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Brigham Young University (BYU), located in Provo, Utahmarker, United States, is a private, coeducational research university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church). It is the oldest existing institution within the LDS Church Educational System, is America's largest religious university, and has the second-largest private university enrollment in the United States. Approximately 98% of the 34,000 students at BYU are Mormon; one-third of its American students come from within the state of Utahmarker.

BYU students are required to adhere to an honor code, which mandates behavior in line with LDS teachings (e.g., academic honesty, adherence to dress and grooming standards, and abstinence from extramarital sex and from the consumption of drugs and alcohol). Approximately 97% of male BYU graduates have taken a two-year hiatus from their studies at some point to serve as Mormon missionaries, and 32% of BYU female graduates have been missionaries as well. Many BYU students obtain a level of foreign language proficiency while serving as LDS missionaries, and BYU has many foreign language classes, offering courses in over 70 languages. Over 75% of BYU students have some foreign language proficiency.

The university's primary focus is on undergraduate education, but it also has 68 master's and 25 doctoral degree programs, including a Juris Doctor program. About 70% of student tuition is funded by LDS Church tithing funds, making tuition less expensive than at similar private universities.


Early days

"I hope to see an Academy established in Provo... at which the children of the Latter-day Saints can receive a good education unmixed with the pernicious atheistic influences that are found in so many of the higher schools of the country."
— Brigham Young, 1875
Brigham Young University's origin can be traced back to 1862 when a man named Warren Dusenberry started a Provo school in a prominent adobe building called Cluff Hall, which was located in the northeast corner of 200 East and 200 North. On October 16, 1875, Brigham Young, then president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, personally purchased the Lewis Building after previously hinting that a school would be built in Draper, Utah in 1867. Hence, October 16, 1875 is commonly held as BYU's founding date. The school was broken off from the University of Deseretmarker and christened "Brigham Young Academy" with classes commencing January 3, 1876. Warren Dusenberry served as interim principal of the school for several months until April 1876 when Brigham Young's choice for principal arrived—a German immigrant named Karl Maeser. The school did not become a university, however, until the end of Benjamin Cluff, Jr's term at the helm of the institution. At that time, the school was also still privately supported by members of the community and was not absorbed and sponsored officially by the LDS Church until July 18, 1896. A series of odd managerial decisions by Cluff led to his demotion; however, in his last official act, he proposed to the Board that the Academy be named "Brigham Young University". The suggestion received a large amount of opposition, many members of the Board saying that the school wasn't large enough to be a university, but the decision ultimately passed. One opponent to the decision, Anthon H. Lund, later said, "I hope their head will grow big enough for their hat."

In 1903, Brigham Young Academy was dissolved, and was replaced by two institutions: Brigham Young High School, and Brigham Young University. (The BY High School class of 1907 was ultimately responsible for the famous giant "Y" that is to this day embedded on a mountainmarker near campus.) The Board elected George H. Brimhall as the new President of BYU. He had not received a high school education until he was forty. Nevertheless, he was an excellent orator and organizer. Under his tenure in 1904 the new Brigham Young University bought of land from Provo called "Temple Hill". After some controversy among locals over BYU's purchase of this property, construction began in 1909 on the first building on the current campus, the Karl G. Maeser Memorial. Brimhall also presided over the University during a brief crisis involving the theory of evolution. The religious nature of the school seemed at the time to collide with this scientific theory. Joseph F. Smith, President of the Church, settled the question for a time by asking that evolution not be taught at the school. A few have described the school at this time as nothing more than a "religious seminary". However, many of its graduates at this time would go on to great success and renown in their fields.


