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Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University

Motto Enter to learn, go forth to serve
Established October 16, 1875
School type Private
President Cecil O. Samuelson
Location Provo, Utah, USA
Enrollment 32,400 undergraduate, X graduate
Faculty 2,100
Campus Suburban
Athletics 21 varsity teams

Brigham Young University (BYU, or simply The Y) was founded as Brigham Young Academy in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church; see also Mormon).

It has grown to become the largest private university in the United States and one of the world's largest church-affiliated schools, with an enrollment of roughly 32,400 undergraduate students at the beginning of 2003. BYU is located in Provo, Utah, with sister schools in Lā'ie, Hawai'i (Brigham Young University-Hawaii) and Rexburg, Idaho (Brigham Young University-Idaho) serving an additional 12,000 students. The main campus sits on approximately 600 acres (2.4 km&sup2) at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and includes 333 buildings. Additional facilities include the BYU Jerusalem Center, the BYU Salt Lake Center , LDS Business College , and the Missionary Training Centers around the world.



Students from every state in the nation and from many foreign countries attend BYU (in 2001, 110 different countries were represented by more than 1,600 BYU students). Although students are not required to be Mormons, about 98% do belong to the church.

Looking Northeast from the Kimball Tower toward Squaw Peak. The Provo temple is in the far background.
Looking Northeast from the Kimball Tower toward Squaw Peak. The Provo temple is in the far background.

Honor Code

All students and faculty must agree to adhere to a strict honor code. The BYU honor code governs academic behavior, morality, and dress and grooming standards of students and faculty, with the aim of providing an atmosphere consistent with church principles. Students must commit to: being honest, chaste and virtuous; abstaining from illicit drugs, alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea (substances forbidden by the Word of Wisdom); using clean language; and abiding by the guidelines for dress, grooming, and housing. For example, skirts and shorts must reach to the knee and shirts may not be sleeveless. Male students may not sport beards or goatees without permission, usually granted to men with severe skin conditions aggravated by shaving; or to men whose religious beliefs, such as Islam or Sikhism, require them to wear them. The honor code provides a perpetual topic for debate among the students and alumni.

Subsidization and religious education

LDS tithing funds subsidize roughly 80% of the cost of education at BYU, allowing affordable tuition for its students regardless of their membership in the LDS church, although tuition for students who are not Mormon is fifty percent above usual rates. In addition to fulfilling general-education requirements, students must complete 14 semester hours of specialized religious education which include some mandatory classes on LDS scripture.

Looking North from the Kimball Tower toward Mount Timpanogos
Looking North from the Kimball Tower toward Mount Timpanogos

Reputation and alumni

BYU consistently receives national recognition for its strong undergraduate and graduate programs. U.S. News & World Report ranks BYU's Marriott School of Management and the J. Reuben Clark Law School in the top 40 in the country. In the July 2002 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education , BYU was recognized as the best in the nation at turning research dollars into inventions and new companies. Some notable inventions originating at BYU include a drug for treating a rare form of leukemia, water modeling software, and the modern word-processor. Philo T. Farnsworth developed some of his ideas for the creation of the television while attending BYU. Harvey Fletcher, a BYU alumnus, 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. Rex E. Lee, alumnus and 10th president of BYU from July 1, 1989 to December 31, 1995 served as clerk for former United States Supreme Court Justice Byron White and as the United States Solicitor General under the Reagan Admnistration. He argued more cases before the Supreme Court than any other lawyer.

Jeopardy! star millionaire contestant Ken Jennings played on the school's quiz bowl team during his student days.

Study abroad program

BYU runs the largest study-abroad program in the United States, with satellite centers in London, Jerusalem, and Paris, as well as more than 20 other sites. The Institute of International Education ranks BYU as the number one university in the US to offer students study abroad opportunities; nearly 2,000 students take advantage of these programs yearly. BYU's motto is "The World is Our Campus."

(The BYU Jerusalem Center closed indefinitely in 2002 due to safety concerns related to the Second Intifada.)

Looking East toward Y Mountain
Looking East toward Y Mountain

Language program

Seventy-five percent of the men and twelve percent of the women at BYU have served as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with roughly half serving in non-English speaking regions. Seventy-two percent of the student body speaks a second language, and many faculty are fluent in at least one language other than English. During any given semester, roughly twenty-five percent of the student body may be enrolled in language courses—a rate three times the national average. BYU is renowned for its depth of foreign language and linguistic training, offering courses in 74 different languages (according to President Bateman, Fall 2002), many with advanced courses which are seldom offered elsewhere. The multi-lingual student body proved to be a valuable resource for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Foreign film program

BYU's International Cinema is the largest and longest-running foreign film program in the country, showing 20 screenings per week to roughly 1,000 people. Its main purpose is to supplement the curriculum of the College of Humanities and the Honors Program with culturally and linguistically diverse films.

