Core Curriculum

Thematic Clusters

USM is conducting a comprehensive review of the Thematic Cluster requirement.  To insure maximum flexibility for students during this period, students now have 3 options for satisfying the Cluster requirement.

1. Traditional cluster option: complete 3 courses from 2 subject areas in an approved cluster. One course may be from the same subject area (prefix) as the student's major. 

2. Minor or second major: complete any minor or second major in lieu of a cluster (no restrictions on overlaps with first major).

3. Upper-level electives: complete any 3 courses from any subject area(s) outside the major, at the 200-level or above.  Courses may not have the same prefix as the student's major. Overlaps are allowed between these electives and 200-level or higher courses satisfying Ethical Inquiry, Diversity, and/or International.  Overlaps are not allowed between these courses and any courses satisfying CE, CI, SCA, SE or QR. Any courses with those Core designations will not and may not be applied to the cluster alternative. Courses must be 3 credits or more.

Thematic Cluster descriptions, courses and prerequisites

Courses in Clusters

Law cluster web site

New Professional Practice cluster course-- STH 440 Related Occupational Experience/Internship

For faculty-- Cluster Organizers

Thematic clusters provide students with opportunities to explore an issue, theme or topic from a variety of perspectives. The clusters encourage students to integrate their learning by juxtaposing competing and complementary ways of framing complex issues and problems at a more advanced level. Satisfying the thematic cluster requirement involves successfully completing any three courses in the cluster, from at least two different prefixes. One of these courses may be from the same prefix as your major.

 In completing their thematic cluster, students will

  • develop a broader and more comprehensive knowledge of an issue or topic than is achieved by a single disciplinary perspective;
  • understand and articulate orally and in writing how subjects are approached and framed from different disciplinary perspectives;
  • gather, interpret and use information at a level appropriate to the courses in the cluster.

How do I select and complete my Thematic Cluster?

Do your homework.  You may not be able to select a Cluster course at your first advising appointment.  Selecting a Cluster has a lot in common with choosing your major.  During or after your first advising appointment, review the clusters and…

 Explore the themes.What interests you?

 Consider your major. What Cluster theme complements your major?  Does your major advise completion of a particular Cluster? Ask your advisor.

 Plan ahead. Look closely at the individual courses within a Cluster; many involve pre-requisites; in some cases, you will begin work on your cluster by completing pre-requisites for the courses you want to take in the Cluster.  Plan ahead! 

Consider your transfer credits.  Do any of them apply to a particular cluster?  See the Transfer Credits quick link for more information.

Use the time you have and use it wisely. Remember, satisfying your Thematic Cluster requirement involves successfully completing any three courses in the cluster over the course of your undergraduate career.  You don’t have to complete your cluster in your first semester at USM!

Satisfying the thematic cluster requirement involves successfully completing any three courses in the cluster, from at least two different prefixes. One of these courses may have the same prefix as your major.

Here is a sample cluster course selection for an Anthropology major completing the Environment and Society cluster, illustrating overlaps:

ESP 308 Global Environmental Problems and Sustainability (also satisfies EISRC & International)

ANT 213 Human Ecology (one course with same prefix as student's major)

TAH 231 Sustainability in Tourism and Hospitality