Franklin S. Harris was appointed President of the University in 1921. He was the first President of BYU to have a doctoral degree. Harris made several important changes to the school, reorganizing it into a true University, whereas before, its organization had remnants of the Academy days. At the beginning of his tenure, the school was not officially recognized as a university by any accreditation organization. By the end of his term, the school was accredited under all major accrediting organizations at the time. He was eventually replaced by President Howard S. McDonald, who received his doctorate from the University of California. When he first received the position, the Second World War had just ended, and thousands of students were flooding into BYU. By the end of his stay, the school had grown nearly five times to an enrollment of 5,440 students. The University did not have the facilities to handle such a large influx, so he bought part of an Air Force Base in Ogden, Utahmarker and rebuilt it to house some of the students. The next President, Ernest L. Wilkinson, also oversaw a period of intense growth, as the school adopted an accelerated building program. Wilkinson was responsible for the building of over eighty structures on the campus, many of which still stand to this day. During his tenure, the student body increased six times, making BYU the largest private school at the time. The quality of the students also increased, leading to higher educational standards at the school. Finally, President Wilkinson reorganized the LDS church units on campus, with ten stakes and over 100 wards being added during his administration.
Dallin H. Oaks replaced Wilkinson as President in 1971. Oaks continued the expansion of his predecessor, adding a law school and proposing plans for a new School of Management. During his administration, a new library was also added, doubling the library space on campus. Jeffrey R. Holland followed as President, encouraging a combination of educational excellence and religious faith at the university. He believed that one of the school's greatest strengths was its religious nature and that this should be taken advantage of rather than hidden. During his administration, the university added a campus in Jerusalem, now called the BYU Jerusalem Centermarker. In 1989, Holland was replaced by Rex E. Lee. Lee was responsible for the Benson Science Building and the Museum of Art on campus. A cancer victim, Lee is memorialized annually at BYU during a cancer fundraiser called the Rex Lee Run. Lee was replaced shortly before his death in 1996 by Merrill J. Bateman. Bateman was responsible for the building of 36 new buildings for the University both on and off campus, including the expansion of the Harold B. Lee Library from 1996-1999. He was also one of several key college leaders who brought about the creation of the Mountain West Conference, which BYU's athletics program joined—BYU previously participating in the Western Athletic Conference. A BYU satellite TV network also opened in 2000 under his leadership. Bateman was also president during the September 11th attacks in 2001. The planes crashed on a Tuesday, mere hours before the weekly devotional normally held at BYU. Previous plans for the devotional were altered, as Bateman led the student body in a prayer for peace. Bateman was followed by Cecil O. Samuelson in 2003, who is the current president.


Admissions and demographics

BYU accepted 68% of the 10,409 people who applied for admission in the summer term and fall semester of 2009. The average ACT score and GPA for these admitted students was 28.2 and 3.8, respectively. U.S. News and World Report describes BYU's selectivity as being "more selective" and compares it with such universities as the University of Texasmarker and The Ohio State Universitymarker. In addition, BYU is ranked 26th in colleges with the most freshman Merit Scholars, with 88 in 2006. BYU is second only to Harvard Universitymarker for the highest percentage of accepted applicants that go on to enroll (77% vs. 79%).

Students from every state in the U.S. and from many foreign countries attend BYU. (In the 2005-6 academic year, there were 2,396 foreign students, or 8% of enrollment.) Slightly more than 98% of these students are active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 2006, 12.6% of the student body reported themselves as ethnic minorities, mostly Asians, Pacific islanders and Hispanics.


For 2010, the U.S. News & World Report ranked BYU as #71 in the country overall. The Princeton Review has ranked BYU the best value for college in 2007, and its librarymarker is consistently ranked in the nation's top ten--#1 in 2004 and #4 in 2007. BYU is also ranked #19 in the U.S. News and World Report's "Great Schools, Great Prices" lineup, and #12 in lowest student-incurred debt. Due in part to the school's emphasis on undergraduate research, BYU is ranked #10 nationally for the number of students who go on to earn PhDs, #1 nationally for students who go on to dental school, #6 nationally for students who go on to law school, and #10 nationally for students who go on to medical school. BYU is designated as a research university with high research activity by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The Marriott School of Managementmarker has received recognition in several areas, most notably its accounting and business programs. The Marriott School was ranked the number one regional business school according to a 2007 survey by The Wall Street Journal and Harris Interactive. BusinessWeek ranked the Marriott School of Management's undergraduate program #5 in the nation for 2009. Financial Times rated it first in the nation in that year. For its ethics emphasis, a 2006 Wall Street Journal article ranked BYU second in the nation. In 2007, the school's accounting departmentmarker obtained the "Best in Accountancy" title, according to the Financial Times global ranking of business schools. This department has also been highly ranked by the Public Accounting Report for several years. This report ranked the undergraduate program third in the nation for the 2007-2008 school year and the master's program first in the nation for the same year. U.S. News and World Report ranked BYU's accounting program third in the nation in their 2008 publication.

