Core Curriculum

Overview of Requirements

Core Diagram

USM Core Curriculum

The USM Core is a coherent, integrative, and rigorous liberal education that will enable our graduates to be world-minded, intentional, life-long learners.  Students complete one course in each of the requirements described below.* Learning outcomes across the requirements are sequenced to help students develop increasingly sophisticated knowledge and skills.


Entry Year Experience

Students explore significant questions about human culture and the natural world from multiple perspectives, engaging in active and collaborative learning to enhance the skills and knowledge necessary for college success.  Enrollment requirement: College Writing or concurrent; first year students only.

College Writing

Students develop skills for the reading and writing they will do in other college classes by engaging in reading, conversation, revision, editing, and proofreading that produce strong, clear, and interesting academic writing. 

Quantitative Reasoning

Students acquire mathematical concepts and skills necessary for everyday life and for success in their major, including critical thinking, mathematical reasoning, technological skills, computation, interpretation, inquiry, and application to real world problems.


Creative Expression  

Students engage in artistic thinking in order to appreciate the value of the creative process and to enable them to use creative thinking in all aspects of their lives.  Enrollment requirement: EYE or concurrent

Cultural Interpretation

Students analyze and interpret cultural representations and practices to learn how people make sense of themselves and their world.  Students develop and critique arguments about cultural representations or their production.  Enrollment requirement: EYE or concurrent

Socio-cultural Analysis

Students examine socio-cultural systems and phenomena over time and across cultures using theories that shed light on human behavior in social contexts.  Enrollment requirement: EYE or concurrent

Science Exploration

Students learn to think like a scientist by engaging in the experiment, observation and critical evaluation which drive the scientific process. Requirement includes a laboratory experience.  Enrollment requirement: EYE or concurrent, Quantitative Reasoning or concurrent

 Intercultural Knowledge

May be completed at any level, and may overlap with other requirements.


Students engage in critical examination of and self-reflection on issues of difference and diversity and foster the intellectual and interpersonal skills necessary for understanding and working with diverse populations.  Enrollment requirements vary by course.


Students become world-minded learners who are knowledgeable about and have a comparative understanding of international social, political, economic or cultural issues in context. Enrollment requirements vary by course.


Ethical Inquiry, Social Responsibility, and Citizenship

Students engage in critical reflection on their responsibilities for informed decision making and action in their public and private roles.  Students frame, analyze and evaluate civic and ethical issues and assess their own perspectives and actions accordingly. Enrollment requirement: any three of the four “perspectives” requirements.  Other enrollment requirements vary by course.

Thematic Clusters

Students develop a broader and more comprehensive knowledge of an issue or topic and articulate orally and in writing how subjects are approached and framed from different disciplinary perspectives.  Students complete three courses from two subject areas in an approved Cluster.  One course may be from the same prefix as the student's major.  Enrollment requirements vary by course.

Minor or Double Major:  Students may complete a minor or a double major instead of a cluster. 



Students integrate learning in the major and in the Core, and connect academic learning with life, career, and citizenship, through a substantial final product of high quality, whether written, performance based, or practice oriented. Capstones are completed in the major. Enrollment requirements vary by course.