2020-21 Catalogs

Academic Support Services



Advising offers USM students a student-focused, integrated approach to academic advising and early career exploration in order to support the development and achievement of students' educational and career goals. Advising is the home to all professional academic advisors who begin building relationships with students before they start at the University through individual Advising & Course Selection meetings which serve as an academic orientation. After this, students are assigned a professional academic advisor and a faculty advisor within their respective major departments. Professional and faculty advisors work in partnership to support and encourage a student’s success throughout their academic career. Professional academic advisors act as the primary advisor until students reach junior standing at which time the faculty advisor becomes the primary advisor. Both advisors remain important resources for students during their entire tenure at the University and students are encouraged to maintain close contact with both advisors. 

Students who have not declared a major are provided with a professional academic advisor.  Students are assisted in the development of educational and early career goals as well as the selection of an appropriate major. Students should be ready to declare prior to reaching junior standing at the University. Once students declare their major they will also be assigned a faculty advisor in their major department.

Students admitted conditionally are also provided with a professional academic advisor.  Our focus is academic success and support for all participants in the conditional admission program and we offer several key elements to help students succeed. These include a developmental approach to advising, courses to strengthen academic performance, and carefully selected course schedules. Students admitted conditionally will have a personalized academic support plan. Upon completion of the requirements of the academic support plan, students are transitioned from conditional status and are also assigned a faculty advisor in their major department.

Professional academic advisors are assigned to students who have not been admitted to the institution and are taking courses on a space-available basis.

Advising can offer information about additional resources available on campus (e.g. Learning Assistance, Career Hub, Service Learning, Student Life, Registration & Scheduling Services, Student Financial Services, etc.). Students who have questions regarding these as well as general academic policies and procedures and other aspects of University programs, may contact Advising in 137 Luther Bonney Hall on the Portland campus (207-780-4040), 119 Bailey Hall on the Gorham campus (207-780-5652), and 119 Lewiston-Auburn College in Lewiston (207-753-6500).

Career & Employment Hub

The USM Career & Employment Hub assists students and alumni in connecting you to your future profession. They offer a variety of services from your first day on campus to years after you graduate. The Hub is focused on developing your career education and professional development skills through the knowledge and experiences needed to begin a successful career, including:

  • Exploring and connecting majors to careers
  • Administering and interpreting career assessments
  • Crafting a dynamic cover letter and resume
  • Job and internship search strategies
  • Developing networking and interview skills
  • Cultivating professional skills
  • Coaching during career transitions

Services are available in person, online, and through video conferencing. Learn more about the Hub’s services or book an appointment today! 


Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

The Office for Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) provides pathways by which students can earn credit for college-level learning acquired outside of a traditional academic environment. Pathways to academic credit include standardized exams, credential review, and academic portfolios.

It is important to note that not all students have assessible college-level learning from outside the classroom. PLA processes are pathways that depend on students' demonstration and documentation of prior learning, not promises of credit based solely on experience or positions held. 


The PLA Office posts credit for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams that students may have taken while in high school.  These credits are posted free of charge:

  • Advanced Placement (AP) exams that have been passed with a score of 3 or higher.
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher Level (HL) exams that have been passed with a score of 5 or higher. USM does not give credit for Standard Level (SL) IB exams.

The PLA Office assists students in identifying college-level exams that are appropriate to their learning and degree requirements.  Options include:

  • College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)
  • DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST)  
  • UExcel
  • Language examinations in over seventy languages.

The PLA office arranges and posts credit for challenge examinations. Challenge exams are developed by USM faculty members to match the content of specific courses. The purpose of a challenge exam is to determine student competency in a specific course. These tests are available only to USM students who are matriculated in a degree program, unless the faculty providing the exam is willing to grant an exception. They are used selectively in some, but not all departments.

Students who would like to explore their exam options should contact the PLA Office directly at 207-780-4663 or priorlearningusm@maine.edu. Students can also visit the PLA Office in person in Luther Bonney Suite 253.  No appointment is necessary.

Credential Review

Credentials and certificates issued by outside agencies may be eligible for college credit if they include verifiable college-level learning.  Students who possess such credentials should visit https://usm.maine.edu/prior-learning-assessment/pla-credential-review for more information. Credit from these reviews is posted free of charge.

Students who would like to explore their credential review options should contact the PLA Office directly at 207-780-4663 or priorlearningusm@maine.edu. Students can also visit the PLA Office in person in Luther Bonney Suite 253.  No appointment is necessary.

Academic Portfolio Assessment

Academic portfolios enable qualified students to demonstrate their college-level knowledge in writing.    Portfolios require that students engage in a self-reflective process regarding what they have learned through their work and life experiences, and how that learning meets specific outcomes. 

A student might complete a portfolio that meets the outcomes for: 

  • a specific course (or courses) within their major, if approved by faculty from that department. 
  • elective credits within a major, if approved by faculty from that department.  
  • a USM undergraduate Core Curriculum requirement.
  • general elective credit. 

