Phi Beta Kappa (ΦΒΚ) stands for Philosophia Biou Kubernetes, or “love of learning is the guide of life.”
Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most esteemed academic honor society in the United States. Established in 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, Phi Beta Kappa celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. The society embraces freedom of inquiry, and liberty of thought and expression.
The Lambda of Massachusetts Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was established at Clark University in 1953. Every year, a select group of seniors who exemplify excellence in the Arts and Sciences, great character, and high potential are invited to join the chapter. Selection is made on the basis of outstanding academic achievement, demonstrated breadth and depth of studies in the liberal arts, intellectual curiosity and integrity, and tolerance for diverse views. Only 286 colleges and universities shelter Phi Beta Kappa chapters; additionally, there are dozens of PBK associations across the United States and one in London comprised of Phi Beta Kappa alumni no longer affiliated with a college or university.
Election to Phi Beta Kappa is a widely recognized honor that expresses the Chapter’s admiration for a student’s academic and intellectual achievements. Election to the society is held in the Spring semester, conducted by faculty members who are members of PBK. These faculty determine the final selection on the basis of the academic records of candidates and the recommendations of the Clark faculty at large. To be considered, students must show diversity as well as a depth in coursework outside the major; demonstrate knowledge of a second or non-native language through the completion of the intermediate college level or its equivalent; and have completed at least one course in college-level mathematics, logic or statistics. The induction ceremony is usually held the day before commencement before an audience of family, friends, and PBK faculty.
The Phi Beta Kappa key is the official emblem of the society. On one side of the square metal key are the letters SP (for Societas Philosophiae) and on the other the Greek letters Phi Beta Kappa which means “love of learning is the guide of life.” The pointing finger and three stars represent the young scholars’ ambition as well as the three principles of the fraternity: friendship, morality, and learning.