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New Member Selection Process

How new members are selected

Each semester, the Alpha of Virginia Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at William and Mary selects a group of seniors for induction into its membership.  The main selection criteria are outstanding academic achievement in the liberal arts at William & Mary and strong support from faculty members.  More specifically, ideal qualifications include intellectual honesty and curiosity, careful scholarship, creativity, good character, and a commitment to the life of the mind.

The selected students comprise no more than seven percent of the graduating class, about half in the fall and half in the spring.  A committee of several William and Mary faculty and staff, all members of Phi Beta Kappa, take charge of the initial stage of the selection process.  They review a list of students with high grade point averages who are on track to earn a bachelor’s degree with a liberal arts curriculum.

The committee sends requests to all William & Mary instructional and professional faculty  for recommendation letters on behalf of eligible students.  The response is typically large, more than 150 letters.  For each student, the committee considers the quantity and quality of recommendation letters from faculty, grades achieved, curricular breadth and scholarly initiative.  To be selected, students must have at least one letter of support from a faculty member.  Each semester, the selections committee recommends to the Chapter a list of students to be selected for induction.

After discussion and possible amendments, the whole Chapter approves the list and invites those students for induction.