Working on a BYU degree through Independent Study


BYU Independent Study offers students of all ages the opportunity to earn credit towards their degree and flexibility to take classes in any part of the world.

Full-time parents, travelers and anyone who doesn’t have time to attend classes can take online classes through BYU Independent Study.

Olivia Gunnell does her BYU Independent Study class on her laptop. (Photo by Jordon Snowden)

Denise Smith, a mother of five, decided when her youngest child started kindergarten that she would fulfill her lifelong dream to get a BYU degree through BYU Independent Study.

“I have always had the goal to finish my degree, even when I got engaged the first semester of my freshman year at BYU,” Smith said. “After I was married, I went to school part-time for several years and completed my associate’s degree at a local community college.”

Being a full-time mom, participating in community service activities, having church callings and teachings piano lessons all while taking classes through BYU Independent Study kept Smith busy.

“Don’t think this is an easy way out,” Smith said. “The classes were very time consuming and challenging. You need to be self-motivated and disciplined. If I had lived anywhere near Provo, I would have definitely taken the classes on campus and finished much quicker.”

BYU Independent Study offers more than 500 classes. Tuition is relatively low and gives students the chance to sign up for courses whenever they want as long as they complete the course within a year.

Olivia Gunnell, studying English and editing, decided to take online classes because of the flexibility it provided so she could work full time. She recently transferred from BYU-Idaho.

“I chose to do Independent Study because I enjoyed taking a semester of online classes with BYU–Idaho and because I wanted to be able to work as much as possible before my baby is born this summer,” Gunnell said. “It is a convenient way of continuing my education from home.”

Isabelle Wright, a psychology major, also wanted to take online classes in order to work more hours at her job.

“I didn’t have to go to class; I wanted to be able to work more hours, and an online class made my schedule easier to manage,” Wright said.

Though online classes give Wright flexibility to work as many hours as she wants, she still prefers taking classes in person rather than online.

“I actually don’t like online classes at all,” Wright said. “I think they are boring, and it’s hard for me to be motivated to do them. I wouldn’t do it again.”

Online classes are not for everyone, but students who cannot attend classes in person but still want a BYU degree can achieve that through BYU Independent Study.

“I would tell students who need or want to work full time that they should definitely look into BYU Independent Study, as well as those who have children or families that they wish to be with more often,” Gunnell said. “Also, if you like to work alone or at a faster pace than the campus classes, it would probably be a good fit.”

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