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Phi Beta Kappa Society

Updated on January 15, 2015

Phi Beta Kappa Motto: Love of Wisdom is the Guide of Life

Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest liberal arts honor society in the United States (founded in 1776), and set the pattern for many other honor societies.

Many important, successful, and powerful people have been members of Phi Beta Kappa - US Presidents, Governors, Supreme Court Justices, renowned authors, etc.

Entrance into the society is by invitation only, with invitations being sent only to the highest achieving students in academics in a school which has applied and been granted a charter by the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

A Few Members of Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa is a distinguishment and an honor. Some of the world's best and brightest are members of this exclusive society. Perhaps you've heard one or two of these Phi Beta Kappa members:

  • Ashley Judd
  • Henry Kissinger
  • Kris Kristofferson
  • Tom Lehrer
  • Joseph Lieberman
  • Peyton Manning
  • Ralph Nader
  • Daniel Pearl
  • William Rehnquist
  • Condoleezza Rice
  • John G. Roberts
  • Stephen Sondheim
  • Eliot Spitzer
  • Gloria Steinem
  • George Stephanopoulos

  • Samuel Alito
  • Benazir Bhutto
  • Tom Brokaw
  • George H.W. Bush
  • Jeb Bush
  • Lynne Cheney
  • Bill Clinton
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Glenn Close
  • Francis Ford Coppola
  • Michael Crichton
  • Clive Davis
  • Elizabeth Dole

American Scholar

The American Scholar is the literary quarterly of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, founded in 1932. The journal has won four National Magazine Awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors

American Scholar
American Scholar

Features critical commentary on diverse aspects of our culture, reappraisals of important literary and scientific figures, a continuing series of articles about great university teachers, and a selection of poetry, memoirs of other places and times, and book reviews. The magazine is named for an oration by Ralph Waldo Emerson given before the society in 1837.

Focuses on American literature, presenting essays on topics relating to literature, authors and poets, and including poetry and book reviews.


Did you know they were Phi Beta Kappa members?

  • Jeff Bezos - founder of
  • Brad Delson - Lead Guitarist of Linkin Park
  • Christie Hefner - CEO of Playboy Enterprises Inc
  • Rivers Cuomo - Lead singer and songwriter for Weezer
  • Nadine Strossen - president of the American Civil Liberties Union
  • Carson Kressley - From Queer Eye

The History Of Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa Members Have a Long History of Shaping History

More Members of Phi Beta Kappa

  • John Quincy Adams
  • Chester Arthur
  • John C. Calhoun
  • John Dewey
  • W.E.B. DuBois
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • Grace Hopper
  • Samuel Morse
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
  • Nelson Rockefeller
  • Jonas Salk
  • William Howard Taft
  • Daniel Webster
  • Eli Whitney

FAQ's for Prospective Inductees

Joining Phi Beta Kappa makes you part of a long and proud tradition of scholars at the highest level of liberal arts education.

Not every college and university has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. It is not possible to qualify unless your school has a chapter. Colleges are granted a charter after a rigorous evaluation of the liberal arts program by a committee of the national organization.

  • Q: I have never heard of Phi Beta Kappa? Is it a big deal?

    A: Yes, it is a big deal, and it's quite an honor to be invited to Phi Beta Kappa. Members of this highly exclusive group have gone on to do great things. They include many names you know well.

  • Q: I have not been invited to join Phi Beta Kappa. How can I join?

    A: You can't. Phi Beta Kappa is by invitation only, which is what makes it so exclusive and such an honor for those who have been invited.

  • Q: Should I join Phi Beta Kappa?

    A: If you have been invited to join Phi Beta Kappa, then the answer is simple: Yes.

  • Q: Is it worth paying the entrance fee?

    A: Yes. This is a distinguishment you with have for life. It is a one time fee to help overhead costs; in the long run, you won't miss it.

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      mary martin Bowen 3 years ago

      condoleeza rice is a member of phi beta Kappa

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      All the info was great to read. Nice Squidoo. Chris