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Phi Theta Kappa, also ΦΘΚ or sometimes PTK (see usage note), is the international honor society of two-year colleges and academic programs, particularly community colleges and junior colleges. It also includes Associate's degree-granting programs offered by four-year colleges. It is headquartered in Jacksonmarker, Mississippimarker and has more than 2 million members in more than 1,200 chapters, in nations including the United Statesmarker, Canadamarker, Germanymarker, and Japanmarker.

Phi Theta Kappa's purpose is to recognize and encourage scholarship among two-year college students. To fulfill this purpose, Phi Theta Kappa provides an outlet for leadership development, fellowship among student members, community service, and continuing academic excellence.

Name origin and usage

Phi Theta Kappa has a name similar to, and is heavily based on, Phi Beta Kappa, which is an international honor society for universities and traditional four-year colleges. Phi Beta Kappa presidents have spoken at Phi Theta Kappa conventions, and the two societies have formed joint programs to encourage community and junior college graduates to advance to four-year institutions.

Although the acronym "PTK" is sometimes used informally, it is heavily discouraged by the society and is not permitted for official business. The only notable exception is the use of "PTK" in URLs, such as the official international website,, and similar regional and chapter websites. This is due largely to perceived disrespect for the institution by the shortening of the name, and also an attempt to prevent confusion with the Greek letters Rho Tau Kappa, or ρτκ, which look like the Latin letter for P, T, and K that do not truly correspond to the proper Greek letters Φ (Ph), Θ (Th) and Κ (K). Members who use "PTK" in speech at official events are typically corrected, and no written or printed materials using "PTK" can be released to the public.

Members of Phi Theta Kappa are known as Phi Theta Kappans; any other form of reference, such as "Kappans" or "Phi Thetans," is deemed an "incorrect usage" by International Headquarters.


The society was established in 1910 at Stephens College, a Missourimarker two-year women's college, under the name of Kappa Phi Omicron. The society grew quickly and, in 1918, it became known as Phi Theta Kappa and was organized nationally. In 1924, an amendment to the society's constitution was passed to include all two-year college, regardless of single-sex or coeducational status. In 1929, Phi Theta Kappa was officially recognized by the American Association of Junior Colleges and became the official honor society of two-year institutions.


The distinctive gold key membership pin was adopted in 1930 and is officially described by Phi Theta Kappa as follows:
The Key is a golden slab, keyed at the top and bottom. Across the center of the slab is a black enamel band upon which three Greek letters appear, which are the initials of three mystic Greek words meaning phronimon (Phi), thumos (Theta), katharotes (Kappa) and meaning "wisdom," "aspiration," and "purity."

Behind the band is a wreath, on one side composed of oak leaves, and on the other, of laurel. The wreath of oak leaves denotes stability and strength of character, and the curling leaves of laurel signify 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.


According to Phi Theta Kappa, it is estimated that 200,000 students participate in Phi Theta Kappa programs every year, with more than 82,000 students inducted annually. In 2006, Phi Theta Kappa inducted its two-millionth member.

To qualify for initial Phi Theta Kappa membership, a student must maintain a GPA of, in most cases, 3.5 or higher. They must also pay a one-time international membership fee, plus any chapter or regional dues that may apply. Thereafter, a Phi Theta Kappa member must maintain a high academic standing (usually a 3.25 GPA) to remain a member in good standing in the society.

Members of Phi Theta Kappa have opportunities to receive some of more than $40 million in scholarships provided exclusively for Phi Theta Kappa members. Members in the United Statesmarker are also eligible to participate in the All-USA Academic Team program, co-sponsored by USA Today, and by extension their own statewide academic teams. Members also receive automatic nominations to the National Dean's List and job postings exclusively for Phi Theta Kappans.


Phi Theta Kappans participate in several gatherings each year, with the international convention generally held in early to mid-April. There have been a total of 91 international conventions for Phi Theta Kappa. International conventions take place in different areas of the United States each year. The 2008 convention was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniamarker, at which some 3,000 Phi Theta Kappa members attended. The 2009 convention was held in April in Grapevine, Texasmarker. Around 4,000 Phi Theta Kappa members attended.

At the international convention, Phi Theta Kappans recognize achievements by members in "Hallmark" areas of Scholarship, Leadership, and Service. Prior to 2006, members were also recognized for the Fellowship Hallmark. Elections for the five international offices are also held at the international convention. Also judged are entries for other various categories, including distinguished chapter officer, president, and advisor. Arts from across the country are judged as well as the chapters themselves. Every year a chapter is selected as chapter of the year; this is the chapter which has received the highest overall scores in all hallmark categories.

Notable members


  1. cf. [1]

External links

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