Student Membership & Awards

How Do Oxy Students Get into Phi Beta Kappa?

Occidental seniors are offered membership in Phi Beta Kappa on the basis of their academic record using a “normed GPA" algorithm.   There is no application process.  About ten students per year are elected in the early Fall on the basis of their grades through the end of their junior year.  Another 40 or 50 students are elected in mid Spring on the basis of their grades through the Fall of their senior year.  One or two students are elected at the very end of the last semester of their senior year; these typically are excellent students who transferred to Occidental and did not have enough Oxy course credits to be considered until they completed all their coursework. 

Oxy’s Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremony traditionally is held on the Friday afternoon of the commencement weekend in May.   The families and close friends of the initiates are invited to attend the ceremony.      

Ben Culley Prize

Recognizing Exceptional Students

Each year, Oxy’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter awards the Culley prize, named in honor of Ben Culley, who was a mathematics professor, administrator, and Phi Beta Kappa secretary-treasurer at the College for four decades.  This prize is presented a graduating senior whose initiative and creativity beyond the classroom have significantly enhanced the quality of intellectual life in the Occidental community. All graduating seniors are eligible, and any member of the Occidental community can make nominations.

Alumni Graduate Student Scholarship

Supporting Graduate Study

Each year, the Southern California Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association awards a scholarship to an Occidental College senior Phi Beta Kappa initiate who will be attending graduate school in the liberal arts and sciences.