Notable research and awards

Scientists associated with BYU have created some notable inventions. Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of the electronic television, received his education at BYU, and later came back to do fusion research, receiving an honorary degree from the university. Harvey Fletcher, also an alumnus of BYU, went on to carry out the now famous oil-drop experiment with Robert Millikan, and was later Founding Dean of the BYU College of Engineering. The Department of Computer Science developed and currently maintains phpLDAPadmin, an award-winning open source project. In May 2008, research by economics professor Joseph Price regarding the effects of child birth order was featured on Today. In student achievements, BYU Ad Lab teams won both the 2007 and 2008 L'Oréal National Brandstorm Competition, and students developed the Magnetic Lasso algorithm found in Adobe Photoshop. In prestigious scholarships, BYU has produced 10 Rhodes Scholars, three Gates Scholars in the last four years, and in the last decade has claimed 41 Fulbright scholars and 3 Jack Kent Cooke scholars.

International focus

Over three quarters of the student body have some proficiency in a second language (numbering 107 languages in total). This is partially due to the fact that 45% of the student body at BYU have been missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and many of them learned a foreign language as part of their mission assignment. During any given semester, about one-third of the student body is enrolled in foreign language classes, a rate nearly four times the national average. BYU offers courses in over 60 different languages, many with advanced courses that are seldom offered elsewhere. Several of its language programs are the largest of their kind in the nation, the Russian program being one example. The university was selected by the United States Department of Education as the location of the national Middle East Language Resource Center, making the school a hub for experts on that region. It was also selected as a Center for International Business Education Research, a function of which is to train business employees in international languages and relations.
Beyond this, BYU also runs a very large study abroad program, with satellite centers in London, Jerusalemmarker, and Paris, as well as more than 20 other sites. Nearly 2,000 students take advantage of these programs yearly. In 2001, the Institute of International Education ranked BYU as the number one university in the U.S. to offer students study abroad opportunities. The BYU Jerusalem Centermarker, which was closed in 2000 due to student security concerns related to the Second Intifada and, more recently, the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, was reopened to students in the Winter 2007 semester.

A few special additions enhance the language-learning experience. For example, BYU's International Cinema, featuring films in several languages, is the largest and longest-running university-run foreign film program in the country. As already noted, BYU also offers an intensive foreign language living experience, the Foreign Language Student Residence. This is an on-campus apartment complex where students commit to only speak their foreign language of choice while in their apartments. Each apartment has at least one native speaker to ensure correct language usage.

Academic freedom issues

In 1992, the university drafted a new Statement on Academic Freedom, specifying that limitations may be placed upon "expression with students or in public that: (1) contradicts or opposes, rather than analyzes or discusses, fundamental Church doctrine or policy; (2) deliberately attacks or derides the Church or its general leaders; or (3) violates the Honor Code because the expression is dishonest, illegal, unchaste, profane, or unduly disrespectful of others." These restrictions have caused some controversy as several professors have been disciplined according to the new rule. The American Association of University Professors has claimed that "infringements on academic freedom are distressingly common and that the climate for academic freedom is distressingly poor."The new rules have not affected BYU's accreditation, as the university's chosen accrediting body allows "religious colleges and universities to place limitations on academic freedom so long as they publish those limitations candidly", according to associate academic vice president Jim Gordon. The AAUP's concern was not with restrictions on the faculty member's religious expression but with a failure, as alleged by the faculty member and AAUP, that the restrictions had not been adequately specified in advance by BYU:

The AAUP requires that any doctrinal limitations on academic freedom be laid out clearly in writing. We [AAUP] concluded that BYU had failed to do so adequately.


Brigham Young University is a part of the Church Educational System of LDS Church. It is organized under a Board of Trustees, with the President of the Church as chairman. The President of BYU, currently Cecil O. Samuelson, works in cooperation with the board. Altogether, BYU has 194 bachelor's degree programs, 68 master's degree programs, 25 Ph.D. programs, and a Juris Doctor program. These degree programs are overseen by 11 colleges:

BYU also manages some courses through the David M.marker Kennedy Center for International Studiesmarker and "miscellaneous" college departments, including Religious Education, Undergraduate Education, Graduate Studies, Independent Study, Continuing Education, and the Honors Program. BYU's Winter semester ends earlier than most universities in April since there is no Spring break, thus allowing students to pursue internships and other summer activities earlier. A typical academic year is broken up into two semesters: Fall (September - December) and Winter (January - April), as well as two shorter terms during the summer months: Spring (May - June) and Summer (July - August).


