A large, private undergraduate institution in Rexburg, ID, Brigham Young University-Idaho is a Latter-Day Saints institution named for the same Mormon prophet and leader as the more famous Brigham Young in Utah. BYU-I was originally founded in 1888 as a “stake academy,” a territorial school in an area that had not yet established a public school system, before developing into a normal school and spending most of its existence as Ricks College, a junior college. In 2001 Ricks College became a full four-year institution and was renamed BYU-Idaho to underscore its LDS identity. BYU-I has been ranked in the top 10 regional universities in the west by U.S. News & World Report.
Academic ProgramsBYU-I has grown tremendously in recent years, with more than 17,000 on-campus students, but the university takes pride in providing excellent student support and faculty mentorship that students would expect from a junior college or small liberal arts college. The BYU-I Learning Model emphasizes student engagement in the classroom, with faculty positioned as guides and facilitators, and their unusual three-semester schedule is designed to make learning a year-round affair. Rather than long, quiet summers, the BYU-I schedule is built around three equal, 14-week semesters, and students can enroll during any semester.
Having transitioned from a junior college to a four-year university in the 21st century, BYU-I is still a bachelor’s university without graduate programs. Students can earn certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees in more than 100 majors. With the large size, spread-out population, and wide-ranging rural regions of Idaho, BYU-I has also put a premium on building excellent online degree programs to help reach working adults who cannot come to campus. Currently BYU-I offers 11 fully online bachelor’s degrees in areas like nursing, information technology, and business, giving those who need to improve their credentials a flexible, convenient option.
Student LifeAs an LDS institution with a 99% LDS student body, student life at BYU-I is largely governed by Mormon tradition. That, of course, means high moral and ethical standards that every student must adhere to, and a strict Honor Code, as well as a required Ecclesiastical Endorsement from a Mormon bishop for admission. However, it also means an extremely close-knit, like-minded, familial student body that is rare for a university of BYU-I’s size. Student life largely centers on official on-campus events, student-led organizations and clubs, and religious activities, especially devotions and service.
Community service is also a major part of life at BYU-I, and students engagement in many service learning and organizational service opportunities in the Rexburg area. While the university phased out official varsity sports in 2000, intramural sports and sports clubs are highly popular, especially outdoor sports favored in the Idaho landscape – skiing, ice skating, hockey, and other winter sports predominating. BYU-I has also become known for its student-driven jazz music scene, and has hosted numerous nationally and internationally known musicians at their yearly jazz festival.