Civic engagement and community service are a part of campus culture at James Madison University, stemming back to the 1986 establishment of an initiative promoting service-learning.

At 84%, James Madison's six-year graduation rate stands out among large public universities and is slightly higher than is expected of colleges that enroll similar students, according to a Money analysis. The college has strong offerings in visual and performing arts, as well as in the social sciences. Health-related programs, business and communications are among the most popular majors.

Although James Madison has about 20,000 undergraduates, 88% of classes have fewer than 50 students in them, and the student-faculty ratio is 16:1.

James Madison is in the middle of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, offering mountain views and some hilly walks around the campus and the city of Harrisonburg. The school claims that the picturesque scenery is what helped it become the No. 1 most-Instagrammed landmark in the state of Virginia. Students can also join 450 wide-ranging organizations like the aerospace club, caving club and the antisocial social club.