Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa (ΦBK) Date Key

Phi Beta Kappa (ΦBK)

is the oldest and most prestigious academic honorary society in the U.S. Above all, the society stands for excellence; superb academic performance is a sine qua non of membership.

Gamma of Texas, SMU’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, was chartered in the fall of 1949.  The first induction ceremony for Gamma of Texas was held on December 12, 1949, with SMU President Umphrey Lee as the first member inducted.

Today, the Gamma of Texas chapter inducts members twice a year. The primary induction ceremony is held in the spring term before Honors Day. At that time, a student member delivers the annual Phi Beta Kappa Oration. A smaller induction ceremony is held in December for those who have graduated in August or who will graduate in December.

The Love Of Wisdom Is The Guide Of Life

Our motto is “the love of wisdom is the guide of life.” (That is what the Greek letters Phi Beta Kappa stand for.)  Our society has always held that the academic subjects traditionally called “the liberal arts” are the core of human wisdom.  To be considered for Phi Beta Kappa membership, therefore, three quarters of your undergraduate work (a minimum of 90 hours) needs to be in the liberal arts areas of the University (all Dedman College courses as well as Art History courses of the Meadows School).  This does not, of course, preclude students with majors in other schools from being considered, but the 90 liberal arts hours is a necessity.  In addition, the program of study must include either second language studies at the intermediate level (3rd and 4th semesters) OR mathematics study at the Calculus or 2000-level statistics level.   

Some Phi Beta Kappa members pursue academic careers in the Humanities and Sciences after graduation.  Many members, however, go on to earn professional degrees in the law, medicine, public administration, business, and engineering.  Our members have found that the life of the mind is valuable for its own sake, and that its rigorous pursuit also prepares students for a wise and successful engagement with the world.

The name “Phi Beta Kappa,” the Greek Letters “ΦBK,” and the Phi Beta Kappa key are all registered trademarks of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.  All rights are reserved.