Phi Theta Kappa Origins
Stephens College 1918
Phi Theta Kappa observes its birthday on Founders Day, November 19. Phi Theta Kappa was founded in 1918 by presidents of two-year colleges in Missouri. The founders were seeking to recognize scholastic achievement by their students, and to establish a common purpose and standard for honors organizations on their different campuses. The founders chose to model their new Society after the prestigious senior honor society, Phi Beta Kappa. The name "Phi Theta Kappa" was taken from the initial letters of the three Greek words meaning "wisdom," "aspiration" and "purity."
Eleven years later, Phi Theta Kappa was officially recognized by the American Association of Junior Colleges on November 19, the date now traditionally observed as the Society's Founders Day.
Phi Theta Kappa Today
Today PTK is the largest honor society in American higher education with more than 2 million members and 1,200 chapters located in all 50 of the United States, U.S. territories, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Germany, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, United Arab Emirates and Palau.
The innovative programs and services and array of membership benefits offered by Phi Theta Kappa are unequaled among honor societies. Co-curricular programs focus upon the Society's Hallmark of Scholarship, Leadership, Service and Fellowship. It is estimated that 200,000 students participate in Phi Theta Kappa programs each year.
Annually, approximately 100,000 students are inducted into Phi Theta Kappa. To be eligible for membership a student must complete a minimum of twelve hours of associate degree course work and generally earn a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Students must maintain a high academic standing throughout their enrollment in the two-year college, generally a 3.25 GPA.
The average age of a new member is 29, ranging from 18 to 80. Part-time and full-time students are eligible for membership. The average Phi Theta Kappan is enrolled full-time with a GPA of 3.8. The most popular major of Phi Theta Kappans in 2004 was Nursing, followed closely by Education and Business.