1.4 Program Structure & Requirements
With these objectives in mind, PathwayConnect has been designed in a way that eases students into higher education and prepares them to be successful—academically, socially, and spiritually.
The program consists of three semesters and lasts for one full academic year:
- Fall Semester (September–December)
- Winter Semester (January–April)
- Spring Semester (April–July)
During PathwayConnect, students take a prescribed online curriculum (see 3.2 Course Sequence) each semester. These online courses require peer-to-peer interaction, help students gain leadership skills, and are taught by BYU-Idaho instructors.
PathwayConnect is primarily targeted to 18–30-year-old Church members who have little to no previous university experience and who face a variety of obstacles, such as insufficient finances, lack of confidence, limited skills, lack of quality local educational options, low English proficiency, or busy schedules. However, all Church members may participate in the program if they are eligible and if it is established in their local area (see 2.2 Admission Requirements).
In addition to taking courses online, students are also required to participate in weekly gatherings during PathwayConnect. Students come having already completed their coursework and prepared to actively participate in meaningful discussion and learning activities with their peers. Students also gain valuable leadership skills by acting as a “lead student,” in which they facilitate a gathering using a provided agenda one or more times during their PathwayConnect experience (see 5.4.1 Lead Students).
Elder David A. Bednar shared the following about the importance of gathering:
“This spirit of gathering brings assurance, encouragement, and a sense of purpose greater than self…. You gather together to learn and to prepare for your mortal and eternal opportunities and responsibilities. You gather together to strengthen each other. You gather together to develop appropriate relationships and to create eternal families. You gather together to increase in understanding about the purpose and measure of your creation” (David A. Bednar, The Spirit and Purpose of Gathering, BYU-Idaho Devotional [Oct. 31, 2006]).
For these reasons and many others, weekly PathwayConnect gatherings are one of the most unique and fundamental aspects of the program. Many students who have been involved have reported an increase in confidence, a renewed desire to learn, and significant spiritual benefits (see 5.0 Gatherings).
PathwayConnect offers two versions:
- Standard (for native or near-native English speakers)
- L (for non-native English speakers).
Visit the PathwayConnect Locations page to see which versions are available at individual PathwayConnect sites. Virtual locations are also available to qualifying students.
When admitted to PathwayConnect, students are assigned to a group and gather weekly with that group throughout the program. Groups are built in the following ways:
- Age 18–30 Group:
- Young adults age 18–30; typically gather at a local Institute facility or virtually
- Age 31+ Group:
- Adults age 31+; typically gather at a local stake center or meetinghouse or virtually
For more information about groups, see 4.2 PathwayConnect Groups.
As an added support, local priesthood and auxiliary leaders, institute coordinators, and PathwayConnect Church-service missionaries facilitate the on-site affairs of the program and ensure its ongoing success.
Service missionaries play one of the most vital roles, that of helping and caring for the students. Missionaries do not teach the course material but, rather, focus on building the program by: fostering relationships with local priesthood leaders, finding new students, monitoring student academic success, providing help and encouragement, and overseeing weekly PathwayConnect gatherings. Above all, the missionaries cheer PathwayConnect students on to success and encourage them to reach their potential by working hard, seeking the Lord’s guidance, and embracing new opportunities (see 7.2 Role of Pathway Church-Service Missionaries).
Priesthood support is also key at each individual PathwayConnect location. Local leaders are asked to help sustain the program and assist in the process of identifying Church members who could potentially benefit from PathwayConnect’s educational and spiritual blessings. Missionaries spend considerable time educating priesthood leaders about PathwayConnect and helping them see how it can assist them in their ministry (see 7.1 Role of Local Leaders).
For many students, completing PathwayConnect will mean fulfilling a dream and may be the completion of their educational experience. While for other students, PathwayConnect is only the beginning.
In the third semester, students take one additional academic course as part of the first certificate of a future bachelor’s degree from the BYU-Idaho Online Degree Program. If desired, they also apply for admission to this program.
At the end of PathwayConnect, students will have earned BYU-Idaho credit and qualify to earn a PathwayConnect completion certificate (see 6.4 PathwayConnect Certificate). Students matriculating to the BYU-Idaho Online Degree Program will find these credits useful as they pursue their certificates and degrees. Those not going to BYU-Idaho may go on to further their education by applying to a local college, university, or trade school (see 11.1.1 Admission Requirements).
To be eligible for the online degree program, PathwayConnect students must do the following:
- Finish at least the first two semesters of PathwayConnect
- Achieve a “B” average (3.0 GPA or 84 percent) during PathwayConnect
- Complete an application for BYU-Idaho, including an ecclesiastical endorsement
Once admitted to the online degree program, students progress toward a variety of educational options, including professional certificates, associate degrees, and/or bachelor’s degrees (see 11.0 After PathwayConnect).
Tuition rates vary by country. Besides tuition, there are no additional costs during PathwayConnect, including textbooks or course fees.
The PathwayConnect reduced tuition rate carries through for students who later enroll in BYU-Idaho’s Online Degree Program; however, the price students pay per credit is subject to change. Additional fees for textbooks or other course materials may also apply (see 11.1.3 Tuition and Financial Aid).