Colleges in Maine

Why go to College in Maine?


From bustling cities to small scenic towns, Maine offers a variety of college settings that should appeal to a wide range of prospective students. Maine also boasts a beautiful and diverse landscape that is perfect for nature lovers who want to hike, ski, and frequent the beaches along the state’s 4,000 miles of coastline. Home to vibrant art, athletic, and business communities, Maine is an excellent place to pursue your higher education and professional goals, particularly in the fields of education, healthcare, engineering, and hospitality.

Although it’s the least densely populated state in the U.S., over 1.3 million people live in Maine. Approximately 40% of the population resides in the city of Portland. This metropolitan location is home to four colleges and universities, and many of Maine’s other renowned schools are located close by.
From warm, humid summers to snowy winters that can be somewhat moderated by the Atlantic Ocean, Maine experiences all four seasons in full. Students who enjoy the outdoors have ample opportunities to engage in a variety of recreational activities.
Number of Higher Learning Institutions
Maine is home to over 60 private colleges, public universities, and community/technical schools. Among these are Bowdoin College and the University of Maine, which are considered some of the best institutions in the country. Furthermore, the online schools in Maine offer remote coursework and entire degree programs to provide additional affordability and flexibility.
Sporting Events
Due to Maine’s diverse geography, residents can pursue many athletic and outdoor activities, including Nordic skiing, sailing, and rugby. Traditional team sports also thrive in the state. For example, the University of Maine - Orono is home to the Brown Bears, which compete at the NCAA Division I level.
Many of Maine’s top colleges are located in or near Portland, which is the state’s cultural center. Portland is frequently ranked as one of the best cities in the nation for dining and offers a vibrant live music scene. Its arts district also contains a number of museums and galleries.

What Options are Available for Colleges in Maine?


Maine offers students seeking an on-campus college education a variety of excellent choices, from intimate liberal arts schools to technical programs rooted in the state’s maritime and biotechnology industries. This traditional education route emphasizes immersion; students usually live on or near campus and take full advantage of their school’s tangible resources, such as the gym and classrooms, as well as its relationship-building opportunities. Ultimately, on-campus study offers the most comprehensive college experience.

Online Programs

Online education, whether it be for a few classes or an entire degree program, emphasizes affordability and flexibility. Working adults tend to find this option a good fit because it lets them schedule classes around their busy professional and family lives. Distance learning is also a good choice for recent high school graduates who are unsure of the career they want to pursue and don’t want to spend a lot of money exploring their options.

Online schools in Maine offer a variety of choices for students interested in pursuing a distance education. Students can enroll full-time at a four-year institution or take general education courses at one of the state’s community colleges; these community college credits can later be transferred to a university and applied towards a bachelor’s degree. Agreements between community colleges and public university systems ensure that students get the most out of their transfer credits.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid online programs combine elements of distance learning and on-campus engagement, requiring students to take certain classes or practicum requirements in-person; these requirements are usually fulfilled during accelerated winter or summer sessions. This style of learning is popular among the hard sciences, which tend to emphasize hands-on experiences in the form of labs and practicums. However, other fields of study also use this mixed structure because it combines the flexibility of online coursework with the networking opportunities and sense of community found in traditional higher education programs. Some online colleges in Maine also offer study-abroad opportunities, letting students apply their knowledge and skills in a global setting.

Popular Degree Programs in Maine

With the Atlantic Ocean located directly to its east, some of the most popular degrees in Maine have to do with ship-building and other forms of naval construction and maintenance. Majors such as English and business administration, which are ubiquitous across the U.S., are also popular at online colleges in Maine.

  • Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

    This specialized field is for individuals who wish to design and build naval vessels, like those used in offshore drilling and marine safety. This profession is well-suited in a state that has a long coastline. Students start by establishing a foundation in math and physical science before moving onto more complex topics such as hydraulics, propulsion, and thermodynamics.

  • English Literature and Language

    English focuses on the study of literary arts, critical thinking, and communication skills, which makes English graduates assets in a wide variety of professional settings, from education and publishing to healthcare and business administration. Traditional and online colleges in Maine have a rich literary tradition, making the state a great place to study English.