Academic portfolios include a letter of intent, a resume, a narrative, and any supporting materials needed (certificates, awards, letters of recommendation, etc.) to document fulfillment of course learning objectives.  Students may complete portfolios for multiple courses or requirements within the same document. 

Students who would like to explore their portfolio options should contact the PLA Office directly at 207-780-4663 or priorlearningusm@maine.edu. Students can also visit the PLA Office in person in Luther Bonney Suite 253.  No appointment is necessary.


USM's Office for Prior Learning Assessment reserves the right to revise, amend, or change items set forth in our policies, procedures, and equivalencies at any time.

Military Credits

Official military transcripts are reviewed by USM's Veterans Services Coordinator. Please direct inquiries about military transcripts and any credits posted from military transcripts to:

Lorraine Spaulding
Director of Veterans Services
235 Luther Bonney Hall
88 Bedford Street
Portland, Maine  04104-9300

NOTE:  USM's Office for Prior Learning Assessment reserves the right to revise, amend, or change items set forth in our policies, procedures, and equivalencies at any time.


Veterans' Services

USM's Veterans Services is an on-campus resource for veterans, servicemembers, and their families. Transitioning from military to the classroom can be challenging and so can navigating the U.S. government benefits known as the GI Bill®. USM Veterans Services is here to help.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

Military Credits - Served in the military? Our Veterans Services team can review your military transcript to see if college credit is available based on your knowledge and experience.

Contact us at (207) 780-5232 or usm.veterans@maine.edu. Find out more at https://usm.maine.edu/veterans.

University Libraries: Centers of Learning, Research, Writing and Technology

The University Libraries provide a full range of resources and services in person and virtually. The Libraries are open seven days per week and are conveniently located on each of USM's three campuses (Gorham, Portland, Lewiston-Auburn). The Libraries offer a range of comfortable spaces for studying, group work and assistance. Find out more at http://usm.maine.edu/library.

Learning Commons at Glickman Library (2nd Floor) and Gorham Library offer research and writing help, learning assistance, group study rooms and computers and technology support. Similar services are offered at the Lewiston-Auburn Library Information Commons. Find out more at http://usm.maine.edu/learningcommons.

Selected Services
Collections and Resources
  • Over 275 library databases, most full text
  • Access to over 35,000 electronic journals via our databases with most articles available in full text
  • URSUS Catalog access to 375,000 books supplemented by more than 1.5 million print titles held in the libraries of the other campuses of the University of Maine System, the Maine State Library and the Bangor Public Library with two or three day intercampus delivery
  • E-Books, audio books and DVDs

Find out more at http://usm.maine.edu/library/collections.

Special Collections consists of a rare books and manuscripts collection, the University Archives and the Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine. Find out more about the various special collections at http://usm.maine.edu/library/specialcollections.

Franco American Collection at the Lewiston-Auburn Campus preserves and promotes the culture and heritage of Maine’s Franco-American population. It holds a wide range of archive and research materials, and it sponsors a variety of events that promote the history and culture of Franco-Americans. https://usm.maine.edu/franco-american-collection


Center for Technology Enhanced Learning (CTEL)

The Center for Technology-Enhanced Learning (CTEL) offers resources to USM faculty and staff, including learning and instructional design support and faculty development.  With the goal of expanding higher education opportunities for the people of Maine and beyond, CTEL focuses its efforts on supporting courses and academic programs that attract new audiences to USM, such as, place-bound or working adults. CTEL works closely with other USM units including the Glickman Library, ITMS, Learning Commons, and the Center for Collaboration and Development. CTEL delivers year-round programming using various workshop formats. CTEL also offers the following grant programs: CTEL Community of Practice grants, CTEL Technology-Enhanced Learning grants, and CTEL Learning Innovation Grants. Contact CTEL by phone: (207) 780-4540, email: ctelhelp@maine.edu  or online: usm.maine.edu/ctel.

Computing Services

The Information Technology department provides a variety of technology support services to students, faculty, and staff at the University.

Computer labs for general student use are located on the Gorham, Lewiston-Auburn, and Portland campuses and in the University Libraries. The computer labs have Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh computer systems, and academic software applications. Black and white or color printing is available for a nominal fee using the USM Campus Card. Computer classrooms are available on all three campuses for class activity periods.

Resident students are provided an Internet connection in each room as part of their room package. The USM IT Help Desk, located on the 3rd floor of the Glickman Library, Portland, assists all faculty, staff, and students with computer problems, including some common University login, e-mail, and Internet problems. Assistance can be requested by phone at 780-4029, by e-mail at help@maine.edu, or online at http://usm.maine.edu/computing/helpdesk

For more information about any of the services offered by Computing Services, please visit us on the web at http://usm.maine.edu/computing.

