Jul 17, 2024  
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

School of Media Arts and Design

Dr. Gwyneth Mellinger, Director
Phone: (540) 568-7007
Email: smad@jmu.edu
Location: Harrison Hall, Room 0283
Website: http://www.jmu.edu/smad

S. Anderson, D. Flamiano, R. Greene, J. Hinshaw, J. Holman, G. Johnson, M. Johnson, A. Leidholdt, D. Maune, T. McHardy, G. Mellinger, K. Reynolds, R. Soenksen

Associate Professors
M. Grundmann, A. Vilela, S. Wright, N. Zheng

Assistant Professors
S. Hokanson, A. Hooker, T. Mitchell, I. O’Reilly, R. Parkhurst, D. Wang

J. Loyacano, P. Normand

Mission Statement

The School of Media Arts and Design prepares students to serve as creative, reflective, and highly skilled media producers and storytellers, sensitive to the personal and social impact of the messages they create and to the important role media can play in advancing the public interest.


To be a national leader in media education, providing innovative programs that embrace and integrate traditional media concepts, values, and skills with new and evolving technologies.

We value:

  • Inquiry-based learning, both independent and collaborative, that emphasizes the creative process and is distinctly innovative, challenging, cooperative and collegial.
  • Historical, legal and ethical literacy and critical thinking skills that enable students to reach thoughtful and principled decisions throughout their careers.
  • Diverse communities and global perspectives acquired through study and experience.
  • Strong co-curricular, extracurricular and internship activities that enrich education and enhance an understanding of the role of media in society.


To help fulfill the above mission, the school requires students:

  • To write clearly, concisely, accurately and effectively for a mass media situation: journalistic, cinematic or electronic.
  • To demonstrate computer literacy.
  • To demonstrate competency in information gathering for a variety of media situations.
  • To recall the process involved in producing a publication (newspaper, magazine, radio, television or multimedia presentation).
  • To understand how mass media businesses operate.
  • To demonstrate competency in conducting pertinent media research.
  • To recognize the history, theories, functions, and effects of mass media in society.
  • To recall the history of legal and regulatory constraints on the mass media and new information technologies.
  • To recognize ethical constraints on the mass media.
  • To apply knowledge of the media in professional environments under academic supervision.

Career Opportunities

The school integrates the fields and study of mass communication, advertising, corporate communication, digital video and cinema, interactive media, journalism, and mediated visual and aural expression. It offers a program of study that prepares students for careers that incorporate mass media and related areas of expertise, and for graduate study in mass communication and related areas.

Co-curricular Activities and Organizations

Majors and interested non-majors are encouraged to participate in co-curricular activities and organizations associated with the school. Cocurricular activities entail practical media arts and design experiences for which credit is available through practica or other applied courses. Co-curricular organizations are student clubs and honorary societies associated with the school’s programs of study.

Co-curricular Activities

  • The Breeze is the student newspaper.
  • Curio is a feature magazine covering life in the Shenandoah Valley.
  • WMRA-FM is the campus public radio station.

Co-curricular Organizations

  • SMAD Club is a student organization that promotes the School of Media Arts and Design, brings in speakers and organizes departmental events.
  • Madison AAF, a chapter of the American Advertising Federation, is a club for those interested in careers in advertising.
  • Society of Professional Journalists is the JMU chapter of a national organization for students and professionals working in the various fields of journalism.

Special Admission and Retention Requirements

Admission to the School of Media Arts and Design is limited and competitive. There are two pathways to full admission to the SMAD major.

Direct Admission

Entering freshmen and transfer students who are awarded a competitive scholarship by the university, the College of Arts and Letters, or by the School of Media Arts and Design will be fully and directly admitted to SMAD in the concentration of their choice. Such scholarship holders are exempt from the admission application requirement but must fulfill any conditions attached to their awards.

Admission by Application

Students interested in majoring in the programs offered by the school must apply for a limited number of spaces in the major. An admission committee in the school reviews applications and offers admission based on availability to the most qualified students. A student may apply no more than two times for admission to the school.

September Application Period

The September application process is only for transfer students matriculating to JMU in the current fall semester or the immediately preceding spring or summer semesters and have declared the SMAD major. These students must be officially admitted to JMU as transfer students and must have earned at least 30 hours of JMU approved post high school college credit. They must be degree-seeking students and must be enrolled in at least 12 hours at JMU during the fall semester. The application is due on Friday of the second week of the fall semester. 

January Application Period

Currently enrolled JMU students (including transfer students matriculating in January or in previous semesters) may apply during the January application period. Students applying to the major at JMU must be degree-seeking and have completed at least 12 hours or be enrolled in at least 12 hours at JMU. The application is due on the last Friday in January.


Students interested in applying for admission to this major must “declare” SMAD as a major and apply to become a “fully admitted” major. Declaring a SMAD major does not guarantee the student will be fully admitted into the SMAD major. Students must declare SMAD as a major prior to being eligible to enroll in SMAD 101 . A declared SMAD student may take SMAD 101 , but the student is restricted from SMAD courses beyond SMAD 101  until being fully admitted into the major.

A complete application to the major includes the following:

  • Completion of SMAD 101  or enrollment in SMAD 101 .
  • Completion of the SMAD Admission Test. (Instructions for the SMAD Admission Test are given in SMAD 101 ).
  • An application letter/personal essay expressing reasons for your interest in your first choice and second choice concentrations. Conduct research and then indicate what you know about careers in the concentration.
  • A completed change of major form (available in the SMAD office).
  • A completed SMAD major card (available in the SMAD office).
  • A completed SMAD questionnaire (available in the SMAD office).
  • Unofficial transcripts (Transfer students must include the record of JMU transfer credit evaluation).
  • Completed SMAD Application Package Checklist

The student will present the required information in a manila folder to the main SMAD office with the student’s last name, first name and student identification number on the tab of the folder. The student must supply the folder.

Following the review by the SMAD Admission Committee, students will be notified about their acceptance into the major. If accepted, students will be eligible to register for SMAD courses. Students not accepted into the major will be notified and may reapply the following January or a later January. Students may apply to the major no more than two times.

Change of Concentration

Students accepted into the major must pick a concentration. Students who wish to change concentrations after being accepted into the major may do so only during the annual application period. To change a concentration, a letter must be submitted explaining why you want to change concentrations. This letter should be addressed to the Admission Committee and be no more than two pages in length. A Change of Concentration form must accompany the letter. A student, after consulting with his/her adviser and gaining approval of the admissions committee, will be permitted to change concentrations; however, there are no guarantees that the change request will be granted.

Minimum Grades

If a student enrolled in SMAD 101  is accepted in the major and makes an “F” in the course, the student will be dropped from the major. In order to be eligible to reapply for the major, the student must re-take SMAD 101  and reapply. If a student enrolled in SMAD 101  is accepted in the major and makes a “D+,” “D” or “D-” in the course, the student may continue to take classes in the major; however, the student must retake SMAD 101  the next semester and earn at least a “C-“. Students are limited to taking SMAD 101  twice. Failure to achieve a grade of at least a “C-” after the second time will result in the student being dropped from the major, including being dropped from any SMAD courses for which the student is preregistered, and the student may not reapply for admission to the major.

To graduate with a degree in media arts and design, a student must have a grade point average of 2.0 (“C”) or better in the major.