Russell Scholars Program



Welcome to the website of the Russell Scholars Program (RSP), USM’s nationally recognized residential learning-community. In RSP,  students attend small USM Core classes team-taught by RSP faculty in addition to pursuing major courses of study outside of RSP. Above all, in RSP you can make friends quickly, easily meet with your professors, and feel at-home in a small learning-community within USM. According to a recent Russell Scholar, one major advantage of the program is its “closeness of community with a large support group to assist academically.” RSP is not an honors program; it is a success program open to all students admitted to USM as degree candidates. The first year of college is the most challenging year for most students. We are very proud that approximately 90% of all first-year Russell Scholars return to USM the following year as successful sophomores. Many returning sophomores choose to continue taking courses in RSP; however, there is no obligation to remain in the program after freshman year.

"I met such a wonderful bunch of people so quickly. I really enjoy the classes. They're small, close-knit, and comfortable. RSP has made my first year at college unforgettable.”
- Freshman, undeclared major
   Bangor, Maine

All first-year Russell Scholars live in Woodward Hall, a co-educational residence hall centrally located on the beautiful Gorham campus. Russell Scholars classrooms, a computer lab, and RSP faculty offices are all located on the first floor of the residence hall for your convenience. As a Russell Scholar, you will work with your own faculty mentor who will provide you with individualized academic support.

There are frequent gatherings of the Russell Scholars and their faculty for discussing ideas and students’ issues in a relaxed setting. Optional field trips and special events in the arts, humanities, and sciences are regularly attended by the Russell Scholars and their guests.

Membership in RSP is voluntary, and once you are admitted to RSP, you may take as many or as few RSP courses as you wish. Many students remain active in RSP through their senior year and are recognized at Commencement and professionally for graduating as a Russell Scholar. Regardless of your academic major, and if you have an above-average-to-excellent academic history, you are eligible to become a Russell Scholar.

Membership requirements are:

  1. acceptance to USM as a full-time residential student,
  2. have a strong desire to succeed, and
  3. have enthusiasm for working with others.

About the Program

The Russell Scholars Program (RSP) at USM is composed of approximately 100 dedicated students and faculty closely working together through collaborative learning to achieve the students' academic goals in their degree programs. Fifty first-year students (freshmen) are admitted to RSP every fall and they all reside in Woodward Hall, the residence hall home of Russell Scholars.

“I have enjoyed being a Russell Scholar because it has allowed me to meet people from diverse backgrounds and interests in a common setting, and to maintain those friendships over the years at USM. It has been a fun way to experience college.”
- Senior anthropology major
   Cornish, New Hampshire

RSP is an academic community first. All RSP courses are taught by USM faculty in or near Woodward Hall. Classrooms and faculty offices are located on the first floor of Woodward Hall. RSP students take only a few of their USM courses through RSP. Most of their academic course work is completed outside of RSP.

The Russell Scholars Program has its own common space for formal and informal gatherings. This ”commons” enables students and faculty to connect with other Russell Scholars and mentors on campus.

Russell Scholars and faculty are a learning community of students, teachers, and mentors who share a committment to success. Russell Scholars, with the help of their mentors, shape their academic experiences through program design, course participation, and portfolio assessment. Students know that their input is expected and respected, in and out of class.

The Russell Scholars Program is the most exciting learning community at USM. In RSP, students make friends easily, attend some classes together, and participate in optional activities outside of class such as concerts, plays, and trips to interesting places. The advantages of taking USM core classes through RSP are that the classes are small, they are taught by two professors, most or all of your classmates are in your dormitory, classes are often taught in the dormitory, and professors’ offices are often in the dorm. Russell Scholar faculty are professors from throughout the university who volunteer to teach in RSP because they enjoy the enthusiasm of RSP students. All RSP courses are either Core courses (Writing, EYE, Social Science, Literature, etc.) or electives. RSP courses do not meet the requirements for any academic major. They are strictly Core and/or elective courses that you need for a broad education and for graduation in addition to your major field of study. Therefore, RSP courses are a great way to take your required USM core classes with other students and faculty that you know. Above all, students can make friends quickly, easily meet with professors, and feel at home in a small community within USM.


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Each Russell Scholar is assigned a faculty mentor who will helps the student through the process of selecting courses and identifying learning opportunities during his/her academic career.

Ongoing assessment indicates that approximately 80% of first-year RSP students return to USM as successful sophomores. RSP students also consistently earn academic credit, participate in university life, and express satisfaction with their university experience at a level higher than students who are not in RSP.


All first-year Russell Scholars live in Woodward Hall, a coeducational residence hall centrally located on the beautiful Gorham campus. Making friends is easy to do in RSP. Russell Scholars’ classrooms and faculty offices are located in the residence hall for the convenience of students. 

Russell Scholars work with their faculty mentors, who provide students with individualized academic and professional support.

Graduating Russell Scholars will be proficient in the following skills identified as essential by educators, professionals, and business leaders:

  • Communication Skills
    • oral
    • written
    • presentational
  • Personal Growth
    • commitment to life-long learning
    • adaptive competence, technological
    • literacy, intercultural facility
  • Critical Thinking
    • rational problem solving, analysis
    • mathematical reasoning, logic
  • Field of Competence
    • successful completion of an academic major

Russell Scholars will be recognized on their transcripts and at Commencement for their successful completion of an intensive program of learning that:

  1. required more of them than a conventional program of study,
  2. gave them more than a conventional program of study,
  3. enabled them to contribute to the growth of USM, and
  4. was cooperatively endorsed by the student, faculty, and professional community