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The ideal Phi Beta Kappa has demonstrated intellectual integrity, tolerance for other views, and a broad range of academic interests. The Phi Beta Kappa Society recognizes three types of members: members-in-course, alumni members, and honorary members. Membership in the Society is for life.

Most Phi Beta Kappa members are elected as members-in-course. Less than a third of chapters elect alumni or honorary members, and only a few are elected each triennium.


Members-in-course at TCNJ are elected on the basis of their academic records as college seniors, and, in exceptional cases, as juniors.  To be eligible for election, students must have pursued a broad program of study in the liberal arts and sciences and have achieved academic success at distinguished levels. Typically, no more than 10 percent of the candidates for degrees in liberal arts and sciences are elected. Each year, about one college senior in a hundred, nationwide, is invited to join Phi Beta Kappa.

Alumni and Honorary members

Alumni members are elected from among alumni of TCNJ who graduated at least 10 years earlier and merit recognition for scholarly accomplishment after graduation. Honorary members are chosen on the same basis as alumni members, but they are not TCNJ alumni.

Resident members

Resident members are a Phi Beta Kappa chapter’s active membership, regardless of where they were elected or in which membership category. Thus, TCNJ’s resident members are the faculty, administrators, staff, and student members of any Phi Beta Kappa chapter.