• Professor Margaret Ferguson addresses the 2014 Phi Beta Kappa inductees in the Shields Courtyard.

  • Professors Margaret Ferguson, Naomi Janowitz and Jon Rossini welcome new Phi Beta Kappa students.

  • Two students doing the PBK secret handshake.

Who We Are

About Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society

The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the oldest and most prestigious national academic honorary society in the United States. Its Handbook for New Members begins, “For over two hundred years election to Phi Beta Kappa has been a recognition of intellectual capacities well employed, especially in the acquiring of an education in the liberal arts and sciences.” The Society was founded in 1776; the UC Davis chapter, designated Kappa of California, was chartered in 1968.

What we do

Our primary chapter activity is nominating new members each spring. Membership in Phi Beta Kappa has always been by invitation only. Each year a committee of members considers students who meet a minimum set of requirements and selects those who fulfill all of the criteria for membership. The National Φβκ Society stipulates general eligibility rules. Follow this link to find out details of our eligibility criteria at UC Davis.

Kappa Chapter elects juniors and seniors who have compiled outstanding academic records in a curriculum including the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. These nominees, or 'Members in Course', are notified in spring quarter by email, and are invited to attend the initiation ceremony in May. Students who are elected to Phi Beta Kappa are encouraged to become members of the national society. Read about the advantages of becoming a member and see How to Join for details.

PBK National

Who Belongs to Phi Beta Kappa?

Seventeen U.S. Presidents, thirty-eight U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and one hundred and thirty-six Nobel laureates can be counted among the ranks of Phi Beta Kappa members. Famous or not, all of our members have one thing in common  —  the pursuit of excellence. 

6 Reasons the Arts and Sciences are Key

The arts and sciences prepare students for a lifetime of success by developing inventive employees and thoughtful citizens. They are also vital to a vibrant culture and democracy. Phi Beta Kappa has toolkit to help you make the case, take action, get the facts, and read key stories about this important National Arts and Sciences Initiative.

PBK at UC Davis

Kappa of CA Board

  • Naomi Janowitz, President
  • Kern Holoman, Treasurer
  • Karen Olson, Secretary
  • Emily Albu, Chair, Committee for Graduate Fellowships 
  • Katherine Mawdsley, Chair, Eligibility Committee
  • Jon Rossini, Historian and Membership Committee
  • Sharon Campbell Knox, Communications and Development
  • Margaret Ferguson, Past President
  • Richard Schwab, Past Treasurer
  • Barbara Horwitz, Eligibility Committee
  • Neil Schore, Eligibility Committee


PBK Northern California News

The Northern California PBK Association is very active, offering monthly events, frequent outings, lectures, excursions and an annual three-day retreat for members and their families. They also sponsor teaching excellence awards and several scholarships.    

In 2014 PBKNCA offered twelve scholarships in the amount of $5,000 each to PBK graduate students attending Northern California universities.

Visit their website to see their upcoming activities.  

Graduate Scholarships - 2015 Application Deadline past

Phi Beta Kappa of Northern California Association offers several graduate scholarships. Graduate students must be members of Phi Beta Kappa to apply. Please see the Northern California PBK website for information about the scholarships and the application

Applications were due this year by February 7, 2015. If you have questions, please contact Emily Albu at emalbu@ucdavis.edu

Read about UC Davis Comparative Literature graduate student Megan Ammirati's 2014 PBK award.