Apr 17, 2024  
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog 
2021-2022 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, A. Leidholdt, D. Maune, G. Mellinger, K. Reynolds, R. Soenksen

Associate Professors
M. Grundmann, S. Hokanson, T. Mitchell, I. O’Reilly, A. Vilela, S. Wright, N. Zheng

Assistant Professors
R. Alessi, N. Dinc, C. Guo, A. Hooker, E. Kvernen, R. Parkhurst, M. Smalls, D. Wang

J. Loyacano

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.


Graduating SMAD students will:

  • communicate a message via a well-researched, targeted story appropriate for the audience and medium.
  • compose written products characteristic of entry-level media arts and design professionals.
  • apply ethical decision-making to the media production process.
  • integrate prior learning in order to analyze, plan, create, evaluate and revise a capstone-level creative product.
  • exhibit professional collaboration skills in the media creation process.
  • produce and disseminate media while exercising current legal rights and responsibilities.

Diversity Statement

As faculty and staff in James Madison University’s School of Media Arts and Design, we acknowledge the impact we and our students have on representation and narrative, as well as the role media can play in advancing public interest. The power of media and our responsibility as producers and storytellers are at the forefront of our experiential learning and critical analysis. We are dedicated to diversity and inclusivity, and we encourage activities that enrich our shared experience. We are here to uplift underrepresented communities in our academic pursuits, and we strive to build a community free of prejudice, intimidation and discrimination through our learning and teaching, scholarship and service.

Career Opportunities

The school integrates the fields and study of mass communication with an emphasis on effective visual storytelling across four areas of concentration: advertising, digital video and cinema, interactive design, and journalism. It offers a program of study that prepares students for careers that incorporate mass media related areas of expertise, and for graduate study in mass communication and related areas. 

Co-curricular Activities

Majors and interested non-majors are encouraged to participate in co-curricular activities and organizations associated with the school. Co-curricular activities entail practical media arts and design experiences for which credit is available through practica or other applied courses; however, students may participate in most co-curricular opportunities without receiving course credit.

  • The Breeze is the student newspaper.
  • BreezeTV is the student broadcasting activity.
  • Curio is one of several student-produced magazines in SMAD.
  • WMRA-FM is the campus public radio station.
  • WXJM-FM is the student radio station.

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. Those scholarships include the Dingledine-Bluestone Scholarships; the Senator Harry S. Byrd Jr.—D. Lathan Mims Renewable Scholarship; and the Alison B. Parker Memorial Renewable Scholarship. Their concentration will be determined by the SMAD Director, in consultation with faculty. 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 interest in the first-choice concentration and, if applicable, a letter expressing interest in the second-choice concentration. Applicants are advised to conduct research and then relate their interest to coursework and careers in the concentration.
  • A completed change of major form (available on MyMadison).
  • 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 and Contract.

The applicant 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. If the admission process is being conducted through online submission, students will be notified through the SMAD website and in SMAD 101 .

Following 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 in January. To change a concentration, a letter must be submitted explaining why the student wants 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 into 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 into 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.