Location: Harrisonburg, VA
Size: 18,107 (undergraduate)
Percent Women: 60%
Tuition (one year): $17,695 (in-state), $32,173 (out-of-state)
Most Popular Majors: Business, Media Arts & Design, Communications, Health-related majors
Greek Life: Yes
Acceptance Rate: 58%
Why Choose JMU?
One of the biggest life decisions you will or have already faced is deciding where you want to go to college. From a personal experience, picking between state schools became difficult. I had a hard time deciding between schools closer to home and James Madison University. For months I debated, visiting and weighing the pros and cons. Months later, here I am, happier than ever in my new home.
I chose JMU because I fell in love with the school. A feeling of belonging came upon me as I walked around campus. I knew the moment I arrived that it was the school. The students are friendly, the art program was above and beyond anything I could have dreamed, and the campus was beautiful.
Here’s what other students had to say…
“I chose JMU for the Occupational Therapy program because I had heard how amazing it was and also because of the extremely talented a cappella groups!” -Chloe Austin
“Literally, I chose it because it was as far away from home as I could get…the MRDs then became an added bonus.” -Savannah Moyer
“I chose JMU because not only does it have a great program for my major, the campus is incredibly friendly.” -Jenna Figaro
“I came here because they have a POD Nursing program and also because I knew in my heart that it was the place and it would easily become home! When I toured, I fell in love with the campus, the people, and the overall atmosphere.” -Bethelle Smith
“I picked JMU for the sense of community I got from the people here. Everyone is so nice and so passionate about the school. JMU also offers a plethora of opportunities and is an all around great place to be!” -Anne Custer
“I chose James Madison because the campus, student body, and activities mesmerized me on the first visit. I feel so involved in Madison life before I was even a student there.” -Wesley Rhodes, perspective transfer student/applicant for JMU
“Our quad is a great place to hang out with friends and meet new people when the weather is nice. As soon as spring comes you can see everything from people with dogs, tightrope walking between trees, and tanning on the grass.”
“One of the absolute best things about JMU is the students who have so much pride in being a Duke and have enormous school spirit.”
“JMU has the best students in the world. What other school has all their students holding doors for each other as a way of life? Our open door policy definitely makes JMU students extraordinary.”
“JMU provides its students with FROG Week, an orientation held the week before classes start, which is one of the best things about freshman year. I was able to meet so many students that I wouldn’t have otherwise and began friendships that I still have today”
-Scheduling on MyMadison
“Twice a year I have mini panic attacks while attempting to schedule my classes. MyMadison can’t handle the amount of students that try and get on the site, and it gets incredibly slow and freezes often. It’s great to get an early scheduling time, but if you’re stuck with a later one then a lot of classes you may have planned on getting are often already filled.”
“The majority of JMU’s student body lives off campus, but they don’t have nearly enough spots for all of the commuters. They either need to build more dorms, or create more parking for the people they aren’t housing. If you have a class later than 9:30 then you definitely aren’t getting a spot in any parking deck. I was late to class the other day because I just couldn’t find anywhere to park.”
“Even though the girl to guy ratio is evening out, there are still A LOT of girls here. All of my classes as well as social events are filled with girls. I’ve heard that some majors, like business or engineering, are more evened out, but a lot of the others seem very off balance. A lot of the girls are very nice and friendly, but I just wish I had more opportunities to meet more guys and make more guy friends.”
New Collegiette on Campus
“JMU has separate housing for freshmen; aside from the dorms on East Campus for Honors students. Having housing set up this way helps first years meet other first years.”
“FrOG week is First yeaR Orientation Guide Week. It is pretty much summer camp for first years the week before class starts in the fall. It is a ton of fun, there are events where you can meet people outside of your hall, but you also get very close with your Frog group.”
“I didn’t think it was hard to meet upperclassmen. Unfortunately, the majority of my friends are upperclassmen, so when they graduate, I will have to find new friends.. Only kind of kidding. But yeah, it is easy to meet all ages of people in college. You aren’t restricted to just hanging out with people your own age.”
“Summer Springboard is for people who have already committed to JMU and will be attending in the fall. You are matched with people with similar declared majors and you tour around campus. You meet your advisor and plan your schedule. How could I forget? You also take your photo for your school ID. No one looks good in the JAC card photo.”
“Going to JMU, I feel a sense of southern hospitality. Coming from the North, we don’t get much of that. It’s nice to feel a sense of community and general friendliness here.”
