Selection Criteria

To be considered for the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society, students must not only meet the criteria laid out below, but the student’s transcript must be complete without M or I grades, must be known by the JHU community to be ethical and without a disciplinary history. Students who are selected will be notified in late-March/early-April.

Criteria for Undergraduates

  1. Eligible students shall be candidates for a bachelor’s degree from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences or whose primary major in the Whiting School of Engineering is Applied Mathematics and Statistics. The Alpha Chapter of Maryland at Johns Hopkins University considers graduating students who have signified their intent to graduate by completing the Application to Graduate and be listed on the official graduation list and have met the minimum of 42 graded credits residency requirement.
  2. They shall be majoring in an area of the liberal arts or sciences.
  3. They shall include not less than 90 semester hours (or the equivalent) of liberal work among the 120 hours required for the degree, exclusive of required courses in physical education and any military science.
  4. They have demonstrated a knowledge of a second or non-native language by either successfully completing the intermediate college level coursework in a second, or non-native, language, or its equivalent, or by having the placement exam results indicating a waiver beyond the level of intermediate noted on their JHU transcript by the director of the foreign language program.
    • Classical languages such as Latin or Ancient Greek may fulfill this requirement 
    • Students whose native language is not English must document their native language proficiency on their transcript in order to use English as their non-native language.  For example, a Chinese student whose native language is Chinese needs to have their Chinese language proficiency documented on their transcript.  
  5. Their undergraduate record shall include at least one course in college-level mathematics, logic, or statistics, with content appropriate to a liberal arts and sciences curriculum. This includes all Hopkins courses that are at least 3 credits with an area designator of Q, courses transferred to JHU with a Q area designator, or math or statistics exam credits that have been noted on the student’s JHU transcript.
  6. For students who entered JHU in Fall 2021 and later, their student record shall include at least one course in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.  This means Hopkins courses that are at least 3 credits with an area designator of N, S, and H, respectively.  Courses transferred and exam credits that are posted to a student’s JHU transcript may apply.   
  7. Grades earned in applied or professional work shall not be counted in computing the grade-point average for purposes of eligibility. Applied and professional work shall be understood to include those courses intended primarily to develop skills or vocational techniques in such fields as business administration, education, engineering, home economics, journalism, library science, military science, physical education, communications, secretarial studies, speech, and applied art and music.
  8. Weight shall be given to the breadth and proportion of the program of each candidate as shown by the number and variety of courses taken outside the major.
  9. Only the top 10% of the current Senior, and graduating Juniors, class graduating from KSAS will be considered. For Applied Mathematics and Statistics graduating Seniors, the cumulative GPA of the top 10% of the graduating Juniors and Seniors will be used as the cut-off GPA for students who will be considered. Therefore, the cumulative GPA range of students under consideration can and does change from year-to-year.

Criteria for Graduate, Masters, and PhD Candidates

  1. To be eligible the graduate student must have attended an undergraduate college/university that did not have a Phi Beta Kappa Chapter.
  2. They must be completing their thesis by the May of the current academic school year.
  3. Their Registrar’s Office will submit upon their behalf a letter of nomination from the faculty advisor, an official transcript of graduate work, and a copy of the undergraduate transcript. Before submission to the PBK Selection Committee, the division must verify:
    • The students’ undergraduate institution does not have a chapter of PBK. 
    • No more than 10% of their upcoming graduating class with that degree is being nominated.
  4. The nominee must have completed a truly distinguished dissertation after taking an exceptional course of studies and graduate course grades must be excellent.
  5. The nomination must provide substantial evidence of “the attainment of a liberal education, the possession of liberal culture.” It should present a liberal education in same tradition used for electing undergraduate students to Phi Beta Kappa. This includes excellent undergraduate grades.  A liberal education can be demonstrated between the two degrees.  For example, if no math or foreign language study was demonstrated at the undergraduate level, it could be demonstrated at the graduate level.
  6. A superior vocational education and record is insufficient for election. For example, those with a Bachelor’s of Medicine from a country where that is the entry level degree into the medical profession are not eligible.