The main campus sits on approximately nestled at the base of the Wasatch Mountains and includes 295 buildings. The buildings feature a wide variety of architectural styles, each building being built in the style of its time. The grass, trees, and flower beds on BYU's campus are impeccably maintained. Furthermore, views of the Wasatch Mountains, (including Mount Timpanogosmarker) can be seen from the campus. BYU's Harold B.marker Lee Librarymarker, which The Princeton Review ranked as the #1 "Great College Library" in 2004, has approximately 8½ million items in its collections, contains of shelving, and can seat 4,600 people. The Spencer W.marker Kimball Towermarker is home to several of the university's departments and programs and is the tallest building in Provo, Utah. Furthermore, BYU's Marriott Centermarker, used as a basketball arena, can seat over 22,000 and is one of the largest on-campus arenas in the nation.


The campus is home to several museums containing exhibits from many different fields of study. BYU's Museum of Artmarker, for example, is one of the largest and most attended art museums in the Mountain West. This Museum aids in academic pursuits of students at BYU via research and study of the artworks in its collection. The Museum is also open to the general public and provides educational programming. The Museum of Peoples and Cultures is a museum of archaeology and ethnology. It focuses on native cultures and artifacts of the Great Basin, American Southwest, Mesoamerica, Peru, and Polynesia. Home to more than 40,000 artifacts and 50,000 photographs, it documents BYU's archaeological research. The Earth Science Museum was built in 1976 to display the many fossils found by BYU's Dr. James A. Jensen. It holds many artifacts from the Jurassic Period (210-140 million years ago), and is one the top five collections in the world of fossils from that time period. It has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and on television internationally. The museum receives about 25,000 visitors every year. The Monte L.marker Bean Life Science Museummarker was formed in 1978. It features several forms of plant and animal life on display and available for research by students and scholars.

The campus also houses several performing arts facilities. The de Jong Concert Hall seats 1282 people and is named for Gerrit de Jong Jr. The Pardoe Theatre is named for T. Earl and Kathryn Pardoe. Students use its stage in a variety of theatre experiments, as well as for Pardoe Series performances. It seats 500 people, and has quite a large stage with a proscenium opening of 19 by . The Margetts Theatre was named for Philip N. Margetts, a prominent Utah theatre figure. A smaller, black box theater, it allows a variety of seating and staging formats. It seats 125, and measures 30 by . The Nelke Theatre, named for one of BYU's first drama teachers, is used largely for instruction in experimental theater. It seats 280.

Student housing

Foreign Language Student Residence, where students commit to speak only their language of study
Single students have four options for on-campus housing: Heritage Halls, Helaman Halls, Wyview Park, and the FLSR. Married students can live in Wymount Terrace.

Heritage Hallsmarker is a twenty-four building housing complex on campus which offers apartment-style living. Each of the separate buildings is named after a notable Latter-day Saint woman. The halls house both male and female students, divided by gender into separate buildings. Each building has ten to fourteen units capable of housing six people each.

Helaman Halls is a slightly newer complex which has recently undergone a 12 year renovation spanning 1991 and through 2003.

Wyview Park was originally built for families in 1996, but this changed in 2006, when the complex began housing single students as well, in order to counteract loss of singles' housing in other areas. Wyview Park has 30 buildings that offer apartment-style living for students, along with the option for shared or single rooms. Each building has six to nine apartments, which can hold three to four people. Central buildings contain an LDS chapel and meeting rooms, the Wyview office, a BYU Creamery and grocery store, and a laundromat. Wyview is the cheapest of the options.

A unique form of housing on campus is found in the Foreign Language Student Residence (FLSR) complex. The twenty-five apartments in this complex provide housing for students in foreign languages. Residents of these apartments agree to speak only their apartment's assigned language during the school year while in the apartment. This immersion experience is available in nine languages, and students are accompanied by a native resident throughout the year to enhance the experience.

Deseret Towers, or "DT" as it is called by students, at one point consisted of seven towers capable of housing over 2000 students. However, on December 2006, V and W Hall were torn down. The others followed in 2008 with demolition being completed in May 2008.
Wymount Terrace Student Family Housing

Married students can house in Wymount Terrace, which contains a total of 462 apartments in 24 buildings.