“Teachers at JMU are always really flexible with students and are always willing to help. They respond to emails quickly and set appropriate office hours. I never have a problem asking questions; they’re really approachable.”
“JMU has a lot to offer. You have to go to at least one basketball game and sit in the student section!”
“I’ve actually developed at lot of close relationships with my professors just by going up and talking to them. Professors at JMU really want to get to know you, and you should give them that chance.”
“Introduce yourself to everyone you encounter. JMU has a reputation for being a friendly university, and this is the best way to meet new people.”
“JMU is ranked #2 in the nation for best food. There are so many options, you will never go hungry!”
All About Academics
“JMU is known for many different colleges, including the College of Business (ranked in the top 5 percent of undergraduate business schools according to BusinessWeek), Arts and Letters, Education, Integrated Science and Technology, Science and Mathematics, and Visual and Performing Arts. Some schools are closed and require an application process, such as the School of Media Arts & Design and the School of Nursing.”
“Along with the major curriculums, the General Education program involves a wide variety of choices along five different tracks. Here students can broaden their knowledge and take classes they haven’t necessarily been able to take in high school. But don’t expect these classes to be easy A’s; the students work hard, sometimes even harder, than in their major classes.”
“Being able to get into required classes is a different story. Most of my major classes fill up quickly, causing me to ask for overrides or rearrange my schedule to take it a different semester. I talk to my advisor a lot to make sure I will be able to finish everything in time. If you have a lot of credit hours, you are almost guaranteed to get what you want.”
“Do not expect to find a seat at Carrier or ECL during finals week. There are some spots around campus that one can use instead, and it may be easier to concentrate anyway.”
“JMU offers many different opportunities for networking, such as leadership conferences, information sessions, career fairs, on-campus interviews, mock interviews, resume reviews, and more. Our Career and Academic Planning department is very helpful in jumpstarting your career.”
Learn From The Best
Thaddeus Herron- communications “Thad wants the best for his students, he was always approachable, and he made it so that I never wanted to miss class.” Kiara Mauro, Junior
Janell Bauer- ethnography “she’s my favorite because she makes me think about things beyond the surface level.” Marieka Turner, Junior
Rob Smith- Theater “Rob’s animation made me want to be a theater major even though I had no acting experience!” Kathleen Kalinsky, Junior
Shelly Thomas- Biology “She constantly has a fun fact and is so interested in what she’s teaching that she makes students actually want to learn and do something different.” –Matt Mintz, Sophomore
Kimberly DuVall- Psychology “HANDS DOWN BEST TEACHER. She is so outgoing, and nice. She really cares about her students and how they do. I actually really enjoyed going to class, you learn a lot of cool things. Def. take her, you will not regret it.” Anonymous
Interests & Involvement
“JMU students are definitely really involved in extracurriculars and clubs. Student org night, when you can go and check out tables for tons of different clubs, is a great way to get involved. You just give any club you’re interested in your email and it’s that simple!”
“Some of the most well known clubs are probably Student Government, University Program Board, a capella groups, sororities & fraternities, Safe Rides, WXJM and the Breeze. But there are so many organizations that it’s easy to find one you’re interested in.”
"WXJM is our student run radio station at JMU. I have been involved since my freshman year. Our slogan is 'put something new in your ears.' We promote bands and try to spread independent music."
"My experience is that most students are in more than one club. From snow team, to greek life, to astronomy club, to quidditch, there is just so much to get involved with. I am a part of three clubs, and that takes up a good deal of my time. I love how much is offered at jmu to get involved in. There are endless ways to meet new people with similar interests.
“One of my first memories of coming to JMU is the first football game of the season. Everyone came together wearing purple and gold. The purple and gold streamers make a touchdown more magical than it already is.”
“Home football games are awesome because everyone tailgates and has a good time. It gives everyone a sense of camaraderie, despite all the different groups of people. We all have to remember we have something in common... we are Dukes! And that support is shown throughout the athletic program.”
“I love seeing athletes hanging out around campus with their teammates. You can tell the athletes are passionate about their sport and each other. JMU as a whole is also passionate, friendly, and determined.”
“Everyone is always really energetic and puts all their support behind the team and school, and it's something you see around campus all the time. I think there is a lot of team spirit at JMU, whether it's the J-M-U dukes chant or just a group of people dressed in purple and gold.”
