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College of Arts and Letters


Resource and Service Centers

Pre-Professional Programs

Center for Public Broadcasting

School of Art and Art History

Department of Philosophy and Religion

School of Communication Studies

Department of Political Science

Department of English

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Department of Foreign Language
and Literatures

Institute of Technical and Scientific Communication

Department of History

School of Theatre and Dance

School of Media Arts and Design

Writing Program

School of Music

Dr. David K. Jeffrey, Interim Dean

Dr. Marilou Johnson, Associate Dean

Dr. Ann-Janine Morey, Associate Dean

Jerry Weaver, Executive Assistant


Mission Statement

The College of Arts and Letters serves multiple vital needs of JMU students. First, it offers high-quality programs of specialized study in the social sciences, humanities, communication and the arts, and in several pre-professional and interdisciplinary areas. Second, the college provides a challenging array of courses designed to promote lifelong learning by sharpening analytical abilities; improving computational and communications skills; cultivating a facility with written expression; enhancing cultural awareness, intensifying moral and aesthetic sensitivity and fostering awareness of the contingent nature of knowledge. Linking these two missions is a college-wide commitment to free but rigorous and controlled inquiry into human nature. Finally, the college provides a variety of rich cultural opportunities for JMU students and the entire university community by sponsoring gallery exhibits and dozens of performing arts events, including Masterpiece Season, a series of programs featuring local and touring artists.


In addition to the special goals of each major, all programs in the college are committed to helping the student achieve the following common objectives.

  • Improve foundational skills fostered by general education courses: writing, critical thinking, information access through technology and, where appropriate, foreign languages.
  • Develop the ability to use writing to acquire knowledge and to communicate ideas effectively through writing-intensive courses required in the major.
  • Enrich cultural perspectives essential to effective citizenship in the 21st century; global awareness and appreciation of American cultural diversity.

Majors and Minors

Students may select from a broad spectrum of major and minor programs in the six departments, five schools and an institute. The departments, schools and institute fully describe their programs in the Academic Units section

Interdisciplinary Activities

In addition to departmental majors and minors, the college offers a wide array of interdepartmental majors, minors, pre-professional programs, general education courses, annual events and supporting services, some of which reach out to the regional community. Information on interdisciplinary programs offered by the College of Arts and Letters may be found in the “Interdisciplinary Programs” section.

Pre-Professional Programs


Dr. David Jeffrey, Coordinator

Students who plan to apply to law school may select their major from a wide range of fields, depending upon their interests. The scope of the law is broad and offers room for individuals of varied educational and intellectual backgrounds. Students should choose courses that provide them with broad informational and cultural preparation and develop their reasoning abilities.

Especially valuable to a pre-law program are courses in

  • Communication, including composition, language and speech, which enable students to express themselves well

  • The liberal arts, including work in the humanities and social sciences, which help students to appreciate and perform effectively in their culture and society
  • Logic,mathematics and the natural sciences, which develop skills of fact discrimination, analysis and synthesis
  • Accounting


Dr. Ian MacClean, Coordinator

The pre-theology program prepares students to enter professional schools of religion (divinity schools, seminaries, theological schools). These professional schools prepare the student for a variety of careers, such as ministry, religious education and religious work with youth and others. The program at JMU will provide excellent preparation not only for acceptance at these schools but also for enriched professional training. A student in this program may major in any field he or she chooses, although the American Association for Theological Schools recommends substantial pre-professional training in philosophy and religion. This professional accrediting agency also recommends a broad background in English language and literature; history (American and European); both the physical and the life sciences; the social sciences (particularly psychology, anthropology and sociology); the fine arts; biblical and modern languages and, of course, religion, including the Bible, history of religious traditions and theology.

Resource and Service Centers

Archaeology Collection

The archaeology collection contains prehistoric and historic material excavated at numerous Virginia archaeological sites as well as an extensive library collection of site reports, artifact identification guides and maps. Artifact study collections spanning the 12,000 year occupation of Virginia’s Ridge and Valley Province are also being developed for teaching and research purposes. For further information, contact Dr. Clarence Geier, Department of Sociology and Anthropology,(540) 568-6171.

Center for Liberal and Applied Studies

The Center for Liberal and Applied Social Sciences (CLASS) is a newly created academic unit within the College of Arts and Letters. It was created to support and enhance creative curricular and scholarly development in the social sciences, with extension to the humanities, and provide and environment that will encourage and sustain faculty innovation in interdisciplinary education. James Madison University anticipates significant increase in student interest in interdisciplinary studies in the coming years and CLASS will provide a forward-looking administrative unit to support and direct this growth.

Center for Public Broadcasting/WMRA-WMRL-WMRY

The Center for Public Broadcasting supports the goals of the College of Arts and Letters in meeting the objectives of James Madison University while serving the public radio listeners in the Shenandoah Valley and Charlottesville area.

The Center for Public Broadcasting comprises four non-commercial public radio stations, serving Harrisonburg at 90.7 FM, Charlottesville at 103.5 FM, Lexington at 89.9 FM and Winchester at 94.5 FM.All stations carry the same programming and are licensed to the James Madison University Board of Visitors. Much of WMRA’s programming is rebroadcast by WMLU 91.3 FM, the station owned by Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. WMRA is a member of National Public Radio, and is affiliated with Public Radio International. The stations broadcast 24 hours per day year-round,offering extensive in-depth news coverage and classical, folk and blues music. Over 50,000 people listen each week. WMRA also operates Valley Voice Radio Reading Service for the print-impaired. Listeners and local businesses contribute two-thirds of the Center’s annual budget.

Annual Events

Madison Symposium

The Madison Symposium brings to the JMU campus quality speakers and other related events which center on a given theme. Recent topics include “Civic Renewal and the University,” “The State of American Art,” “Science and Value in the Human Community” and “Violence.” For further information, call the office of the dean at (540) 568-6472.

History Day

Each spring JMU hosts the regional competition for National History Day. The contest is open to students in grades six through 12, with categories including media presentations, performances and historicalpapers. Judging and comments are provided by professional historians. Winners at the state level participate in the National History Day Competition at the University of Maryland in June. For further information contact Dr. Steven Guerrier in the Department of History at (540) 568-6523.

Visiting Scholars program

The Visiting Scholars Committee organizes campus visits during the year by 12-15 people who have made significant contributions in their fields. The scholars, who represent a wide variety of disciplines, expose students and faculty members to different perspectives and encourage intellectual exploration. During a visit, a scholar meets with at least one group of students in a class or informal setting and gives a public presentation and discussion of his or her work. For further information, contact Dr. David K. Jeffrey,(540) 568-6472.

Masterpiece Season

Each year the college and its performing/visual arts units present a variety of cultural events for JMU and the entire university community. The Schools of Art and Art History, Music, and Theatre and Dance all take an active role in this series. In addition to highlighting the talents of JMU faculty and students, Masterpiece Season produces visiting artist programs titled the Encore Series and the Family Series. In recent years Masterpiece Season has featured such artists as Wynton Marsalis, the Harlem Boys Choir, the Richmond Ballet, Spirit of the Dance and the St. Petersburg State Ice Ballet. To purchase tickets or to obtain ticket information, call (540) 568-7000.6472.

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