Course Objectives

BYU's Board of Trustees created the idea of American Heritage over 25 years ago because they believed that university students needed a better understanding of the origins of the Constitution and its role in American life. The course draws heavily from three different disciplines: political science, economics and history. American Heritage strives to support students as they:

  • Understand the religious, historical, political and economic origins of the Constitution
  • Learn how the Constitution works
  • Apply their knowledge of the Constitution to analyze major historical,political and economic issues
  • Become better informed, more active citizens

All questions regarding American Heritage should be addressed to the department office. This includes items such as adding/dropping, incompletes, scheduling, exam issues, assignments, etc.

Note: The American Heritage Website makes extensive use of files in PDF format. If you are having trouble opening the PDF files, you can download the free Adobe Reader.

Course Learning Outcomes

This course is designed to help students understand society in general, not just American society—though that will be the focus of much of the material. Additionally, American Heritage introduces several basic concepts of social science like models of human nature, institutional design, and economic analysis. The course offers an accessible—but not simplistic—introduction to these ideas. Questions about liberty, equality, security, and fairness are at the heart of the course.

The course also emphasizes “citizenship.” Students at Brigham Young University are not simply here to learn. They are to prepare to serve both in the kingdom and in the world at large. All of the concepts discussed will help students better understand the possibilities and limitations of living in a complex society. If they diligently study this material, students will leave this course better informed and prepared to make a meaningful contribution to the world.

Elements of the course have been selected to help students achieve the following:

  • Describe the religious, historical, political and economic origins of the Constitution, in light of the restored gospel
  • Identify how the Founding influenced the development of the American institutions of gevernment and markets
  • Given the Constitution's amendments, and ongoing debates about how to interpret the document, students should learn to apply their knowledge of these developments to analyze major historical, political and economic issues relevant to today's world
  • Become better informed citizens, capable of taking an active part in public affairs

Course Structure

When you register for American Heritage, you are registering for biweekly lectures given by the professor and a weekly lab taught by one of our qualified TAs. Lectures are held on Mondays and Wednesdays in large lecture halls and your lab will be either Thurday or Friday in a small classroom.


All of the hiring for the American Heritage Teaching Assistant positions is done in February for the next Fall and Winter semesters.

To be eligible for this position you must meet the following requirements:

  • Take Economics 110
  • Complete the American Heritage GE requirement
  • Have completed one year of college
  • Have a competitive GPA

American Heritage TA Application: Download here

For questions or concerns please feel free to contact us:

Challenge Exam

A challenge exam may be taken to test out of American Heritage.

The exam is taken from material found in City Upon A Hill: The Legacy of America's Founding (2010) by Frank W. Fox and Clayne L. Pope. The first section of the exam consists of multiple choice and matching questions: Click here for Sample Questions. If this first section is passed, two pages of essay questions will then be given to you. These are answered in the Testing Center as well, and they will be picked up and graded by the American Heritage Office.

The Challenge Exam is offered each semester and term, available from the first day of classes up to the add/drop deadline. There is no limit on the amount of times you may take the exam, but it may only be taken once a semester.

The exam is offered only in the Testing Center (Heber J. Grant Building) during posted Testing Center hours.

How much does the test cost?
To take the Challenge Exam, the cost is $20, which will be charged to your student account. There is, however, no charge to purchase the credits (3.0).

Grading Policy
Your final grade (consisting of the machine-scored portion and your essay questions totaled together) will be back in the Testing Center one week after you take the exam. You can check back with the Testing Center at that time to receive your grade and pick up a Class Credit Request Form from the manager’s office in the Testing Center and have it properly validated there. Take that form to the Records Office, B-150 ASB, so they can properly record your grade on your transcript. Credit must be submitted to the Records Office within a year from when the exam was taken. American Heritage cannot be challenged for a pass-fail grade. In order to fulfill the requirements for American Heritage you must accept the letter grade on your transcript. If you do not want the grade you received on your challenge exam, do not do the paperwork at the Testing Center for the credits. If you are enrolled in the course but decide to take the challenge exam and accept the letter grade, be sure that you drop the class by the drop deadline. If the course is not officially dropped, you must accept the letter grade assigned by the instructor based on your performance in class. The exam will not be available for review by the student after it has been graded.

More Information
For more information regarding the Challenge Exam, please contact the American Heritage Office at (801) 422-6076 or

Contact Us

All questions regarding American Heritage should be addressed to the American Heritage Office.
This includes items such as adding/dropping, incompletes, scheduling, exam issues, assignments, etc.

  • American Heritage Office
  • 2218 HBLL
  • Provo, UT 84604
  • Office: (801) 422-6076
  • Fax: (801) 422-0226
  • Email: