James Madison University

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James Madison University was founded as a teaching college in 1908, and the school prides itself on its innovation, forward thinking and commitment to bucking the status quo. Enrollment falls at around 21,000 students, 92 percent of whom are undergraduates. The university offers 122 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. While the school was founded as a women’s college, it has since evolved into a coeducational institution. Students enjoy a student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1 as well as access to a faculty of prestigious professors with a passion for teaching.

According to the school’s website, James Madison promises students a “future of significance –- not an education of mere prestige, but an extraordinary education.” The university’s rankings offer evidence of their success. U.S. News and World Report ranks the university as the number two public school in the South while The Princeton Review lists the school among its “Best 378 Colleges” in the country. The school also boasts a 92 percent retention rate, and The Princeton Review rated James Madison as one of the “most environmentally responsible colleges.”

The university is located about two hours south of Washington, D.C., making it an ideal campus for students who want the feel of a traditional college experience combined with the perks awarded by a major metropolitan city. Students will enjoy access to a variety of student organizations, ample outdoor activities and a dining hall that’s been ranked third in the nation by Business Insider. In terms of finance, Kiplinger, Forbes and The Princeton Review have all ranked James Madison University among the best valued colleges in the U.S.

James Madison University Accreditation Details

James Madison University holds institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. In addition, individual psychology programs under the school’s Department of Graduate Psychology have been accredited by various organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs, and the National Association of School Psychologists. Undergraduate psychology programs in the U.S. are not eligible for individual accreditation.

James Madison University Application Requirements

Applicants to James Madison University should note that the school is relatively selective, and competition is intense. In 2015, just 65 percent of applicants gained admission while 90 percent of applicants were considered competitive by the school. Undergraduates should submit the following:

  • A completed application with a $70 fee
  • Official high school transcripts and standardized test scores
  • Any relevant supporting documentation, such as extracurricular involvement or a letter from the high school regarding academic standing
  • An optional personal statement and letter of recommendation

The early-action deadline is Nov. 15 while the regular admissions deadline is Jan. 15. The deadlines for transfer students and re-entered undergraduates vary based on semester. Graduate applicants will set up an online account with the school, submit an application and the non-refundable $55 fee, and post unofficial transcripts through the school’s online portal. Official transcripts will be required once a student gains admission to the program.

Tuition and Financial Aid

James Madison’s tuition rates make attending school here a good value according to several noted financial publications. In 2015, the undergraduate in-state tuition rate for the year was $10,066 with room and board costs of about $9,018. Graduate students paid $434 per credit hour. Room and board costs were the same for out-of-state students, but tuition rates for undergraduate non-residents was $25,000. Compared with other schools in the state, James Madison offers students a more affordable option. The university’s financial aid website notes that in-state students could save just over $3,000 while out-of-state students could save nearly $23,000 by attending school here.

To help offset the cost of attendance, students are encouraged to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA, which will identify whether a student qualifies for government loans, grants and work-study opportunities. In addition to these traditional methods of assistance, James Madison offers a wide array of scholarships to incoming freshmen. These include:

  • Thomas A. Dingledine Scholarships
  • Madison Achievement Scholarships
  • Second Century Scholarships
  • Special interest and private scholarships

Transfer and graduate students may also be eligible for select scholarships, so students who need financial assistance should speak with the school’s financial aid office to learn more about these opportunities. Students can get a more accurate picture of their cost of attendance by entering appropriate information into the cost calculator available on the school’s website.

Degrees in Focus: Counseling and Psychology

James Madison University offers a wide variety of programs in counseling and psychology. In addition to the psychology major available to undergraduates, graduate students and doctoral candidates can explore one of the following programs:

  • Higher Ed CSPA Certificate
  • Higher Ed Assessment Certificate
  • M.A. in Psychological Sciences
  • M.Ed. in School Counseling
  • M.Ed. in College Student Personnel Administration
  • M.A./Ed.S. in School Psychology
  • M.A./Ed.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Ph.D. in Counseling and Supervision
  • Ph.D. in Assessment and Measurement
  • Psy.D./Ph.D. in Clinical and School Psychology

According to their website, the Department of Graduate Psychology is supportive, productive, diverse, service-oriented and student-focused. Students who pursue one of the 10 graduate-level programs here will gain access to a highly qualified faculty, academically rigorous coursework and substantial hands-on learning experiences. The department seeks to “transform students into outstanding practitioners and scholars of psychology” by creating a community that “values learning, scholarship, and service to others.”

Students searching for a master’s degree program can explore areas like school counseling and clinical mental health counseling while doctoral candidates can focus on clinical and school psychology, or counseling and supervision. The CSPA certification is a professional development program designed for those already working Student Affairs departments on college campuses. For assessment practitioners, the Higher Ed Assessment Certificate offers professional development in a convenient online format.

Each program offered by the graduate psychology department requires a different time commitment, and students can learn more about these programs by visiting the department’s website. To help students stay on track, connect with their peers and network within the larger counseling and psychology community, the department also hosts a Psychology Graduate Student Council. Those who are interested in a career in counseling and psychology will find many worthwhile options at James Madison University.