Membership Eligibility 101

In the same way that students and instructors review course requirements at the beginning of each semester, this is a great time to review the requirements for eligibility in Phi Theta Kappa. Consider this a refresher course!

Phi Theta Kappa requires a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average on a total of 12 hours of associate degree coursework completed at a two-year college, explains Phi Theta Kappa’s Director of Regional and Chapter Development Courtney Lange.

“Chapters may and often do set their own eligibility requirements over and above these minimums,” she said. “In fact, most Phi Theta Kappa chapters require a 3.5 GPA to join.

“That GPA is typically then lowered to what is known as a maintenance GPA, which members have to maintain in order to keep their member status.”

Each chapter does things a little differently, so be sure to review your chapter’s bylaws to learn its full eligibility requirements.

Phi Theta Kappa recognizes that community colleges are becoming increasingly diverse organizations – often offering certificate, associate and baccalaureate degrees in fields ranging from welding to nursing to business administration. It is important to embrace the diversity of the community college system and to recognize that there is “no such thing as a typical Phi Theta Kappa student.”

“As a former chapter advisor, I’ve seen that all students – traditional and non-traditional, full time and part time, career technical and academic, those online and on campus – have something special to contribute to their local chapter, their region and to the larger community of Phi Theta Kappa scholars,” Lange said. “The list of unique characteristics that your prospective members share is long, but your message to them is the same: you are welcome in Phi Theta Kappa.”

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding eligibility. Study up, especially if your chapter is planning to host a Phi Theta Kappa Awareness Week. More ideas and resources are available here.

Are part-time students eligible for membership?
Part-time students are eligible if they have accumulated at least 12 hours over several academic terms.

Are online students eligible for membership?
Students who complete at least 12 credit hours of associate degree coursework with the required cumulative GPA are eligible for membership, regardless of the course format.

Is attendance at the induction ceremony mandatory to receive member status?
Absolutely not. Although we hope that you will take advantage of everything that Phi Theta Kappa has to offer, participation is not mandatory.

Are community college students eligible for membership if they do not plan to complete their associate degree but instead plan to transfer to a senior institution?
At Phi Theta Kappa, we strongly encourage students to complete an associate degree, before transferring to a four-year university, although it is not required for membership in Phi Theta Kappa.

Are students pursuing certificate programs rather than associate degree programs eligible for membership?
A certificate student may be eligible for membership if the student has accumulated at least 12 hours of coursework that could be applied toward an associate degree at the community college where the student is currently enrolled.

My community college offers baccalaureate degrees. Are those students also eligible for membership?
Phi Theta Kappa is the oldest and largest honor society, serving students at a two-year college. As long as the courses they are taking could be applied to an associate degree and they meet the requirements of membership in your chapter, they are eligible for membership in Phi Theta Kappa.

What is Provisional Membership?
Some chapters use provisional membership as a way to recognize and encourage students who are not yet eligible for membership in Phi Theta Kappa, while also giving them a taste of the Phi Theta Kappa experience. Provisional members are allowed to participate in chapter events, but are not eligible for the full benefits of membership like the ability to apply for scholarships or serve as a chapter officer. Provisional members are not reported to Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters-meaning that they do not yet receive the full benefits of membership in Phi Theta Kappa.

Are international students, those who are citizens of countries other than the country where they attend college, eligible?
International students attending college outside their home countries who possess full rights of citizenship of their countries are eligible for membership.

Can transfer hours from other colleges be considered when determining membership eligibility?
Courses taken at another institution may be considered when determining membership eligibility if this procedure is acceptable to the institution the student is currently attending. All courses considered must be applicable towards an associate degree at the student’s current institution. The decision should be addressed in the chapter’s bylaws and followed consistently.

Can a high school student who is taking college credit be a member of Phi Theta Kappa?
A high school student enrolled at a two-year college who completes at least 12 credit hours of associate degree coursework with the required cumulative GPA is eligible for membership.

Can a community college student who has already earned a degree be a member?
A student with a degree who is enrolled at the two-year college is eligible for membership if that student completes at least 12 hours of associate degree coursework with the required cumulative GPA at the two-year college he or she is attending presently.

If a student attended our college several years ago and did not do well, do we have to consider those grades when determining the student’s eligibility?
Courses taken more than five years ago need not be considered when determining membership eligibility. However, the college administration has the prerogative of increasing the number of years that must elapse for waiving course consideration to any period beyond five years.

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