Phi Kappa Phi


About NDSU Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi


North Dakota State University's chapter celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2003. That is nearly as old as Phi Kappa Phi itself, which was established in 1897. It is the second oldest honor society in the United States, pre-dated only by Phi Beta Kappa. Our chapter dates from 1913. It is the nation's 10th oldest chapter-out of over 300 throughout the country, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. NDSU's chapter is the only one in North Dakota.

Phi Kappa Phi was born on the campus of the University of Maine around the century's turn. Its mission: to recognize and promote superior scholarship in all disciplines. Ten University of Maine students, led by Marcus L. Urann, founded the society originally named Lambda Sigma Eta. A year later it became the Morrill Society to honor Justin Morrill, father of the federal Land Grant Act which established universities like NDSU.

As the 20th century began, the society reached out to a national audience. It was re-founded along with the University of Tennessee and The Pennsylvania State University. The society became Phi Kappa Phi. Today the society includes a world-wide membership of over 1 million. Once you are initiated, you are always a member-whether or not you continue to pay the society's modest dues. Active members receive the society's excellent publications, scholarship opportunities, and other benefits.

Selection Criteria

Phi Kappa Phi members at North Dakota State truly are among the brightest and highest-achieving students in the nation. At a university known for its tough standards, NDSU students invited to join are juniors who are scholastically in the upper 7.5 percent of their class after completion of at least 72 semester credits; seniors who are scholastically in the upper 10 percent of their class; graduate students who have completed one academic year or on a part-time basis for the equivalent of at least one academic year and have a 4.0 GPA. Those who have achieved this level of academic performance typically represent about 3 percent of the university's student population.

Initiation is an honor that gives you not only the right to wear a special recognition ribbon during graduation, but your achievement becomes part of your permanent transcript. It's the only academic honor society eligible for that designation at NDSU.

During our spring initiation we also accept nominations of faculty, staff and administrators who have distinguished themselves at NDSU for their teaching, research and university leadership.


Phi Kappa Phi is the initial Greek letters for the society's motto: Philosophia Krateito Photon, “Let the love of learning rule humanity.” The Greek letters in the society's seal have been placed on a globe. The globe symbolizes the fraternal bond among lovers of learning and wisdom united in common purpose around the world. Radiating from the globe is a corona representing rays from the sun—each ray signifies the equivalence of each branch of knowledge represented by Phi Kappa Phi members. Surrounding the sun's rays is a crenellated line. This represented the battlements of the walls of Troy, the ancient Greek city and the technological achievement of ancient Greek culture with its love of learning. Three stars above the line represent the three original chapters, in Maine, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. Of course, the date below represents the founding date of Phi Kappa Phi. The ribbon forming a border around the seal is the classic meander pattern common to ancient Greek art.


North Dakota State's chapter normally offers two initiations a year: at the end of fall semester, and at the end of spring semester.

Scholarship Opportunities

Matilda B. Thompson Scholarship

This award is named in honor of a former NDSU dean of women and professor of mathematics who chaired many drives to obtain contributions for Phi Kappa Phi local scholarships. Applicants must be members of Phi Kappa Phi and enrolled at NDSU fall semester.

The number of scholarships given depends on the number of applicants and the amount of money available for distribution each year. These awards range in amount from $100 to $300.

Carolyn Nelson Phi Kappa Phi Scholarship/John Callenbach Memorial Scholarship

These scholarships were endowed in 1993 by Dr. John and Lillian Callenbach in recognition of the contributions of their daughter, Carolyn, to Phi Kappa Phi, North Dakota State University and her community. Dr. Callenbach, a 60 year Phi Kappa Phi member and NDSU emeritus professor, died in 1999. The memorial scholarships were added at that time. Mrs. Nelson was a 3-term president of Chapter 10 and retired from NDSU as senior lecturer emeritus in 2002. She is currently the State Senator from District 21 in Fargo and First Vice President of the National Federation of Music Clubs.

The Carolyn Nelson Scholarships are a minimum of $1000 and the applicants must show leadership on campus and community and must exhibit involvement in the fine arts.

The John A. Callenbach Memorial Scholarships are a minimum of $300 and the applicants must exhibit leadership on campus beyond their major field of study.

Phi Kappa Phi National Fellowship

Each year the NDSU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi invites applications from outstanding students for competitive fellowships for first-year graduate or professional study. Fifty-seven of these prestigious fellowships are awarded nationwide. Three additional awards of $15,000 are also made. Each Phi Kappa Phi chapter is eligible to submit one nominee.

Selection criteria include scholastic achievement, high standardized test scores, honors and enrichment programs, leadership and participation in university and community activities, expression of study plans and career goals, and evaluations by faculty.

The awards are intended for the support of students undertaking first-year graduate or professional study within twelve months of receipt of the baccalaureate degree.

The fellowship program was established in 1932 and since then has given more than 12,000 fellowship awards and 400 honorable mention awards. A NDSU Phi Kappa Phi member was one of the first recipients of this national fellowship in 1932.

Phi Kappa Phi National Love of Learning Awards

Love of Learning Awards will help fund post-baccalaureate studies and/or career development for active Phi Kappa Phi members to include (but not be limited to): Graduate or professional studies, doctoral dissertations, continuing education, career development, travel related to teaching/studies, etc. Recipients of the Fellowship award are not eligible to apply. Eighty awards, at $500 each, will be awarded.

The competition is open to all active (dues current) Phi Kappa Phi members who:

  • Have completed their baccalaureate studies by application submission deadline.
  • Did not receive a Fellowship or Award of Excellence grant.

For information or to submit an application, contact Kristina Caton, scholarship chair, NDSU Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, Putnam 18, (701) 231-5264.

For more information: NDSU Phi Kappa Phi, c/o Dept. 2340, P.O. Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050

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The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7987 / Toll free: +1 800-608-6378 / Fax: (701) 231-8959
Campus address: Ceres 205
Physical/delivery address: 1301 Administration Avenue, Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address: NDSU Dept. 2835 / P.O. Box 6050 / Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Page manager: Enrollment Management Administrative Systems
Last updated: Monday, February 5, 2018 11:56 AM