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, 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 their roles as participants in multiple communities
  • 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.

 

Satisfying 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-program requirements.

 

USM Core Requirements (back to top)

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. All newly-entering students with fewer than 24-transfer credit hours (AP and test credits not included) 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
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. 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 UExcel English Composition examination (see Prior Learning Assessment or Transfer Admissions for details).

Quantitative Reasoning
Students will learn introductory quantitative concepts and skills that are necessary for problem-solving and informed decision-making in everyday life. These skills include mathematical reasoning, computation, and the analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of data. The Quantitative Reasoning requirement can be met in one of three ways:

    • Successfully complete an approved quantitative reasoning course. Some majors require a specific mathematics course. Students should consult their advisor for guidance in selecting a course in this area.
    • Pass a CLEP examination in mathematics (see Office of Prior Learning Assessment for details).
    • Pass a locally administered examination (no credit)

Creative Expression, Cultural Interpretation, Science Exploration, Sociocultural Analysis
Students broaden their perspective through coursework in four primary areas of academic inquiry.

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. Pre- or co-requisite: EYE

Cultural Interpretation
Students analyze and interpret cultural representations and practices to learn how people make sense of themselves and their world. Pre- or co-requisite: EYE

Science Exploration (lecture and corresponding lab)
Students learn to think like a scientist by engaging in the experiment, observation and critical evaluation which drive the scientific process. Pre- or co-requisite: EYE and Quantitative Reasoning

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. Pre or co-requisite: EYE

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. Prerequisites: EYE and additional prerequisites vary by course. Some majors may require students to complete specific courses to satisfy this requirement. Consult the section of this catalog associated with your major for more information.

Core Electives
Students complete 9 credits of advanced Core Electives at the 200-level or above and from subject areas outside the primary subject area of the student's major. Prerequisites vary by course. Overlaps are not allowed between advanced electives and courses that satisfy lower division Core requirements in CE, CI, SCA, SE or QR. Courses carrying those designations are excluded from Core Electives. Students may complete a second major, a minor, an academic certificate or a thematic cluster to satisfy their Core Electives. Approved transfer courses from all disciplines at the 200-level and above are applied to this requirement.

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

Engaged Learning
Engaged learning experiences allow students to bring theory to practice by applying their knowledge, skills, and abilities in contexts beyond the traditional classroom, through sustained and focused application, reflection, and collaboration. Engaged learning courses generally involve time commitments off-campus or in other non-classroom settings. Variable credit and pass/fail options allowed. Engaged Learning courses may carry more than one Core designation and satisfy more than one Core requirement. See Maine Street class search for course options.

Capstone
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. 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 Policies (back to top)

  • The student has primary responsibility for ensuring that she or he completes USM Core curriculum requirements. Students should consult with an academic advisor for any questions regarding Core requirements.
  • With the exception of Engaged Learning courses, 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. Some majors require minimum grades for specific Core requirements. Students should consult the catalog section associated with their major for minimum grade policies of the major.
  • Overlaps between Core and major requirements: Courses selected for Core Electives must come from a subject area outside the primary subject of the declared major. Overlaps are not allowed between advanced electives and courses that satisfy lower division Core requirements in CE, CI, SCA, SE or QR. Courses carrying those designations are excluded from Core Electives. Students completing a Thematic Cluster are allowed one course overlap with primary subject area of their major. 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. Overlaps are permitted between the Engaged Learning requirement and other Core requirements. Courses which satisfy Ethical Inquiry will also apply to Core Electives if the course in question does not have the same prefix as the primary subject area of the student's major.
  • Repeating courses to satisfy Core requirements: Completion of a course condition form is required for repeated courses and replacement grades. 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 University policies on repeating courses, replacement grades, and the course condition form. The following courses satisfy College Writing, are considered equivalents, and will not be allowed for repeat credit: 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 via email.

 

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.

Inquiries regarding receiving transfer credit for Core requirements should be directed to the Transfer Affairs staff in the Office of Admissions by calling (207) 780-5340 or via email.

Students with 24 or more transfer credit hours or who transfer an EYE equivalent are exempt from the Entry Year Experience (EYE) requirement, AP and other test credits are not counted toward the 24 transfer credit cut off.

Transfer credit for the Ethical Inquiry and the Core Electives requirements must be at the intermediate to advanced level (normally 200-level or above).

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 curriculum requirements.

Prior Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies/Liberal Arts
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.

General Education Transfer Block for Students Transferring from the Maine Community College System
To facilitate transfer from the MCCS to USM, a general education transfer block is in effect beginning fall 2016.  Students complete with a grade of C minus or better a block of at least 34 credit hours of specified general education requirements at any Maine Community College and satisfy a corresponding block at USM.  For students with a completed block verified by a Maine Community College, USM requires no additional general education credits, except the capstone and any specific courses required by the student’s USM major.  Students should contact the registrar at their Maine Community College for information on verification of block completion.

General Education Transfer Block for Students Transferring within the University of Maine System
To facilitate transfer within the University of Maine System, a general education transfer block is in effect beginning fall 2015. Students complete with a grade of C minus or better a block of at least 35 credit hours of specified general education requirements on any University of Maine System campus, and satisfy a corresponding block on any other UMS campus. Up to 10 additional credits may be required by the receiving campus. For students with a verified completed block, USM requires no additional credits, except the capstone and any specific courses required by the student’s USM major. Students should contact the registrar at their UMS campus for information on verification of block completion.

Articulation Agreements
Students participating in any of USM's Transfer Articulation Agreements with partner institutions should contact the Transfer Coordinator at their Maine Community College, or the USM Office of Admissions for information about Core Curriculum requirements and Articulation.

 

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 requirement (career) term set to a pre-fall 2011 date. Email the Assistant Provost for additional information.