Phi Beta Kappa


Phi Beta Kappa is a nationwide society honoring students for the excellence and breadth of their undergraduate scholarly accomplishments. Membership in the Stanford Chapter (Beta of California) is open to undergraduates of all majors. To be elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Stanford, a student must achieve academic distinction in the major as well as in courses across a broad range of fields.

Election to Phi Beta Kappa

Elections are guided by stipulations set forth by the national office of the Phi Beta Kappa Society

Approximately a tenth of the members of a graduating class are elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Of this number, about one fifth are chosen in their junior year, the remainder in their senior year.

The chapter's election guidelines define breadth of study as excellence beyond the major field. To be considered for election, a student must have taken at least three courses of 3 units or more at Stanford by the time elections are held early in the Spring Quarter with a letter grade of 'B-' or better in each of the following three major domains of knowledge: humanities; science, engineering, and math; and social sciences. Students who transfer in their junior year must have taken at least two courses at Stanford in two of the major domains and at least one course in the third domain, and must have completed a minimum of 75 units of academic work at Stanford by the end of Winter Quarter. Students who transfer in their sophomore year must have taken at least two courses at Stanford in each of the major domains.

There is no direct correlation between Stanford University General Education Requirements (GERs) and Phi Beta Kappa breadth requirements. The elections committee analyzes the content of individual courses to determine which major domain requirement they may satisfy. IHUM, PWR, and first-year language courses do not satisfy the PBK breadth criterion. Introductory Seminars may be considered.

A grade of '+' or 'CR' is not considered a sign of distinction. Minimally satisfying the breadth criterion is not considered a sign of distinction.

The academic records of eligible students are automatically reviewed.  In order to be considered with the appropriate graduating class, students must meet the application for graduation deadline that is set by the Registrar's Office.  Anonymity in the election process is ensured by removal of the students' names from their academic records before consideration.  Elections are conducted each year in April and elected students are notified by mid-May.  Students who are not elected who wish to appeal must contact the Chapter Secretary no later than May 30 of the same year.

Any student convicted of a violation of the Honor Code or Fundamental Standard cannot be elected.

Learn More About Phi Beta Kappa

National Phi Beta Kappa Web Site

Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association


For inquiries about Stanford's Phi Beta Kappa Chapter, please email Chapter Secretary, Melissa Stevenson, at or Incoming Secretary, Raymond Chen at

Position Name
President Professor Hank Greely
Secretary Melissa Stevenson
Incoming Secretary Raymond Chen
Treasurer Mark Tendall

Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize

The Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize recognizes not only excellence in teaching but also the ability to inspire personal and intellectual development beyond the classroom. This may include, but is not limited to, encouraging critical and analytical thinking, taking an active interest in students as individuals, and influencing the way students think about the world.

Every year, members of Phi Beta Kappa present an award to an outstanding member of the faculty. Nominations are accepted from members of the senior class. The winner is then selected by a committee of previous award winners and Phi Beta Kappa Council members.

Past recipients are listed below:

Year Recipient Department
2015 Jeremy Sabol Lecturer, Structured Liberal Education and Master of Liberal Arts
2015 Edith Sheffer Assistant Professor, History and, by courtesy, German Studies
2014 Julie Kennedy Professor, Environmental Earth System Science
2014 Cintia Santana Lecturer, Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages
2013 Russell Berman Professor, Comparative Literature and German Studies
2013 Kathleen Coll Lecturer, Anthropology
2013 Allyson Hobbs Assistant Professor, History
2012 Daniel Carlos Garza Assistant Professor, Orthopedic Surgery and Emergency Medicine
2012 Stephen Haber Professor, Political Science and History
2012 Michael Rosenfeld Associate Professor, Sociology
2011 James Campbell Professor, History
2010 Donald Barr Associate Professor, Pediatrics
2009 James Gross Professor, Psychology
2008 Rob Reich Associate Professor, Political Science
2007 Elizabeth Tallent Professor, English
2006 Alyssa O'Brien Lecturer, Program in Writing and Rhetoric
2005 Steve Tadelis Professor, Economics
2004 Gavin Jones Professor, English
2003 Armin Rosenkrantz Lecturer, Human Biology
2002 Wanda Corn Professor, Art
2001 Robert Gregg Professor, Religious Studies
2000 Marsh McCall Professor, Classics
1999 Christopher Edwards Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering
1998 Thomas Wandless Assistant Professor, Chemistry
1997 James Watanabe Lecturer, Biological Sciences (Hopkins Marine Station)
1996 Robert McGinn Professor, Management Science and Engineering
1994 Donald Kennedy Professor, Biological Sciences and Human Biology
1993 Robert Waymouth Professor, Chemistry
1992 Jody Maxmin Associate Professor, Art
1991 David Brady Professor, Political Science

Phi Beta Kappa Graduate Student Scholarship

Each year, the Northern California Association of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society invites Stanford students currently pursuing graduate studies or professional degrees to apply for the annual graduate scholarship valued at $5000 - $6000.  Applications are due Thursday February 18, 2016. 

  • Applicants must have been elected to Phi Beta Kappa by a chapter anywhere in the United States, and must be currently enrolled graduate or professional students. 
  • Application materials include:
    • application form
    • a statement of objectives and accomplishments
    • summary of research
    • writing sample, and
    • three confidential letters of recommendation submitted directly by the writer to

Applicants apply to the Stanford Phi Beta Kappa Chapter which will select up to six applications to forward to the Northern California competition.  

The campus deadline is Thursday, February 18, 2016, 3:00 p.m. Completed application materials should be submitted to  

For the application form and guidelines, visit (and click Scholarship\Apply for Scholarship). 

For questions, contact Katie Allan at or Melissa Stevenson at

To view a list of scholarship recipients, visit