I am writing a letter of recommendation for a student whose record includes membership in the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. How do I express this?

  • Jane was named to Phi Beta Kappa.
  • Jane was awarded Phi Beta Kappa.
  • Jane earned Phi Beta Kappa.
  • Jane was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

Or something else?

  • 1
    Moderators: Feel free to migrate to English Language Usage if that is more appropriate. I wasn't sure. Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 12:28

2 Answers 2


"Inducted" is the term normally associated with the process of joining an honor society, whether it is a group such as Phi Beta Kappa or Tau Beta Pi, or a professional society such as the National Academy of Science, or even something cultural, like a sports hall of fame.

As a usage note, though, the term "inducted" is normally accompanied by a temporal reference.


Why not simply: Jane was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Feel free to add relevant information, e.g. how long was she member, any outstanding exploits, perhaps even a statement how "elite" that particular society is, i.e. how hard it is to get in and her related accomplishments.

  • I think I'd like to stress that membership is not simply purchased but is an honor, without going into the details. Since the letter is for a U.S. scholarship, I can assume the reader will be familiar with it. (I realize my second sentence somewhat contradicts the first one.) Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 12:53
  • I'm aware that it is an honor, I'm sorry, but I don't see where I suggested it can be purchased. Can you be more specific what lacks clarity? I'll be happy to edit my answer. However, I still feel that the most efficient approach is the simple one. Even more so, if, as you say it, the reader is familiar with the society. Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 13:44
  • You didn't, but to me the term member has been tainted by the triviality of becoming a member of most organizations. I meant no offense. Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 15:31

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