Membership in Phi Beta Kappa is by invitation only. Members are elected by individual chapters from among candidates for degrees in the liberal arts and sciences, usually from the top 10 percent of the graduating class.
Candidates for degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa who have not previously earned a baccalaureate degree are invited to accept membership in Phi Beta Kappa. While there is no application process, only candidates who accept membership can become members of Phi Beta Kappa. Invitation letters with instructions for accepting membership are mailed and emailed to candidates in fall and spring semesters.
The website for The Phi Beta Kappa Society national office has some great reasons why you should accept your invitation to Phi Beta Kappa.
Please note that when you accept membership you will register with the National Society online, but that you are not a member until you have paid the one-time initiation fee of $125, which includes $85 for national membership and $40 for membership in the Alpha of Iowa chapter.
Eligibility for election to membership shall be contingent upon fulfillment of the following minimum requirements, as listed on The Phi Beta Kappa Society website. The Alpha of Iowa chapter determines specific application of standards stated in these stipulations for University of Iowa students. Only the top 10% of students based on University of Iowa and overall cumulative GPA who meet the stipulations below are invited to accept membership in Phi Beta Kappa.
Stipulation 1. Eligible students shall be candidates for a bachelor’s degree. The student's record shall include coursework in the liberal arts and sciences equivalent to at least three-quarters of the credits ordinarily required for a bachelor's degree in these fields (e.g., not less than 90 semester hours of work if 120 hours are normally required for such a degree). The liberal arts and sciences encompass the traditional disciplines of the natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences, and humanities. Select courses in other programs of study may be included only if they unambiguously embody the liberal arts and sciences.
Because Phi Beta Kappa honors excellence in the liberal arts and sciences, applied or pre-professional coursework shall not be considered in determining eligibility. This stipulation excludes professionally focused courses and courses devoted to the acquisition of practical skills.
Stipulation 2. Weight shall be given to the breadth and depth of study in liberal arts and sciences, taking into account the number, variety, and level of courses taken outside the requirements of the major, and the proportion of the candidate's overall program those courses constitute. Consideration shall also be given to the number of elective courses taken above the introductory, or general education, level.
Stipulation 3. Candidates shall have demonstrated, by successful work in high school or college, or in the two together, a knowledge of a second or non-native language at least minimally appropriate for a liberal education. In no case shall this mean less than the completion of the intermediate college level in a second, or non-native, language, or its equivalent.
Stipulation 4. The candidate's undergraduate record shall include at least one course in college-level mathematics, logic, or statistics, with content appropriate to a liberal arts and sciences curriculum. The course should introduce the student to mathematical ideas, abstract thinking, proofs, and the axiomatic method.
Stipulation 5. In keeping with the Founders’ interest in fostering not only academic excellence but also friendship and morality, invitation to Phi Beta Kappa should be extended only to persons of good moral character.
These stipulations concerning eligibility for membership in course were adopted by vote of the chapters and certified by the Executive Committee on behalf of the Senate on June 1, 2011.