Phi Beta Kappa

The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the oldest preeminent collegiate honor society for the liberal arts in the United States. Established in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, Phi Beta Kappa now comprises 286 chapters throughout the United States. Induction into Phi Beta Kappa represents a strong love of learning through diligence and academic merit.

In 1994, the American University Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Zeta of Washington, D.C., was founded. It is a force for the three goods indicated by the stars in the upper left corner of the society's key: friendship, morality, and literature. The pointing hand in the lower corner of the key symbolizes aspiration. On the reverse, the letters S and P represent the second name of the society, Societas Philosophiae, which translates as "the society of the love of knowledge." American University is well suited to cultivate the virtues of Phi Beta Kappa. With the intimacy of a smaller college and strong intellectual enterprises, students at American University are able to pursue rewarding studies in the liberal arts.

Selection Procedure

Election is highly selective. It is based on performance as measured by GPA in liberal arts courses. All other courses (for example, pre-professional classes or internships) are excluded from the calculation. Students from most programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as from the School of International Service and School of Public Affairs, are potentially eligible, provided the number of credits and GPA for liberal arts courses are sufficient. Students enrolled in majors in the School of Communication, the Kogod School of Business, and the School of Education are not eligible unless they have a second major in a qualifying liberal arts program.

Induction represents lifetime membership. Students must have 75 percent of their work in liberal arts courses and at least 60 credits earned in courses at American University. Students who are eligible in their senior year will be notified during spring semester if elected. There are no applications.

Dinner and Induction Ceremony

Each spring American University's Zeta Chapter welcomes new members through a dinner in their honor. Parents, friends, and faculty members are typically invited to attend both the induction ceremony and the reception that follows.


Faculty and staff representing many departments and schools are members of American University's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. The chapter's current officers are:

  • President
    Patrick Thadeus Jackson,
    Professor of International Studies, School of International Service
  • Vice President
    Mieke Meurs,
    Professor and Department Chair, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Secretary-Treasurer
    Benjamin Berg,
    Academic Advisor, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Historian
    Patricia Aufderheide,
    University Professor, School of Communication
  • Member-at-Large
    Robin Broad,
    Professor, School of International Service


For more information please contact:

Mimi Fittig,, 202-885-2436