Brigham Young University

"BYU" redirects here. For other uses, see BYU (disambiguation).
Brigham Young University
Motto No official motto.[1] Unofficial mottoes include: "The glory of God is intelligence"[2]
"Enter to learn, go forth to serve"
"The world is our campus"[3]
Type Private not-for-profit
Space Grant
Established October 16, 1875 (1875-10-16)
Religious affiliation
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Endowment $1.47 billion (2014)[4]
President Kevin J Worthen
Academic staff
1,264 full-time, 486 part-time
Administrative staff
1,200 full-time, 900 part-time
Students 29,672[5]
Undergraduates 26,674
Postgraduates 2,908 full-time[6]
Location Provo, Utah, United States
Campus Suburban, 560 acres (2.3 km2)
Colors BYU Blue, White, Tan[7][8]
Nickname Cougars
Mascot Cosmo the Cougar

Brigham Young University (often referred to as BYU or, colloquially, The Y) is a private research university located in Provo, Utah, United States. It is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), and excluding online students, is the largest of any religious university and the third largest private university in the United States, with 29,672[5] on-campus students.[9][10][11] Approximately 99 percent of the students are members of the LDS Church, and one-third of its US students are from Utah.[12]

Students attending BYU are required to follow an honor code, which mandates behavior in line with LDS teachings such as academic honesty, adherence to dress and grooming standards, and abstinence from extramarital sex and from the consumption of drugs and alcohol.[13] Many students (88 percent of men, 39 percent of women) either delay enrollment or take a hiatus from their studies to serve as Mormon missionaries.[14][15] An education at BYU is also less expensive than at similar private universities,[16] since "a significant portion" of the cost of operating the university is subsidized by the church's tithing funds.[17]

BYU offers a variety of academic programs, including liberal arts, engineering, agriculture, management, physical and mathematical sciences, nursing, and law. The university is broadly organized into 11 colleges or schools at its main Provo campus, with certain colleges and divisions defining their own admission standards. The university also administers two satellite campuses, one in Jerusalem and one in Salt Lake City, while its parent organization, the Church Educational System (CES), sponsors sister schools in Hawaii and Idaho. The university's primary focus is on undergraduate education, but it also has 68 master's and 25 doctoral degree programs.

BYU's athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the BYU Cougars. Their college football team is an NCAA Division I Independent, while their other sports teams compete in either the West Coast Conference or Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. BYU's sports teams have won a total of fourteen national championships.


Brigham Young, the school's eponym.

Early days

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.[18] On October 16, 1875, Brigham Young, then president of the LDS Church, personally purchased the Lewis Building after previously hinting that a school would be built in Draper, Utah, in 1867.[19] Hence, October 16, 1875, is commonly held as BYU's founding date.[20] Said Young about his vision: "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."[21]

The Brigham Young Academy building circa 1900

The school broke off from the University of Deseret and became Brigham Young Academy,[21] with classes commencing on 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.[20] Under Maeser's direction the school educated many luminaries including future U.S. Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland and future U.S. Senator Reed Smoot among others. The school, however, did not become a university 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.[22] 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, with 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."[23]

In 1903 Brigham Young Academy was dissolved, and was replaced by two institutions: Brigham Young High School, and Brigham Young University.[22] (The BY High School class of 1907 was ultimately responsible for the famous giant "Y" that is to this day embedded on a mountain near campus.[22]) 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.[23] Under his tenure in 1904 the new Brigham Young University bought 17 acres (69,000 m2) of land from Provo called "Temple Hill".[22] 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.[24] 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, LDS Church president, 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 become well renowned in their fields.[23]


The Abraham O. Smoot Administration Building

Franklin S. Harris was appointed the university's president in 1921. He was the first BYU president 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 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, Utah and rebuilt it to house some of the students.[23] 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.[25] During his tenure, the student body increased six-fold, making BYU the largest private school at the time. The quality of the students also increased, leading to higher educational standards at the school.[23] Finally, Wilkinson reorganized the LDS Church units on campus, with ten stakes and over 100 wards being added during his administration.[25]

