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Skidmore College
Phi Beta Kappa

Election Criteria

The Skidmore Chapter adheres closely to the national standards for election. In a nutshell, the standards stipulate that candidates shall have demonstrated excellence in the liberal arts and sciences through both the quality of their performance and the breadth of their interests.

Note: The evaluation of candidates is not an automatic process, and there is no guarantee of election if certain minimum standards are met; in particular, a high GPA is not, in and of itself, a guarantee of election—although it is indispensable. Furthermore, the national body stipulates that no more than 10% of the B.A. candidates in any graduating class can be elected, which typically limits the Skidmore Chapter to approximately 35–40 new members per year.

Specifically, the Skidmore Chapter stipulates that new members shall meet the following criteria:

  • A full major in a liberal arts or sciences discipline or combination of disciplines, or the equivalent. For example, a biology-chemistry interdisciplinary major qualifies, whereas an interdisciplinary major combining (say) biology and social work would not qualify. A student double-majoring in studio art and art history and planning to graduate with a B.S. degree would be eligible if she met all the requirements for a B.A. degree.
  • A GPA that is at least 3.75 for election in the first round (in the fall), 3.5 for election in the second round (after first-semester grades are in), and 3.3 for election in the third round (right before Commencement). Note that these are the official standards in our bylaws; in practice, as average GPAs have risen in recent years, the minimum GPA needed to qualify for PBK membership has also risen; in 2009–10, the minimum was greater than 3.75. Furthermore, we recompute the GPA to include only the liberal arts courses in the student's record as specified by the national PBK Society (see the next point).
  • At least 90 semester hours of graded course credit in the liberal arts and sciences at the time of election (except in the first-round fall election, when 84 hours are required). Some of this credit can be by transfer (e.g., junior year abroad), but AP credits are not accepted for this purpose. Please note that a course counted as liberal arts by the New York State regulations (i.e., one that is not labeled "non-liberal arts" in the Skidmore College Catalog) is not necessarily considered a liberal arts course by the Skidmore Chapter, because we must adhere to the stricter standards of the national society.
  • A breadth of interests as demonstrated by courses beyond the introductory level in at least three liberal arts and sciences disciplines. Note that a 200-level course need not be beyond the introductory level; for example, 200-level courses meeting general education requirements and lacking prerequisites are usually viewed as introductory.
  • Attainment of intermediate competency in a foreign or non-native language (this level of competency is indicated by coursework at the 203 level or above, or the equivalent).
  • Attainment of quantitative competency at least minimally appropriate for liberal education. Beginning with the Class of 2015, this requirement is strengthened as follows: At least one course in college-level mathematics, logic or statistics, with content appropriate to a liberal arts and sciences curriculum. (Note: ideally, every QR 2 course at Skidmore would satisfy this requirement, but unfortunately, this is not currently the case. The mathematical content of the course must be substantial and conceptually rich, not a minor component.)
  • Attainment of writing proficiency.
  • A record of high academic and social integrity and good moral character.