Core Curriculum

The USM Core Curriculum

Vision and Goals

The USM Core Curriculum is a coherent, integrative, and rigorous liberal education that enables our graduates to be world-minded, intentional, life-long learners. The USM Core engages the academic community in learning experiences that both illuminate and transcend the perspectives of various disciplines. It systematically fosters the values and dispositions, knowledge, and skills that prepare students for successful citizenship in a complex and dynamic world.

Students will

  • Demonstrate informed understanding of interrelationships between human cultures and the natural world
  • Engage in analytical, contextual and integrative thinking about complex issues
  • Demonstrate effective communication using multiple forms of expression
  • Engage in critical reflection upon and informed action in your roles as a participant in multiple communities; and
  • Engage in ethical action and contribute to the social and environmental welfare of local and global communities.

The USM Core enables students to achieve these goals through active learning that occurs both in and outside of the classroom. It provides opportunities and incentives to connect learning in the Core with the major, and build knowledge and skills throughout the academic career.

Meeting USM Core Requirements (back to top)

Core requirements are met by passing (with a grade of D minus or better) courses that satisfy specific Core requirements. Lists of courses that satisfy the requirements appear at the end of this section of the catalog and in Maine Street Class Search. Students in the University Honors Program or the Russell Scholars Program should refer to the corresponding section of this catalog for information on how Honors and Russell Scholars courses satisfy USM Core requirements. Some majors require students to complete specific courses for Core requirements.  Consult the appropriate section of this catalog for information on such degree porgram requirements.

USM Core Requirements and Sequencing (back to top)

USM Core requirements are sequenced. Students should pay careful attention to the associated course pre- and co-requisites in planning their course of study.

  • Entry Year Experience
    All new, entering students with fewer than 24 transfer credit hours must complete an EYE course in their first semester. Students who have completed an EYE equivalent at another institution are not required to complete the EYE requirement. Pre or co-requisite: College Writing.
  • College Writing
    All students must complete a College Writing course, either at USM or in transfer. College writing is a pre or co-requisite for the Entry Year Experience requirement. The College Writing requirement can be met in any one of three ways:
    • Successfully complete ENG 100, ENG 101, ESL 100, HON 100, LCC 110, or RSP 100
    • Score 50 or above on the CLEP General English Composition Test (See Prior Learning Assessment for details) 3 credits
    • Earn credit for the requirement through AP or transfer or by receiving a score of B or better on the Excelsior English Composition examination (see Prior Learning Assessment or Transfer Admissions for details).
    • Non-native English speakers whose SATs fall below 500 or whose TOEFL score is below 79 must take the ESOL program’s placement test before registering for an English class. See the Academic Policies section of the catalog for more information.

  • Quantitative Reasoning
    Students must meet USM’s mathematics readiness requirement before registering for a Quantitative Reasoning course.  See University Degree Requirements in this catalog for information on readiness. The Quantitative Reasoning requirement can be met in one of three ways:
  • Pass a locally administered examination (no credit)
  • Successfully complete an approved quantitative reasoning course
  • Pass a CLEP examination in mathematics (see Office of Prior Learning Assessment) for details)   Students whose majors require a specific mathematics course should consult their advisor for guidance in selecting a course in this area.
  • Creative Expression, Cultural Interpretation, Science Exploration, Socio-cultural Analysis
    These requirements may be completed in any order. Some majors may require completion of particular courses or a particular sequencing of these requirements. Students who transfer in 24 or more credit hours are not required to take EYE prior to registering for these courses.
  • Ethical Inquiry, Social Responsibility, and Citizenship
    Prerequisites: Any three of the four requirements of Creative Expression, Cultural Interpretation, Science Exploration, Socio-cultural Analysis. Individual courses in this area may include additional prerequisites. Some majors may require students to complete specific courses to satisfy this requirement. See the relevant program section of the catalog for more information.
  • Advanced Studies (Thematic Cluster)
    The advanced studies requirement in the Core may be met in any of the ways listed below.    Prerequisites for courses in these areas vary; see Maine Street course search for course-specific prerequisites. 
    Thematic Cluster: Satisfying the thematic cluster requirement involves successfully completing any three courses in an approved cluster, from at least two different prefixes; one of the three courses may have the same prefix as the student's major.  
    Cluster Alternative: Students complete three courses from any subject area or areas outside the declared major, at the 200-level or above.  Courses may not have the same prefix as the student's major.  Overlaps are allowed between these courses and 200-level or higher courses satisfying Ethical Inquiry, Diversity, and/or International.  Overlaps are not allowed between these courses and any courses satisfying creative expression, cultural interpretation, sociocultural analysis, science exploration, or quantitative reasoning.
    Minor, second major or academic certificate: Students may complete any minor, second major or  academic certificate to satisfy their advanced studies requirement.
  • Diversity
    Prerequisites for courses that satisfy the Diversity requirement vary by course. Please check the individual course listings in Maine Street for course-specific prerequisites. Some courses that satisfy the Diversity requirement may also satisfy other Core or major requirements. Students must complete two distinct courses to satisfy the Diversity and International requirements.
  • International
    Prerequisites for courses that satisfy the International requirement vary by course. Please check the individual course listings in Maine Street for course-specific prerequisites. Courses that satisfy the International requirement may also satisfy other Core or major requirements. Students must complete two distinct courses to satisfy the Diversity and International requirements. Study abroad involving an academic experience may be used to satisfy the International requirement. Prior approval form required.
  • Capstone
    Prerequisites for Capstone courses are determined by the offering program. Students should check the section of the catalog associated with their major for information on this requirement.

