Church Educational System
The Church Educational System (CES) is the name of the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that comprises the Church’s educational programs. CES consists of several institutions that provide religious and secular education for elementary, secondary, and post-secondary students and adult learners.
Elder David A. Bednar detailed the Church’s commitment to education in his May 26, 2022, address given at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. In addition to those specifically mentioned by Elder Bednar below, the Church provides continuing education programs through Brigham Young University. In addition, the Church maintains a few elementary and secondary schools in less developed nations.
- A core tenet of our faith is the importance of education. Many early Church converts in the 1830s were poor and uneducated, and their conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ fueled their desire for learning.
- Interestingly, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the few religions where the more education you receive, the more committed you are to the religion. Pew Research found over 80% of Latter-day Saint college graduates describe their religion as “very important.”
- We give significant attention, energy and resources to educating our youth. All secular and spiritual education fall under the umbrella of our Church Educational System, and nearly 1 million student learners are enrolled.
- We have 60,000 instructors across four university and college campuses and a global online presence in over 180 countries.
- Brigham Young University in Provo, with more than 33,000 students, is the flagship institution. There are two other BYU campuses: one in Rexburg, Idaho (Brigham Young University-Idaho), and another in Laie, Hawaii (Brigham Young University-Hawaii). We also operate Ensign College in downtown Salt Lake City. :In addition, BYU–Pathway Worldwide is a fast-growing online education delivery system that serves more than 60,000 students annually in 188 countries. The largest Latter-day Saint populations enrolled in BYU–Pathway are in the Philippines, Nigeria and Mexico. Certificates and degrees are offered in partnership with BYU–Idaho and Ensign College.
- As a Church, we believe that education can lift people both spiritually and temporally, and we have developed BYU–Pathway to ensure our people have access to affordable, high-quality education everywhere in the world.
- In 1998, I commented while serving as president of what is now BYU–Idaho that “it will be necessary for us … to serve ever better the thousands of students we have on campus while simultaneously reaching out to bless the lives of … thousands … throughout the world.” This is the vision and purpose of BYU–Pathway Worldwide.
- We also have 645 of institutes of religion. These facilities are located adjacent to college and university campuses and provide supplemental education focused on religious studies and social interaction for young single and married adults.
- For youth ages 14–18, we offer a seminary program designed to help students in their study of basic Church doctrine and the scriptures. Many of our youth arise early each day to participate in morning instruction before their regular school classes.
- I believe you can see that the Church strives to make education accessible and affordable to all of its members, no matter their background or circumstances.
- The Church supports lower tuition costs for Church Educational System programs with an annual financial contribution. As you may know, the U.S. Department of Education publishes the annual financial contributions for institutions of higher education. For The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the amount last year was more than $1 billion. And such contributions have been taking place for decades. Many students who are not of our faith also choose to attend these institutions because of the academic rigor and the values of the students and faculty.
At the 2022 BYU Education Week, Elder Clark G. Gilbert, Church commissioner of education, spoke about the Church Educational System being different. A summary of his comments about the roles of BYU, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, Ensign College, BYU-Pathway, Seminaries and Institutes can be found in a Church News article.
The Prophet Joseph Smith received two revelations that are foundational to the educational pursuits of the Church of Jesus Christ: “The glory of God is intelligence" (D&C 93:36) and "whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection" (D&C 130:18).
CES Standards Help Students Grow Closer to Christ
In August 2023, the Church announced that the Board of Education of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has approved updates to Student Ecclesiastical Endorsements, the Honor Code, and Dress and Grooming Principles and Expectations for the Church Educational System (CES). The CES Honor Code has been the same for all CES institutions for many years.
The updates are principle-based, provide consistency across CES institutions, and better align student endorsement interviews with Church leaders’ ecclesiastical responsibilities. The changes are designed to help students grow closer to Jesus Christ and strengthen the overall student experience.
- Church Newsroom, “An Apostle Describes a Latter-day Work,” by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
- Church News, “Elder Gilbert explains why the Church Educational System must have the courage to be different”
- Church News, “Why the Church Educational System needs more than just BYU”