Best Online Colleges in Maine for 2019

Finding the college or university that best suits your needs can be challenging due to the sheer number of schools and the numerous factors that go into making the right decision. Below is a list containing the best online colleges in Maine; this ranking considers the tuition cost, student retention rate, nature of the distance learning programs, and resources offered to online students (including financial and career assistance). This list aggregates the most important characteristics, providing you with a good starting point to your search. Once you’ve decided on some potential colleges, be sure to go to each school’s website and contact their admission representatives to get more detailed information.


Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME


Located in Standish, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine is a Catholic liberal arts college. The college offers a variety of online undergraduate degrees, including programs in business administration, education, and theology. While the school’s health administration and nursing programs are term-based, the majority of Saint Joseph’s programs begin at the first of each month, allowing students to begin their degree throughout the year.

Saint Joseph’s transfer agreement with more than 30 Maine community colleges allows students to receive credit for previously completed coursework and to graduate online. Transfer students must complete a minimum of 11 courses through Saint Joseph. A distance education leader among online colleges in Maine, Saint Joseph’s online students have access to online tutoring, personal advisors, and career development opportunities.


University of Maine Orono, ME


A land, sea, and space grant institution, the University of Maine is the flagship campus of the University of Maine System. With students from over 49 states and 63 countries, UMaine is one of the most diverse online schools in Maine. The school offers several distance education opportunities, including two online undergraduate degrees.

The BA in political science and the bachelor of university studies (BUS) are 120 credit programs that can be completed entirely online. Students in the BUS program can pursue one of several concentrations, including labor studies, Maine studies, and leadership studies. Students eligible for this program have completed at least 18 credits at a regionally accredited college with a GPA of 2.0 or above. Students enrolled in either program have access to online tutoring, library resources, and scholarship opportunities, including an adult degree completion scholarship.


University of Maine at Fort Kent Fort Kent, ME


Located on the Canadian border along the St. George River, UMFK’s campus is uniquely both rural and cosmopolitan. UMFK boasts the highest percentage of international students of any university in New England. With 15 online undergraduate degrees, UMFK offers online students more degree options than most online colleges in Maine. Online students are able to pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree in subjects like allied health, criminal justice, and information security. The school provides students with video tutorials that cover advising, finance, and library resources.

The school’s self-designed bachelor’s of arts and sciences program allows students to customize a degree to fit their interests without the constraints of a specific major. The university’s BS in rural public safety administration prepares students for careers as firefighters, state police officers, and game wardens. Students of this program must complete a public safety capstone internship project.


Husson University Bangor, ME


Founded in 1898, Husson University features online bachelor's degrees in integrated technology, nursing, and business administration. Husson’s online BS in integrated technology consists of software, business, and advanced mathematics courses and prepares students for careers in enterprise software development. The school also offers an online RN-to-BSN program, which is available to graduates of regionally or nationally accredited ASN/ADN nursing programs with a GPA of at least 2.5 and an unencumbered nursing license. Online coursework covers health informatics, interprofessional collaboration, and health policy issues.

With historical foundations in business, Husson offers one of the best business educations available among online colleges in Maine. Prospective students seeking a business administration degree may choose from concentrations in marketing or management. In addition to general education and business courses, students complete 24-27 credits of concentration courses in areas such as supply chain management and marketing research. Transfer students can receive credit for up to 90 hours of coursework completed at other institutions.


University of Maine at Presque Isle Presque Isle, ME


With an emphasis on personalized learning, UMPI offers three online undergraduate degrees and a variety of online courses. One of the most affordable online schools in Maine, UMPI’s tuition rates are the same for online and on-campus courses. UMPI offers a variety of resources to reduce tuition for in-state students. Students may enroll in individual online courses to supplement their on-campus degree, or they may pursue a bachelor’s degree in english, history, or psychology entirely online. All online courses are delivered through Blackboard. Online students have access to the university’s web portal, MaineStreet, which allows students to determine transfer course equivalencies and add and drop classes. UMPI’s numerous transfer resources, such as transfer scholarship programs and prior learning assessments, help students smoothly transition into their new program.


