Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and the most prestigious national academic honor society in America. Since its founding in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, the Phi Beta Kappa Society has pursued its mission of fostering and recognizing excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. The distinctive emblem of the society, a golden key, is widely recognized as a symbol of academic distinction. The Greek letters ΦΒΚ (Phi Beta Kappa) are the first letters of the motto “Philosophia Biou Kubernetes” (Love of wisdom – the guide of life). It was the first American society to have a Greek letter name, and in its initial period at William and Mary it introduced the essential characteristics of such societies: an oath of secrecy, a badge, mottoes in Latin and Greek, a code of laws, an elaborate form of initiation, a seal, and a special handclasp.
For more information, see the Phi Beta Kappa National Society website (www.pbk.org).