The Rare Collegiate Graduates
of Brigham Young Academy
BYA 1881 ~ 1903
BYU 1904 ~ 1935

Y Mountain

Collegiate Graduates from the BYA High School?

From 1876 to 1903, the vast majority of Brigham Young Academy graduates were secondary students. At the end of each academic year in May or June when closing exercises were held, usually large secondary graduating classes received high-school-level diplomas and certificates of efficiency, including Normal and Commercial diplomas.

Some of the secondary students had started together in Kindergarten and continued through senior graduation. More often seniors had transferred from other high school academies, sometimes to complete their high school certificates in only one or two years at BYA.

In 1881, however, the BYA Scientific Department broke new ground by awarding a "collegiate diploma" to James E. Talmage, an exceptional graduate of the high school program in 1879. This was the first such BYA diploma to be issued.

The Collegiate Department later awarded the same degree to Eleazer Evans in 1883, to Thomas Adams and Edward Snow in 1884, and in 1885 to William G. Collett and Willard Done.

However, there were serious questions about whether a secondary school could issue a "collegiate diploma" that would be recognized by other colleges.

In fact, James E. Talmage and others usually had to take extra tests at other colleges before their collegiate credential was accepted.

At that time, only the BYA Scientific Department was using the rare term "collegiate diploma". A few similar collegiate-level diplomas were awarded during the next decade.

In 1891, for the first time, BYA students preparing for the teaching profession -- the "Normals" -- were required to take four years of course work to complete the Bachelor of Pedagogy (B.Pd.) and Bachelor of Didactics (B. D.) degrees. This involved three years in the high school Normal program, followed by one year of college-level Normal courses. BYA high school seniors were called "Third Years".

In 1896 BYA formally organized a Collegiate Department, and from 1897 to 1903, a small number of bachelors degrees were awarded, and not every year. During the 23-year period beginning 1881 and extending through Commencement of 1903, 116 BYA collegiate graduates received bachelor's degrees -- an average of 5 each year.

These bachelors degrees received the lion's share of attention in the newspapers, while the ever-increasing numbers of high school graduates -- perhaps 75 to 150 each year -- were almost ignored.

Beginning in 1896, BYA announced that work toward a B.Pd. or B.D. degree would require six years of study. This meant four years of high school Normal courses, and two years of college-level Normal work. BYA high school seniors were now called "Fourth Years" -- and once again, their place in history has almost been misplaced and forgotten.

In this Alumni Directory, our focus is on the often-forgotten BYA secondary senior classes. BYU and the BYU Alumni Association keep records of the small number of BYA collegiate-level graduates, but they have not kept comprehensive records of the much larger numbers of historic BYA high school graduates.

Nevertheless, in addition to secondary senior class members, we will also track the BYA students who received collegiate degrees between 1881 and 1903, and BYU bachelor's degrees between 1904 and 1935, in order to avoid confusing the two groups, but primarily because so many of them are also BYA or BYH high school graduates.

Between 1897 to 1903, BYA awarded additional types of collegiate degrees, including Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Bachelor of Letters (B. L.) and Philosophy degrees.

The Watershed Year was 1903

In June of 1903, with permission of the BYA Board of Trustees and the LDS Church, Brigham Young Academy was formally dissolved, and was replaced by two successor organizations: Brigham Young High School and Brigham Young University.

As a result, no one attended or graduated from Brigham Young University before 1903, and no one attended or graduated from Brigham Young Academy after 1903. Technically speaking, Brigham Young High School began in 1876, and Brigham Young University in 1903.

In BYU yearbooks, published by both BYH and BYU students beginning in 1909, high school seniors continued to be called "Fourth Years". Little in the way of ceremony or public recognition was provided to high school graduates.

In 1906, BYU began to require four years of high school work, and three years of college-level work, before graduation.

In 1913 this was increased to four years of secondary work, and four years of higher education.

In 1916, BYU announced a new master's degree program, and in 1919 Walter P. Cottam and Edgar M. Jenson received the first BYU master's degrees. Jenson served as the ninth principal of BY High School, from 1928 to 1935.

However, we are limiting the small collegiate portion of our Directory to individuals awarded college-level degrees by Brigham Young Academy and Brigham Young University between 1881 and 1935. Why 1935? Because we have access to those rare early records, and we feel we might as well make them available to everyone. If you are seeking official records, of course, we recommend that you contact the Brigham Young University Registrar's Office.

~~Special thanks to Hollis J. Scott, BYU Archives, for providing key points of this information.

Timpanogas Sunset

Collegiate Graduates Only, Search by Year:

1881 (1) ~ 1882 (0) ~ 1883 (1) ~ 1884 (2) ~ 1885 (2) ~ 1886 (0) ~ 1887 (0) ~ 1888 (2) ~ 1889 (0) ~ 1890 (0) ~ 1891 (1) ~ 1892 (0) ~ 1893 (4) ~
1894 (7) ~ 1895 (17) ~ 1896 (10) ~ 1897 (35) ~ 1898 (3) ~ 1899 (1) ~
1900 (15) ~ 1901(3) ~ 1902 (6) ~ 1903 (6) ~ 1904 to 1935


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