Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I am graduating in December. Can I still apply for Phi Beta Kappa in the following spring? Yes. Phi Beta Kappa classifies you as a senior if you are graduating in August, December or May of this academic year.

  2. I am in my second year of study at Vanderbilt, but because of the number of credit hours I have earned, the registrar classifies me as a junior. Am I eligible for membership? No. A student who is not graduating must be in their sixth semester of residence at Vanderbilt and have completed 70 semester hours in the College of Arts and Sciences to be eligible for Phi Beta Kappa.

  3. If I am not accepted for membership as a junior, does that affect my eligibility next year? No. Individuals who are not elected as juniors are considered for election as seniors, provided they reapply and meet requirements.

  4. I have a complex transcript but believe that my courses have satisfied the spirit, if not the letter, of the membership requirements. Am I still eligible? Possibly. The membership committee recognizes that there are many ways of obtaining a liberal arts education at Vanderbilt. You should submit the release and information form so that your transcripts may be reviewed.

  5. Am I guaranteed to be elected to the society if I meet all the criteria ? No. Chapter by-laws constrain membership to not more than 10% of the graduating class nor more than six juniors each year. Hence, the membership committee reviews each application and transcript and elects those students whose academic record and life experiences reflect the values of the Society.

  6. Do transfer or AP credits count towards the 105 semester hour requirement for seniors? Yes. The chapter generally evaluates eligibility using the same criteria required for the Bachelor of Arts degree in the College of Arts and Science. This generally requires at least 90 hours coursework in liberal studies.

  7. Do transfer or AP credits count towards the 70+ semester hour requirement for juniors? No. This is essentially a residency requirement. However, “direct credit” earned in study abroad programs controlled or approved by Vanderbilt may be counted towards this requirement.

  8. I am spending a semester abroad. Can I still be considered for membership? Yes.

  9. I am a junior. Must the math and foreign language stipulations be complete to be elected as a junior? The math/foreign language stipulations must be complete by the end of the spring semester of your junior year.

  10. I am a junior with one AXLE requirement outstanding. Am I eligible for membership? Maybe. As long as you will have satisfied the math and foreign language stipulations by the end of the spring semester, you may be considered for membership as a junior.

  11. I never took math at Vanderbilt (e.g., I earned credit for Mathematics 1200-1201 by transfer or AP credit); am I eligible for Phi Beta Kappa? Yes.

  12. I never took a foreign language at Vanderbilt. I used my SAT II scores to test out of it. Am I eligible for Phi Beta Kappa? Maybe. Your SAT II scores must meet demonstrate proficiency comparable to a third semester course (i.e., one level above AXLE requirements) in a foreign language to be eligible for Phi Beta Kappa.

  13. I cannot attend the fall meeting – is my eligibility for membership affected? No. The fall meeting is to provide you an opportunity to learn more about Phi Beta Kappa. The membership process is described on the “For Prospective Members” webpage.

  14. I am a transfer student. Am I eligible for membership? Maybe, if you meet the residency and hours requirements. If you are a graduating senior, you must be in at least your fourth semester at Vanderbilt and have earned 60 credit hours in Arts & Science. Additional details regarding GPA of transfer credits may be found in the Chapter By-Laws.
  15. If I am taking the Tennessee Language Center (TLC) tests to satisfy Phi Bet Kappa’s foreign language requirements, when should those scores be submitted? You should have the TLC scores ready at the time of your application or soon after — by March 1 at the latest.

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