“When you are at JMU sporting events, you feel like you are part of one big awesome family. Everyone is usually wearing the same colors cheering like crazy for our Dukes, you can't help but not love it. Everyone is just happy to be there and yeah, it's just great.”
“Being on JMU's triathlon team has been one of my best experiences at JMU because of the amazing team spirit that has fosters friendships and encourages me to train harder at a sport I am passionate about. I also see a lot of JMU’s sports teams and the student body in general supporting one another.”
“The women’s health clinic at the UHC is so awesome. I’ve been getting my birth control pills from there since the beginning of the year, and the nurses are so kind and not judgmental at all. They’ll listen to any of your questions or concerns, and they just want the ladies of JMU to be safe and healthy.”
“I’d say the average outfit for a girl at JMU includes leggings, boots, and an oversized sweatshirt. But there are definitely lots of different styles here. Some girls like to dress up and get really fancy, some girls are more laid back, some cool and eclectic. I’m always seeing cute clothes all over campus that I wish I had!”
"Being a girl on campus is awesome. Contrary to what people think (having a 60:40 ratio), but that just means there is more for the girls to do! I know there are several women’s empowerment groups on campus and mostly I find out about them through word of mouth. C.U.R.L.S is one of those groups that really teaches women how to embrace their inner happiness which translates into inner beauty, ultimately shining as outer beauty."
"Girl power isn’t just a phrase, it’s a state of mind and a way of life. If we believe we’re powerful and can make changes, we can and we will."
Food & Drink
"Earth and Tea is my favorite spot downtown. It is down South Main, and a great spot for girl dates or to bring your family. Every time I go, I get the California Wrap. It is turkey, cheese, avocado, spinach leaves, tomatoes and pesto mayo. Their wraps come with really good chips. Also their tea is a fun treat! I would recommend going for lunch."
"Bella Lunas. It is a super cute pizza parlor in historic downtown. I love pizza, and it is nice to be able to have good sit down pizza. Plus, they know how to make really good crust!"
"Clementine is a café downtown. They have local art hanging up and their menu is really good. Their brunch is yummy, but I love going on GNO’s (Girls Night Out) and ordering their crab cake. I’m from Maryland, and their crab cakes get my stamp of approval."
"The Artful Dodger is in the heart of downtown. It has indoor and outdoor seating. Their vegan cupcakes are super yummy, but my favorite part is $2 rail drinks on Tuesdays!!! They have really cool art hanging, and it’s always a good time."
"Thai Flavor is hands down my favorite! It is off of East Market Street, on Kenmore Street. I get the Massaman Curry every time. It is a bit spicy, has peanuts and my favorite, pineapples!! It is a pretty good price, and great for friend dinners. I want to start doing more birthday dinners here for friends."
“If you’re looking for a party, JMU has a lot to offer. But expect a CROWDED room almost anywhere you go.”
“The party scene is what you make it. There are small and big parties, wild and laid back ones. It depends what you’re looking for.”
“The majority of JMU parties are in apartments off campus. It's pretty easy to find something to do on any given Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and even some weekdays. Unless you're 21, you most likely won't go to a bar since they're pretty strict. There are some apartment complexes known for having mostly greek parties but non-greeks party just as much.”
“Greek life is popular but not so huge that you can’t have a social life without it. I’m in Greek life and love it but I have lots of non-Greek friends who have just as much fun on the weekends.”
“There’s a lot to do on this campus regarding social life and everyone here is really friendly. And it’s very safe. There are blue lights up all around campus so if you’re walking alone and feel unsafe on the weekends, you can get a campus officer to escort you.”
“There's always something to do at JMU on the weekends, and often any other night of the week. Greek life has a strong presence in the JMU party scene, with both registered basement parties and off-campus house parties pretty much every weekend. If that's not for you, there are always parties in the apartments off campus. Our bar scene is humble to put it kindly, but there are a few local bars popular with upperclassmen, usually on Thursdays. If you're looking for sober fun, different clubs and organizations hold weekend events too.”
"I love living in the dorms. I live in Hillside, so it is pretty much central to all of campus. The dining halls are less than a minute away, and the library is close after you get over the hill. There is no wifi, but since we are hooked up through ethernet, our connection is pretty fast. Also living in a hall style dorm is great for meeting new people. I am super close with the girls in my hall."