Overlooking North Campus

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.[26] Jeffrey R. Holland followed as president in 1980, 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 Center. In 1989, Holland was replaced by Rex E. Lee.[27] Lee was responsible for the Benson Science Building and the Museum of Art on campus.[28] A cancer victim, Lee is memorialized annually at BYU during a cancer fundraiser called the Rex Lee Run.[29] Shortly before his death, Lee was replaced in 1995 by Merrill J. Bateman.[30]

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. 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 participated 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, 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.[31] Bateman was followed by Cecil O. Samuelson in 2003.[32] Samuelson was succeeded by Kevin J Worthen in 2014.[33]


BYU campus with Y mountain and Squaw Peak in the background

The main campus in Provo, Utah, United States sits on approximately 560 acres (2.3 km2) nestled at the base of the Wasatch Mountains and includes 295 buildings.[34] The buildings feature a wide variety of architectural styles, each building being built in the style of its time.[35] The grass, trees, and flower beds on BYU's campus are impeccably maintained.[36][37] Furthermore, views of the Wasatch Mountains, (including Mount Timpanogos) can be seen from the campus.[34] BYU's Harold B. Lee Library (also known as "HBLL"), which The Princeton Review ranked as the No. 1 "Great College Library" in 2004,[38] has approximately 8½ million items in its collections, contains 98 miles (158 km) of shelving, and can seat 4,600 people.[39] The Spencer W. Kimball Tower, shortened to SWKT and pronounced Swicket by many students, is home to several of the university's departments and programs and is the tallest building in Provo, Utah.[40][41] Furthermore, BYU's Marriott Center, used as a basketball arena, can seat over 22,000 and is one of the largest on-campus arenas in the nation.[42] Interestingly absent on the campus of this church owned university is a campus chapel. Notwithstanding, each Sunday LDS Church services for students are conducted on campus, but due to the large number of students attending these services, nearly all of the buildings and possible meeting spaces on campus are utilized (in addition, many students attend services off campus in LDS chapels in the surrounding communities).[43][44]


Museum of Art north entrance

The campus is home to several museums containing exhibits from many different fields of study. BYU's Museum of Art, 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.[45] 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.[46] The BYU Museum of Paleontology[47] was built in 1976 to display the many fossils found by BYU's James A. Jensen. It holds many vertebrate fossils from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, and is one of the top five vertebrate fossil collections in the world from the Jurassic. The museum receives about 25,000 visitors every year.[48][49] The Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum was formed in 1978. It features several forms of plant and animal life on display and available for research by students and scholars.[50]

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 55 feet (17 m).[51] 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 50 feet (15 m).[51] The Nelke Theatre, named for one of BYU's first drama teachers, is used largely for instruction in experimental theater. It seats 280.[51]

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 or Wyview Park.

Heritage Halls is a twenty-four-building housing complex on campus which offers apartment-style living. 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 underwent a 12-year renovation between 1991 and 2004.[52] Helaman Halls is a nine-building (ninth opened in the summer of 2010), dormitory-style living area. Residents share a room (larger than Heritage Halls) with one other resident, but do not have their own kitchen and use shared bathrooms. Residents are required to have a meal plan, and eat at the newly remodeled Commons at the Cannon Center.[53]

Wyview Park was originally built for families in 1996, but this changed in 2006 when the complex began housing single students in order to counteract loss of singles' housing in other areas.[54] Wyview Park has 30 buildings that offer apartment-style living for students, along with the option for shared or single rooms.

The Foreign Language Student Residence complex has twenty-five apartments where students speak exclusively in a selected foreign language. The immersion experience is available in nine languages, and students are accompanied by a native resident throughout the year to enhance the experience.[55]

Married students can house in Wymount Terrace, which contains a total of 462 apartments in 24 buildings.[56]

Branches of the BYU Creamery provide basic food and general grocery products for students living in Heritage Halls, Helaman, Wymount, Wyview, and the FLSR. Helaman Halls is also served by a central cafeteria called the Cannon Center.[57] The creamery, begun in 1949, has become a BYU tradition and is also frequented by visitors to the university and members of the community.[58] It was the first on-campus full-service grocery store in the country.[59]


