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Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s most prestigious honors society, welcomed 259 UNC students into membership this fall, including 187 in-state students, 55 from out-of-state and 17 international.
Phi Beta Kappa, an exclusive, invite-only honors society founded in 1776, recognizes undergraduate students who excel in demanding courses. To qualify, undergraduates must dedicate 75 percent of their degree to the liberal arts and sciences, demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language and exhibit competence in a quantitative subject such as math.
Phi Beta Kappa inductees also have “good moral character” according to the society’s stipulations. They must complete 75 hours of course work with a minimum GPA of 3.85, or 105 hours of course work with a minimum 3.75 GPA.
“When I received the invitation to be in Phi Beta Kappa, I was so excited,” said Sharidan Farris of Denver, North Carolina, reporting secretary of Phi Beta Kappa. “I remember attending my sister’s Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony 10 years ago, so it was special to be able to celebrate my academic journey at UNC with my family.”
Phi Beta Kappa began as a secret society at the College of William and Mary for literary debates and discussion and was the first American society to have a Greek letter name. In its first meeting, the society adopted the key symbol. All secrecy was eliminated in the 1830s, and now there are more than 290 college chapters. Former members of Phi Beta Kappa include 17 U.S. presidents, 42 Supreme Court justices and more than 150 Nobel Laureates, as well as many artistic, intellectual, and political leaders.
UNC’s chapter, Alpha of North Carolina, was founded in 1904 and is the oldest among state chapters. Nationwide, chapters of Phi Beta Kappa raise more than $1 million annually to support outstanding high school and college students with scholarships.