Distance Education Demonstration Program

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Project Descriptions - Latter-Day Saints Church Education System
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The Church Education System (CES) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints includes a research university (BYU) with 30,000 graduate and undergraduate students, an undergraduate university (BYU-Hawaii) with 2,500 students, a four-year college (BYU-Idaho, which was formerly a two-year institution called Ricks College) with 8,000 students, and a business college (LDS Business College) with 700 students. Beginning Fall 2000, Ricks College/BYU-Idaho requires all students to complete at least one distance education course in order to graduate. All four of these are private non-profit educational institutions with distinctly different missions.

Brigham Young University, BYU-Idaho, and LDS Business College are all accredited by the Northwest Accrediting Commission, Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NASC). BYU-Hawaii is accredited through the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Brigham Young University is the primary provider of distance education courses and programs to the four institutions. Courses are offered in a variety of distance education formats, and are taken by both on-campus and off-campus students. Distance education delivery methods include Independent Study (self-paced correspondence) courses and semester-online courses, which are web-based. The correspondence courses were initially print-based, but are also being made available in a web-based format. Semester-online courses may require one or more meetings per month for students in the class. These courses primarily benefit students taking courses on-campus who need a more flexible schedule to accommodate work schedules, family responsibilities, or scheduling conflicts.

BYU offers a Bachelor of General Studies degree program, which can be completed through distance education.

Semester-online courses are term-based, as are Independent Study courses taken by students who are principally on-site (50% or more of their courses during the year are on-site courses). In contrast, Independent Study courses are non-term-based. These are taken primarily by off-site, Bachelor of General Studies degree-seeking students, and former residential students who are completing their degree requirements from a distance. Students have up to a year to complete Independent Study courses. To receive financial aid, and/or to defer previous student loans, distance education students must sign a Distance Education Enrollment Agreement indicating all courses to be completed during the academic year. This Agreement forms the basis for budget calculation, grant and loan awarding, determination of enrollment status, and disbursement of financial aid funds.


BYU and BYU-Idaho were given waivers of both of the 50% rules and of the provision that defines a telecommunications student as a correspondence student. In addition, BYU was granted waivers of the minimum number of weeks of instruction, and definition of a week of instruction (which together comprise the 12-hour rule) and a waiver that allows correspondence students to be considered full-time.

Financial Aid Issues/Alternatives

Students at BYU may take all correspondence courses, or they may combine non-term correspondence and term-based onsite or online courses. BYU uses a student-based model to administer aid in this non-term environment. The Annual Enrollment Agreement drives the model.

Off-site students who are enrolled full-time (those who agree to complete 24 or more credit hours during an academic year) receive aid for both direct educational costs (tuition, fees, books, and costs necessary to access the Internet, if any), as well as indirect costs (board and room, transportation, personal expenses, etc.). Off-site students enrolled less than full-time are eligible for aid only for direct educational costs (as defined above).

No more than six credit hours worth of financial aid is granted for distance education courses at any given time. Once a student has completed one or more courses and is eligible for additional funds, those funds are disbursed as long as no more than six credit hours of aid are outstanding at any one time.

Additional Goals for Participation

  • Increase annually the numbers of formerly enrolled students or older never-enrolled students working toward the Bachelor of General Studies degree.

  • Achieve a rate of 75% successful completion of courses on study plans each year.

  • Increase the number of regularly matriculated students on CES campuses by 1/8 through a combination of Semester Away programs and other distance education access to courses.

  • Consistently improve both the number and the quality of courses offered through distance education modes.

  • Take advantage of emerging technology to enhance and simplify the delivery of federal student financial aid.

  • Eliminate any negative impact on the institutional cohort default rates by providing instruction to distance education borrowers on the basic principles of personal finance.

Consortium Agreements

In addition to consortium agreements within CES, students on consortium agreements from BYU attend schools as diverse as American University of Cairo; Lourdes College in Sylvania, Ohio; and Queensland University Law School in Australia.

Other Relevant Information

In 2001, Brigham Young University's English Department received a $200,000 Pew Grant from the Center for Academic Transformation to be used for the redesign of the English 115 course. The redesign will reduce the amount of time students spend in the classroom from three hours to one per week. A series of interactive multimedia lessons, more one-on-one time with faculty, and additional peer-to-peer sessions will replace the time students used to spend in class.

Brigham Young University participates in the Quality Assurance Program.

Demonstration Program Cohort

The Latter-Day Saints Church Education System joined the Distance Education Demonstration Program in July 2000 as part of the initial cohort.

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Last Modified: 04/16/2007