University of Southern Maine Portland, ME


The University of Southern Maine’s central campus is located in in Portland, and the school has two additional locations in nearby Gorham and Lewiston. USM also offers seven online undergraduate degrees, including programs in applied technical leadership, communication, and social and behavioral sciences. USM also offers minors in business administration, communication, and leadership studies and certificates in gerontology, leadership studies, or creative leadership and global strategy. Students complete online coursework through Blackboard.

Transfer students may apply previously earned credits from any regionally accredited university toward their online degree. USM admissions counselors provide transfer students with unofficial transfer evaluations. Students with relevant work experience may opt out of courses by participating in USM’s prior learning assessment. Transfer students must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be admitted and must complete at least 30 credits through USM.


University of Maine at Machias Machias, ME


One of the few online schools in Maine to offer an environmentally-focused liberal arts education, UMM features three online undergraduate degrees: psychology and community studies, business and entrepreneurial studies, and college studies. The interdisciplinary college studies degree allows online students to earn a customized degree that is relevant to their professional goals. The degree covers social and cultural environments along with a concentration individually designed by the student. Program participants may choose to incorporate special education training into their degree and prepare for teacher certification in the state of Maine.

As part of the school’s tuition special for “Mainers in exile”, online students who previously attended UMM as in-state students but no longer reside in Maine may pay in-state tuition. To begin the admissions process, students complete an online application and submit official transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, and three letters of recommendation to UMM.


University of Maine at Augusta Augusta, ME


The University of Maine at Augusta offers a dozen online undergraduate degrees in areas such as cybersecurity, justice studies, and mental health and human services. U.S. News & World Report included UMA on its list of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs five years in a row. Although online coursework is taught through Blackboard, WebCT, and FirstClass platforms, online students may be required to take proctored exams at local testing sites.

Enrollment procedures vary for first-time, transfer, and returning students. One of the most veteran-friendly online colleges in Maine, UMA offers several services to veterans and active-duty military personnel, including assistance completing paperwork for veteran educational benefit programs and credit transfers. Beginning spring semester 2018, UMA will offer the Pine Tree State Pledge to entirely cover tuition and fees for qualified new in-state transfer students with at least 30 transferable credits. This program will be expanded in fall semester 2018 to include new in-state full-time first-year students.

Best Online Community Colleges in Maine for 2019


Kennebec Valley Community College Fairfield, ME


Established in 1969, Kennebec Valley Community College is one of seven colleges in the Maine Community College System. KVCC offers four online associate degrees as well as several majors with online course options. Including KVCC's continuing education courses and business outreach programs, the college offers more than 30 degrees and certificate programs.

The four online degrees at KVCC require no on-campus class sessions as all instruction is delivered through Blackboard. Prospective students must submit an official copy of their high school transcript or GED/HiSET scores. Online students may transfer course credits to KVCC, pending evaluation of the official transcripts from each previously attended school. One of the top community colleges in Maine, the Aspen Institute ranks KVCC in the top 10% of the nation's two-year colleges.


York County Community College Wells, ME


A public, two-year college located in Wells, York County Community College offers four degrees and three certificates completely online. Additionally, degree candidates may choose from 10 hybrid programs in which at least 80% of classes may be taken online. Both associate degrees and certificates can be completed in two years.

Students interested in York County Community College must apply online and submit their high school transcripts or HiSET/GED transcripts and diploma. YCCC offers federal, state, and institutional funding, including scholarships, veterans benefits packages, and work-study programs. The vast majority of students at YCCC attend part time and are online degree seekers.


Central Maine Community College Auburn, ME


Located in Auburn, Central Maine Community College is a public, two-year institution with approximately 2,700 students. CMCC offers four fully online degrees. Hybrid courses, requiring some attendance in the traditional classroom, are available in many additional programs.

Central Maine Community College maintains a rolling admissions policy, allowing online learners to be considered for acceptance throughout the year. While online degrees at CMCC can be completed in two years, degree seekers at this online community college in Maine are expected to dedicate up to 10 hours of study per week for each class. CMCC has a number of financial aid options, including internal scholarships for qualified students.


