Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYUI) is a large, private university in Rexburg, Idaho. The school is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS. (Members of the church are also commonly known as Mormons, a term the Church does not prefer.) The school is under the direction of a Board of Trustee which includes members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The mission of the university is to develop students for their future role in the church, and the emphasis is on obedience and servitude. Over 99% of university students are members of the LDS Church.
BYUI is known for its very attractive campus, which rests on 400 acres on a hilltop overlooking the Snake River Valley. The main campus features a family history center, arboretum, planetarium, and wildlife museum The school is also known for its excellent Ruffatti organ in the Ruth K. Barrus Concert Hall. The university owns several notable holdings off the main campus: two Outdoor Learning Centers, a Livestock Center, two student leadership lodges, and a Natural Science Center.
For most of its history, the university was a junior college known as Ricks College. In 2001 the school converted to a full university, offering around 70 bachelor’s degree programs. Today, there are over 14,000 students enrolled.
There are six colleges within the university: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Business and Communication, College of Education and Human Development, College of Language and Letters, College of Performing and Visual Arts, and College of Physical Sciences and Engineering. Within these six colleges there are 38 departments and over 100 bachelor degrees.
Three Track System
The academic calendar operates on a three-track system, which allows students to enter (or, for missionaries, re-enter) at convenient term breaks throughout the year. Students can also choose to attend class continuously year-round, finishing their degrees at an accelerated pace.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Unlike most universities, which base admissions largely on academic factors, admissions here are based 60% on non-academic factors and just 40% on academic factors. Non-academic factors include ecclesiastical endorsement, seminary attendance and graduation, extracurricular activities, and personal essays. Academic factors include ACT or SAT scores, high school grade point average, and whether the student has taken any AP or IB classes. The minimum acceptable scores are 16 for the ACT and 760 on the SAT, and the minimum high school grade point average is 2.0 The average accepted scores are 24 for the ACT and 1120 for the SAT. The average grade point average is 3.4.
LDS applicants must be members of the church in good standing. Non-LDS applicants may be interviewed by an LDS bishop or by a leader of the student’s own faith.
Roughly 40% of students are Idaho state natives. About another 10% come from Utah, 10% from California, 8% from Washington, and 6% from New Mexico. The rest of the student body come from across the rest of the United States and around 50 countries from around the world. Over 90% of the student body is European American. Around 40% of students take a two-year hiatus during their education to work as missionaries for the church.
Student life on campus is extremely religious. Nearly every Tuesday students and faculty attend an hour long worship service, and students are strongly encouraged to attend Temple on Sundays as well. The Rexburg Temple is located directly next to the main campus.
Student Activities and Events
Although student clubs were allowed in the past, the university has abolished all clubs and Greek organizations. In their place, the school conducts academic societies in different disciplines, activities programs, and association for student well-being. Students have extremely few opportunities to participate in any activities that are not under the auspices of the church (or, by extension, the university) and independent activities and thought are strongly discouraged. The school organizes movies, game nights, and married student date nights.
Student Activities hosts service projects, dances, concerts, and other social events for the student body. There is a thriving jazz scene at the school, including an annual jazz festival, several bands and combos, and an academic jazz program. The campus is home to KBYI-FM, a public radio station which broadcasts an area including sections of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
One of the most popular events is the annual Temple to Temple Relay, a 37+ mile race from the Rexburg LDS temple to the Idaho Falls Temple. Students, faculty, and alumni race in teams of eight runners.
Students may choose to live in on-campus housing or university-approved off-campus housing, 90% of which are within 2 blocks of campus. They are not free to make their own independent living choices. Student living is organized to “build Zion in our apartments”.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
The athletic department does not host competitive intercollegiate teams. Team sports and intramurals are a large part of student life at the university, however, and include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, racquetball, soccer, softball, table tennis, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling.
Additional School Information
Students must follow the university’s honor code. This code sets out expectations in line with LDS theology. According to the code, students are prohibited from engaging in premarital sex or consuming caffeine or alcohol. They must also follow explicit dress and grooming standards. Overalls, baseball caps (inside) shorts, flip-flops, and worn or faded clothes are not allowed. Staff and faculty are also required to follow the honor code.
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.