After our library book discussion group read David Ebershoff’s The 19th Wife, which focuses on characters who have various relationships to Mormonism and made several mentions to Brigham Young University, one of our patrons was curious as to whether or not people were welcome to attend even if they weren’t members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We checked the BYU website and it turns out the answer is yes. Originally established in 1875 for the purpose of infusing academics with LDS values, they nevertheless accept students of other religions – though the number is relatively small. According to the statistics published on their website, 29,293 students in Fall 2014 identified as Mormon, while 379 either identified themselves as members of other religions (including Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and several different denominations of Christianity) or indicated no religious preference.
For a non-Mormon student to attend, they must first meet with a local LDS leader. They must also agree to follow the school’s honor code, which includes being honest and respectful, abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee, and abiding by the modest dress code. Because part of the Church’s tithing goes to the university, LDS students pay less for tuition. In the 2013-2014 school year, Mormon students paid $4,850 for tuition while non-Mormon students paid $9,700.