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.
- 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
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 MaineStreet 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
Click on the Core Requirement title for a list of courses that satisfy that requirement. Please consult with your advisor or use Class Search in MaineStreet to determine the availability of Core courses in any given semester.
Writing, Reading, and Inquiry
The Writing, Reading, and Inquiry requirements ensure that students develop and adapt skills to meet the demands of collegiate study and of new writing situations and diverse audiences. Through their completion of three Writing, Reading, and Inquiry requirements, students become rhetorically versatile and purposeful readers and writers, using the power of language as a means to discover and cultivate ideas and to communicate clearly, productively, and ethically within academic, workplace, and civic communities.
The first component, Writing, Reading, and Inquiry 1 (WRI 1), can be satisfied in one of three ways:
- Successfully complete ENG 100 , ENG 101 , ESL 100 , HON 100 , or RSP 100 , or
- Score 50 or above on the CLEP General English Composition Test (See Prior Learning Assessment for details) 3 credits, or
- 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).
The second component, Writing, Reading, and Inquiry 2 (WRI 2), is satisfied through completion of ENG 102 , RSP 102 , or HON 215 . (Prerequisite: ENG 100, ENG 101, ESL 100, HON 100, or RSP 100)
The third component, Writing, Reading, and Inquiry 3 (WRI 3), is satisfied by taking an approved Writing, Reading, and Inquiry 3 course. Prerequisites: ENG 102 or concurrent, and vary by course.
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, Socio-cultural Analysis
Students broaden their perspective through coursework in four primary areas of academic inquiry.
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. Prerequisite: Writing, Reading, and Inquiry 1 or concurrent.
Students analyze and interpret cultural representations and practices to learn how people make sense of themselves and their world. Prerequisite: Writing, Reading, and Inquiry 1 or concurrent.
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. Prerequisite: Writing, Reading, and Inquiry 1 or concurrent and Quantitative Reasoning or concurrent.
Students examine socio-cultural systems and phenomena over time and across cultures using theories that shed light on human behavior in social contexts. Prerequisite: Writing, Reading, and Inquiry 1 or concurrent.
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: Writing, Reading, and Inquiry 2 or concurrent; other enrollment requirements 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.
Culture, Power, and Equity
Courses satisfying the Culture, Power, and Equity requirement will engage students in critical examination of and reflection on issues of privilege and oppression. In the context of the course topic, this requirement will enhance students’ capacities to analyze systems of power, privilege and inequality and their intersections, to examine cultural narratives that maintain and/or challenge those systems, and to reflect on and apply theoretical knowledge they gain from such critical examination.
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: vary by course. Courses that satisfy the International requirement may also satisfy other Core or major requirements. Students must complete two distinct courses to satisfy the Culture, Power, and Equity and International requirements. Study abroad involving an academic experience may be used to satisfy the International requirement. Prior approval form required.
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. Engaged Learning courses may be one or more credits. Pass/Fail options allowed. Engaged Learning courses may carry more than one Core designation and satisfy more than one Core requirement. 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 substantial final product of high quality, whether written, performance-based, or practice-oriented. Prerequisites: vary by course. Students should check the section of the catalog associated with their major for information on this requirement.
USM Core Curriculum Policies
- Students have primary responsibilities for ensuring that they complete 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: There are no 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: Students must complete two distinct courses to satisfy the Culture, Power, and Equity and International requirements. There are no other restrictions on overlaps between Core requirements.
- Repeating courses to satisfy Core requirements: See Academic Policies section of the Undergraduate Catalog for University policies on repeating courses, replacement grades, and the course condition form. Any WRI1 course may be used to replace the grade in any other WRI1 course. Any WRI2 course may be used to replace the grade in any other WRI2 course. Students may not take multiple WRI 1 or 2 courses for additional credit.
- Waivers of and substitutions for USM Core curriculum requirements may be sought from the Assistant Provost via email.
Transfer Credits and the USM Core
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.
Earned Transfer Credit and Writing, Reading, and Inquiry
The Writing, Reading, and Inquiry 1 (WRI 1) requirement will be waived for students who transfer 60 or more credit hours but do not have a comparable transfer course.
The Writing, Reading, and Inquiry 2 (WRI 2) requirement will be waived for students who transfer 90 or more credit hours but do not have a comparable transfer course.
Transfer credit for the Ethical Inquiry requirement 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.
Students participating in any of USM’s Transfer Articulation Agreements with partner institutions will satisfy Core requirements as outlined in those agreements.
Returning/reactivating USM students who completed the Core requirements associated with their previous Core requirement term may have their Core requirement (career) term reset to the original term. Email the Assistant Provost for additional information.
Courses Approved to Satisfy USM Core Requirements
Lists of courses that satisfy the requirements appear below by requirement area. Please consult with your advisor or use Class Search in MaineStreet to determine the availability of Core courses in any given semester.
Writing, Reading, and Inquiry
Ethical Inquiry, Social Responsibility, and Citizenship
Culture, Power, and Equity