Independent study program

BYU's Department of Independent Study offers courses to nearly 500,000 students every year, many to students in countries outside the United States.

Ballroom dance team

The BYU Ballroom Dance Company is known as one of the best formation ballroom dance teams in the world. The NDCA National Dancesport championships are held at BYU in March of every year, and BYU holds dozens of ballroom dance classes each semester, totalling thousands of students per semester, making it by far the largest ballroom dance program in the US.


BYU is home to the 1984 NCAA Division I-A national football champions. The BYU women's cross-country team won the NCAA National Championship in 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2002. BYU has also won NCAA National Championships in golf, track, and men's volleyball (twice: in 1999 and in 2000). The school colors are blue, white and tan and its mascot is the cougar and its primary conference is the Mountain West Conference. Its men's volleyball team plays in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, and most recently won the national championship in 2004. BYU's men's soccer club participates as a university-owned franchise in the United Soccer Leagues' Premier Developmental League.

Numerous intramural sports are also available to students many of whom participate.

BYU Culture

BYU's social and cultural atmosphere is unique and often conflicted. The high rate of enrollment at the University by members of the LDS Church results in an amplification of LDS cultural norms which is often caricatured. The confluence of students from predominantly Mormon communities from Utah and other parts of the Western United States with that of students from regions where Mormonism is much less popular results in conflicts within Mormon culture that are played out on a campus-wide stage.

One of the characteristics of BYU most often noted (and derided) is its reputation for emphasizing a "marriage culture." LDS Church members highly value marriage and family, as well as marriage within the faith. Consequently, the very high proportion of LDS single adults in and around Provo makes it a sort of mecca for singles in the church, whether or not they're attending BYU. BYU's reputation for being a successful "meat market" in the marriage industry is well known both within and without the BYU community, and is encouraged to some extent by ecclesiastical leaders at BYU and BYU administrators, who publicly highlight "successful" marriage statistics [1].

The perception of BYU as a glorified Mormon dating service, combined with the values that Mormons attribute to stay-at-home mothers and single-income homes, has resulted in the creation of several stereotypes; female BYU students are sometimes regarded as being more interested in marriage than education -- pejoratively, "pursuing their M.R.S. (Mrs.) degree". Other labels such as "B-Y-Woo", "Bring'em Young University" and "Breed'em Young University" are sometimes applied.

Most BYU students are acutely aware of the marriage stereotype, and some go out of their way to disprove it even as others unwittingly contribute by dropping out of college because of marriage and subsequent pregnancy. But BYU's reputation for marriage may far exceed its actuality. For example, 56.3% of the men and 42.4% of the women in BYU's 2004 graduating class were married, and the average age at graduation was 24.3. Marriage statistics for the state of Utah as a whole indicate that BYU's marriage rate falls well within that of the state in general, with the median age at marriage for men in Utah being 23 and for women being 21.

BYU's corpus of students who have served as missionaries for the LDS Church also presents some unique social and cultural characteristics. Young men who are planning on serving missions (sometimes referred to as "pre-mish") are stereotypically not interested in dating for marriage, while those who are "returned missionaries" (also known as "R.M."s) are stereotypically anxious to marry. [more about influence of missions on BYU culture -- familiarity with foreign cultures, languages, abundance of exotic culinary selection around BYU, etc.]

BYU is sometimes humorously labelled "B-Y-Zoo" and its students, "Zoobies".

Although BYU is held in high regard by many people, there is a good deal of antagonism toward BYU both from within and without the Mormon community. Some of the most vitriolic opinions about BYU are held by LDS students at colleges elsewhere in the US, proud to be in "the real world", instead of what they perceive as BYU's atmosphere of shallowness, appearances and pressure to marry. On the other hand, many visitors to BYU and Utah Valley report being surprised at how genuinely wholesome the environment is. Very few students drink or use drugs, and the crime rate is quite low. The Princeton Review has rated BYU the "#1 stone cold sober school" for several years running, much to the delight of LDS church president Gordon B. Hinckley.

In 2004 students started a trend of wearing t-shirts that stated "I Can't, I'm Mormon."

Notable alumni

Related articles

External links

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45