JMU offers over 60 majors, and while some are open to all students, others require an application. Most majors that require applications are within the business, nursing and fine arts programs. However, requiring an application can be beneficial, since it draws in more motivated students although typically, these majors cost students more money and result in less flexible schedules.
Admission into majors with applications can be competitive. The School of Nursing typically sees 120-200 applicants each semester, but can only admit 90 students into the program. Alternatively, for fine arts majors, admission is purely need-based, depending on the year. For example, the flute studio may require 12 flute majors for a particular year, when in other years, it may only be able to admit four. The College of Business, however, doesn’t have a limit to the amount of students admitted, so long as they meet the 2.7 GPA requirement.
According to Kristin Hogue, a sophomore nursing student, her major has one of the most rigorous sets of prerequisite requirements at JMU. Admission into the School of Nursing is based on an objective set of requirements, so those looking to enter the program must adhere to a 3.0 GPA and can’t receive any grade lower than a C- in prerequisite courses. Additionally, if nursing majors have already completed Gen-Eds and all prerequisites at a different college, students must take a full-time semester at JMU before they can apply to the nursing program. Prerequisites required for CoB, however, allow a 2.7 GPA. Alternatively, fine arts applicants don’t need a specific GPA to be admitted, but typically must perform a talent-based audition and create a portfolio.
While the School of Nursing’s course content is more rigorous and time-consuming, Joe Tacy, associate director and assistant professor of nursing, stated that students who are accepted after their initial application at the end of their sophomore year typically graduate on time. Unlike many majors, the structure for the nursing program is built on a “two plus two type of program,” according to Tacy.
A two-plus-two structure puts students on track to spend two years focusing on JMU’s general education curriculum followed by two years of nursing studies. By using this format, nursing is unique in its course progressions to allow students to become fully enveloped in the nursing program throughout their junior and senior years. According to Julie Sanford, Professor and Director of the School of Nursing, this is because they may find themselves in all-day clinicals that would interfere with core curriculum schedules. The all-day clinicals required for nursing majors are typically held at local hospitals to provide hands-on experience and observation for students.
Alternatively, students in the CoB and fine arts programs don’t have to navigate their schedules around all-day events, such as clinicals. Because of this, they have more flexibility in their schedules and can mix core-curriculum and major-specific classes throughout all four years.
Differential tuition used to be charged as an additional fee, but it’s now included in tuition, so students granted financial aid don’t have to pay the extra fees out of pocket. JMU’s CoB also requires $50 per credit hour in differential tuition to compensate for necessary resources in the program. According to their website, differential tuition “ensures students experience state-of-the-art technology, such as the Capital Markets Lab and supports the Office of Experiential Learning.”
All students majoring in fine arts can expect to complete 120-134 total credits to complete their bachelor's degree. CoB and nursing majors are only required to complete 120-124, the most common credit range for bachelor’s degrees. Each semester, fine arts majors are typically seen taking at least one zero-credit class and multiple one-credit classes. Due to the low credits given, fine arts majors are required to complete more classes than any other major at JMU.
“Most students that have zero-credit classes feel that they’re not important and they can slack off,” John Krendel, a freshman music major, said. “If the class is not deserving of any credits, then I think it’s kind of a waste of time. Instead, students could put that time and energy towards meaningful classes that actually pertain to their degree.”
For admission into the theatre program, students are required to complete an interview following their audition. For instrumental and vocal majors, however, students are only expected to audition on their instrument or vocal part in order to be considered.
“It’s a lot of work, especially with the classes that get little to no credits,” Krendel said. “As hard as it is, I know graduating from JMU will leave me confident in my capability as a person and as a musician.”
Contact Shennan O’Day at email@example.com. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.