Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest academic honor society.
The first chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was established at the College of William and Mary in 1776. The Middlebury College chapter, the Beta chapter of Vermont, was established in 1868. Middlebury’s is the 13th oldest Phi Beta Kappa chapter in existence, and was one of the founding members of the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa in 1883.
As one of the “charter chapters,” the Middlebury chapter is free to establish its own criteria for the election of students to Phi Beta Kappa, and is not governed by election rules established by the national society. The members of the Middlebury chapter are those members of the Middlebury faculty who were themselves elected to Phi Beta Kappa by their undergraduate institutions.
Each year the Middlebury chapter elects up to 10% of the senior class to membership in Phi Beta Kappa: 2% of the class is elected in August, on the basis of six semesters’ work, and up to an additional 8% is elected in May, on the basis of work completed over eight semesters.
Eligibility for election to Phi Beta Kappa is determined on the basis of those grades reported on the Middlebury College transcript. By vote of the Middlebury faculty, since Fall Term 2003, the following grades have been included on the transcript: Middlebury College courses taught during the academic year in Middlebury, VT; Middlebury College courses taught in the Middlebury Language Schools or any of the campuses of the Bread Loaf School of English; Middlebury College courses taught at the Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad; courses taught in other approved programs of off-campus study.
Note: Courses taken Credit/No-Credit in 2020 and the spring of 2021 do not affect eligibility for Phi Beta Kappa.
In order to be eligible for election in August, students must have completed six consecutive semesters at Middlebury College, the C.V. Starr-Middlebury Schools Abroad, or other approved programs of off-campus study, and they must have accumulated at least 27 college credits toward the B.A. degree.
Students who complete their degree requirements in February are considered for election to Phi Beta Kappa the following May, and will be notified of their election on the Thursday afternoon prior to Commencement.
Transfer students are eligible for election to Phi Beta Kappa in May, provided they have taken at least 18 courses at Middlebury College.
There is no absolute GPA cutoff for eligibility, and since the basis for election is no more than 10% of the graduating class, we cannot stipulate in advance what the minimum GPA needed for election to Phi Beta Kappa will be in any given year. Any student who has been subject to official College discipline for academic or non-academic reasons is ineligible for election to Phi Beta Kappa.
Notification and Acknowledgment
Students elected to Phi Beta Kappa in August are notified by email in September. The induction ceremony for these students is held on Fall Family Weekend.
Students elected in May are notified via email on the Thursday afternoon before Commencement. The induction ceremony for these students is held on the Saturday morning of Commencement Weekend.
Vermont Chapter Officers
Phi Beta Kappa, Beta Chapter of Vermont, Officers:
- President: Jane D. Chaplin, James I. Armstrong Professor of Classics
- Vice President: Katy Smith Abbott, Associate Professor of the History of Art and Architecture
- Secretary: Elizabeth A. Morrison, Associate Professor of Religion
- Assistant Secretary: Susan K. Watson, Benjamin F. Wissler Professor of Physics