All universities have a general education core. Most require students to select from a cafeteria plan of lower division courses from various disciplines. USAO is distinctive in offering an interdisciplinary, liberal arts core that spans all four years of its students’ academic careers. The Interdisciplinary core (IDS) includes two types of classes. There are skills courses that teach students to express themselves clearly in both speech and writing and to master skills in areas such as mathematics and critical thinking.
The Independent Study period in late April and May offers USAO students a unique chance to take part in exciting, unconventional educational experiences. Independent Study classes emphasize innovative educational approaches and individual learning. Past course choices have included educational trips to Paris, New York, Great Britain, Italy, and the Yucatan.
Information about entering graduate schools and pre-professional programs is available from faculty advisors in the specific academic areas. For example, a student interested in graduate study in physics should consult a USAO faculty member in that discipline. Because of the intimate size of the USAO campus, students never have trouble finding faculty and staff willing to help.
In many such programs, USAO has most or all of the coursework necessary to prepare a student for professional or graduate studies.
USAO offers 11 programs in teacher certification, including art, physical education (PHED), language arts (English), math, music (vocal and/or instrumental), science, social studies, elementary, early childhood, and deaf education. Major requirements for a teaching certificate in these areas can be found on the respective program's checklist and in the Teacher Education Handbook.