Branches of the BYU Creamery provide basic food and general grocery products for students living in Heritage Halls, Wymount, Wyview, and the FLSR. Helaman Halls is served by a central cafeteria called the Cannon Center. The creamery, begun in 1949, has become a BYU tradition and is also frequented by visitors to the university and members of the community. It was the first on-campus full-service grocery store in the country.


BYU has designated energy conservation, products and materials, recycling, site planning and building design, student involvement, transportation, water conservation, and zero waste events as top priority categories in which to further its efforts to be an environmentally sustainable campus. The university has stated that "we have a responsibility to be wise stewards of the earth and its resources." BYU is working to increase the energy efficiency of its buildings by installing various speed drives on all pumps and fans, replacing incandescent lighting with fluorescent lighting, retrofitting campus buildings with low-E reflective glass, and upgraded roof insulation to prevent heat loss. The student groups BYU Recycles, Eco-Response, and BYU Earth educate students, faculty, staff, and administrators about how the campus can decrease its environmental impact. BYU Recycles spearheaded the recent campaign to begin recycling plastics, which the university did after a year of student campaigning.

Performing arts


The BYU Ballroom Dance Company is known as one of the best formation ballroom dance teams in the world, having won the U.S. National Formation Dance Championship every year since 1982. BYU's Ballroom dance team has won first place in Latin or Standard (or both) many times when they have competed at the Blackpool Dance Festival, they were the first U.S. team to win the formation championships at the famed British Championships in Blackpool England in 1972 . The NDCA National DanceSport championships have been held at BYU for several years, and BYU holds dozens of ballroom dance classes each semester and is consequently the largest collegiate ballroom dance program in the world. In addition, BYU has a number of other notable dance teams and programs. These teams range from Theater Ballet to the International Folk Dance Ensemble. BYU boasts one of the largest dance departments in the nation. Many students from all different majors across campus participate in various dance classes each semester.


The Young Ambassadors are a song and dance performing group of 50 years. The group began performing at Expo '70marker in Japanmarker, and have since performed in over 56 nations. The royalty of Thailandmarker and Jordanmarker, along with persons of high office in countries such as Indiamarker, has been among their audiences. Prior to 1970, the group was known as Curtain Time USA. In the 1960s, their world tour stops included Lebanonmarker, Jordanmarker, and Iraqmarker.

BYU also has a strong emphasis on jazz music with the premiere performing group Synthesis leading the way. Synthesis has toured in over 30 countries and performed at some of the biggest jazz festivals in the world, namely Montreuxmarker (Switzerland), Porimarker (Finland), Umbria (Italy), IAJE (International Association of Jazz Educators) and many others. Synthesis also performed at the 2000 World Expomarker in Hannover, Germanymarker. Many of Synthesis' alumni have gone on to perform and record nationally and internationally as well as teach at prestigious universities nationwide. BYU offers degree programs in Music, Music Education, Music Performance, Jazz Studies and many more.

BYU's Wind Symphony and Chamber Orchestra have toured many countries including Denmarkmarker, Hong Kongmarker, Russiamarker, the British Islesmarker, and Central Europe. The Symphonic Band is also an ensemble dedicated to developing the musician, but with a less strenuous focus on performance. Additionally, BYU has a marching band program called the Cougar Marching Band.

BYU has a choral program with over 500 members. The four BYU auditioned choirs include the 40-member BYU Singers, the 90-member BYU Concert Choir, the 200-member BYU Men's Chorus (the largest male collegiate choir in the U.S.), and the 190-member BYU Women's Chorus. Both the BYU Men's Chorus and BYU Singers have toured across the United Statesmarker and around the globe. Each of the four groups has recorded several times under BYU's label Tantara Records.


BYU has Athletics teams in a number of different sports ranging from Men's volleyball to Women's rugby. They play mainly in the Mountain West Conference since its inception in 1999. Prior to that time BYU teams competed in the Western Athletic Conference. All teams are named the "Cougars", and Cosmo the Cougar has been the school's mascot since 1953. The school's fight song is the Cougar Fight Song. Because many of its players serve on full time missions for two years, BYU's athletes are often older on average than other school's players. The NCAA allows students to serve missions for two years without subtracting that time from their eligibility period. This has caused minor controversy, but is largely recognized as not lending the school any significant advantage, since players receive no athletic and little physical training during their missions. BYU has also received attention from sports networks for refusal to play games on Sunday, as well as expelling players due to honor code violations.