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."[60] 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.[61] 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.[62][63]

Organization and administration

College/school founding
College/school Year founded

Business (Marriott) 1891
Education (McKay) 1913
Engineering and Technology (Fulton) 1953
Family, Home, and Social Sciences 1969
Fine Arts and Communications 1925
Humanities 1965
Law (Clark) 1973
Life Sciences 1954
Nursing 1953
Physical and Mathematical Sciences 1949
Religious Education 1959

Brigham Young University is a part of the LDS Church Educational System. It is organized under a Board of Trustees, with the President of the Church (currently Thomas S. Monson) as chairman. This board consists of the same people as the Church Board of Education, a pattern that has been in place since 1939. Prior to 1939, BYU had a separate board of trustees that was subordinate to the Church Board of Education.[64] The President of BYU, currently Kevin J Worthen, reports to the Board, through the Commissioner of Education.[65]

The university operates under 11 colleges or schools, which collectively offer 194 bachelor's degree programs, 68 master's degree programs, 25 PhD programs, and a Juris Doctor program.[66] BYU also manages some courses and majors through the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies[67] and "miscellaneous" college departments, including Undergraduate Education,[68] Graduate Studies,[69] Independent Study,[70] Continuing Education,[71] and the Honors Program.[72] 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.[73] 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).


Admissions and demographics

BYU accepted 49 percent of the 11,423 people who applied for admission in the summer term and fall semester of 2013.[74] The average GPA for these admitted students was 3.82.[74] U.S. News and World Report describes BYU's selectivity as being "more selective" and compares it with such universities as the University of Texas at Austin and The Ohio State University.[75][76][77] In addition, BYU is ranked 26th in colleges with the most freshman Merit Scholars, with 88 in 2006.[78] BYU has one of the highest percentage of accepted applicants that go on to enroll (78 percent in 2010).[79]

The Harold B. Lee Library is consistently ranked among the top ten in the nation, with a No. 1 ranking in 2004 by The Princeton Review.

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 eight (8) percent of enrollment.)[78] Slightly more than 98 percent of these students are active members of the LDS Church. In 2006, 12.6 percent of the student body reported themselves as ethnic minorities, mostly Asians, Pacific islanders and Hispanics.[80]

Graduation honors

Undergraduate students may qualify for graduation honors. University Honors is the highest distinction BYU awards its graduates.[81] Administered by the Honors Program, the distinction requires students to complete an honors curriculum requirement, a Great Questions requirement, an Experiential Learning requirement, an honors thesis requirement, and a graduation portfolio that summarizes the student's honors experiences.[82]

The university also awards Latin scholastic distinctions separately from the Honors Program: summa cum laude (top 1 percent), magna cum laude (top 5 percent), and cum laude (top 10 percent).[83] The university additionally recognizes Phi Kappa Phi graduation honors.


University rankings
ARWU[84] 120-137
Forbes[85] 86
U.S. News & World Report[86] 68
Washington Monthly[87] 19
ARWU[88] 401–500
QS[89] 651-700
U.S. News & World Report[90] 584

For 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked BYU as tied for 68th among national universities in the United States.[91] A 2013 Quarterly Journal of Economics study of where the nation's top high school students choose to enroll ranked BYU No. 21 in its peer-reviewed study.[92] The Princeton Review has ranked BYU the best value for college in 2007,[93] and its library is consistently ranked in the nation's top ten — No. 1 in 2004 and No. 4 in 2007.[94] BYU is also ranked No. 19 in the U.S. News and World Report's "Great Schools, Great Prices" lineup, and No. 12 in lowest student-incurred debt.[95] Due in part to the school's emphasis on undergraduate research, in rankings for 2008-2009, BYU was ranked No. 10 nationally for the number of students who go on to earn PhDs, No. 1 nationally for students who go on to dental school, No. 6 nationally for students who go on to law school, and No. 10 nationally for students who go on to medical school.[96][97] BYU is designated as a research university with high research activity by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.[98] Forbes magazine ranked it as the No. 1 "Top University to Work For in 2014"[99] and as the best college in Utah.[100]

