Jun 22, 2024  
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog

Media Arts and Design, B.A.

Program Description

The School of Media Arts and Design  incorporates the study of mass media and mediated visual and aural expression, focusing on creative advertising, video and cinema production, interactive design, journalism, film studies, and creative writing. SMAD offers a program of study that prepares students for careers in the media and/or corporate environments that rely on mass media and related areas of expertise, or graduate study in mass communication and related areas.

Admission and Minimum Grades

Special Admission and Retention Requirements

Admission to the Media Arts and Design, B.A. is limited and competitive. There are two pathways to full admission to the media arts and design major.

Direct Admission

Entering first year 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 the media arts and design major. 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 media arts and design 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 at 4 p.m. on the second Friday of the fall semester. 

Annual Application Period

Currently enrolled JMU students (including transfer students matriculating in January or in previous semesters) may apply during the annual application period that occurs in the spring semester. 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 at 4 p.m. on the third Friday of the spring semester. The exact date will be posted on the SMAD website.


Students interested in applying for admission to this major must “declare” media arts and design as a major and apply to become a “fully admitted” major. Declaring a media arts and design major does not guarantee the student will be fully admitted into the media arts and design major. Students must declare media arts and design as a major prior to being eligible to enroll in SMAD 101 . A declared media arts and design 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 . Students must earn a minimum grade of “C-” (minimum 70%) in SMAD 101  or they will have to retake the course. Students get only two attempts to earn a minimum of 70% in the course.
  • Completion of the SMAD Admission Test with sections on English grammar and usage, time writing samples and basic computer knowledge.
  • Submission all required components on the “SMAD Admissions” Canvas course:
    • An application letter/personal essay expressing reasons for interest in your first-choice concentration. If you wish to be considered for a second-choice concentration, submit a separate letter specifically for that concentration. (A student will only be accepted into one concentration.)
    • Unofficial transcript(s). (Transfer students must include unofficial transcripts from previous institutions and JMU Transfer Credit Report.)
    • A SMAD Admissions Questionnaire on Canvas that asks about media creation and experience.
    • A SMAD Contract on Canvas.

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 are assigned to a concentration. Students who wish to change concentrations after being accepted into the major may ask to do so only during the annual application period, which ends at 4 p.m. on the third Friday of the spring semester. 

To request a different concentration, the student must submit on the “SMAD Admissions” Canvas course the following: 

  1. A letter explaining why the student is seeking that change. This letter should be addressed to the Admissions Committee and be no more than two pages in length.
  2. A completed Concentration Change Application form, which the student can download from the “SMAD Admissions” Canvas course and fill out after consulting with their advisor and obtaining the advisor’s signature. The student must scan in and submit the finished form to upload on the Canvas site.
  3. The student’s unofficial transcripts.

A student seeking a concentration change must request access to the “SMAD Admissions” Canvas course. Directions for doing so are posted on SMAD’s website. 

If the Admissions Committee approves the student’s request, the application will be reviewed by the SMAD director, who will grant final permission to change concentrations. There are no guarantees that the change will be granted, and students who change concentrations will not receive overrides or prerequisite waivers to expedite graduation.

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 a minimum grade of “C-“. Students are limited to taking SMAD 101  twice. Failure to achieve a minimum grade of “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 major in media arts and design, a student must have a minimum grade point average of 2.0 (“C”) in the major.

Degree and Major Requirements

Degree Requirements
Credit Hours
Foreign Language classes (intermediate level required) 2, 3
Philosophy course (in addition to General Education courses) 3
University electives
Major requirements (listed below)​​​​​​​ 4




1 The General Education  program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill.
2 The foreign language requirement may be satisfied by successful completion of the second semester of the intermediate level of the student’s chosen language (typically 232) or by placing out of that language through the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures’ placement test.
3 The foreign language and philosophy requirements may be satisfied by courses in the breadth requirement for the major, except for PHIL 120  and PHIL 150 .
4 A student must complete a minimum of 48 credits for the media arts and design major (42 SMAD credits and 6 non-Media Arts and Design, B.A. breadth credits). In addition to courses in the School of Media Arts and Design, students must complete at least 72 non-SMAD credits.