Southern Maine Community College South Portland, ME


Established in 1946 and located on the coast of South Portland, Southern Maine Community College enrolls nearly 6,000 students and is the state's largest, oldest, and most diverse community college. SMCC offers two fully online degrees: liberal studies and business administration. Compared to other online community colleges in Maine, SMCC boasts competitive tuition and awarded students more than $19 million in financial aid in 2017-18. Approximately 92% of SMCC graduates join the workforce or continue their education within nine months of graduation.

Online instruction at SMCC is delivered through the Blackboard system. Degree candidates must keep up with synchronous assignments, activities, discussion boards, and exams. Prospective students without qualifying SAT scores must complete the English and Math Accuplacer tests when applying. Depending on an applicant's test scores, portions of the admission process may be expedited.

How We Ranked the Schools

To determine the best programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online master's in management information systems programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.

Education Trends in Maine

Maine follows many of the national trends in education. The state spends roughly the same amount on postsecondary education per full-time student, although it does generate less of these funds from tax revenue. As for its degree holders, the biggest difference between Maine and the rest of the country is its larger percentage of associate degree holders; this is attributed to the state’s robust community college system.

  Maine United States
Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census
Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student $6,546 $6,954
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education 4.1% 5.8%
Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree 9.5% 8.1%
Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor's degree 18.7% 18.5%
Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher 10.3% 11.2%

Paying for College in Maine

Price typically plays a major role in the decision-making process when a student is deciding where to attend college. Fortunately, the cost of college in Maine doesn’t deviate from the national average. Learners should be aware that accruing large amounts of student loan debt hinders their personal and professional goals after graduation. Therefore, you should avoid loans and attempt to pay the bulk of your educational costs through a combination of personal earnings, family support, and grants and scholarships.

Tuition Prices

Presented below are the average tuition rates for traditional and online colleges in Maine compared to the national averages. These numbers exclude additional expenses such as student fees, the price of books and other school materials, and the cost of other necessities. When looking at colleges, it is important to determine the total cost when deciding which schools to apply to and what scholarships to seek out.

Financial Aid

With the large price tag frequently attached to higher education in the U.S., the importance of exploring a range of financial aid options can’t be understated. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial tool in this regard because it enables you to apply for several forms of funding simultaneously, including grants, scholarships, work-study positions, and loans.

Of the four types of aid mentioned above, grants, scholarships, and work-study are the most valuable because these don’t need to be paid back after graduation. Loans can also be used to pay for college, but they shouldn’t be your primary method because you have to pay them back.

Cost for Online Programs in Maine

Financial aid received through the FAFSA and other sources can typically be applied to both on-campus and distance learning programs. Many schools, specifically public universities and community colleges, offer incentives for students who want to pursue an online education; these incentives typically come in the form of lower or flat-rate tuition prices and additional funding opportunities. For example, several online colleges in Maine offer specific scholarships to adult learners pursuing an online degree-completion track. The affordability of online programs increases further when you consider the money saved on expenses like transportation, childcare, and rent, especially if a student lives at home or in a low-cost area.

Cost of Living by Region

In addition to tuition, the cost of living heavily factors into the price of a college education. While cities like New York, Chicago, and Austin are popular destinations for students due to their culture and job opportunities, they are also very expensive and may exacerbate a student’s post-graduation debt. When applying for college, you should carefully balance the cost of a place with the benefits of living there.

Scholarships for Maine College Students

Mainely Character Scholarship
$5,000; must be a Maine resident and entering the first semester of postsecondary education.

View Scholarship

NEWWA Student Scholarships
Varies; must be a New England resident studying engineering or business.

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The Stephen Phillips Memorial Scholarship
$18,000; must be a New England resident attending a four-year college for the first time with a GPA of at least 3.0.

View Scholarship

Maine Island Scholarship
$5,000 (renewable); must be a resident of one of Maine’s unbridged islands attending either a two- or four-year college.

View Scholarship

Guy P. Gannett Scholarship
$5,000; must be a high school or home-schooled student in Maine pursuing a major in journalism, communications, or creative writing.

