Maine only has a handful of colleges, but most of the schools in the state provide students with some form of online education. Public and private schools alike offer full degrees entirely online, including the University of Maine, the state’s largest school and flagship campus. Students throughout the New England region can take advantage of Maine’s online offerings through the state’s partnership with the New England Board of Higher Education. As part of the partnership, New England students outside of Maine can qualify for reduced tuition for Maine’s online programs.
But before we dive into our list of best online schools in Maine, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in Maine today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Maine
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that Maine had 32 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 15 public schools, 15 nonprofits and 2 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 4,251 at public schools, 3,042 at private nonprofits and 42 at private for-profits.
- 15 public
- 15 non-profit
- 2 for-profit
Tuition-wise, the College Board found that, in the ’15-’16 school year, the average in-state tuition and fees for four-year public schools was $9,570, while the out-of-state average was $24,940.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that Maine awarded $12 million in need-based grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 4.4% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education. Over the same period, Maine was responsible for $842,000 in loan assumption/forgiveness and awarded out an additional $1.19 million in conditional grants. While local and state educational grants fell nationally between 2009-2012, Maine managed to increase grant spending per student by nearly 5%.
Distance education through online colleges in ME is highly sought after, which explains their somewhat high out-of-state rates. Yet, it’s refreshing to see just how committed the state is to providing aid, via grants and loan forgiveness, to its students.
The State of Online Higher Education in Maine
The NCES estimates that at least 13.4% of students enrolled in Maine’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 65.3% were reported to be undergraduates and 62.2% were found to be living in Maine.
University College is the state’s consortium for online learning. The system is made up of seven universities and dozens upon dozens of online courses offered at the various institutions each semester, meaning students enrolled at one institution, as a distance student or otherwise, have the opportunity to choose from a variety of courses not found at their primary institution, with little or no additional expenses. In addition, University College has a remarkable number of services in support of distance student’s experience, including counselors, scholarship support, online learning prep/orientation and job placement or internship opportunities.
Best Online Colleges in Maine
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Maine. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list out their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in Maine, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Maine or our index of popular in-state scholarships.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||Saint Joseph's College of Maine||Standish||$$$$$||278 Whites Bridge Rd|
Standish, ME 04084-5236
With more than 40 online undergraduate majors and minors to choose from, Saint Joseph’s is one of the best online schools in Maine. The school has a wide variety of online programs, including accounting, theology, business administration, criminal justice, and several interdisciplinary options. Many of the programs offer a fast-track option that allows students to take graduate-level courses as undergraduates, making it possible to earn a Master’s degree in half the time it typically takes. The school’s career development office offers several online tools to help students choose a major or career. An online jobs portal lists full and part-time internships in New England and around the country. Distance learners have access to personal advisors and online tutoring. St. Joseph's also offers graduate, postgraduate, and graduate certificate programs. Online students have the opportunity to participate in accelerated, on-campus summer programs.
|2||University of Maine||Orono||$$$$$||168 College Avenue|
Orono, ME 04469
Maine is a 150-year-old institution that has increased its enrollment with the help of its distance learning option, UMaineOnline. UMaine offers a choice of two online undergraduate degrees: a BA in political science and a bachelor’s of university studies. The university studies degree has four tracks: self-designed, labor studies, leadership studies, and Maine studies.
UMaine is one of the best online colleges in Maine for students who already hold a degree. The school offers 15 different graduate programs, including Ph.D. opportunities in biomedical science and biomedical engineering (which require in-state residence for laboratory rotations, but not an on-campus presence). Online support resources include tech support, academic advising, online tutoring, and editorial assistance. Regular courses begin at the start of every month. Short three-week sessions are also offered during summer and winter and are a good way to test online courses.
