Core Curriculum

For Prospective Students

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, preparing them for life, work and citizenship.


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.

Advanced Electives

The Core Curriculum provides all students with the opportunity for exploration outside their major subject area.  Students  complete 9 credits of advanced electives outside the major.  This requirement may also be satisfied with completion of 9 credits in an approved thematic cluster, or completion of a minor or a second major. Enrollment requirements vary by course.


Engaged Learning (effective for students matriculating in fall 2019 and after)

Students are involved in sustained, applied, and collaborative learning beyond the traditional classroom and beyond a single, isolated assignment.  Students reflect critically about their conceptual and theoretical knowledge. Collaboration may involve participants within and/or beyond the university.  Engaged Learning courses place sustained student practice and engagement at the center of course pedagogy. May be taken pass fail; credits variable; prerequisites vary by course. 


Students integrate learning in the major and in the Core, and connect academic learning with life, career, and citizenship, through a signature work in the Capstone.  Students complete 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.