In 2009 the university's Marriott School of Management received a No. 5 ranking by BusinessWeek for its undergraduate programs,[101] and its MBA program was ranked by several sources: No. 22 ranking by BusinessWeek,[101] No. 16 by Forbes,[102] and No. 29 by U.S. News & World Report.[103] Among regional schools the MBA program was ranked No. 1 by The Wall Street Journal's most recent ranking (2007),[104] and it was ranked No. 92 among business schools worldwide in 2009 by Financial Times.[105] For 2009, the university's School of Accountancy, which is housed within the Marriott School, received two No. 3 rankings for its undergraduate program—one by Public Accounting Report and the other by U.S. News & World Report.[106][107] The same two reporting agencies also ranked the school's MAcc program No. 3 and No. 8 in the nation, respectively.[106][108][109] In 2010 an article in the Wall Street Journal listing institutions whose graduates were the top-rated by recruiters ranked BYU No. 11.[109] Using 2010 fiscal year data, the Association of University Technology Managers ranked BYU No. 3 in an evaluation of universities creating the most startup companies through campus research.[110]

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 returned to do fusion research, receiving an honorary degree from the university.[111] Harvey Fletcher, also an alumnus of BYU, inventor of stereophonic sound, 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.[112] H. Tracy Hall, inventor of the man-made diamond, left General Electric in 1955 and became a full professor of chemistry and Director of Research at BYU. While there, he invented a new type of diamond press, the tetrahedral press. In student achievements, BYU Ad Lab teams won both the 2007 and 2008 L'Oréal National Brandstorm Competition,[113][114] and students developed the Magnetic Lasso algorithm found in Adobe Photoshop.[115] In prestigious scholarships, BYU has produced 10 Rhodes Scholars,[116] four Gates Scholars in the last six years, and in the last decade has claimed 41 Fulbright scholars and 3 Jack Kent Cooke scholars.[117]

International focus

Over three quarters of the student body has some proficiency in a second language (numbering 107 languages in total).[118] This is partially due to the fact that 45 percent of the student body at BYU has been missionaries for LDS Church, and many of them learned a foreign language as part of their mission assignment.[119] 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.[118] BYU offers courses in over 60 different languages,[118] 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[35] 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.[35] 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.[118]

Beyond this, BYU also runs a very large study abroad program, with satellite centers in London, Jerusalem, and Paris, as well as more than 20 other sites.[120] 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.[121][122] The BYU Jerusalem Center, 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.[123]

The Maeser Building, built in 1911, houses BYU's Honors Program.

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.[124] 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 speak only their chosen foreign language while in their apartments. Each apartment has at least one native speaker to ensure correct language usage.[125]

Academic freedom issues

In 1992 the university drafted a new Statement on Academic Freedom,[126] 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 then-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."[127] The newer 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.[128] 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."[129]

Performing arts

The BYU Centennial Carillon stands at the north end of campus.


The BYU Ballroom Dance Company is known as one of the best formation ballroom dance teams in the world,[130] having won the U.S. National Formation Dance Championship every year since 1982.[131] 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, and they were the first U.S. team to win the formation championships at the famed British Championships in Blackpool, England in 1972 .[132] 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.[131] In addition, BYU has a number of other notable dance teams and programs. These teams include the Theatre Ballet, Contemporary Dance Theatre, Living Legends, and International Folk Dance Ensemble. The Living Legends perform Latin, Native American, and Polynesian dancing. 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 with a 50-year history at BYU. Prior to 1970 the group was known as Curtain Time USA. In the 1960s their world tour stops included Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. The group first performed as the Young Ambassadors at Expo '70 in Japan, and has since performed in over 56 nations. The royalty of Thailand and Jordan, along with persons of high office in countries such as India, have been among their audiences.[133]

The Concert Choir in performance

The BYU Opera Workshop gave the first North American performance of the Ralph Vaughan Williams opera The Pilgrim's Progress in April 1968, directed by Max C. Golightly.[134]

BYU's Wind Symphony and Chamber Orchestra have toured many countries including Denmark, Hong Kong, Russia, the British Isles, 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.[135]

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.[136]), and the 190-member BYU Women's Chorus.[137] Both the BYU Men's Chorus and BYU Singers have toured across the United States and around the globe. Each of the four groups has recorded several times under BYU's label Tantara Records.[138]

BYU also has a Balinese gamelan ensemble, Gamelan Bintang Wahyu.


