Founded in 1888, Brigham Young University–Idaho is the oldest continuously operating institution of higher education in the State of Idaho. The mission of BYU–Idaho emphasizes building testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and encouraging living its principles; providing a quality education for students of diverse interests and abilities; preparing students for further education and employment and for their roles as citizens and parents; and maintaining a wholesome academic, cultural, social, and spiritual environment.
Spiritual growth has always been an integral part of BYU–Idaho. The university is affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its Board of Trustees is selected from the Church's General Authorities and general auxiliary presidents. Students participate on a regular basis in nine stakes comprised of 126 student wards as of Fall 2012. The university also provides weekly devotionals in which students have the opportunity to receive counsel from Church leaders.
The academic needs of students preparing to live in a changing world have necessitated restructuring, reflected in a progressive sequence of name changes. BYU–Idaho began as Bannock Stake Academy with 59 students. It was located in Rexburg, the center of a vast stake that stretched across much of eastern Idaho. It became Fremont Stake Academy when the stake was divided in 1898. In 1902 it was named Ricks Academy in honor of Thomas E. Ricks, a church leader who founded Rexburg and who headed the academy's first Board of Education. In 1918 it was renamed Ricks Normal College, and in 1923 it became known as Ricks College, which grew to become the largest privately-owned junior college in the United States.
On June 21, 2000, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Board of Trustees announced that Ricks College would change from a two-year college to a four-year institution. Academic programs were evaluated and totally restructured as the school officially became Brigham Young University–Idaho on August 10, 2001. The university is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. BYU–Idaho's ongoing transition and "rethinking education" has resulted in numerous innovations with a promise of more yet to come.
BYU–Idaho operates on a three-semester system-summer, fall, and winter. Facilities are better utilized and more students are served by their admission to a track composed of two of the three semesters. As of Fall 2012, 16,733 students were enrolled in on-campus courses, a 12 percent increase from the previous fall. Online enrollment has also dramatically increased with 6,371 students in Fall 2012, compared to 2,503 in Fall 2011. BYU–Idaho is one of the largest providers of interns in the nation. Most majors require an internship while practicum and on-campus work experience provides additional growth. Due to the track system, interns from BYU–Idaho are finding semester-long placements year round.
A comprehensive liberal arts, vocational, and scientific curriculum is offered. A two-tiered institution, BYU–Idaho offers students a choice of associate or bachelor's degrees. Students can complement their academic experience by participating in the expanded Activities Program where they gain leadership opportunities and choose their own level of involvement. Majors have been structured to be completed within 120 credit hours. As an incentive to move expeditiously through their course of study, students who graduate within eight semesters are given a partial refund on their tuition
BYU–Idaho is a residential institution with 92 percent of single student housing within one block of campus. The 430-acre campus includes 38 major buildings and residence halls. The university also has a 120-acre Livestock Center and Henry's Fork Outdoor Learning Center west of town; the Outdoor Learning Center at Badger Creek in Teton Basin; and the 38-acre Natural Science Center in Idaho's famous Island Park. A ranch near Victor, Idaho, is utilized as a student leadership and service center. The Alumni office is located on the first floor of the Hyrum Manwaring Center in the BYU–Idaho campus. New buildings have changed the face of campus, and other structures are being renovated.
BYU–Idaho continues on its course of change and advancement. Students are at the heart of it all. They come from all 50 states and more than 50 countries. Married students comprise nearly 28 percent of the student body. Approximately 40 percent of the students are returned missionaries who add a level of maturity, cultural diversity, and leadership ability derived from 18-24 months of volunteer service. The university maintains a 25:1 student-faculty ratio with more than 1,200 full- and part-time employees. Focused on the scholarship of learning and teaching, "everyone is a teacher at BYU–Idaho."