Tell me about Phi Beta Kappa

I’ve been getting letters from them, saying that they are a national honor society from my university. They want me to fork over nearly $100 to join, but not a peep from them about what I get in return. So, scam or not?

I’m looking to hear others’ opinions on what membership in PBK actually entitles you to. Is this something that resume readers see and just think ‘wow, I can’t believe someone was dumb enough to pay money for nothing’ or is it actually some prestigious honor?

It used to be pretty highly regarded.

From Wikipedia:

“Since inception, 17 U.S. Presidents, 37 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 1 NFL MVP and 131 Nobel Laureates have been inducted members.[6]”

Oh…wait. An NFL MVP?

I guess they’ve lowered their standards. Could be a scam!

Go for it. It is the oldest ‘greek’ fraternity, Thomas Jefferson was a member, and it is an academic honor extended to very few folks. Definitely NOT a scam. For the rest of your life you’ll get the newsletter, and invitations to local events where you may get to meet some high-powered folks (scientists, including a lot of Nobel Laureates, academicians, even some politicians etc.) one on one in a casual atmosphere.

There are no further dues, either. At least I haven’t been paying any…

It looks sharp on a CV also.

QtM, Phi Beta Kappa 1979

Not a scam, and considered a prestigious academic honor…but the fact that you aren’t aware of it…gives one pause to consider whether you are truly worthy of membership.

I think you meant, ‘geek’ fraternity. :wink:

If they are peddling them, it seems there is no value at all.

A prospective employer? Well, they sell those for $100.

In my generation, at least, having a Phi Beta Kappa key was (and still is) something of a point of pride. It’s hard to believe you’ve never heard of them; maybe their visibility has declined. I would definitely fork over the $100, though.

They’re not peddling, Cicero, that’s the enrollment fee for your certificate, newsletter, and (iirc) key. You have to be nominated by reps at your school. Traditionally, they don’t send you a whole lot of info before you join, one of the shortcomings, in my opinion.
Much more info at:
-proud pbk-er, 1998

It was a pretty big deal to your parents. Still looks good on a resume. Worth $100, IMHO.

Few are offered the opportunity to join. One can’t buy one’s way in. One must generally be an undergrad student of a college or university deemed sufficiently rigorous/prestigious academically to have been granted a PBK chapter, then one must academically be in the top 10% or higher of that student body by one’s senior year to get an invitation to join and pay the fee.

Members may apply for scholarships from PBK to further their studies.

Their website: has this quote:

Joining the chorus: not a scam, and very prestigious. It’s definitely something that will be noticed if put on a resume or grad school application.

I wonder why you have to pay $100 to be honored? I paid for another honor society myself but I thought it was dumb I had to pay. If it was free there would be less people wondering about if it was legit.

See post # 8.

I know you get stuff for being a member, it just strikes me as bad form to have to pay for an honor, no matter what kind of honor it is. I think the school should pay the fee considering all the money you have to pay over 4 years. Maybe some schools do pay?

I suppose if you don’t want to pay you could always consider the invitation to be every bit the honor that joining is. Technically there is no difference inasmuch as your academic achievements are considered.

I forget how much it was when I joined (1989) but even as a poor college student it seemed worth it. I don’t know why a school would pay for it. The organization is a national one, and not really linked to a particular school.

My dad was happy to pay for my membership. He, a high school dropout (after 10th grade) was busting with pride that I’d been invited to join. He loved rubbing certain other people’s noses in it. :wink:

If you don’t pay do you still get the honor without the paperwork, key, etc.?

BTW, the post above mine has a bad quote, I was not the person who said they were glad to pay.

No, you don’t. But people aren’t offered membership unless they qualify, so being offered is an honor whether or not you choose to become a member. If you want the certificate, the newsletter, and the gold jewelry, you have to pay.

I seem to recall having to pay for my diploma, so paying for an honorary society membership doesn’t seem all that odd.

Upon reflection, it may well have been my Mom who paid for it.

Pay for a diploma? I hope places like Harvard with their $50k tuition bill per year can afford to throw in a diploma for free.