JMU is a liberal arts college, which means our hardest classes aren’t limited to just math and science. Nope! Instead we have a whole plethora of challenging subjects across the board. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back if you see any that you’re all too familiar with. Here are 10 of the hardest classes at JMU:

1.ARCD 200: Architectural Design Studio


Architecture may not be one of the most well known programs at JMU, but it sure is one of the toughest! This is the first of six classes you will be required to take as an architecture major beginning your sophomore year for every semester until graduation. Not intimidating enough? Each class consists of a semester long project on an assigned type of building or construct. Professors often encourage up to 20 out of class hours working on this project, and some even suggest at least one all-nighter!

2. PSYC 335: Abnormal Psychology


If you love reading, memorizing, analyzing, and taking loooooong tests then you’ll love PSYC 335.  In this class, you will become very familiar with the DSM, enough to recite it and be able to compare every disorder given to you on a test.  Be careful about reading too much into this class or you may develop a little bit of hypochondria yourself!

3. CHEM 241: Organic Chemistry I


Any student at JMU who’s taken organic chemistry can tell you it’s easily one of the hardest sciences or labs JMU has to offer.  With mandatory three-hour lab sessions and weekly lectures about chemical language, molecular electronic concepts, theories of organic reactions, stereochemistry and structure elucidation of organic compounds, it’s not difficult to see why students may prefer Professor Snape’s potions class…

4. THEA 481: Theory and Performance Studies


Although theater is probably one of the most enjoyable majors at JMU, it’s not all opera and tapdancing.  This upper level class is the second of two required for the theater major.  Rigorous grading by professors and various research projects on the history of performance and playwrights may induce a few dramatic episodes. Break a leg thespians!

5. POSC 492: Senior Seminar in Political Science


This class is not for the faint of heart, with weekly readings and assignments, online exams, numerous papers, and tough research projects.  In the end, it’s all for the best though, and seniors leave feeling well prepared and knowledgeable about their area of study as they enter the real world.  Just don’t slack off or you may have to delay graduation!

6. HIST 395: History Seminar


History majors beware! As a prerequisite to all 300-400 level history classes, HIST 395 is well known for being a challenging course amongst history buffs, even generating its own t-shirt that jokingly states, “I survived HIST 395.” This class will test your limits as it essentially teaches how to read and write history, ending with students handing over a semester long thesis dissertation, which can range from 17-25 pages. Yikes!

7. GEOL 387: Stratigraphy, Structure, and Tectonics


Orrrr not.  Perhaps one of the most hands-on courses JMU has to offer, in this class students go on five all day field trips to learn about the history of the Valley’s geology.  At the end of the course students compile their data and research into a rather hefty paper that includes three structural cross sections of certain areas.  That does sound like a lot of work, but I bet they know where all the rock type Pokémon are hiding…

8. COB 291:  Introduction to Management Science


At JMU, the College of Business is one of the most populated.  Ask almost anyone, and they can probably tell you two things about Business majors: 1) They have a grueling course load. 2) They literally never leave Showker. Like ever.  COB 291 is one of those dreaded classes that all Business majors despise. Math, graphing, programming, decision theory…ain’t nobody got time for that!

9. BIO 290: Human Anatomy


“Heaaad, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes!” Ok, so not quite.  In fact, this class is much harder, like I hope you have photographic memory, because there’s a lot to know.  With so much to learn you should expect tests about every two weeks.  Did I mention this class comes with a lab too?  Those bi-weekly tests also apply there… BONE appétit! 

10. CS 149: Programming Fundamentals (Accelerated)


This Computer Science course covers the same material as 139 but at an accelerated pace for those with previous experience.  It teaches students the basics of coding by introducing a programming language called Java.  It’s commonly known as a “weed out” course as the dropout rate is around 50%!! 


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