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Frequently Asked Questions

I was very disappointed that I did not receive an invitation to membership in Phi Beta Kappa.  Is there anything I can do to be considered next year even though I am graduating this year?

Yes.  Students who graduate in May, August, or December may be considered or reconsidered for membership in the Texas Tech Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in the year immediately following their graduation.  Such consideration will not be given automatically but must be initiated by the student and can only be given in the year immediately following graduation, not in a later year.  Students interested in being considered in the spring following their graduation in May, August, or December must submit (a) an official copy of their transcript and (b) a cover letter summarizing their qualifications and illustrating their strengths in the liberal arts and sciences.  Both the transcript and cover letter must be received by the Chapter President no later than January 30 of the year immediately following the student’s graduation.  The letter must include current contact information (phone number, e-mail address, and mailing address).

I graduate in December.  I had not met all of the Phi Beta Kappa minimum eligibility requirements when the review committee met in the spring, but I will have met all the criteria by the time I graduate.  Can I still be considered?

Yes.  Refer to the reply above for instructions.

I graduated from Texas Tech in 2006 or before.  Can I be considered for membership?

No.  The Texas Tech Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was not installed by The Phi Beta Kappa
Society until 2007.  Therefore, people who graduated from Texas Tech before 2007 cannot be considered for membership in the Texas Tech chapter. 

I met all of the eligibility criteria.  Why didn’t I receive an invitation to membership?

Meeting the eligibility requirements in part or in whole does not guarantee an invitation to membership.  The Phi Beta Kappa Society imposes a limit on the number of students who may be inducted from Texas Tech (or from any school).  Last year, only about half of the eligible students at Texas Tech could be selected for membership invitations, which means that very difficult decisions must be made on the basis of the available evidence.  Students who wish to submit evidence in addition to their transcripts may do so (see the website section on eligibility for details).

How do I know what the minimum eligibility requirements are?

The minimum eligibility requirements are posted on this website and are also circulated to students, faculty, and staff via TechAnnounce and other university message systems.

If more students meet the requirements than can be selected, what can I do to be a more competitive candidate for Phi Beta Kappa?

Do the best work possible in the most challenging classes available.  Avoid a pattern of dropping classes.  Aim for both depth and breadth of study in the liberal arts and sciences.  To the extent possible, take freshman and sophomore requirements early; waiting until one’s senior year to finish basic freshman and sophomore-level requirements does not generally reflect well on a student’s record.  If more than one or two courses have been transferred in from a community college or other school or if the transferred classes include the Phi Beta Kappa language and math requirements, provide a transcript to show exactly which courses were taken and what kinds of grades were earned because the TTU transcript will not provide that information.  Consider submitting a brief resume or letter before January 30 (refer to the website section on minimum eligibility requirements for more information) to provide details about undergraduate research projects, study abroad experiences, or other facts that might illustrate intellectual curiosity and academic excellence but that might not be available on one’s transcript.

Does the Philosophy class in logic count for the Phi Beta Kappa math requirement?

No.  Logic is an important and valuable area of study, but the Phi Beta Kappa math requirement specifies two math courses at or above the level of 1320, which means two courses with the TTU prefix MATH.

How can something count for a graduation requirement but not for a Phi Beta Kappa requirement?

Phi Beta Kappa requirements, whether related to math or language or anything else, are independent of the academic policies of Texas Tech University or of any university.  Questions about Phi Beta Kappa policies relating to the selection of student members or questions about the interpretation of the minimum eligibility requirements should be directed to the chapter president or to the chapter secretary.

Can graduate students at Texas Tech be selected for Phi Beta Kappa?

No.  The national Phi Beta Kappa Society does allow for the possibility of graduate student elections, but very few chapters actually consider graduate students.  At Texas Tech, the charter members made a decision at their first meeting to consider only undergraduates.

Does a student have to be in a certain college or have a certain major in order to be considered for Phi Beta Kappa?

Students who meet the eligibility requirements regardless of major or college can be considered.  The Phi Beta Kappa Society emphasizes the importance of a core education in the liberal arts and sciences, and it is the case that students with majors in the arts, humanities, sciences, or social sciences will be more likely to demonstrate depth and breadth in areas core to Phi Beta Kappa, but membership at Texas Tech is not restricted to students in certain colleges and degree programs.  Phi Beta Kappans are found in all walks of life, and faculty and staff members of Phi Beta Kappa can be found in various divisions of Texas Tech.

What does the word “liberal” in “liberal arts and sciences” mean?

Etymologically, the word “liberal” in this sense is related to the same root found in the word “liberty.”   That is, liberal studies are those that free the mind and that are suitable for a free mind to pursue.  This meaning of “liberal” is not related to contemporary political viewpoints.  That is, “liberal” in this sense is not in opposition to “conservative” as those terms are commonly used today. The liberal arts and sciences are generally thought of as being distinct from purely vocational training.  This certainly does not mean that vocational training or practical studies are viewed as unimportant or unworthy by Phi Beta Kappa, but, with its roots established during the American Revolution, Phi Beta Kappa emphasizes freedom of inquiry and freedom of thought and expression.  The letters Phi Beta Kappa are the Greek initials of the society’s motto: “Love of learning is the guide of life.”

Can someone be a member of Phi Beta Kappa and other academic honorary societies at the same time?

Yes.  Many Phi Beta Kappans are active members of other organizations such as Phi Kappa Phi or Mortar Board or discipline-specific societies such as Sigma Tau Delta.  The various legitimate honor societies are all a little different in what they emphasize and recognize and do.  However, there are scams in honor societies as in everything else.  Something is not necessarily a legitimate honorary because it maintains a good-looking website, offers a shiny lapel pin, charges a large fee for membership, or claims to be an honor society.