Eligibility Criteria and Election Procedures

Undergraduate Eligibility Criteria

Students do not apply for membership in Phi Beta Kappa. The initiative for election remains with the Chapter. Complying with stipulations for eligibility established by the national Society, Sigma Chapter electors assess the excellence of the academic record, the breadth and quality of the courses taken, and evidence that a student has pursued a serious line of work and is of good character. Current local minimal criteria are:

  • By the time of consideration (usually after Winter Quarter grades are posted), a record showing successful completion of at least 160 quarter units, of which at least 80 are UC GPA credits.

  • Cumulative GPA of 3.7 or higher (the precise cut-off may change from year to year): a minimum grade point average of 3.7 for work done at UCSD. Grades on transfer courses are included in the computation of the GPA, but we do not consider any students whose GPA at UCSD is lower than 3.7. Thus, a transfer GPA could conceivably hurt a student if it is low, but it can't boost the UCSD GPA above 3.7.

  • Humanities:at least 7 full quarters of courses in the liberal arts, excluding performance and applied courses (e.g. music performance, acting, dance, and studio art are not counted toward this requirement). The liberal arts include traditional humanities courses (e.g., literature, history, philosophy) and social sciences (e.g., political science, psychology, economics).

  • A second language: a full year's study of a foreign language at the University level, or officially demonstrated proficiency and literacy in a foreign language (which means that there is some indication on your transcript that you are proficient in at least one language beyond English)

  • Mathematics or Quantitative Science: at least 3 full quarters of university-level mathematics or quantitative natural science. Some non-majors courses designated by 2 digits fail to satisfy this requirement.

  • Transfer courses that are accepted by UCSD to count toward graduation fulfill these requirements. Currently this policy also includes Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses in which the student earned a high score.

  • Full-time enrollment at UCSD for two years before initiation: At least five consecutive quarters plus full enrollment for a sixth quarter at UCSD, or graduation since the Chapter last elected student members.

  • The major: The major has not been of concern to the UCSD election committee if all other criteria are met.

Election Procedures

  • The UCSD election process: In Spring Quarter, the Chapter's electors review the records of potentially eligible current students and of those who have graduated since the previous election. In recent years more than 1000 records have been considered, each of which is individually screened.

  • Letters of invitation to initiation: When the committee's work is complete, invitations are sent to the candidates who have satisfied all of the criteria, inviting them to join the Society. Notification that a student is being offered the opportunity to join Phi Beta Kappa is generally sent during the first week of May. Invitations are sent by e-mail to a student's "@ucsd.edu" address. Some years, a formal letter is sent through the mail, addressed the "Permanent Address" that is on file with the Registrar.

  • Staying involved once you've joined: Initiates are invited to maintain active affiliation with the Society through its national publications and programs (all members receive a quarterly newsletter, "The Key Reporter" as long as they keep the National Society informed of their address) and through approximately 50 Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Associations in major American cities.