Hott off the Press by Karen A. Hott, May 2024

Bluestone covers most of the buildings on the JMU campus. Photo by Karen A. Hott, June 2023

James Madison University, a public institution in Virginia, provided counselors with an overview of their admissions for the senior class of 2024 (JMU 2028) in a webinar on May 21. Anecdotally, I can tell you there’s been more interest in JMU than ever before, and the numbers bear that out. With nearly 40K applications this year, JMU has seen an increase of 89% since joining the Common App two years ago. This year, 69% of applicants were admitted, a decrease from 78% last year. This roughly corresponds to the 7.4% increase of applications over 2023. More applications, fewer acceptances.

Staying test-optional

The school is committed to staying test-optional. JMU’s Melissa Wood, vice president for access and enrollment, said that only 18% of the applicants submitted SAT or ACT scores. Of those admitted, 22% supplied test scores. (This slight difference can be explained by the fact that those with high test scores also tend to have high GPAs and rigorous coursework.)

Early Action the preferred option

The majority applied in the Early Action round, with only 32% applying Regular Decision. As a public institution, they don’t expect to ever add an Early Decision option. Wood pointed out that they look for the same things in both rounds: strong core curriculum, including a foreign language, with mostly A’s and B’s in a rigorous program. JMU recalculates grades and does not use the reported GPA from the high school. Out-of-state students made up nearly half of the applicant pool at 47%. JMU strives to keep the undergraduate population at 70 to 75% Virginian.

The most popular majors:

exploratory/undeclared biology psychology

computer science marketing engineering

finance management health science

Although you’re asked to specify a major on your application, JMU admits to the university, not the major or even to a college or school.

Little merit aid, but low cost

With a small endowment, James Madison doesn’t have a lot of money to give out merit aid. In fact, only 6% of admitted students received scholarships. For that reason, JMU prefers to keep tuition relatively low.

Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2024-25) – Per year

Tuition and Fees$14,242$31,588
Housing and Food$12,916$12,916
From for the 2024-2025 academic year

Housing expected to be sufficient

Last year, JMU was surprised by a higher yield than expected. This year, with the typical summer melt of 250 to 350, Wood said that they should have plenty of beds for every student who matriculates in the fall.

Can you tell it was hot, even for a Hott? That’s me in the dining hall. Food was pretty good!
JMU applications up 89% since joining Common App