Phi Beta Kappa FAQ
Phi Beta Kappa Key
Who is eligible for membership?
May I apply for membership?
No, students are selected each year based on membership criteria. Those who are eligible will be notified via email in early spring.
If I am invited to join, am I automatically a member of Phi Beta Kappa?
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.
Do I have to renew my membership every year?
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.
How do I stay connected with fellow PBK members?
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 Associations page to find an Association near you. For the Southern California Alumni Association, click here.
Phi Beta Kappa Key
What is the 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".
How do I order my Phi Beta Kappa key?
Official keys and other memorabilia can be purchased from Hand and Hammer.
What happens at the Initiation Ceremony?
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.
Who is invited to attend the Initiation Ceremony?
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.
How do I RSVP for the event?
We ask that everyone who plans to attend, rsvp so that we have an accurate count of guests. RSVPs can be directed to Jennifer Cabibbo at 213-740-4996 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is the ceremony mandatory for membership?
The ceremony is a celebration of the accomplishments of inductees and is not a mandatory step towards membership.
If I cannot attend the ceremony, how do I get my certificate?
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.
Where can I get further information on Phi Beta Kappa?
For further information, please visit our contact page.
The USC Dornsife Initiative