James Madison Application Essay Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


Applying to JMU

Changing Your Major, Academics and Campus Life



Applying to JMU

Are there specific course requirements for entrance into James Madison University?

While there is no single academic program we can expect all students to follow, our strongest candidates choose rigorous secondary school curricula. Competitive applicants challenge themselves beyond high school graduation requirements in the core academic areas of English, math, science, social science and foreign language.

Is the Admissions Committee looking for specific grades or marks in admitting applicants?

Because secondary schools vary by size, academic program and grading scale, we do not have rigid requirements. The majority of our incoming freshmen are ranked in the top third of their high school with 'A's and 'B's in core classes (math, lab science, foreign languages, English and social sciences).

What are the minimum required SAT I or ACT scores?

Effective for fall 2018, JMU will not require the SAT/ACT to be part of your application file. If you choose not to submit standardized test scores, you will not be penalized in the admissions application, scholarship or Honors College review processes.

Evidence Based Reading and Writing plus Mathematics scores of 1110 to 1250 were the mid-50 percent range for students admitted for the 2017 freshmen class. The mid-50 percent of ACT composite scores range was between 23 to 28.

Is it to my advantage to take advanced, accelerated or honors courses, if available?

Yes. We know that not all schools provide the same opportunities, but you should seek out a full and demanding college preparatory program.

If I submit multiple test scores, which results will you consider?

The Admissions Committee uses your highest math and verbal scores from any test administration in reviewing your application for admission. Effective for fall 2018, JMU will not require the SAT/ACT to be part of your application file. If you choose not to submit standardized test scores, you will not be penalized in the admissions application, scholarship or Honors College review processes.

Do you require any SAT II Subject Tests?

No. SAT II subject tests are not required for the admission process. Some majors and degrees at JMU have a foreign language requirement. If you are pursuing such a degree, we recommend that you take the SAT II Foreign Language which is used for placement purposes. Learn more about our Placement Policy.

Is there a personal interview?

We neither require nor grant personal interviews. However, if you visit the university and need to speak to a counselor to discuss a unique situation, we are more than happy to meet with you.

Do you consider senior year grades?

Mid-year grades may be requested to be reviewed with a student's application. While mid-year grades are not required, studies have shown that students who experience a drop in their senior year grades will often follow with poor grades in their freshman year of college, so it is always in your best interest to continue to do well through senior year. JMU does require an official transcript for all admitted students after graduation. We reserve the right to rescind an offer of admission due to poor academic performance in the senior year.

Do you rank the quality of secondary schools in the U.S. and abroad?

No. We recognize that there are differences in the overall strengths of high schools, but we are most interested in how well our candidates have taken advantage of the resources available to them.

If I submit my application before other candidates, will I have a better chance of gaining admission?

No, but there are advantages to you and to us if you submit your application materials promptly. We can let you know if any documents are missing or incomplete in a timely manner. Last-minute applications often look hurried and are more likely to be missing important information.

Is it possible to ask ahead about my chances for admission?

No. Because our decisions are made in the context of the entire applicant pool, it is not possible for us to predict your chances for admission.

Does it hurt my chances if there are other applicants from my school or community?

No. There are no quotas for individual schools or communities.

Is there a waitlist?

Yes. We never know precisely how many students will accept our offer of admission, therefore, we invite a group of students to be on our unranked waitlist. The waitlist is the pool of applicants we consider if we are able to admit additional students to fill the class. The extent to which we use the waitlist varies widely from year to year.

Freshman Waitlist FAQs / Transfer FAQs

Is it possible to be admitted for the spring semester?

Freshmen are admitted to James Madison University to begin only in the Fall Semester.

The majority of transfers enroll in either the Summer or Fall; however, a limited number of transfers are admitted for Spring. Spring transfer applicants with associate degrees and a cumulative college GPA of 3.00 of higher are given priority.

I live outside the United States, but I am a U.S. citizen/permanent resident. Which application should I use?

ALL applicants living outside of the United States who have U.S. citizenship, U.S. permanent resident status or dual citizenship must apply by appropriate deadline using our domestic application.

Does JMU have Early Action admissions? Is it binding?

JMU has a non-binding early admission process. Applications for Early Action are due Nov. 1 with decisions posted online in mid-Jan.

Will I qualify for in-state tuition?

Applicants for admission to JMU will have their residency for tuition purposes determined based on the information provided on their complete Application for Virginia In-State Tuition Rates. This application is incorporated in our undergraduate applications for admission based on initial answers provided on your application.

You may review the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Guidelines for Residency Determination, which can be found at the following site: http://www.schev.edu/index/tuition-aid/in-state-residency/financial-aid-policy-and-procedures

Once an application for admission is submitted you may be requested to provide additional documentation to determine your residency for tuition purposes. The Office of Admissions will notify you of your residency determination in communications throughout the application process.

View our Residency Frequenty Asked Questions

Can I appeal my residency decision to get in-state tuition?

Yes, you may appeal your residency decision. Please note that in-state tuition is not need-based. We follow the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia's Domicile Guidelines.

Prior to appealing your residency decision, please be sure you have sent in all residency items from your to-do list in MyMadison. Items may be sent to residency@jmu.edu.

Applicants who have received an admission decision and wish to appeal their residency decision may do so by completing a residency appeal. This residency appeal form is only for undergraduate students who disagree with their residency decision for their first semester at JMU. We may request additional information as part of the appeal process.

