Undergraduate Bulletin

Fall 2022 Bulletin

Academic Honors 

Selection of students for honors is based primarily on University records and recommendation (not on application). Some of the disciplinary national honor societies require application and have established criteria for eligibility. Interested students should approach the relevant department or program.

Honor Societies

Besides the annual awards listed in the Scholarships and Awards chapter, in­duction into an honor society acknowledges the student’s outstanding academic performance.

Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest academic honor society.  Since 1776, the organization has been devoted to fostering the liberal ideal in education and encouraging the spirit of critical inquiry.  To found a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, campuses participate in a three-year process with extensive analysis.  Each institution must demonstrate that it provides students with the educational opportunities that fulfill the organization’s vision for undergraduate education.  Of the many colleges and universities in the United States, only about 10% have been awarded Phi Beta Kappa chapters.  Stony Brook’s chapter dates back to 1974.  

Admission is by election, based on the breadth and balance of a student’s college record as well as superior academic performance.  By the rules of the national organization, chapters are allowed to elect no more than 10% of a graduating class.   From each graduating class, 90% will be elected as seniors and 10% as juniors.  Because student achievement varies from year to year, there is also some variability in the level of achievement that allows the chapter to elect students.  However, most recently, the minimum cumulative GPA for seniors was 3.64 and the minimum for juniors was 3.95.  To be elected, a student must have completed 60 credits at Stony Brook (excluding transfer, AP, or other test credits).  Seniors may only be elected when they have applied for graduation.  They must have completed their graduation requirements or be enrolled in courses that will enable them to complete those requirements.  To be elected as a junior, a student must have completed 15 upper division credits at Stony Brook in content courses (e.g., teaching assistant and research credits do not count toward the requirement).  In addition, students who have been found guilty of academic dishonesty are not eligible for Phi Beta Kappa.  

The national organization provides a number of stipulations that guide elections for each chapter. Because Phi Beta Kappa stipulations focus on the liberal arts, the committee evaluates students who have enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, as well as select majors from the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (i.e., AMS and Computer Science).  Two additional stipulations require particular emphasis: 

1. “Weight shall be given to the breadth and depth of study in the liberal arts and sciences, taking into account the number, variety, and level of courses taken outside the requirements of the major, and the proportion of the candidate’s overall program those courses constitute. Consideration shall also be given to the number of elective courses taken above the introductory, or general education, level.” 

Completion of the College of Arts and Sciences DEC satisfies this stipulation. 

Students pursuing the Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC) must complete specific additional requirements to meet Phi Beta Kappa's stipulation for breadth and depth. Students must complete:

  1.  9 credits in QPS, SNW, or STEM+.
  2.  9 credits in ARTS, HUM, or HFA+.
  3.  6 credits in SBS or SBS+. 

No course may be counted twice toward these requirements . For example, a course that is double certified as ARTS and HUM would only count as three credits toward the requirement. Students may transfer in coursework to cover some of the requirements, but must complete at least ONE course at Stony Brook in each of the a, b, and c groups noted above. For example, a student may transfer in a QPS course and SNW course, but then must complete at least one QPS, SNW, or STEM+ course at Stony Brook.

2. “Candidates shall have demonstrated, by successful work in high school or college, or in the two together, a knowledge of a second or non-native language at least minimally appropriate for a liberal education. In no case shall this mean less than the completion of the intermediate college level in a second, or non-native, language or its equivalent.”  

The university’s language requirement (Skill 3 or LANG) only confirms basic-level competence in a second language.  Ordinary high school course work does not satisfy the Phi Beta Kappa requirement.  

To satisfy this requirement through coursework, students must complete either a Stony Brook 201 course or a 211/212 sequence (or comparable courses at another institution). Students may also have earned an AP or other standardized test score that indicates this level of achievement (as indicated by Stony Brook’s transfer rules for different languages). It is also possible for students to demonstrate mastery by taking a placement or challenge exam, if they believe they could meet the 211/212 standard.  (That is, they need to earn a score that would place them out of these courses). Finally, students may be fluent in another language as a consequence of personal experience (but, note that they must be able to speak, read, and write the language).  

To begin the election process, the members of the Phi Beta Kappa selection committee (which involves faculty and staff who were themselves elected to Phi Beta Kappa) request records from the university.  

Students who are elected to Phi Beta Kappa will receive an e-mail from the Secretary of the Chapter. To be considered for election, students must have applied for graduation by February 15, July 15, or October 15 (before each graduation). Students who believe they are eligible for election, but have applied for graduation after these deadlines, should contact the Chapter Secretary directly.

If students’ records provide evidence that they meet all the stipulations, they will receive a message that directly offers them membership.  If students’ records provide evidence that they meet all stipulations except the language requirement, they will receive a message asking them to provide information about their language achievement. Under those circumstances, the chapter works with students to assess their language ability. 

For more information, please feel free to contact the Secretary of Stony Brook’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, Professor Richard Gerrig,  richard.gerrig@stonybrook.edu

Sigma Beta

Sigma Beta, Stony Brook’s own honor society, is devoted to academic excellence and University service. Membership is open to full time students who have earned between 12 and 80 credits for a Cumulative GPA of 3.50 or more. Each full-time student must have completed in that semester at least 12 credits for a letter grade (not including S) and have no I’s, U’s, NR’s, NC’s, F’s, R’s or Q’s. P grades are not considered to be letter grades.

Sigma Xi

Sigma Xi is a national honor society for achievement in pure or applied scientific research. Any student associated with the University who has, through research achievements, shown a marked aptitude that is expected to lead to the fulfillment of the requirements for full membership may be nominated by a faculty member or department and elected as an associate member of Sigma Xi.

Tau Beta Pi

Tau Beta Pi is the national engineering honor society devoted to honoring students for academic excellence and for service to the engineering profession. Engineering juniors and seniors who have demonstrated these qualities are invited to join Stony Brook’s Omicron chapter of Tau Beta Pi.

The Golden Key International Honor Society 

The Golden Key International Honor Society recognizes junior and senior students who have achieved at least a 3.30 g.p.a. at Stony Brook. The campus chapter adds to the vitality of the University’s intellectual and social life through sponsorship of community service activities. More information is available at  http://www.goldenkey.org

Other Honor Societies

Various disciplines have their own honor societies. Those with chapters at Stony Brook include Alpha Eta Mu Beta (Biomedical Engineering), Upsilon Pi Epsilon (Computer Science), Sigma Gamma Epsilon (Earth Science), Omicron Delta Epsilon (Economics), Sigma Tau Delta (English), Eta Kappa Nu (Electrical Engineering), Phi Sigma Iota (Foreign Languages), Delta Phi Alpha (German), Alpha Eta (Health Professions), Phi Alpha Theta (History), Gamma Kappa Alpha (Italian), Pi Tau Sigma (Mechanical Engineering), Phi Sigma Tau (Philosophy), Sigma Pi Sigma (Physics), Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science), Alpha Epsilon Delta (pre-medical curriculum), Psi Chi (Psychology), Dobro Slovo (Slavic Languages), and Alpha Kappa Delta (Sociology).

Please note: Honor Society membership is not notated on a student's official academic record.