Eastern Mennonite University
"EMU is a small university with a big impact. Known around the world for...
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Eastern Mennonite University

Harrisonburg, Virginia

EMU is the right fit for a select few. Those “select few” are students who want to: combine faith and values with top-notch academics to serve the common good; study abroad under the guidance of committed faculty members to build cross-cultural understanding; develop skills for life to care for creation; and promote peace in place of conflict. Located in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, EMU is a Christian university like no other.


Student Profile

934 undergraduate students (39% male, 61% female); 33 states, 24 countries.

Faculty Profile

99 FT faculty; 81% with terminal degree; 10:1 student-faculty ratio; average class size (mean) = 18; average class size (median) = 15

Residence Life

66% of students living on campus. Others live at home with family or in the neighboring community. On campus options include LEED-certified dorms with floors committed to various themes such as Walking Disciples, and Global Connections, group houses and apartments.

School Location

Main campus: Harrisonburg, Virginia, with sites in Washington, D.C., and Lancaster, Pa. Located in Virginia’s scenic Shenandoah Valley, one hour west of Charlottesville, Va., and two-hours south of Washington, D.C.


Division III, Old Dominion Athletic Conference.  15 varsity sports: Men: basketball, baseball, cross country, golf, soccer, track and field, volleyball. Women: basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, soccer, softball, track and field, volleyball.
Mascot:  Herm the Royal Lion ( Colors: Royal blue and white

Other Information

Eastern Mennonite University is a four-year Christian liberal arts college affiliated with the historic peace-church tradition of Mennonite Church USA, founded in 1917.

More Distinctions

EMU students are “engaged” in their education from the time they first step on campus. Hands-on experiences from the dining hall (composting food scraps for the campus garden) to the residence halls (LEED certified with water-saving fixtures and solar-heated water) to internships and original research are part of the EMU experience. All first-year students are part of a small cohort that meets together four times a week the first semester. Three days focus on building writing skills. The fourth day is devoted to whole self-learning and the adjustment to independence: money management, study skills, time management, social development, faith journeys, self-awareness. There is so much more than “book learning” going on.

“Life changing” is how most students describe their cross-cultural experience at EMU. Cross-cultural credit has been required to graduate from EMU since the mid-1980s. Most students spend a full semester in another country, while others fulfill their credit in our nation’s capital at EMU’s Washington Community Scholars Center or on shorter international summer and U.S. experiences.

Wherever students go, they are immersed in local culture through homestays, language study and service opportunities. With the support of seasoned faculty members who have lived in the region, students grapple with the complexities of issues in places such as Israel/Palestine, the US/Mexico border, a township in South Africa, a slum in India. Students develop critical listening and thinking skills as they visit a Palestinian’s olive orchard or Jewish kibbutz and see all sides of current issues and events.

The Washington Community Scholars Center provides a group home where students take classes at a large local university part of the day and engage in internships the rest of the day. Faculty members lead classes in urban and economic issues, cultural understanding and more. Internships include placements at organizations such as Bread for the World, Faith and Politics, Al Jazeera, US. Department of Agriculture, FEMA, Capital Area Food Bank and The Smithsonian, to name a few.

EMU’s holistic science program combines high-tech, hands-on learning in a liberal arts setting with Anabaptist-Mennonite values of sustainability, social justice and service to others. EMU’s science program stands out because it provides students with 1-on-1 mentoring with PhD professors doing original research through hands-on training and cross-cultural study. All EMU biology and chemistry students are required to do original research. Each year up to 22 students are involved in research; eight to 10 publish their findings in journals. EMU’s anatomy and physiology students are among a select group of undergraduates nationwide who have the opportunity to work with human cadavers.

Digital media majors produce documentaries; art majors create art for social justice. First-year education students are in the classroom observing during their first semester.Accounting and business and economics students complete internships in the local community. Environmental sustainability students collect data in nearby Shenandoah National Park. Peacebuilding and development students participate in real social change locally and in nearby cities such as Washington, DC. Music students perform alongside faculty on campus and in nearby schools, jails, retirement homes. Bible and religion students intern in their home congregations or other setting to test out pastoral interests and gifts. The entire campus has the opportunity to participate in service projects in the local community as part of the annual celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

One-on-one mentoring with PhD professors is a cornerstone of an EMU education. Many EMU faculty have turned down more lucrative offers to teach at larger universities. They stay at EMU because they believe in the university’s core values and are committed to working with students in close mentoring relationships. Whether it’s a conversation in the student-run Common Grounds Coffeehouse, an invitation to his or her home, or grappling with issues of faith, ethics, and spirituality in the classroom, faculty members know students by name and help them succeed.

Cross-cultural programs – whether a full semester in another country or a shorter summer term – are led by EMU faculty. Faculty leaders orient and prepare the group before departure, walk with them along the way, encourage reflection and introspection, and are available on campus for the re-entry process. Most faculty members have lived in another cultural setting and bring significant connections and experiences with them to the classroom.