Main article: BYU Cougars
The school's first football team won the regional championship in 1896.

BYU has 21 NCAA varsity teams.[139] Nineteen of these teams played mainly in the Mountain West Conference from its inception in 1999 until the school left that conference in 2011. 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 (men when they're 18, women when 19), BYU athletes are often older on average than other schools' 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.[140] 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.[141] Beginning in the 2011 season, BYU football competes in college football as an independent. In addition, most other sports now compete in the West Coast Conference. Teams in swimming and diving[142] and indoor track and field for both men and women[143] joined the men's volleyball program in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. For outdoor track and field, the Cougars became an Independent.[143] Softball returned to the Western Athletic Conference,[144] but spent only one season in the WAC; the team moved to the Pacific Coast Softball Conference after the 2012 season.[145] The softball program may move again after the 2013 season; the July 2013 return of Pacific to the WCC will enable that conference to add softball as an official sport.

As of 2016, more recently BYU has had several standout basketball players. This included Jimmer Fredette, who in 2011 was named the NCAA basketball player of the year[146] and led the nation in scoring;[147] Tyler Haws, as part of the 2014-15 season, was a finalist for the Jerry West Award[148] and scored the most points in the nation;[148] and Kyle Collinsworth, who set the NCAA single-season record for triple-doubles with six (in both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons)[149] and holds the NCAA career triple-double record of twelve.[149]

The BYU men's lacrosse club team competes in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference of the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA),

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

BYU's stated mission "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 are interwoven in a way that encourages the highest standards in both areas.[150] This weaving of the secular and the religious aspects of a religious university goes 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 the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God."[151]

The BYU Bell Tower with the Provo LDS temple in the background

BYU has been considered by some 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 mission as an "ambassador" to the world for the LDS Church and thus, for Jesus Christ.[150][152] In the past, some students and faculty have expressed dissatisfaction with this nickname, stating that it gives students the idea that university authorities are always divinely inspired and never to be contradicted.[153] 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.[154][155]

BYU mandates that its students who are members of the LDS Church be religiously active.[156] Both LDS and Non-LDS students are required to provide an endorsement from an ecclesiastic leader with their application for admittance.[157] Over 900 rooms on BYU campus are used for the purposes of LDS Church 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.[44]

Some 97 percent of male BYU graduates and 32 percent of female graduates took a hiatus from their undergraduate studies at one point to serve as LDS missionaries. In October 2012, the LDS Church announced at its general conference that young men could serve a mission after they turn 18 and have graduated from high school, rather than after age 19 under the old policy. Many young men would often attend a semester or two of higher education prior to beginning missionary service. This policy change will likely impact what has been the traditional incoming freshman class at BYU. Female students may now begin their missionary service anytime after turning 19, rather than age 21 under the previous policy. For males, a full-time mission is two years in length, and for females it lasts 18 months.[14]

Honor code

"As a matter of personal commitment, faculty, administration, staff, and students of Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University—Hawaii, Brigham Young University—Idaho, and LDS Business College seek to demonstrate in daily living on and off campus those moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and will

  • Be honest
  • Live a chaste and virtuous life
  • Obey the law and all campus policies
  • Use clean language
  • Respect others
  • Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
  • Participate regularly in church services
  • Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
  • Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code"
— Church Educational System Honor Code Statement[13]

All students and faculty, regardless of religion, are required to agree to adhere to an honor code. Early forms of the Church Educational System 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 certain 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.[158]