The Brigham Young University Cougars football program competes at the NCAA Division I FBS (formerly I-A) level. Their first coach was Benjamin Call. BYU was first a member of the Western Athletic Conference, and in the 1990s joined the Mountain West Conference. BYU has developed into a national powerhouse in college football and has become known as a "quarterback-factory" for producing several successful quarterbacks. BYU alumni who have excelled in the NFL include Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Gifford Nielsen, Chad Lewis, and Ty Detmer. Others in the pros include John Beck, Marc Wilson, Brett Kiesel, Robbie Bosco, Rob Morris, John Tait, Bryan Kehl, Reno Mahe, Austin Collie, Brady Poppinga, Kelly Poppinga, and Doak Walker Award winner Luke Staley. BYU also produced some of the greatest NFL coaches, including Mike Holmgren, Brian Billick, and Andy Reid, who all coached at BYU under LaVell Edwards, former head coach who is credited with engineering BYU's pass-oriented offensive style.. LSUmarker and NFL offensive coordinator Gary Crowton was head coach previously at BYU, and University of Washingtonmarker head coach Steve Sarkisian was BYU's quarterback in the mid-1990s.

In 1984, the team went undefeated and was awarded the National Championship, finishing the season ranked #1 in the country, and in 1990 BYU quarterback Ty Detmer won the Heisman Trophy. BYU also holds the NCAA record for most consecutive games without being shutout, with 361 games over 28 years. As of the 2007 season the team has won 22 conference championships since 1974 and have played in 26 bowl games. BYU football is also known for its setting at LaVell Edwards Stadiummarker. The stadium sits below the towering Wasatch mountains, of Y Mountainmarker, Squaw Peak, Cascade Mountain, and Mount Timpanogosmarker. While visiting the stadium, Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN was quoted as saying it was "the most beautiful setting in all of college football." Since 2005, BYU has been coached by Bronco Mendenhall, and has enjoyed success since his arrival, with multiple bowl victories, conference championships, and Top 10 rankings.
Cougar logo from 1969 until 1998.


The BYU men's basketball team is ranked among top 25 NCAA programs for all-time total victories. As of 2006, BYU had 82 winning seasons, 26 conference titles, 21 NCAA tournament invites, 10 NIT invites, and 2 NIT titles (1951 and 1966). In 2005, the program was ranked 36th in Street & Smiths "100 greatest College Basketball Programs of All Time", based on NCAA tournament success, NIT success, national championships, conference regular-season and tournament titles, all-time win-loss percentage, graduation percentage, NCAA infractions, NBA first round draft picks, and mascot ferocity. In the 2006-2007 season, the Cougars became nationally ranked for the first time since 1994 and won the Mountain West Conference regular season championship outright.

Other sports

BYU's Men's Volleyball has won the NCAA National Championship three times (1999, 2001, and 2004) and was the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation champion four times (1999, 2001, 2003 and 2004). The Women's Volleyball team is also consistently nationally ranked and in 2007 reached the Elite Eight before losing to eventual national champion Penn State. BYU Club Men's Lacrosse is consistently ranked in the top 5 in the nation, having won the USL-MDIA (now MCLA) national championship in 1997, 2000, and 2007. The team is a member of the RMLC and plays a national schedule. BYU is also a major force in American collegiate rugby union (known as rugby), with several students and alumni providing players to the United States national rugby union team, the Eagles. BYU's Rugby team was the national runner-up in 2006, 2007, and 2008, and in 2009 the school won its first National Rugby Championship by defeating the University of California in the final. The BYU women's cross-country team won National Championships in 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2002. BYU's men's soccer club participates as a university-owned franchise in the United Soccer Leagues' Premier Development League. The women's soccer team has appeared in the NCAA tournament 9 times, reaching as far as the Elite Eight in 2003 before losing to UConn. BYU's racquetball team also recently placed third at the 2008 USA Racquetball National Intercollegiate Championships, and BYU Golf won the 1981 NCAA Championship.

