“The purpose of Phi Theta Kappa shall be to recognize and encourage scholarship among two-year college students. To achieve this purpose, Phi Theta Kappa shall provide opportunity for the development of leadership and service, for an intellectual climate for exchange of ideas and ideals, for lively fellowship for scholars, and for stimulation of interest in continuing academic excellence.”

Phi Theta Kappa was founded in 1918 by two-year college presidents 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.