Instructional Technology and Media Services

The Instructional Technology and Media Services (ITMS) Department provides classroom and instructional technology support for the academic programs of the University. This support includes group or individual training sessions on instructional applications and use of technology in Portland, Gorham, or Lewiston-Auburn.

Other services include the delivery and maintenance of classroom equipment on all three campuses, equipment loaning, equipment installation, organizing and running events in Hannaford Hall and around campus. Please visit the ITMS USM Web site (http://usm.maine.edu/itms) for more information. ITMS staff are available by calling (207) 780-4280 or visiting one of our offices.

Portland: 141 Luther Bonney Hall or Gorham: 1 Bailey Hall

Academic Assessment

The Office of Academic Assessment coordinates the administration of various testing programs, such as USM's Mathematics Placement Program (e.g., Accuplacer Math Tests) for incoming and transfer students, in addition to certification and national tests for graduating students (e.g., Miller Analogies Test, GRE Subject Tests, LSAT, and others). Students are encouraged to contact the Office-Testing Room  at 240 Luther Bonney Hall for testing information, or or visit our Website for test registration and schedules at http://usm.maine.edu/assessment.

The Office of Academic Assessment also conducts institutional assessment studies, administers student surveys, assists departments in evaluating courses and programs, develops tests and assessment instruments, and provides technical support to the faculty for their tenure and promotion. Office location: 45 Exeter Street.

Disability Services Center

The Disability Services Center (DSC) provides a wide range of services to students with attentional, learning, physical, psychological, sensory or other health-related disabilities. Students with disabilities who want to learn about our services and request accommodations are encouraged to contact the DSC to schedule an initial appointment. Visit the DSC website to learn more about requesting academic or housing accommodations.

Disability Services Center (DSC)

242 Luther Bonney Hall, Portland

780-4706, 780-5646 (TTY)
email: dsc-usm@maine.edu

fax: 780-4403


Learning Resources and Academic Assistance: The Learning Commons

The Learning Commons is an open space designed to foster collaborative and active learning, filled with movable tables, rolling whiteboards, and plush furniture. In addition to subject-based tutoring, we offer help with time-management and study skills, technology assistance, and research guidance, as well as reservable group study spaces and access to community computers. While physically located in Bailey Hall Library in Gorham, the Glickman Library in Portland, and the Library at Lewiston-Auburn College, many of our services (including tutoring!) are also available online.

Tutoring at USM

The tutoring service at The Learning Commons is a peer support service, meaning that all of our tutors are current USM students who have completed a nationally-accredited tutor training program. We have over 60 tutors who are able to provide assistance in numerous subject areas, including Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Accounting, and Finance.

USM students can enjoy the benefits of two appointments per week per subject area. For example, a student can schedule two chemistry appointments as well as two math appointments. Appointments are available in Gorham, Portland, Lewiston-Auburn, and online.

Writing Assistance at USM

Writing works best when it’s a collaborative process. All of our Writing Assistants are current USM students who have been trained to help at any stage of the writing process, from generating ideas at the very beginning to providing a reader’s perspective on the final draft.

Similar to tutoring, Writing Assistance is available on all three campuses and online

Scheduling a Tutoring Appointment

USM students can use the self-service online calendar to easily view available appointments and schedule a time with a tutor (the Tutoring: Subject-based Assistance and Tutoring: Writing Assistance links can be found in the MyUSM Portal under the USM Quick Links tab). 

Any courses for which tutoring is offered are listed on the site, and updated each semester.

To view a "how to" document with screenshots, please click HERE.

Technology Assistance

The Learning Commons offers instruction on many technologies used at USM, including Microsoft Office programs, Google applications, software used in online courses, and other tools related to student academic needs.

To meet with a Technology Assistant,  please visit Meet with a Technology Assistant.

Research Assistance

College-level research involves finding appropriate peer-reviewed sources. Our Librarians and tutorials can help. All USM students can work with any Research Librarian in Portland, Gorham, or Lewiston-Auburn. Walk in or schedule an appointment with a Librarian to help you save time with your research assignments. 

Students can also meet with a Learning Commons Navigator at the Portland campus location. A Learning Commons Navigator is a current USM student trained in guiding peers through the initial steps of conducting academic research.

Academic Success Strategies and Resources

We have an entire website dedicated to becoming an “AGILE learner” (Academic Gains through Improved Learning Effectiveness), which does a deep dive into how learning works, along with specific strategies such as how to read actively, take effective notes, and study in groups. The site offers an array of printable resources

Students can also increase their academic skills by scheduling an appointment with a Peer Academic Coach.

Group Study Rooms

There are a number of group study rooms within the USM Libraries. All USM students can use any of these privately enclosed spaces to study in groups or to work collaboratively on projects.

To view or reserve one of these spaces, please visit Group Study Rooms.

For more information, call (207)780-4228.