Student life

LDS atmosphere

"The mission of [BYU] is to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life. That assistance should provide a period of intensive learning in a stimulating setting where a commitment to excellence is expected and the full realization of human potential is pursued...."
— BYU Mission Statement
According to the Brigham Young University mission statement, "The mission of [BYU] is to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life." BYU is thus considered by its leaders to be at heart a religious institution, wherein, ideally, religious and secular education is interwoven in a way that encourages the highest standards in both areas. It is not uncommon for LDS scriptures to be referred to and prayers to be spoken in classes. In fact, it is encouraged, though left to the instructor's discretion. This weaving of the secular and the religious aspects of a religious university go back as far as Brigham Young himself, who told Karl G. Maeser when the Church purchased the school: "I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or themultiplication tables without the Spirit of God."
BYU is also considered by many Latter-day Saints, as well as some university and Church leaders to be "The Lord's University". This phrase is used in reference to the school's perceived mission as an "ambassador" to the world for the LDS Church and thus, for Jesus Christ. In the past, some students and faculty have expressed dissatisfaction with this nickname, as it sometimes gives students the idea that university authorities are always divinely inspired and never to be contradicted. Leaders of the school, however, acknowledge that the nickname represents more a goal that the university strives for, and not its current state of being. Leaders encourage students and faculty to help fulfill the goal by following the teachings of their religion, adhering to the school's honor code, and serving others with the knowledge they gain while attending.

BYU mandates that its students be religiously active. Both LDS and Non-LDS students are required to provide an endorsement from an ecclesiastic (religious) leader with their application for admittance. LDS BYU students can choose to affiliate with the local congregation (ward) where they reside or the corresponding student ward. Over 900 rooms on BYU campus are used for the purposes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregations. More than 150 congregations meet on BYU campus each Sunday. "BYU's campus becomes one of the busiest and largest centers of worship in the world" with about 24,000 persons attending church services on campus.

Some 97% of male BYU graduates and 32% of female graduates took a hiatus from their undergraduate studies at one point to serve as LDS missionaries. Male students typically go on their missions shortly after turning 19 years old. This often occurs during or at the end of their freshman year. Female students may begin their missionary service anytime after turning 21. For males, a full-time mission is two years in length, and for females it lasts 18 months.

Honor code

All students and faculty, regardless of religion, are required to agree to adhere to an honor code. Early forms of the BYU Honor Code are found as far back as the days of the Brigham Young Academy and early school President Karl G. Maeser. Maeser created the "Domestic Organization", which was a group of teachers who would visit students at their homes to see that they were following the schools moral rules prohibiting obscenity, profanity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. The Honor Code itself was not created until about 1940, and was used mainly for cases of cheating and academic dishonesty. President Wilkinson expanded the Honor Code in 1957 to include other school standards. This led to what the Honor Code represents today: rules regarding chastity, dress, grooming, drugs and alcohol. A signed commitment to live the honor code is part of the application process, and must be adhered by all students, faculty, and staff. Students and faculty found in violation of standards are either warned or called to meet with representatives of the Honor Council. In rare cases, students and faculty can be expelled from the school or lose tenure. Both LDS and non-LDS students are required to meet annually with a Church leader to receive an ecclesiastical endorsement for both acceptance and continuance. Various LGBT advocacy groups have protested the honor code and criticized it as being anti-gay.


BYU's social and cultural atmosphere is unique. The high rate of enrollment at the university by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints results in an amplification of LDS cultural norms; BYU was ranked by The Princeton Review in 2008 as 14th in the nation for having the happiest students and highest quality of life. However, the quirkiness and sometimes "too nice" culture is often caricatured, for example, in terms of marrying early and being very conservative.

One of the characteristics of BYU most often pointed out is its reputation for emphasizing a "marriage culture." Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints highly value marriage and family, as well as marriage within the faith. Approximately 51% of the graduates in BYU's class of 2005 were married. This is compared to a national marriage average among college graduates of 11%. BYU students on average marry at the age of 22, according to a 2005 study, while the national average age is 25 years for men and 27 for women.
Many visitors to BYU, and Utah Valley as a whole, report being surprised by the culturally conservative environment. Brigham Young University's Honor Code, which all BYU students agree to as a condition of studying at BYU, prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, etc. As mentioned earlier, The Princeton Review has rated BYU the "#1 stone cold sober school" in the nation for several years running, an honor which the late LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley had commented on with pride. According to the Uniform Crime Reports, incidents of crime in Provo are lower than the national average. Murder is rare, and robberies are about 1/10th the national average.


As of November 2007, BYU has approximately 362,000 living alumni. Alumni relations are coordinated and activities are held at the new Gordon B.marker Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Centermarker.