Controversy has grown since 2014 surrounding the school's honor code, especially around its policies towards LGBTQ students, as evidenced by growing national attention paid by national news media and the American Bar Association. Various LGBT advocacy groups have protested the honor code and criticized it as being anti-gay.[159][160][161] From 1962 to 1973 there was a total ban on admitting or retaining any student for whom there was "convincing evidence [was] a homosexual".[162][163][164] After 1973 the ban only continued for "overt and active homosexuals" while students who had "repented of" homosexual acts and "forsaken" them for a "lengthy period of time" could be admitted or remain as students.[165][166] From the late 1950's until at least the late 1970's BYU had an electroshock and vomit aversion therapy program dedicated to "curing" homosexual students reported by bishops and BYU administrators through administering electrical shocks or vomit inducing drugs while showing "nude" pictures to the patient in an attempt to associate pain with homosexual visual stimulation.[167][168][169][170][171][172][173][174][175][176][177] According to the Standards Office director from 1971 to 1981, all homosexual BYU students who were reported to the Standards Office were either expelled, or, for "less serious" offenses, were required to undergo therapy in order to remain at the university; in "special cases" this treatment included "electroshock and vomiting aversion therapies".[178] The Princeton Review has regularly ranked BYU among the most LGBT-unfriendly schools in the United States.[179][180][181]

Other criticism have focused on the environment that the policies and enforcement create for survivors of sexual assault. Beginning in 2014 and continuing through 2016, some students reported that, after being sexually assaulted or raped, they were told they would face discipline because of honor code violations that came to light during the investigation of the assaults.[182][183] Criticism has been leveled that this atmosphere may prevent other students from reporting sexual assault crimes to police, a situation that local law enforcement have publicly criticized.[184][185] In response, the Victim Services Coordinator of the Provo Police Department called for an amnesty clause to be added to the Honor Code, which would not punish sexual assault survivors for past honor code violations discovered during the investigation. BYU launched a review of the practice,[186] which concluded in October 2016.[187] BYU announced several changes to how it would handle sexual assault reports, including adding an amnesty clause, and ensuring under most circumstances that information is not shared between Title IX Office and Honor Code Office without the victim's consent.[187]

Culture and activities

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 (more than 98 percent)[188] 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.[189] 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".[190] Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints highly value marriage and family, especially marriage within the faith.[191] Approximately 51 percent of the graduates in BYU's class of 2005 were married. This is compared to a national marriage average among college graduates of 11 percent.[191] BYU students on average marry at the age of 22, according to a 2005 study, while the national average age is 29 years for men and 27 years for women.[192]

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 follow 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.[189] BYU's 2014 "#1 stone cold" sober rating marked the 17th year in a row that the school had earned that rating. BYU has used this and other honors awarded to the school to advertise itself to prospective students, showing that BYU is proud of the rating. According to the Uniform Crime Reports, incidents of crime in Provo are lower than the national average. Murder is rare, and robberies are about 1/10 the national average.[193] Business Insider rated BYU as the #1 safest college campus in the nation.[194]

Many on-campus student activities and clubs are organized by BYUSA, the university's official student association. A popular comedy club is Divine Comedy.

BYU sponsors a question-answering service known as the "100 Hour Board". Previously an actual physical bulletin-board located in the Wilkinson Student Center,[195] it is currently hosted online: anyone with an account can go onto the website and ask a question, with topics ranging from BYU academic questions to questions about relationships or Church doctrine.[196] The questions are answered in 100 hours by pseudo-anonymous BYU students.[197] It has been affiliated with The Universe since 2006.[198]


The BYU Broadcasting building while under construction in 2010.

The BYU Broadcasting Technical Operations Center is an HD production and distribution facility that is home to local PBS affiliate KBYU-TV, local classical music station KBYU-FM Classical 89, BYU Radio, BYU Radio Instrumental, BYU Radio International, BYUtv and BYU Television International with content in Spanish and Portuguese (both available via terrestrial, satellite, and internet signals). BYUtv is also available via cable throughout some areas of the United States. The BYU Broadcasting Technical Operations Center is home to three television production studios, two television control rooms, radio studios, radio performance space, and master control operations.[199]

The university produces a weekly newspaper called The Universe (it was published daily until 2012),[200] maintains an online news site that is regularly updated called The Digital Universe and has a daily news program broadcast via KBYU-TV. The university also has a recording label called Tantara Records which is run by the BYU School of Music and promotes the works of student ensembles and faculty.


