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Office of the Provost

Phi Beta Kappa


Acceptance of membership in Phi Beta Kappa ensures lifelong recognition of integrity, scholarly achievement, and excellence. No other undergraduate academic honor can confer such distinction.

The Phi Beta Kappa key and those who wear it, whether they be presidents, supreme court justices, diplomats, scientists, or educators, proclaim a centuries-old commitment to the Society's time-honored principles of friendship, morality, and learning. It is an enduring symbol of integrity and scholarly achievement in the liberal arts and sciences that will last long after memories of college life and other academic honors have faded.


Selection Criteria

Each year the University of South Carolina Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa initiates new undergraduate members into the society.

All seniors who have successfully completed at least 90 academic hours are automatically considered for membership. At the start of each spring semester, the campus Chapter's Executive Council assesses student qualifications as provided in grade reports from USC's Office of the Registrar.

Qualification Minimum criteria
Major requirement Must be enrolled in at least one liberal major
GPA (USC and total) 3.90 or above
Hours completed in course (does not include AP or CLEP credits) 90+ hours
Hours completed in Columbia campus courses 45+ hours
Other requirement Cannot have received a grade of “F” at any college or university
Other requirement No more than 1 grade of “Incomplete” which has not been made up

At the end of the review process, the Chapter sends letters to qualified students offering admission to the society. The Chapter uses the permanent address on file with the registrar's office for this mailing and also sends a copy of the invitation to the student’s USC email address.

To join, you must respond to the invitation by the deadline, including:

  • completing the National PBK form and process by the required date,
  • complete a USC data sheet, and
  • attend the initiation ceremony held at USC in late spring semester.



Columbia campus undergraduates who do not meet the criteria above may still be considered for membership under very limited circumstances.

A faculty or staff member at USC who is familiar with a student’s academic record may nominate that student for consideration. Nominated students must still be enrolled in a liberal major with at least 80+ credit hours completed in course and a minimum 3.80 GPA. They must also present their plan to graduate within one year of nomination and meet all the other requirements for membership.

Nominated students with a GPA below the 3.9 required for automatic invitation should have successfully completed an extraordinary project in the field of liberal arts and sciences, such as a research fellowship, Magellan project, publishable research project, or similar.

Faculty should use the PBK online nomination form and nominate students by March 1.  

Questions may be directed to


Liberal Major Requirement

Liberal majors are those the emphasize conceptual rather than applied material. These include majors in the traditional humanities, social sciences, science or mathematics curricula.

Programs intended primarily to develop skills or vocational techniques, while they may involve some “liberal” coursework, are considered applied or professional majors, and as such are not eligible for PBK membership.


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