected in their junior year.

National PBK Mission Statement:

Phi Beta Kappa promotes the values of the liberal arts and sciences by inducting into membership the most outstanding arts and sciences students in the nation’s leading colleges and universities, and by advocating academic excellence, freedom of inquiry and expression, informed deliberation and understanding, and active engagement with important issues."



For a list of current student members at Saint Michael's, see Inductees.

If you have any questions about the Vermont Gamma chapter, please contact:

George Dameron, President

William (Sandy) Karstens, Secretary