As of November 2007, BYU has approximately 362,000 living alumni.[201] Alumni relations are coordinated and activities are held at the new Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center.

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).[202] 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 United States Solicitor General under President Ronald Reagan.[203][204] Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts and 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate, class of 1971.

BYU alumni in academia include former Dean of the Harvard Business School Kim B. Clark,[205] two time world's most influential business thinker Clayton M. Christensen, Michael K. Young '73, current president of the University of Washington,[206] Matthew S. Holland, current president of Utah Valley University, Stan L. Albrecht, current president of Utah State University, Teppo Felin, Professor at the University of Oxford, and Stephen D. Nadauld, previous president of Dixie State University. The University also graduated Nobel Prize winner Paul D. Boyer,[207] as well as Philo Farnsworth (inventor of the electronic television) and Harvey Fletcher (inventor of the hearing aid).[208][209] Four of BYU's thirteen presidents were alumni of the University. Additionally, alumni of BYU who have served as business leaders include Citigroup CFO Gary Crittenden '76,[210][211] former Dell CEO Kevin Rollins '84,[212] Deseret Book CEO Sheri L. Dew,[213] and Matthew K. McCauley, CEO of children's clothing company Gymboree.[214]

In literature and journalism, BYU has produced several best-selling authors, including Orson Scott Card '75,[215] Brandon Sanderson '00 & '05,[216] Ben English '98,[217] and Stephenie Meyer '95.[218] BYU also graduated American activist and contributor for ABC News Elizabeth Smart-Gilmour. Other media personalities include former CBS News correspondent Art Rascon, 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.[219][220] In entertainment and television, BYU is represented by Jon Heder '02 (best known for his role as Napoleon Dynamite),[221] writer-director Daryn Tufts '98,[222] Golden Globe-nominated Aaron Eckhart '94,[223] animator and filmmaker Don Bluth '54, Jeopardy! all-time runner-up Ken Jennings '00,[224] and Richard Dutcher, the "Father of Mormon Cinema."[225] In the music industry BYU is represented by lead singer of the Grammy Award winning band Imagine Dragons Dan Reynolds, multi-platinum selling drummer Elaine Bradley from the band Neon Trees, crossover dubstep violinist Lindsey Stirling, former American Idol contestant Carmen Rasmusen, and Mormon Tabernacle Choir director Mack Wilberg.[226][227]

BYU has also produced many religious leaders. Among the alumni are several LDS Church general authorities, including two church presidents: Ezra Taft Benson '26, and Thomas S. Monson '74),[203][228] six apostles (Neil L. Andersen,[229] D. Todd Christofferson '69, David A. Bednar '76, Jeffrey R. Holland '65 & '66, Dallin H. Oaks '54, and Reed Smoot 1876),[230] and two general presidents of the Relief Society (Julie B. Beck '73 and Belle Spafford '20).[231]

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.[232] In baseball, BYU alumni include All-Stars Rick Aguilera '83, Wally Joyner '84, and Jack Morris '76.[233] Professional basketball players include three-time NBA champion Danny Ainge '81, 1952 NBA Rookie of the Year and 4-time NBA All-Star Mel Hutchins '51, three-time Olympic medalist and Hall of Famer Krešimir Ćosić '73,[234] and consensus 2011 national college player of the year Jimmer Fredette '11, currently with the New York Knicks organization.[235] BYU also claims notable professional football players including two-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young '84 & J.D. '96, Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer '90, and two-time Super Bowl winner Jim McMahon.[236] 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.[237]

Famous BYU alumni
Stephenie Meyer
(B.A. '95)
Author of the Twilight series
Kevin Rollins
(B.A. '83, B.S. '83, MBA '84)
Former CEO of Dell
Mitt Romney
(B.A. '71)
Governor of Massachusetts / 2012 Republican Presidential nominee
Steve Young
(B.A. '84, J.D. '94)
Former NFL quarterback

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