The cross-cultural experience shapes much of the rest of the college experience. Those who are anticipating their cross-cultural study benefit from hearing about others’ experiences. Once the study is complete, students process what they learned in other campus settings.

People from dozens of denominations and faith traditions, and more than 30 nationalities, are part of EMU’s vibrant community. Core values of community, service to others, peacebuilding and creation care are woven across the curriculum. About half of the undergrad students are part of the Mennonite faith community.

EMU is a small, welcoming community with an emphasis on global awareness. Third Culture Kids and “global nomads” (those who have spent a significant part of their childhood in a culture other than the United States), international students, people from diverse parts of the United States all find a home at EMU. Students admitted to EMU list “friendliness” as the number one descriptor of EMU!

EMU’s international connections, seminary and growing graduate programs also provide unique opportunities for the undergraduate campus community. In addition to the undergrad focused art galleries, theater and music opportunities, students take in colloquia, guest speakers, foreign films, visiting scholars, panel discussions and other events that are enriched by EMU grad programs, the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and the Center for Interfaith Engagement.

Students can interact with and intern for the Summer Peacebuilding Institute which brings more than 100 participants from 50 countries to campus annually. Trauma resilience training is available through EMU’s STAR (Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience) program on campus. Students have been involved with an Interfaith Peace Camp for local children during the summer.

Each fall and spring EMU campus ministries hosts a spiritual renewal week with input and discussion around a theme, brought by an off-campus resource. Biweekly chapel services for the whole community are available. Student-led worship services, and dorm floor Bible studies provide opportunity for spiritual growth.

Cross-cultural encounter is one of the many ways that EMU students are prepared for life after college. Experiences in a new culture open eyes and hearts to listen and learn from others, to respect a variety of opinions, to ask tough questions, to develop strong values. EMU graduates are sensitive to the complexities of today’s interconnected world, not only because of their required cross-cultural study, but also because of what happens on campus. EMU’s diverse campus provides opportunities for students to mingle with people who are different from themselves. Faith and values are challenged through spiritual growth discussions, classroom exercises that push boundaries and one-on-one relationships with professors.

Care for creation – environmental sustainability – is woven across the curriculum. By the time they graduate, all students have been exposed to a variety of ways to weave “green” lifestyle choices into their future. Should I bike or drive? Should I throw my food scraps in the landfill or make a compost pile? Should I hang my clothes out to dry, or run the clothes dryer? Can I plant a hedgerow of asparagus that will be both beautiful and functional?

Students who serve as part of the student government association, ministry assistant program or community advisor develop leadership skills. Conflict transformation and restorative justice are a way of life at EMU. Student discipline is modeled in ways that restore people who have made poor choices to their community, rather than separating and causing further harm. These lessons aer applicable following graduation in all settings, for classroom teachers, business managers, community and church leaders, health care providers and  even spouses and parents.

EMU students are preferred by employers in the Shenandoah Valley with local school and healthcare administrators holding openings for EMU grads. Graduates who go on to grad school often report feeling better prepared than peers who may come from more “prestigious” schools, due to the one-on-one relationships with professors, original research opportunities and wide exposure through a liberal arts lens.

EMU challenges students to “walk boldly in the way of nonviolence and peace” and to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8) as it prepares graduates to serve and lead in a global context.

Applications are received and reviewed year-round The receipt of an application by the admissions office is acknowledged by letter or phone call. An admission decision is considered when the file is complete with all requested information. The applicant will be notified of delays in receiving necessary information. A letter of admission, outlining any conditions associated with the admission, or a letter of denial will be sent to the student within seven days after a decision has been made. Students qualifying for unconditional admission are granted admission by the admissions office. Admission decisions for applicants not meeting unconditional admission criteria are made by the Admissions Committee.

Admissions counselors are on call and available to answer questions and support the application process.

Financial Aid 2012-2013

Tuition and Fees: $29,210
Room and Board: $9,500
Activity fee: $140
Total: $38,850

Nearly 100% of undergrads receive financial aid. An average assistance package is around $19,000. Close to $10 million in aid was awarded by EMU in 2012.

Virginia residents automatically get grants each year through the Virginia Tuition Assistance Program.  The award for 2013-14 is $3,100.

EMU matches church donations toward tuition

Parents of current EMU students say the cost of an EMU education is comparable in the end to that at large public colleges. One-on-one financial counseling from caring staff is available for each applicant.


EMU offers merit-based scholarships to students with outstanding academic achievement. Academic scholarships are based on a students’ three-year cumulative high school average (freshman through junior year) and the highest SAT combined score or ACT composite score of tests taken by January of the senior year. Academic scholarships range from $4,000 to $13,500 per year and are renewable for four years depending on academic performance.

Honors scholarship recipients receive at least $54,000 ($13,500/year) in scholarships for high academic achievement. Even higher scholarships are available to those who compete in the Yoder Scholars competition during honors weekend. Honors scholar applications are due November 1 each year.


$23 million

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