The Phi Beta Kappa Book Awards


​The ΦBK Book Awards are given annually to outstanding scholarly books published in the United States.

Winning works, which are drawn from the fields of the humanities, the social sciences, the natural sciences and mathematics, must be of broad interest and accessible to the general reader.

Award Categories


The Christian Gauss Award

The Gauss Award honors outstanding books in the field of literary scholarship or criticism. The prize was established by the Phi Beta Kappa Senate in 1954 to honor the late Christian Gauss, the distinguished Princeton University scholar, teacher and dean who also served as President of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. To be eligible, a literary biography must have a predominantly critical emphasis.

Past Gauss Winners

The Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science

The Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science recognizes superior books by scientists written to illuminate aspects of science for a broad readership. First offered in 1959, the award encourages literate and scholarly interpretations of the physical and biological sciences and mathematics. To be eligible, biographies of scientists should include substantial critical emphasis on their scientific research.

Past Science Winners

The Ralph Waldo Emerson Award

The Ralph Waldo Emerson Award is offered for scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity. Established in 1960, this award encompasses work in the fields of history, philosophy and religion, including appropriate work in related fields such as anthropology and the social sciences. Biographies of public figures may be eligible if their primary critical emphasis is on the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity. 

Past Emerson Winners

Nomination Procedure

Nominations are now closed and will reopen for the 2025 cycle in September 2024.

Submissions for the Phi Beta Kappa Book Awards must:

  • Be eligible; carefully read these Conditions of Eligibility
  • The original publication date of the book in any form (hardcover or other) must be between January 1 - December 31, 2023. 
  • ​Come directly from the publisher (submissions sent directly from authors will not be considered) *NOTE: Publishers are no longer limited to one entry per award.*
  • Complete the Nomination Form below, which is open through January 31, 2024.
  • Include one copy of each book submitted for consideration.
Please ship books to:
          Hadley Kelly
          The Phi Beta Kappa Society 
          Attn: Book Awards
          1606 New Hampshire Ave. NW
          Washington, DC 20009


The 2023 Winners


Phi Beta Kappa Book Awards

The 2023 Short List

Staff Contact

Please email with any inquiries or call (202) 265-3808