Phi Beta Kappa was founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. It is the oldest national academic honor society in the United States. The Gamma of Ohio chapter at Marietta College was established in 1860; it was the third chapter in Ohio and the 16th in the nation.
To be considered for election to membership, a student must be of good character and must have achieved a scholastic record of outstanding excellence in a broad program of studies, a significant part of which must lie within the area known as the liberal arts and sciences. Normally, students are elected during the spring semester of their senior year. Also, the highest-ranking eligible member of the junior class may be elected during the spring semester.
Membership in Phi Beta Kappa is conferred as the result of an election by the local chapter. There is no list of precisely specified requirements which, if met, will result in an automatic election to Phi Beta Kappa. The chapter does have certain minimum criteria for consideration for an election which are given below.
To aid in evaluating the breadth of education, the Marietta chapter of Phi Beta Kappa groups academic areas, departments, and courses in the liberal arts and sciences into three broad categories. These categories, or groups, are similar to, but not identical with those used in the College Catalog to specify the General Education distribution requirements for graduation from Marietta College.
Group A: art, English literature, linguistics, modern languages, music, theatre arts.
Group B: communication, economics, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, sociology.
Group C: astronomy, biology, chemistry, environmental science, geology, mathematics, physics.
The criteria for consideration for election to Phi Beta Kappa are as follows:
- The student must take at least 60 hours of work in residence at Marietta College.
- At least 63 hours must be in liberal arts and sciences coursework.
- The student must achieve a grade point average sufficient for graduation with honors (3.5 or better) and must graduate in the upper tenth of the class.
- Students must have a record of academic honesty and integrity.
- Selected students must take at least one Math or Logic course, and have had foreign language study at either the secondary or college level.
- Because election to Phi Beta Kappa emphasizes breadth and depth of scholarship, the student's record must display evidence of both.
The student must display breadth of education by completing, in addition to Writing 101 and Communication 101, at least fifteen credit hours of coursework in each of groups A and B and fourteen credit hours in group C. Courses from at least three departments or areas in each group must be included, and not more than six credit hours (or eight in the case of laboratory courses) from a single department may be counted. Advanced courses in areas outside the student's major group are encouraged. No course for which the grade is below C may be counted. WRIT 101, COMM 101, MATH 113, MATH 114, MATH 123, ART 245, and MUSC 303 are also not counted.
Courses that are not included among the offerings of the departments listed in groups A, B, and C, such as Leadership, Honors and Gender Studies courses also may be eligible for consideration by the chapter under the intent of criterion 6. Any such course will be evaluated individually.
The chapter will determine whether the course qualifies as liberal arts or sciences and, if so, the appropriate group in which to place it. The Chapter reserves the right to elect students who do not quite meet every aspect of criterion 6, but whose records display evidence of breadth and depth consistent with the intent of the criterion. Students desiring additional information should contact one of the officers of the Marietta College chapter.