BYU Independent Study is one of the nation’s largest distance education programs. It provides the majority of courses offered to students enrolled in the Bachelor of General Studies program; supplements BYU, BYU–Idaho, BYU–Hawaii, and LDS Business College curriculum portfolios; and supplies high–quality courses to middle school and high school students. In 2007, there were 172,000 course enrollments. Of that total, 24,000 were university enrollments; 127,000 were high school enrollments; and 21,000 were personal enrichment enrollments. About 12,000 Brigham Young University day students take BYU Independent Study courses every year. Over the last three years, approximately one–third of Brigham Young University graduates have taken at least one BYU Independent Study course. Student registration data and student exit surveys show that 75% of university enrollments are from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints, with 55% of these coming from BYU matriculated students and 45% from students registered at other universities.
As of April 2010, BYU Independent Study offers a total of 544 courses. Of those, 251 are university courses, 213 are high school courses and 80 are personal enrichment courses. Courses can be taken online or by ordering a paper manual.
Independent Study courses often help fill gaps in course availability for face–to–face classrooms on campus or meet other academic needs. For example, the Math Department developed Math 97 as an Independent Study course which allowed the department to reassign faculty resources to upper-division courses. The Math Department also offers five additional courses through Independent Study which generate revenue used to expand the capacity of the math lab on campus. The first–year English course for BYU students is also offered through Independent Study to help meet the high demand for this general education course, giving students greater flexibility in their schedules. French 202 utilizes podcasts of lecture materials and readings from French native speakers which facilitate not only independent study but study abroad and supplements content taught in regular face–to–face courses.
Independent Study high school courses also provide exposure to BYU and the Church for thousands of high school students across the nation. About 75% of high school enrollees are not members of the Church.