Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious of all academic honor societies, celebrates and advocates for excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. On April 13, 2010, the Phi Beta Kappa Society installed a chapter at Elon University, the seventh institution in North Carolina to meet these high standards of excellence.
Phi Beta Kappa chapters invite for induction the most outstanding arts and sciences students at America's leading colleges and universities. An invitation to membership reflects outstanding academic achievement. Phi Beta Kappa has established chapters at 280 colleges and universities in the United States, representing only 10 percent of the nation's institutions of higher learning. Each year, the top 10 percent of arts and sciences graduates at these institutions are selected for membership.
Founded on December 5, 1776, by five students at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., Phi Beta Kappa embraces the principles of freedom of inquiry and liberty of thought and expression. The letters φβK represent the Greek initials of the society's motto, "Love of learning is the guide of life." The golden key, signifying Phi Beta Kappa membership, is universally recognized as a symbol of academic achievement in the liberal arts and sciences.
Phi Beta Kappa members demonstrate intellectual integrity, tolerance for alternative viewpoints, and a broad range of academic interests. There are over 500,000 living members today. Seventeen U.S. Presidents, 38 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and 136 Nobel laureates are Phi Beta Kappa members.
The Society sponsors activities to advance these studies-the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences-in higher education and in society at large.