News Story

Catching the Vision of Higher Education: Pathway to Success 

Pathway is a low-cost three-semester educational program mixing the flexibility of online academic courses, religious education and the benefits of weekly face-to-face gatherings with other students. This program is offered through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Canada and multiple other countries.

Students earn up to 15 credits in this one-year program designed to help them develop confidence, self-reliance, leadership and employable skills within the framework of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Eligible for transfer to Brigham Young University–Idaho (BYU–Idaho) and other universities, these credits can lead to professional certificates and degrees.


Russell M. Nelson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church, said, “Our Creator expects His children everywhere to educate themselves. He [Christ] issued a commandment: ‘Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith’ (D&C 88:118). And He assures us that knowledge acquired here will be ours forever (see D&C 130:18–19)” (“Where Is Wisdom” October 1992 general conference).

In January 2017, with the opening of 22 new locations spanning nine countries, Pathway will be available in 440 locations worldwide. Sites across Canada include Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge, Alberta; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Kitchener and Toronto, Ontario.

Alberta (Lethbridge)

As a Pathway tutor, Bob Thompson befriended Jacob Makuei, who arrived in Canada from Uganda as a refugee. Makuei speaks reasonable English but insufficient for attending college or university. In 2015 Makuei enrolled in Pathway and graduated in July 2016, having completed a challenging math course (with Thompson’s help), plus English and life skills courses — and his English noticeably improved.

A young mother of four children, Brittany Leavitt enrolled in the under-30 age group of Pathway. She is now pursuing an online degree in marriage and family relations from BYU–Idaho. The US$68 cost per credit, which is the same for each Pathway or university credit, has made her pursuit affordable.

Tracy Leishman joined the 31-plus age group. Although happy with her job, she did not feel she was making any real progress. Pathway has given her a unique way to improve. “Putting religion and academics together was something that really helped me complete the coursework,” Leishman said.

British Columbia (Vancouver)

Now in its second year in Vancouver, Pathway has changed the lives of men and women of all ages by enabling them to pursue lifelong education online. One 60-year-old student wondered what life skills she still needed to learn, but later she said, “I had no idea the richness of that first course, how much I would gain from it, how it has benefited my life.” She has now completed one semester toward her family history degree and expressed deep gratitude for Pathway as the gateway for her.

Having spoken recently with Pathway graduates, Wendy MacKinlay, lead senior missionary for Pathway in Vancouver, said, “All with whom I have been in contact credit Pathway as the path that opened up and paved the way for them to pursue their life goals. Their testimonies of the inspired nature of this program and of gospel-centred learning are strong. Pathway has made a difference.”

Ontario (Greater Toronto Area)

“Pathway’s success,” according to Russ and Anna Willmott, Church-service missionaries facilitating the program in the Toronto area, “is the weekly ‘gathering’ class, where students learn from each other rather than from a teacher ‘downloading’ information to the group.”

At 71, Ester Woolsey of Toronto said, “The Pathway program is providing an opportunity for me to continue on my journey of being a lifelong learner.” The encouragement and support of instructors, fellow students and weekly gatherings give her hope that she will succeed.

In September 2016, long-time friends Patricia Struk and Helga Evershed enrolled in Pathway. The demands on Struk’s life prevented her from pursuing certification in family history at the University of Toronto, but Pathway has provided the means to an end through an online degree. Even with study and preparation of 15 to 20 hours per week for each of the three semesters, she is confident she will realize her goal. Evershed’s love of learning is fired by the quality and scope of resources through Pathway, which she describes as “absolutely fabulous,” citing study habits right out of Harvard. With college and university degrees already earned, she is exploring opportunities in health services.

Currently residing in rural Ontario, Tom and Sadie Bickmore attended a Church meeting about Pathway in Calgary, Alberta, while they were engaged. They enrolled in the program and graduated shortly after their marriage. Tom said, “Being able to pursue online degrees meant that whether we lived in Canada or the United States, whether we had children or not, whether we worked or not, we would never have to discontinue our education. Pathway opened up opportunities for us to continue education in any circumstance and kept it really affordable.”

As an entrepreneur, Tom has exponentially benefited from his study of web design and development, offered through BYU–Idaho’s online business program, while Sadie, a stay-at-home mom to an active toddler, continues to enrich their marriage and enhance their parenting skills through courses taken in the marriage and family studies program.

The deadline for new students to apply and register for first-semester Pathway courses is March 28, 2017, with online classes beginning April 17. 

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