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  • Swati Chopra

James Madison University

This is a series of posts on campuses I've visited. At times I've had the chance to meet up with admission officers and have included specific majors and data here. Please keep the date of my visit in mind as admission requirements and freshmen profiles change annually and updating these posts will not always be possible. To see other schools' profiles, please visit my website.

June 2023 - Counselor Tour

Founded as a teachers’ college in 1908, JMU sits in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, two hours from both Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia. The university straddles Interstate 81 and seems to be in the middle of nowhere for anyone who's new to the area but there's a lot to do in and around Harrisonburg. Plus, the Shenandoah Valley is a wonderland of outdoor opportunity that needs to be seen to be appreciated. The Blue Ridge Mountains and Allegheny Mountains will take your breath away and provide stunning views and a serene environment. The surrounding landscape includes rolling hills, lush greenery, and scenic vistas, creating a visually appealing campus setting. When you visit JMU, make sure to keep some time to visit the surrounding area.

The campus:

The campus is vast at 721 acres. JMU's architecture blends a mix of traditional and modern styles. Many of the campus buildings feature red brick facades, white columns, and classical design elements, reflecting the university's historic roots and Virginia's architectural heritage. Some newer buildings incorporate contemporary designs and sustainable features. The heart of the campus is often bustling with activity and features iconic landmarks such as Wilson Hall and the Quad, a large open space surrounded by academic buildings and residence halls. The Quad is a popular gathering spot for students and hosts various events throughout the year.

Residence Halls:

JMU offers a variety of on-campus housing options, including traditional residence halls, suite-style dormitories, and apartment complexes. These residential areas are interspersed throughout the campus and provide students with convenient access to academic buildings, dining facilities, and recreational amenities. Freshmen have 25 residential halls exclusively for them. Students also have the option to live and learn with others who have similar interests through Residential Learning Communities. Together, students in these communities take courses that are specific to a certain field of study.

Student Body:

JMU has a total enrollment of over 22,000 students, including both undergraduate and graduate students. The university attracts students from across the United States but close to 80% of undergrads are from within state. Students of color make up 26% of the student body. 30% of students study internationally; JMU runs its own semester abroad programs in Belgium, England, Italy, Scotland, and Spain, as well as dozens of short-term, faculty-led programs in more than 40 countries.


James Madison University is not a national research university but it is a highly regarded regional institution that primarily focuses on undergraduate education.

It offers a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs through its various colleges and schools, including the College of Business, College of Education, College of Health and Behavioral Studies, College of Science and Mathematics, College of Visual and Performing Arts, and the College of Integrated Science and Engineering. JMU is probably recognized the most for its business and education program. In addition to health sciences, some of the most popular majors include health services administration, sport and recreation management, biology, nursing, and psychology.

Pre-professional programs:

JMU's pre-professional programs consist of courses and experiences designed to prepare you for the required graduate study and/or licensure necessary for a career in your chosen profession. Some of these include: pre-med, pre-law, pre-dentistry, pre-pharmacy, and many teacher education programs.


JMU offers early action and regular decision deadlines and uses the Common App for applications as well as their own website ( One letter of recommendation is required and strong grades, strong extra-curricular activities, and advanced classes are an important part of the application.

Don't let the high admit rate fool you, JMU is a strong school with a high graduation rate and an even higher freshmen retention rate. The average GPA for the incoming freshmen class was 3.55 to 4.o unweighted. Even though JMU is test optional, 22% of the incoming class did have test scores. The average SAT score was between 1190 to 1350.

Unlike most popular public universities, it has successfully maintained a reasonable sticker price for in-state as well as out-of-state students. Last year the total for tuition and room/board for in-state students was less than $25,000 and for out-of-state it was close to $41,000.

Overall, JMU does a good job at graduating the students it attracts while helping them to transfer to different majors should the need arise. More than 100 employers and organizations across many different industries come to campus to recruit JMU talent and the University Career Center is a great place for students to start their job search.


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