1 Students may receive SMAD credit for either SMAD 301  or SMAD 301L , but not both.

Breadth Requirement: 6 Credit Hours

To be accomplished visual storytellers, students seeking a degree in media arts and design require extra breadth in foreign language and philosophy. Students seeking a Bachelor of Arts degree in media arts and design must complete any foreign language class between course numbers 212 or 232-399. In addition, those students must complete any 100-300 level philosophy course or PHIL 466  or PHIL 468 .

Notes: Classes that satisfy the breadth requirements for media arts and design that qualify as satisfying the university’s degree requirements will also fulfill the university degree requirements. (PHIL 120  and PHIL 150  do not fulfill the university’s degree requirements for philosophy.) In no case may a student double-count a general education class toward the university B.A. degree requirements.

Concentration (courses listed below): 21 Credit Hours

Media arts and design majors apply for and are assigned to one of four concentrations (creative advertising, digital video and cinema, interactive design, journalism), and must complete all requirements for that concentration. Students are restricted from taking classes in other concentrations unless there is room and permission is granted.

Major Requirements Total: 48 Credit Hours

Media Arts and Design Concentrations

Creative Advertising Concentration

This professionally-oriented concentration provides students with the knowledge and skills to create and manage advertising programs emphasizing new media. In addition to the theoretical concepts underlying advertising, students learn strategic creative writing, effective message design and media production. Students also learn strategic planning, implementation and evaluation of new media technologies, and research and analysis of current trends and applications. The program reviews ethical and legal issues involved in the creative advertising process and the use of new media. Students planning careers in creative advertising should obtain a broad liberal arts education to better understand the characteristics that make the diversified communication process effective across various media and organizations.

Creative Advertising Concentration Total: 42 Credit Hours

Digital Video and Cinema Concentration

The core mission of the digital video and cinema concentration is to prepare students to be visual storytellers. Students will develop a broad understanding of the aesthetics, techniques and technologies that embody the visual storytelling process as well as a critical perspective of how media tools are used to create content, convey information and impact audiences.

The program offers preparation in writing, development, production and post-production in various genres, and an exploration of the continuously evolving commercial and artistic potential of visual media and story. Digital video and cinema students are encouraged to complement their concentration with a robust liberal arts experience that could include a minor and/or a second major. An internship is also recommended.

Choose one of the following: 3 Credit Hours

Choose one of the following: 3 Credit Hours

Digital Video and Cinema Concentration Total: 42 Credit Hours

Interactive Design Concentration

This concentration serves students interested in digital convergence – the delivery of content via multiple media formats such as text, images, audio, video and interactive websites. Students are involved in content creation and distribution using diverse communications media and are prepared for a variety of roles in media industries. Class work and practical experiences are grounded in online media and provide students with opportunities to develop additional skills using other media formats. At the same time, the program encourages students to obtain a broad liberal arts education so they will understand the theories, design, legalities and applications of convergence in society.

Journalism Concentration

This professionally-oriented program enables students to develop reporting, writing, editing and production skills needed to work in magazines, newspapers, video/broadcast and new media journalism through course work, internships and other practical experiences. At the same time the program encourages students to obtain a broad liberal arts education so they will understand many of the issues facing contemporary society.

Choose one Advanced Applied Skills courses: 3 Credit Hours

Choose one Critical Analysis course: 3 Credit Hours (SMAD 471 is required of journalism concentrators. They must select an additional Critical Analysis course)

Journalism Concentration Total: 42 Credit Hours


1 This course fulfills the College of Arts and Letters  writing-intensive requirement for the major.
2 These courses satisfy concentration requirements when the topic is appropriate.
3 This course is offered in the JMU in LA summer study away program.
4 Students may receive SMAD credit for either SMAD 301  or SMAD 301L SMAD 472  or SMAD 472L , SMAD 463  or SMAD 463L  but not both.
5 This course is offered in the JMU in New York summer study away program.

Recommended Schedule for Majors

First Year

First Year Total: 30 Credit Hours

Second Year Total: 30 Credit Hours

Third Year

Third Year Total: 30 Credit Hours

Fourth Year

Fourth Year Total: 30 Credit Hours

Program Total: 120 Credit Hours