Phi Beta Kappa FAQ
Phi Beta Kappa Key
No, students are selected each year based on membership criteria. Those who are eligible will be notified via email in early spring.
No. You must respond to the invitation that you wish to join. Membership involves a one-time fee which this year is being covered by the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Once you accept membership and the one-time membership fee is paid, you are a life-time member. There is no renewal or fee to stay active.
Phi Beta Kappa alumni associations exist in many areas of the United States and membership is open to anyone elected to Phi Beta Kappa. The associations exist to foster friendship and learning in their communities, and they provide a means for members to continue their active affiliation with the Society after graduation. Visit the Alumni Association's page to find an Association near you. For the Southern California Alumni Association, click here.
Phi Beta Kappa Key
The symbol of the Phi Beta Kappa Society is a golden key to signify membership in the society. The key is engraved on the obverse with the image of a pointing finger, three stars, and the Greek letters from which the society takes its name. The stars are said today to represent the ambition of young scholars and the three distinguishing principles of the Society: friendship, morality, and learning. On the reverse are found the initials "SP" in script, which stand for the Latin words Societas Philosophiae, or "Philosophical Society".
Official keys and other memorabilia can be purchased from Hand and Hammer.
The initiation ceremony is a formal event to welcome and induct the newest members of the Epsilon of California Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. The ceremony opens with a procession of the executive board and inductees. Remarks are delivered by the President of the Epsilon Chapter and a keynote speaker. Inductees then proceed on stage to receive their certificate. The ceremony is followed by a reception with light hors d’ oeuvres and drinks.
Phi Beta Kappa Alumni, supporters and friends and family of inductees are welcome to attend. Inductees are also encouraged to invite faculty members who have had an impact on their educational experience.
We ask that everyone who plans to attend, RSVP so that we have an accurate count of guests. Reservations can be made online at dornsife.usc.edu/PBK2016 for inductees and dornsife.usc.edu/March25 for faculty, parents and guests or by calling the Dornsife Events Office at 213-740-4996.
The ceremony is a celebration of the accomplishments of inductees and is not a mandatory step towards membership.
Certificates will be available for pick-up from a campus office after the initiation ceremony. Inductees who are not able to attend the ceremony will be contacted for pick-up information.