Located in Harrisonburg, VA (2 hours from Washington, D.C.), James Madison University (JMU) is literally surrounded by nature--students have easy access to the stunning beauty of the Shenandoah National Park.
With just over 19,000 undergrads, the public university retains a small-school feel with small class sizes (29 on average) and accessibility to professors (16:1 student teacher ratio). JMU boasts one of the highest graduation rates in the country (80% versus 45% nationally) and students rank themselves as some of the happiest in the nation (offering the 92% freshman retention rate as evidence). The school fosters a strong sense of community by requiring all freshmen to live on campus; 50% of sophomores continue to do so, as well.
The school has undergone a huge transformation since its start in 1908 as a women's college. After operating as a teacher's college for a number of years, JMU has doubled in size in the past 20 years, offering 76 undergraduate degrees, NCAA Division 1 athletics, and a highly-ranked business school (top 40 in nation). Parents will appreciate that the school continuously earns awards for being a great value: Princeton Review and Kiplinger's have both recently called the school a "best buy."
Acceptance rate: 65%
83% of applicants in top third of class
SAT mid-50% range (1600 point scale): 1090-1250
ACT mid-50% range: 24-29
Application criteria: academic rigor, grades and test scores
Out-of-state tuition: $25,200/Room & board: $9,018
1 out of 4 students study abroad
Campus food is highly ranked (4th in nation)
Earns high marks nationally for being an environmentally-responsible campus
D1 athletes at JMU are "Duke Dogs"
Notable alums include: G.J. Hart, CEO of California Pizza KItchen and ESPN anchor Lindsay Czarniak
60% female, 40% male, 2% international
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