USM Core Curriculum Regulations (back to top)

  • The student has primary responsibility for ensuring that she or he completes the minimum college readiness requirements and the USM Core curriculum requirements. Students should consult with an academic advisor for any questions regarding Core requirements.
  • Courses taken to satisfy the Core curriculum requirements may not be taken on a pass-fail basis or audited.
  • Satisfying a core curriculum requirement involves passing (with a grade of D minus or better) an approved USM course in that requirement area, transferring an equivalent course, or demonstrating other prior learning through approved prior learning assessment processes.
  • Overlaps between Core and major requirements: Only one course in the student's chosen thematic cluster may overlap with the prefix of the student's major.  Students completing the cluster alternative may not use courses with the same prefix as their major toward the cluster alternative. There are no other restrictions on overlaps between Core and major requirements except those that may be imposed by the major. See the section of the Undergraduate Catalog corresponding to your major for additional information.
  • Overlaps between Core requirements: Overlaps are permitted between the diversity requirement and other core requirements (except international), and between the international requirement and other core requirements (except diversity). Students must complete two distinct courses to satisfy the Diversity and International requirements. Some courses which satisfy the Ethical Inquiry requirement also apply toward one or more of the Thematic Clusters.  Ethical Inquiry courses will also apply to the cluster alternative, if the course in question does not have the same prefix as the student's major.
  • Repeating courses to satisfy Core requirements: A failing grade in an EYE course may be replaced by a passing grade in any EYE course. All other failing grades may be replaced only by a passing grade in the same course. See Academic Policies section of the Undergraduate Catalog for additional information on repeating courses and replacement grades. The following courses satisfy College Writing, are considered equivalents, and will not be allowed for repeat credit.  These courses follow the USM Repeat Policy : ENG 100, ENG 101, ENG 104, ESL 100, HON 100, LCC 110, LCC 111, RSP 100 and RSP 104.
  • Waivers of and substitutions for USM Core curriculum requirements may be sought from the Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Programs and Core Curriculum at smcwilms@usm.maine.edu.

Transfer Credits and the USM Core (back to top)

Students receive appropriate transfer credit for their Core curriculum requirements through USM’s transfer admission and evaluation process.  Transfer credits may be applied to all Core requirements with the exception of the Capstone, which is normally completed within the major and as a part of major requirements.  

Students with 24 or more transfer credit hours or who transfer an EYE equivalent are exempt from the Entry Year Experience (EYE) requirement.

Transfer credit for the Ethical Inquiry and the Thematic Cluster requirements must be at the intermediate to advanced level (normally 200-level or above).  Inquiries regarding receiving transfer credit for Core requirements should be directed to the Office of Transfer Admission at (207-780-5340 or transfer@usm.maine.edu.

Prior Baccalaureate Degree: Students who have completed one baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution and are undertaking work for a second baccalaureate degree are not required to satisfy Core curriuclum requirements.

Prior Associate of Arts Degree: With the exception of the capstone and any other specific courses required by their major,  USM Core requirements are waived for students who have completed an associate of arts in liberal studies or liberal arts from a regionally accredited community or other college. This policy does not apply to any other associate degrees.

Transfer within the University of Maine System:  With the exception of the capstone and any other specific courses required by their major, USM core requiements are waived for students who have completed all of the general education requirements at any other UMS campus, as certified by that campus.

Students with Catalog Year Prior To 2011 (back to top)

Students whose Core requirement term (career term in MaineStreet) is prior to 2011 should consult the undergraduate catalog associated with their career year. Students whose Core requirement term (career term) is fall 2011 or after must complete the USM Core requirements as outlined here. 

Returning/reactivating USM students who completed the Core requirements associated with their previous Core requirement term may have their Core requirment (career) term set to a pre-fall 2011 date.  Contact the the Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Programs and Core Curriculum for additional information.