"I can't wait to live off campus. I don't mind living in the dorms, but it really isn't for everyone. I plan on living in an apartment with a few of my girlfriends off campus. Being on campus and seemingly landlocked can be very suffocating. I made a few friends in my dorm, but it's just a strange situation to be put in a living enviroment with people you don't know or even don't have anything in common with."
"I lived in Hoffman my freshman year. Hoffman is on the Bluestone, and debateably the nicest dorm on campus. It was suite style, which means you share are common bathroom with another room. I was pretty close with my suitemates, and we all pitched in to clean the bathroom. The study lounges were nice, and the kitchen was updated. The view was my favorite part though. My room overlocked the James Madison Statue on the Bluestone. Overall, I had a good dorm experience."
"I became an RA because I liked living in the dorms so much. Being an RA is a great opportunity. Some perks are a room to myself, and a pay check. I love the girls in my hall, and I like being able to help them through aimilar problems that I had as a freshman."
"My advice to anyone living in a dorm is to try to get along with the people in your hall. I know that sounds obvious, but if you can foster good relationships with the people you are living with, it just helps out with everything. You won't have to eat alone, and you'll always have someone willing to help you out."
The only one of its kind in the Harrisonburg area (or anywhere else that I know of actually), Cat’s Cradle is a non-profit organization that is a shelter for cats of all kinds. This feline mecca is conveniently located in the downtown area of Harrisonburg, and is only a short walk from JMU’s campus. The open layout of Cat’s Cradle enables any visitors to interact one-on-one with any of the adorable animals that temporarily live there. Cat’s Cradle has a great adoption program and have a Facebook page that posts whenever one of their kitties finds a new home.
When driving through or around the small city of Harrisonburg, you’ll notice immediately that it’s quite a rural area. However, we also have the benefit of being close to the mighty Appalachian Mountains, which serve for a great source of recreational fun and natural beauty. “I’ve always wanted to venture up to Reddish Knob to see one of the valley’s sunrises or sunsets. I’ve heard many things about how the view is spectacular (minus the terrifying road that takes you up there). I’ll have to cross it off my JMU bucket list soon!” (Rebekah Pitts, ’15) This special spot is held near and dear to JMU students past and present and is a great place to go to de-stress from the every day grind of academics.
If you like great burgers and even better beer, then Jack Brown’s is the place for you to eat. This restaurant may be small, but it carries a large prestige with it as one of the most popular places to eat in downtown Harrisonburg. They are notorious for their outdoor patio seating, their wide variety of burgers and beer, and, who could forget, the fried oreos! Regulars of this tasty eatery keep a list of which beers they have tried and once they reach a certain amount, the restaurant engraves his or her name of a flattened can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and mounts it on the wall. It’s the little things like this that make Jack Brown’s a standout in the Harrisonburg area.
Bluetique Cheap Chic
This quaint fashion forward shop just recently expanded to the Harrisonburg area and holds several other locations in Virginia, including Charlottesville and Lexington. Bluetique has a variety of clothing options plus a great selection of necklaces, handbags, and other accessories. They market themselves as being the, “perfect selection of preppy, trendy, and gameday apparel,” which makes them a great fit for a college town like Harrisonburg. Whether you’re window shopping or looking for a cute dress for a formal, Bluetique is a super cute place to look!
The “Puppy Farm”
The Gap View Ranch and Kennel, or “the puppy farm” as the JMU community has informally dubbed it, is another one of the must-do’s on the JMU bucket list. A short drive past downtown Harrisonburg will lead you to this puppy heaven that students so often rave about. The family that owns the ranch is always so generous for sharing their pooches with the dog lovers of Harrisonburg, but do require that visitors call ahead to make an appointment. The puppy farm is great to do for a weekend activity and it gives us a break from our work while also giving momma doggy a break from her pups!
Backcountry Restaurant and Lounge
In the past semester or so, Backcountry Restaurant and Lounge has immensely increased in popularity among JMU students. A trendy place to go on Thursday nights (college night) and even into the weekend, this bar and restaurant has great food, music, and fun that is sure to make some worthwhile memories. “Backcountry is a fun place for my friends and me to hang out in a casual setting. It’s a great way to get over a stressful week and prepare for the weekend ahead. And who could hate a place with a mechanical bull?!” (Christina Damico, ’13) So anyone who is looking to meet new people and have a good time while doing it should make their way to Backcountry!
HC's Complete College Guide: James Madison University
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