Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa Society—Theta of California

The Phi Beta Kappa Society  is the oldest, best known, and most prestigious collegiate academic honor society in the United States. Founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, Phi Beta Kappa Society has embraced the principles of freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression for over 200 years. The Society remains true to its original purpose in seeking to foster the love of learning and to recognize and promote academic excellence.

The Scripps College chapter of Phi Beta Kappa—the Theta of California—was founded in 1961 by Scripps faculty members who themselves had been initiated into the Society as undergraduates. The first Scripps students were initiated in May 1962.


Phi Beta Kappa membership is based on academic achievement and breadth, and is limited to the top 10-12% of the graduating class.  The stipulations for membership are published by the national Phi Beta Kappa Society.  Phi Beta Kappa membership, once awarded, is for life.  Scripps College, through the President’s Office, pays the dues of members initiated into the Theta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Scripps.  After graduation, members can choose to participate in the Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association including the Southern California Association, but no future time or monetary commitments are required.


During Commencement Weekend in May, the Scripps College Phi Beta Kappa Chapter holds its initiation ceremony.  Members to be elected to the Theta Chapter are contacted early in the Spring semester.  Family and professors can be invited to the initiation ceremony and reception.


Each year, the Southern California Association of Alumni of Phi Beta Kappa offer one Scripps Phi Beta Kappa senior class member a graduate school scholarship for the following academic year.  The scholarship recipient is selected by Scripps College Phi Beta Kappa faculty based on submission of an essay.  All Scripps Initiates who will attend graduate school in the following year may submit an essay.  Initiates will be informed of the scholarship process by email.

For more information about Phi Beta Kappa, contact the current Chapter vice president, Professor Michelle Decker or staff member Claire De Chaine.