About the Phi Beta Kappa Society

Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest academic honor society, founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Election to Phi Beta Kappa is a recognition of academic achievement, especially in the acquisition of knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences. Indeed, Phi Beta Kappa offers exceptional future value – lifetime academic recognition for excellence in the humanities. The Greek letters Phi Beta Kappa are the first letters of the motto Philosophia Biou Kybernētēs (Love of wisdom is the guide of life).

The Phi Beta Kappa chapter at the University of California was founded in 1898 and is designated Alpha of California because it was the first to be organized in the state. The Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha of California Centennial publication celebrates the 1998 centennial of the chapter and includes a brief history, photos of founders, and an image of John Muir’s letter accepting honorary membership in 1907. In 2023, the Alpha of California chapter celebrated its 125th anniversary.

Upon invitation to join Phi Beta Kappa, there is a one-time fee that covers lifetime membership in the local chapter and the national Phi Beta Kappa organization.

New members also receive an honorary 1-year membership in the Northern California Association of Phi Beta Kappa, an alumni association with a newsletter, activities and a Young Phi Betes group.

The Chapter By-Laws are available here: PBK By-Laws