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BYU-Idaho has undergone a change of names many times in its history as it has changed from a tiny regional school to an international university. The school began as Bannock Stake Academy, a small Latter-day Saint school, in 1888. Ten years later the academy was renamed the Fremont Stake Academy. It wasn't until 1903 that it became known as Ricks College, the name it has held most of its existence as an educational institution. Finally in 2001, the Latter-day Saint school became a full-fledged university, allied with Brigham Young University in Provo under the Church Educational System of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After having had many notable Church officials such as Elders Henry B. Eyring, David A. Bednar, Joe J. Christensen, Bruce C. Hafen, Kim B. Clark, Clark G. Gilbert, and Henry J. Eyring direct the school's affairs, the university is now guided by Elder Alvin F. Meredith who serves as its president.

BYU Idaho mormon
BYU-Idaho is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

* Also see Brigham Young University-Idaho

Mission of BYU-Idaho

BYU-Idaho states its mission to: build testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and encourage living its principles; provide a quality education for students of diverse interests and abilities; prepare students for lifelong learning, for employment, and for their roles as citizens and parents; and maintain a wholesome academic, cultural, social and spiritual environment.

Church Influence

BYU-Idaho, as a member of the Church Educational System, follows the standard guidelines. The Church school requires students to observe a Code of Honor of chastity, honesty, and to follow the basics of the Word of Wisdom, avoiding alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs. Students engaging in intimate contact outside marriage, plagiarizing papers, cheating, or participating in illegal activities, will find themselves on probation, suspended, or expelled. In addition, students must follow a dress and grooming code that disallows immodest and inappropriate clothing and grooming. This could include clothes with obscene or offensive words or images (racist, sexist, bigoted, or violent, for instance); too tight, brief, or see-through clothing; or garish and distasteful hair, jewelry, or makeup. Generally, the idea is to avoid offending or distracting other students or faculty and to conduct and present oneself as a serious and responsible members of the school. Students are expected to behave and dress in a way that will honorably represent the school (and the Church, for members). Students who are members of the Church must receive recommendations from their local Church leaders to attend, while nonmembers must commit to living by this honor code.

While attending the school, students have the opportunity to attend weekly devotionals and Sabbath and non-Sabbath activities at student wards. They also can choose from a variety of religion classes.

The school also encourages, through its Activities Program, the philosophy of the Church of Jesus Christ to serve and lead. The activities listed on the university's website are Outdoor, Service, Talent, Fitness, Sports, and Social. The school, like the Church, tries to develop well-rounded individuals who progress to their fullest potential.

General Academic Information

The university offers both associate and bachelor degrees in six general areas: Agriculture and Life Science, Business and Communication, Education and Human Development, Language and Letters, Performing and Visual Arts, and Physical Sciences and Engineering. More information, including more specific degrees, may be obtained by going to the university's website.

The website explains that BYU-Idaho is a year-round school of three semesters: fall, winter, and summer. Students are limited to attending two semesters per year on the fall-winter track, the winter-summer track, or the summer-fall track. They maintain the same track they begin with until they graduate.

Campus and Student Body Information

The university is located on more than 400 acres in eastern Idaho, near two scenic national parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. It is located in Rexburg, a town surrounded by farms and ranches. Most of the local populace are Latter-day Saints.


BYU-Idaho reports that it has approximately 12,000 full-time students, roughly 60 percent of which are female. Possibly this is due to the fact that many of their male students take two years off to serve full-time missions for the Church, although female students are increasingly taking time off from their studies to serve as missionaries as well. (According to their count, approximately half of the students have served missions.)

Geographical Origin

While students come from all 50 states and over 60 countries, most of the student body comes from four states: Idaho (naturally the largest contributor); California and Utah, tying for second place; and Washington state. Many of the foreign students come from Canada, Albania, and Brazil.


Most students are, of course, Latter-day Saints, but the university has quite a diversity of religions represented, including not only Protestants (many denominations) and Catholics, but Hindus, Jews, and Buddhists. They currently have no Muslims.

Marital Status

About one-fourth of the student body is married, while the rest is single, some widowed or divorced, but most never married.


Most of the students at BYU-Idaho are between the ages of 18 and 24, possibly older than the standard 22 years old because of returned missionaries. However, recent statistics by the university give the range of ages from 17-77, a total of 60 years difference. In the Church, education is a lifelong effort, so this is not uncommon at the campus of any Latter-day Saint college or university. At these institutions older students are accepted, with younger students accustomed to the idea of working alongside people of different ages during service they give the Church.

Costs and Financial Help

The cost of attending BYU-Idaho, as with most American educational institutions, changes periodically, but currently (2020) a 12-credit hour semester for LDS Church members costs approximately $2,150, half the regular fee of approximately $4,300, because their costs are supported by tithing funds the students and/or their families have previously contributed, often over a lifetime. Tuition changes for a flex semester online or a BYU Pathway online student. There are other attendant costs for food and housing as well as individual class fees for labs, etc. Prospective students should consult the university's web site or contact them by phone or mail for more specifics.

Most students are eligible for some form of financial aid, scholarships, grants, internships, loans, or employment that will cover, or help cover, their expenses. Again, prospective students should contact BYU-Idaho's Financial Aid Office through the website or by phone. Few students can't find some way of attending college if they plan ahead and are willing to cut expenses, standard of living, or make the needed sacrifices.

Connection with BYU Pathway Worldwide

Beginning in April 2024, BYU–Idaho and Ensign College, with the support of BYU–Pathway Worldwide, will offer 90–96 credit degrees that will allow students to complete an online bachelor’s degree in three years. The new degrees, approved by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), preserve all required major and general education courses while eliminating elective credits.

The three-year degrees are available to students enrolled in online programs only, offered by BYU–Idaho and Ensign through their partnership with BYU–Pathway Worldwide. Degrees will be offered in the fields of business, technology, communication, health, family services and professional studies. BYU–Idaho and Ensign College will report regularly to NWCCU on the outcomes and progress of students enrolled in the new degrees.

“BYU–Idaho and Ensign College online students serviced through BYU–Pathway Worldwide typically are first-generation college students who work full-time and often struggle to make ends meet,” said Brian K. Ashton, BYU–Pathway Worldwide president. “They need options that help them earn a degree as efficiently as possible. The new degree structure increases the likelihood of graduation while preserving all learning outcomes to prepare them for jobs and careers.” To learn more about the optimized degree offerings, please visit BYU Pathway Worldwide.

Final Comments

Over 200,000 alumni of Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho, have gone from that small-town campus to conduct careers in many different fields and make many contributions in communities all over the world. The experience they received at the university influences them as they lead their lives and, in turn, influence others' lives. Former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “We are trying an experiment here. We think this school is different from any other university in America. I submit that this campus, with its adjoining buildings, may literally offer a foretaste of heaven.”

Information for this article came from

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