Phi Theta Kappa

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Phi Theta Kappa
Phi Theta Kappa key.jpg
FoundedNovember 19, 1918; 104 years ago (November 19, 1918)
Stephens College
Colors  Blue and   Gold
SymbolGolden key, Athena, oak leaves, laurel leaves
FlowerWhite rose
MembersOver 3.5 million collegiate
HallmarksScholarship, Leadership, Service, Fellowship
Headquarters1625 Eastover Drive
Jackson, MS 39211
WebsiteOfficial website

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (ΦΘΚ or PTK) is the international honor society of students attending open-access institutions and seeking associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, or other college credentials. Its headquarters is in Jackson, Mississippi, and has more than 3.5 million members in nearly 1,300 chapters in 10 nations.


The mission of Phi Theta Kappa is to recognize high academic achievement of college students and to provide opportunities for them to grow as scholars and leaders.

History, name, origin, and usage[edit]

The origin of Phi Theta Kappa can be traced back to Kappa Phi Omicron, an honor society established in 1910 at Stephens College in Missouri, a two-year college for women. As similar honor societies sprang up in the state, the college presidents and students of eight Missouri women's colleges came together in 1918 to create a single honor society with a unified mission — Phi Theta Kappa was born.

Phi Theta Kappa is named after Phi Beta Kappa, the international honor society for four-year colleges and universities, and it was modeled after many aspects of the prestigious senior college honor society.

The Greek letters "Phi Theta Kappa" stand for phronimon, thumos, and katharotes, meaning "wisdom," "aspiration," and "purity." "PTK" is acceptable on second reference, and members may be referred to as "Phi Theta Kappans."

The first chapter was chartered at a coeducational school, St. Joseph Junior College in Missouri, in 1926. The first chapter chartered outside Missouri was at Northeast Junior College in Oklahoma.

On November 19, 1929, the American Association of Junior Colleges (now the American Association of Community Colleges) recognized Phi Theta Kappa as the official national honor society for junior colleges. It is the only honor society to have received that distinction. Phi Theta Kappa celebrates its Founders Day on November 19 each year.


The first membership pin was designed in 1921: a blue triangle containing the three Greek letters surrounded by pearls. The distinctive gold key[1] membership pin was adopted in 1930 and features a black enamel band upon which the three Greek letters appear. Behind the band is a wreath composed of oak leaves on one side, denoting stability and strength of character, and laurel on the other side, signifying achievement and success. Above the band is a representation of the head of Athena, Goddess of Learning; in the base appear the mystic Greek letters meaning light, the light of learning, and knowledge.

The colors of the society are blue, for scholarship, and gold, for purity.


Membership in Phi Theta Kappa is by invitation only and is highly selective. Students must complete 12 hours of coursework toward an associate degree, 6 hours toward a one-year certificate, or 12 hours toward a bachelor's degree and have a minimum 3.7 grade point average (GPA). Merely meeting basic requirements will not guarantee an invitation. Local chapters may raise these eligibility standards.[2]

Members are required to pay a one-time membership fee, which includes a $60 international fee. Regional and local chapter fees may be added to the international fee.[3] There are no annual dues, and the membership is a lifetime membership.

Benefits of membership[edit]

Phi Theta Kappa partners with more than 800 four-year colleges and universities to offer more than $46 million in transfer scholarships[4] exclusively to its members. PTK also partners with organizations and foundations to offer scholarships to help students complete associate, bachelor's,[5] and master's degrees and to help workforce-bound students pay certification costs.[6] Students also have several opportunities to have their work published[7] in nationally distributed publications, such as PTK's Literary Journal Nota Bene,[8] Civic Scholar: Phi Theta Kappa Journal of Undergraduate Research,[9] and Change Makers: Phi Theta Kappa Journal of Student Leadership.[10]

Members can seek leadership positions in their local chapters, their regions, or on the international level, which bolsters their resume and provides leadership experience, community service opportunities[11] and professional development. PTK offers a free online program to help students develop job skills. Letters of recommendation are also available, as are discounts to national businesses, including GEICO,[12] Enterprise, Lenovo, Dell, Hurst Review Services, Bank of America and Bartleby.

Notable members[edit]


  1. ^ "Graphic Standards". Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  2. ^ "Why Join?". Phi Theta Kappa. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  3. ^ "FAQs". Phi Theta Kappa. Retrieved October 19, 2021.
  4. ^ "The University of Arizona Global Campus Partners with Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society to Provide Tuition Benefits to Members, Employees" (Press release). University of Arizona Global Campus. November 22, 2021. Retrieved December 14, 2021 – via PR News Wire.
  5. ^ "Twenty Bright Stars: This Year's All-USA Academic Team Scholarship Recipients Named". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  6. ^ "PTK Student Receives Walgreens Pharmacy Technician Scholarship". Quinsigamund Community College. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  7. ^ Cardine, Sara (October 27, 2021). "Orange Coast College grad named first Phi Theta Kappa International Poet Laureate". LA Times. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  8. ^ "Nota Bene". Phi Theta Kappa. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  9. ^ "Civic Scholar". Phi Theta Kappa. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  10. ^ "Change Makers". Phi Theta Kappa. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  11. ^ Douglas, Stephanie (September 16, 2021). "Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society surprises Midland healthcare workers with meals". CBS7. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  12. ^ "Geico". GEICO. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  13. ^ "Evan Edinger | LinkedIn". LinkedIn. Archived from the original on February 5, 2021. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  14. ^[bare URL image file]
  15. ^ "COA student named to All-California Academic Team" (PDF). College of Alameda. April 2, 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 29, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2008.

External links[edit]