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The Richard H. Pierce Memorial Scholarship
$5,000 (renewable for up to four years); must be a Maine resident entering the first year of college at either a two- or four-year institution.

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Phyllis E. Ainsworth Scholarship
$2,000; must be a Maine resident pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in information or library science.

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Competitive Skills Scholarship
$6,000; must be a Maine resident without a post-secondary degree pursuing education or training for an approved, in-demand occupation.

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The Clyde Russell Scholarship
$10,000; must be a Maine resident with a stellar academic record attending a four-year institution.

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The George J. Mitchell Scholarship
$8,500; must be a Maine resident demonstrating high academic performance, strong leadership skills, and/or financial need.

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Can all Scholarships be Used for Online Programs?

The majority of grants and scholarships available to on-campus students are also accessible to remote learners. However, when applying for scholarships to online schools in Maine, you should pay close attention to the specific requirements of each scholarship. Some awards are one-time offerings, while others are ongoing/renewable and require you to maintain a certain GPA, complete a number of volunteer hours, or pursue a specific field of study.

Employment Outlook in Maine

As the information below shows, Maine enjoys a lower unemployment rate than the national average; this is an indication of the state’s solid infrastructure and economic development. A variety of careers are available, from the aforementioned fields of naval engineering and biotechnology to positions that take advantage of the state’s environmental diversity, such as nature conservation, tourism, and hospitality management. Trades such as logging and fishing are also still lucrative in Maine. While the annual wage for a Maine resident is slightly lower than the national average, the overall cost of living is not high. However, prices do increase dramatically for those who want to reside in Portland.

  Maine United States
Source: BLS and BLS
Unemployment Rate, May 2017 3.8% 4.3%
Annual Mean Wage, May 2016 $44,180 $49,630

Top Employers and Industries in Maine

Top Industries in Maine
  • Office and Administrative Support: From handling appointments and managing finances to leading projects and creating technological infrastructures, professionals in this wide-reaching industry work to make sure their place of business runs smoothly.
  • Retail and Service: Those who work in this industry range from servers and bartenders to retail associates and store managers, all of whom deal with the profitable exchange of goods and services.
  • Healthcare: The healthcare field in the U.S. is currently booming. These professionals work in hospitals, clinics, and private practices to ensure that patients get the best medical attention available, while maintaining the financial solvency of their organizations.

Top Employers in Maine

Accreditation for Colleges in Maine

In order to confer valid degrees, colleges and universities must gain and keep two forms of accreditation. National accreditation refers to acknowledgement by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), which enables a school to access federal funding, and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which is an influential private organization whose main goal is to maintain educational and professional standards across the country. Regional accreditation is given by different organizations based on location. Schools in Maine receive recognition from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

Remote programs are not exempt from this type of oversight. When applying to online colleges in Maine, you should make sure the school is recognized by the ED, CHEA, and NEASC. Public universities, by definition, must be nationally and regionally accredited. The situation is less clear with private institutions and may require more research. Additionally, you should look for field-specific accreditation, like business programs recognized by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB); this means that a program meets certain industry standards.

Resources for Students in Maine

  • Financial Authority of Maine (FAME) This website helps students through many parts of their college experience, including choosing the right school, finding ways to pay for college, and managing loans after graduation. It also provides information specifically for returning/adult students.
  • Maine Department of Education This site hosts a large library of information compiled by the Maine state government, including data related to student health, financial resources, and homeless and migrant education assistance. There’s also a page that shows which schools are formally accredited by the state and which are not.
  • Maine Community Foundation In addition to community outreach and small business development opportunities, this website provides in-depth information about scholarships, including a list of available awards. This site also helps students apply for and renew scholarships.
  • University of Maine System This website contains information about the admission process, financial aid, transfer policies, distance education options, and reciprocity agreements for Maine’s public universities.
  • New England Board of Higher Education This resource provides a comprehensive list of colleges and universities in the region as well as financial aid information. There are also details on the Tuition Break program, which enables residents who attend an eligible out-of-state New England school to receive a tuition discount.