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Phi Beta Kappa, Eta Chapter of Maryland

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

Here you will find answers to questions frequently asked by prospective candidates for membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Eta Chapter of Maryland, which is sheltered at UMBC.

 

How do I apply for membership in Phi Beta Kappa at UMBC?

There is no formal application process for UMBC students who wish to become members of Phi Beta Kappa.  Rather, all UMBC undergraduates are considered for possible election at the time of their graduation.  The Induction Ceremony for students elected to membership in Eta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa is held annually in May; it includes all students elected during the previous year.

 

How are students elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa at UMBC?

To become a candidate for membership in Phi Beta Kappa, a student must submit the UMBC undergraduate diploma application.  All candidates for May graduation are considered for possible election to Phi Beta Kappa, along with students who graduated in the previous August and December.  Student credentials are considered by the Committee for Election of Members in Course, and this committee's recommendations are reviewed and approved by a meeting of the full Resident Membership of Eta Chapter (a group composed of all UMBC faculty and staff who are members of Phi Beta Kappa).  Students considered worthy of election to Phi Beta Kappa will receive an invitation to join the Society; only those students who respond affirmatively to this invitation will be formally inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

 

What are the minimum criteria for membership in Phi Beta Kappa at UMBC?

Have the criteria for membership in Phi Beta Kappa been revised recently?

Yes — the published criteria for membership in Eta Chapter of Maryland were revised in academic year 2004-2005.  Eta Chapter has now established clear and explicit criteria for election to Phi Beta Kappa, consistent with national standards.  However, in virtually all cases, UMBC students who aspire to become members of Phi Beta Kappa, and who would have been elected in previous years, will also satisfy the revised criteria.  If you have any questions about your eligibility for election to membership in the UMBC Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, please contact the Michele Wolff, Phi Beta Kappa Secretary for further information.  Students are also welcome to consult with other Eta Chapter Officers or with UMBC faculty and staff who are Resident Members of Phi Beta Kappa.

 

What is a Liberal Studies course?

The resident membership of Eta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa has reached a clear consensus on some general characteristics of Liberal Studies courses.  Such courses should address foundational issues to the discipline, and should engage students in critical thinking, not only skills building.  In addition, Liberal Studies courses should integrate theory and practice in ways that will enable students to transfer their knowledge to new situations.  Courses that are mainly "applied" or pre-professional in nature, such as studio courses in the arts, accounting courses, and other courses that primarily provide training in technical skills, are not considered to be Liberal Studies courses.  Here is a current list of UMBC courses which do not count as liberal studies for Phi Beta Kappa.  What is Liberal Education?

 

How can I satisfy the membership criterion of "six courses (18 credits) in a coherently structured program of liberal studies outside a studentís major discipline"?

This Breadth Criterion may be satisfied in any of the following ways:

A.  Completion of a second major in a liberal-studies discipline.

B.  Completion a minor program in a liberal-studies discipline.

C. Completion of a certificate program in a liberal-studies discipline.  Examples include (but are not limited to) Intercultural Communication, Human Context of Science and Technology, Education, Womenís Studies, and the Certificate of General Honors.

D.  Completion of a coherent program of six courses (18 credits) in a liberal-studies discipline, especially in those disciplines that do not offer a minor or certificate program.  The definition of a ěcoherent programî shall be at the discretion of the Committee for Election of Members in Course, provided that it meets the minimum of 18 credits.

E.  Completion of six liberal-studies courses that demonstrate intellectual breadth and unbounded curiosity.  Approval of such liberal-studies coursework shall be at the discretion of the Committee for Election of Members in Course, provided that the candidate has completed a minimum of six courses (18 credits) beyond minimum GFR and major requirements.

 

How can I satisfy the Phi Beta Kappa membership criteria in language and culture?

Candidates for membership in Phi Beta Kappa must have satisfied UMBC's General Foundation Requirements in language and culture.

 

How can I satisfy the Phi Beta Kappa membership criteria in mathematics?

Candidates for membership in Phi Beta Kappa must have demonstrated competence in mathematics through the pre-calculus level.  Such competence may be demonstrated by completion of high school or college courses, or by Advanced Placement, CLEP, or other appropriate proficiency examination.  In addition to pre-calculus, MATH 100, MATH 115, MATH 140, STAT 121, or a higher-level mathematics or statistics course will be accepted in fulfillment of this requirement.

 

What is the minimum grade point average required for consideration for membership in Phi Beta Kappa?

Candidates for membership in Phi Beta Kappa must have achieved at least a 3.5 grade point average in liberal studies subjectsGrades earned in applied or pre-professional courses shall not be counted in computing the grade point average for the purpose of eligibility. For best consideration, candidates should have a GPA of 3.65 or higher.  (See next question for further details.)

 

The information published above states that "meeting all of these criteria does not guarantee election."  What other considerations may affect my candidacy for membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Eta Chapter of Maryland?

Under its bylaws, Eta Chapter of Maryland cannot elect to membership more than 10% of the students who have completed Liberal Studies majors in any graduating class at UMBC.  For this reason, Eta Chapter has consistently set a GPA standard that is significantly higher than 3.5.  In recent years, Eta Chapter has considered all candidates with a GPA of 3.5 or above, but has generally elected only those students who have a grade point average of 3.80 or higher.  The actual GPA standard for election to Phi Beta Kappa may vary each year. However, at its discretion, the resident membership of Eta Chapter may elect any student with truly exceptional academic accomplishments who has achieved a grade point average above 3.5.

Consistent with UMBC's commitment to the highest standards of academic integrity, Eta Chapter of Maryland seeks to elect students of good character.  A student who has committed serious academic misconduct will not be eligible for membership in Phi Beta Kappa.

For further information on Phi Beta Kappa at UMBC, please call the Michele Wolff at 410-455-2493 or via email at wolff@umbc.edu. Students are encouraged to consult with the Eta Chapter Officers or with UMBC faculty and staff who are Resident Members of Phi Beta Kappa.

What is Liberal Education? | Phi Beta Kappa at UMBC - Home Page | Phi Beta Kappa national organization