Over 21 BYU graduates have served in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, such as former Dean of the U.S. Senate Reed Smoot (class of 1876). Cabinet members of American presidents include former Secretary of Agriculture to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ezra Taft Benson '26 and Rex E. Lee '60, who was U.S. Solicitor General under President Ronald Reagan. Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts and 2008 Republican Presidential Candidate, was valedictorian of his class in 1971.

BYU alumni in academia include former Dean of the Harvard Business Schoolmarker Kim B. Clark and Michael K. Young '73, current President of The University of Utahmarker. The University also graduated Nobel Prize winner Paul D. Boyer, as well as Philo Farnsworth (co-inventor of the electronic television) and Harvey Fletcher (inventor of the hearing aid). Three of BYU's twelve presidents were alumni of the University. Additionally, alumni of BYU who have served as business leaders include Citigroup CFO Gary Crittenden '76, former Dell CEO Kevin Rollins '84, Deseret Book CEO Sheri L. Dew, and Matthew K. McCauley, CEO of children's clothing company Gymboree.
In literature and journalism, BYU has produced several best-selling authors, including Douglas Kent Hall '60,, Orson Scott Card '75, Brandon Sanderson '00 & '05, and Stephenie Meyer '95. Other media personalities include award-winning ESPN sportscaster and former Miss America Sharlene Wells Hawkes '86 and former co-host of CBS's The Early Show Jane Clayson Johnson '90. In entertainment and television, BYU is represented by Jon Heder '02 (best known for his role as Napoleon Dynamite), Golden Globe-nominated Aaron Eckhart '94, animator and filmmaker Don Bluth '54, Jeopardy! all-time champion Ken Jennings '00, and Richard Dutcher, the "Father of Mormon Cinema." In the music industry BYU is represented by former American Idol contestant Carmen Rasmusen and Mormon Tabernacle Choir director Mack Wilberg.

BYU has also produced several leaders of religion. Alumni have comprised several General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including two church presidents (Thomas S. Monson '74 and Ezra Taft Benson '26), six apostles (Neil L. Andersen, D. Todd Christofferson '69, David A. Bednar '76, Jeffrey R. Holland '65 & '66, Dallin H. Oaks '54, and Reed Smoot 1876), and two General Relief Society Presidents (Julie B. Beck '73 and Belle Spafford '20).

A number of BYU alumni have found success in professional sports, representing the University in 7 MLB World Series, 5 NBA Finals, and 25 NFL Super Bowls. In baseball, BYU alumni include All-Stars Rick Aguilera '83, Wally Joyner '84, and Jack Morris '76. Professional basketball players include three-time NBA Finals champion Danny Ainge '81 and three-time Olympic medalist Krešimir Ćosić '73. BYU also claims notable professional football players including Super Bowl MVP Steve Young '84 & '94, Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer '90, and two-time Super Bowl winner Jim McMahon and ledgendary Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. In golf, BYU alumni include two major championship winners: Johnny Miller ('69) at the 1973 U.S. Open and 1976 British Open and Mike Weir ('92) at the 2003 Masters.

See also


  1. History of Brigham Young High School from 1903 to 1920
  2. In the case of University of Texas-Austin ("UT"), BYU appears to be more selective in some regards, with 27% of admitted freshmen having ACT scores over 30, as compared with 23% for UT.
  3. The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 31, 2007.
  5. The Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2007
  6. U.S. News & World Report, America's Best Colleges 2008
  7. Owens, Eric. America's Best Value Colleges. New York: Princeton Review, 2004. pg.583. ISBN 0375763732
  8. Cary Nelson (AAUP President), "Praying to the Wrong God" (Subject of massmail message), AAUP Online, 2008 September 23.
  9. pg. 3.
  10. Index
  11. Knupke, Gene. Profiles of American / Canadian Sports Stadiums and Arenas. S.L.: Xlibris Corporation, 2006. pg. 301 ISBN 141349823X
  12. Meridian Magazine :: Sports: BYU Rugby Team Wins Games and the Respect of Opponents
  13. BYU NewsNet - Racquetball Places Third at Nationals
  14. "BYU Continues the Legacy of Anti-Gay Policies", HeartStrong.
  15. "Brigham Young University Pages", Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons.
  16. "The 2006 Equality Ride Route: Brigham Young University", Soulforce.

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