Brigham Young College: Curriculum
There are many reasons that the curriculum at BYC was never static. The courses offered, the education levels accommodated, and the degrees awarded changed several times throughout the school’s 49 years. Those running BYC made some of these decisions; however, after its first ten or so years of operation, the LDS Church Board of Education generally decided what level of coursework the college could offer its students.
During BYC’s first year of operation in 1878, Ida Ione Cook taught spelling, reading, arithmetic, orthography (writing), and the Bible. The following school year William H. Apperly joined the faculty and the curriculum was expanded to include United States and Ancient history, rhetoric, natural philosophy, physiology, algebra and bookkeeping. Each year the school added other courses including sociology, elocution, mechanical and architectural drawing.
During the 1885-1886 school year, BYC offered courses of study at the preparatory, normal and advanced levels. Graduates of the Advanced or Normal Course would receive a diploma and graduates of the Preparatory Course would receive a Certificate of Proficiency.
In 1888, the LDS Church organized the General Board of Education in order to unify and coordinate the activities of the existing schools and establish new academies throughout the Church. Under this new umbrella organization, the Church General Board of Education made decisions about BYC’s curriculum. BYC lost the autonomy it had previously maintained.
During the 1891-1892 school year, BYC offered classes with the Preparatory Department “for the benefit of those not sufficiently advanced to enter the regular courses of study in the College proper.” The Normal Course of Study was two years in length and “designed to qualify students to assume professionally the duties of teachers in Territorial schools.” The Collegiate Course of Study involved four years of study, and was “sufficient to provide the student with a good general education.” To start the Normal or Collegiate courses of study the student had to be at least fifteen years old. For both of these programs, the student received a certificate of graduation upon completion of the coursework.
Though BYC referred to this program as “collegiate,” it was actually a high school program until 1894. This is when the school began offering a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Letters degree, which it did until 1909 when the Church General Board of Education announced the discontinuation of the college-level programs of study at the BYC.
The decision to end the college program at BYC was not popular with those close to the College. The Church Board of Education made the decision noting that Brigham Young Academy (present-day Brigham Young University), the University of Utah, and the Utah Agricultural College (present-day Utah State University) all offered baccalaureate degree programs and there was not enough demand for the BYC to also offer this level of education. The Church Board of Education also noted the increase demand for teachers due to the rapidly growing public school system. They decided that BYC would devote its resources to training teachers through its Normal program.
The 1897-1898 Catalogue explained BYC’s relationship with the nearby Woodruff school noting that “for the benefit of the students in the normal courses one of the regular public schools of Logan City, known as Woodruff, has been secured by the College for a Normal Training School. In this school, each of the eight grades is in charge of an experienced teacher, chosen with special reference for his fitness for the work of his grade. Here the Normal students have an opportunity to observe the work of the regular teachers, and later to teach in each grade, thereby putting into practice the principles of instruction given in the classroom.”
By 1913 the State Board of Education increased the teacher training requirements from four to six years in a Normal program. BYC received permission to extend its normal program work to meet the State Board requirements. This meant that some college-level courses would once again be offered at BYC through the Advanced Normal Course. The 1920-1921 Catalogue indicates that “in the spring of 1913 a training school was organized with four grades. To satisfy the increased demand for a larger training school the board of trustees added the four additional grades in 1918.”
Starting in 1920, the Church Board of Education began eliminating high school classes. They eliminated the first year of high school (ninth grade) in 1920, the second year of high school (tenth grade) in 1923, and the third year of high school (eleventh grade) in 1924. After the removal of these class levels, BYC only offered the senior year of high school and the first and second years of college (referred to as junior college) until the Church Board of Education closed the school in 1926.
To view the circulars and course catalogs, click on an image of a cover below. This will open a new page describing that particular publication. Then click on the large image of the publication in order to scroll through the pages of that publication. The Special Collections and Archives at Utah State University maintains copies of many of the circulars and course catalogs but does not have a full run; therefore, there are gaps in the list of publications presented below in this digital exhibit.