 

Changing Your Major, Academics and Campus Life

What if I want to change my major?

JMU students are encouraged to explore academic areas of interest. You can change your major any time between the application process and graduation. Please know that changing your major after your sophomore year may delay your graduation.

What majors and minors does JMU offer? How much is tuition? What's the make up of the student body?

Check out our About JMU page for a rundown of quick facts.

Does James Madison offer an Honors College?

Yes. With three levels of participation - Honors Scholars Track I, Honors Scholar Track II, and Senior Honors Project Track III - you can find the academic challenge to meet your needs. At graduation, your level of participation will be noted on your diploma and transcripts. For more information, please visit the JMU Honors College web site.

Will I be able to study abroad while attending James Madison?

We offer semester-long study abroad programs in five cities: Antwerp, London, Florence, Salamanca, and Edinburg. A faculty member-in residence accompanies each group for the semester-long experience. There are also dozens of short-term programs offered each summer offering a variety of courses, including general education courses. The Center for Global Engagement also works with students who choose an external study abroad program with another college or university if the destination of choice is not offered at JMU. Complete information can be found on the Center for Global Engagement web site. 

Do I have to be a music major to be in the marching band or a theatre major to participate in plays?

Not at all. Most students involved in performing arts here are majoring in fields unrelated to the arts.

Must I live on campus?

All freshmen live in university-sponsored housing. We believe students get the most from the James Madison experience by living in the residence halls. After freshmen year, students may remain on or move off campus.

Am I allowed to bring a car to James Madison?

Freshmen are not permitted to have cars on campus. You certainly do not need a car to get around Harrisonburg. The Harrisonburg Transit is convenient and free to students. Parking on campus, however, is not always easy to find. Upper-class students pay a parking fee to register their car for on campus parking.

Should I worry about safety at James Madison?

Safety should be a concern everywhere. The university has a strong public safety program that includes a full campus police force, lighted pathways, an escort service, campus cadets, emergency phones and residence halls that are locked 24 hours a day.

Where can I find more about clubs, sports, and campus recreation?

We have 18 Division 1 intercollegiate athletics teams, a growing list of club sports teams and a vibrant intramural sports program. Our adventure program has possibilities you may never have considered before. Our 147,000-square-foot University Recreation Center is amazing. Your game is here. Read more »

I have a question you did not cover.

Please call us at (540) 568-5681, or e-mail us at admissions@jmu.edu.

Freshman Application Process

A complete JMU application includes:

  • The online application. JMU supports the Coalition and plans to accept the Coalition Application for the entering class of 2018.
  • $70 application fee
  • An official high school transcript (including senior year schedule)
  • ACT or SAT1 test scores (sent directly from the testing agency)
  • Applicants may be required to submit official Dual Enrollment College Transcripts upon request.

Your application will be reviewed once you have submitted all of the above required information. In order to expedite the process, please send only the required documents listed above. The Office of Admissions processes documents (electronic and paper) in the order in which they are received.

Required Information

Online Application and Fee

Your application is not sent to us until you pay your $70 processing fee and it is authorized. You can pay by debit/credit card or check (US bank accounts only). Note that there are special admissions requirements if you intend on majoring in art, music, theatre, dance or nursing.

High School Transcript

Please submit an official copy of your high school transcript electronically or via postal mail (not both) including 9th, 10th and 11th grades and a senior year class schedule. If you are meeting all requirements for graduating in less than 4 years, and a grade is omitted on the transcript, we require a written explanation from your guidance counselor.

The Secondary School Report Form (PDF). Many high schools have developed their own version of this form. Ask your school counselor to complete the Secondary School Report Form and send it to JMU's Office of Admissions. 

Please note: Multiple copies of the high school transcript with letters of recommendation attached will not be reviewed unless the transcript is clearly marked “Revised Transcript” with a notation of what that revision is.

Official SAT I or ACT Scores

JMU requires your official test results be sent to us electronically direct from the testing agency. When reviewing test scores we use the highest individual verbal and highest individual math scores from the SAT. For the ACT we use your single highest composite score. SAT IIs are not required nor considered in the admissions process.

Optional Information

Personal Statement

Your optional personal essay gives you an opportunity to tell the admissions committee more about yourself. You may use it to highlight special interests, talents, goals, unique experiences or a special circumstance. Please keep the personal statement to a 500-word maximum. If you do not submit the personal statement with your online application, please include it with your high school transcript packet, not under separate cover.

Letter of Recommendation

If an applicant wishes to have one letter of recommendation included with their application, it must be requested by the applicant via our online recommendation system during the application process. JMU will contact the recommender with instructions for submitting the recommendation letter. Any additional letters of recommendation will not be reviewed. Please give your recommender plenty of notice to have your recommendation arrive in a timely fashion.

Activities, Honors and Awards

The online application provides a place to list six honors and awards as well as six activities. We recommend that you choose your six most notable. We are looking for quality involvement rather than long lists. Please tell us about club, organization and athletic activity. We are also interested in students who have been involved in community service or held part-time jobs.  Resumes will not be considered.

Checking Your Status

You can monitor the status of your application via MyMadison. Admissions decisions are also posted here — you will not receive a notification in the mail. Instructions for accessing this site will be e-mailed to you within 3-5 days of receiving your online application.

View the MyMadison tutorial.

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