James Madison University
Joining a growing number of colleges and universities, James Madison University (JMU) will be rolling out a test-optional admissions policy for 2017-18. Students seeking admission will no longer be required to submit tests results from either the SAT or the ACT as part of the JMU application process.
Unlike other Commonwealth universities, which have also decided to downgrade reliance on standardized tests in admissions, JMU will not be adding any “strings” to their new policy. There will be no minimum GPAs, similar to test-optional policies in use by Christopher Newport University, George Mason University or Virginia Commonwealth University. Applicants will be entirely free to decide whether they want to include test scores along with their applications.
“We’re providing applicants to Madison the opportunity to build their best application which could include test results, recommendation, or personal statement,” explained Joe Manning, JMU’s Associate Dean of Admission. “We’ve determined that our students’ high school curriculum is a more consistent indicator of their academic success.”
As the university works to update their website to reflect the change in policy, information on the application process for the coming year has been communicated during on-campus information sessions, including one for counselors last month. In a nutshell, JMU will only require that applicants submit an application for admission (one choice will be the Coalition Application), a high school transcript, and a senior schedule of classes. An applicant can also submit, if they choose, a personal statement, a letter of recommendation and/or standardized test results to be used in the review of their application. Because this is a substantial change from how things were done in the past, JMU is developing a method for applicants to request the university delete test results that may already be on file in the admissions office.
The new policy didn’t come as a huge surprise to counselors who have worked with Madison over the years. It’s been evident by their decisions that application readers placed significant importance on information conveyed via the transcript—grades and consistent rigor of coursework throughout high school. Test results, while considered, appeared to be of secondary importance in Madison’s admissions decisions.
And JMU is joining an impressive group of colleges and universities that have made the decision to reduce the role of scores in admissions. According to the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), the list of test-optional schools has grown to more than 950 accredited institutions awarding bachelor’s degrees, with more than 275 highly “ranked” in their “tiers” by U.S. News, including such familiar names as Bowdoin, Mount Holyoke, Pitzer, Smith, Trinity College, Wesleyan, Wake Forest, Providence and College of the Holy Cross.
In addition to James Madison, the most recent schools to announce test-optional policies are Emerson College in Boston, University of the Ozarks and Wofford College in South Carolina. In the DC/Maryland/Virginia region, American, Catholic, Christopher Newport, GMU, George Washington, Goucher, Hampton, Hood, Loyola Maryland, Marymount, Old Dominion, Radford, Roanoke, Salisbury, St. John’s College, Trinity Washington University, Mary Washington, VCU and Washington College have either test-flexible or test-optional policies in place.
There appear to be a number of reasons for the recent “surge” in test-optional colleges. According to Robert Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest, “Admissions offices increasingly recognize that they do not need ACT or SAT scores to make good decisions. They know that an applicant’s high school record—grades and course rigor—predicts undergraduate success better than any standardized exam.”
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 email@example.com.
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.
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