Founded in 1908 as a women’s college, James Madison University is a public university located in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The campus began its operations in 1909 with two buildings—now called Justice Studies Hall and Mountain Hall—that sat on farmland at the outer edge of Harrisonburg. Constant growth and expansion have been a hallmark for the campus ever since.
Today, JMU extends over 650 acres of rolling Shenandoah Valley hills and includes more than 100 buildings. The university became coeducational in 1966 and it is fast becoming one of the nation’s leading lights in higher education because students enjoy unusually engaged relationships with world-class faculty who want to pursue knowledge and make teaching their number one priority.
JMU Rankings and Outcomes
#1 most innovative university in the south by U.S. News & World Report
#1 graduation rate in the U.S. for large, master’s level public universities
#1 Best College for Employment in Virginia according to U.S. Department of Education statistics compiled by Zippia. JMU has the highest post-graduation job levels of all Virginia colleges.
#5 in the nation for “students who made the right choice” by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education
#25 best public college value in the U.S. by MONEY magazine
80 percent of JMU students do undergraduate research, an internship, a practicum, or student teach
96 percent of 2019 JMU graduates were employed, in graduate school, or involved in other career endeavors within six months of graduation
90 percent first to second year retention rate
About Harrisonburg, Virginia
JMU is situated in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, a region known for the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, the Shenandoah River, rolling farmland and breathtaking views. Only two hours from Washington, D.C., the 675-acre campus is located in the city of Harrisonburg, a safe, friendly community with a 2019 census-estimated population of approximately 53,000.
Harrisonburg is a diverse city, with the variety of a larger city and the charm of a small town. The natural beauty of the area combined with a focus on local businesses, food, and people create an environment that makes the city appealing. Backpacker magazine ranked Harrisonburg a top spot to “beat nature deficit disorder,” and for good reason. Outdoor fun is serious business in Harrisonburg and the neighboring counties. Fond of being first in many things, Harrisonburg is especially proud of having the first recognized Arts and Cultural and Culinary Districts in Virginia.