|3||University of Maine at Fort Kent||Fort Kent||$$$$$||23 University Drive|
Fort Kent, ME 04743-1292
Maine - Fort Kent offers associate degree and bachelor’s degree programs, including one certificate in healthcare management. Programs include business management, healthcare administration, emergency management, and homeland security. It’s also one of the few online colleges in Maine that allow for undecided and self-designed majors, making it a good choice for students still exploring their career interests. Career professionals who already have their degrees but are looking to acquire new skills can take advantage of UMFK’s six-week, non-credit courses. Courses such as speed Spanish, grammar refresher, and introduction to Quickbooks provide knowledge on everything from sales and accounting to grant writing and GRE prep. Online courses are taught through Blackboard. The school provides access to the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration which covers many of the unique issues and subjects of online learning. Articles are written by college professors with experience teaching online.
|4||Husson University||Bangor||$$$$$||1 College Circle|
Bangor, ME 04401-2999
Originally founded in 1898, Husson, located in Bangor, Maine, has a history of educating students in the New England area. Admission to its regionally accredited online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs is the same as applying to a traditional college, requiring high school graduation (or equivalent), transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores. Accepted students can earn a bachelor’s degree in 24 months. The school is focused on educating their students for professional careers. Undergraduate programs are offered in three areas: business, nursing, and software development. Business students who are looking for an online college in Maine will appreciate the school’s four MBA program options. Other programs include undergraduate degrees in business administration, management, marketing, RN to BSN, and software development. The Husson blog offers tips on job hunting, important business skills, and trending business topics.
|5||University of Maine at Augusta||Augusta||$$$$$||46 University Dr|
Augusta, ME 04330-9410
UMaine at Augusta is the third largest public university in the state. As a commuter institution they are sensitive to providing educational opportunities to off-campus students and have been providing distance learning options since 1986. It is one of the best online schools in Maine for students looking to earn associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degrees completely online. Minors programs are also available. Programs cover business administration, liberal studies, and contemporary and popular music with a performance emphasis. Some programs include internships as capstone projects; in-state residency may be required. UMaine - Augusta also has distance learning options such as video conferencing, center, and interactive television. Centers offer the opportunity for students to take full programs at more convenient locations. Online course are taught through Blackboard, WebCT, and FirstClass. Some courses require students to take proctored tests. Hybrid programs are also available.
|6||University of Southern Maine||Portland||$$$$$||96 Falmouth St|
Portland, ME 04103
Southern Maine’s confidence in their online programs shows by not distinguishing between online and on-campus courses on student’s transcripts. The school’s seven undergraduate degrees focus on business and leadership, while their five graduate programs focus on leadership and education. Undergraduate programs include applied technical leadership, organizational studies, social and behavioral sciences, and communications. Several certificate programs also offer credentials in growing areas such as English as a second language and gerontology, this includes undergraduate and graduate certificates. Students are assigned a faculty advisor and an online academic advisor who will guide them through an online orientation and offer course counseling. USM is among online colleges in Maine that have an Office of Prior Learning Assessment. This department helps students earn college credit for their work experience and military service. Distance learning courses are taught completely online, and students have the opportunity to take classes on campus. Southern Maine accepts transfer credits from accredited institutions.
|7||University of Maine at Machias||Machias||$$$$$||116 O'Brien Ave|
Machias, ME 04654-1397
UMaine - Machias is a liberal arts college located on the coast of Maine. It has slightly limited program offerings compared to some of the other online colleges in Main. The school’s small class sizes (average of less than 20 students per class) apply to online courses as well, this provides a more personalized educational experience. Students can earn bachelor’s degrees in three areas: psychology and communication studies, business and entrepreneurial studies, or college studies, which can be tailored with self-designed concentrations to fit students interests. The college studies degree is often taken as a business, special education, or health professions degree. The school also offers several certificate programs, and favors former New England residents with a “Mainers-in-Exile” incentive, which lets past UMM students living out of state take classes online at the in-state resident tuition rate.
|8||University of Maine at Presque Isle||Presque Isle||$$$$$||181 Main St|
Presque Isle, ME 04769-2888
UMaine - Presque Isle, one of the best online colleges in Maine, offers bachelor’s degrees in English, history, and psychology. These degrees take approximately four years of full-time work, just like in a traditional setting. Courses are offered monthly, including summer, offering students the opportunity to earn their degree quicker. What makes UMPI one of the best online schools in Maine is its affordability. The school has an average in-state cost of $220 per credit. OpenU is the school’s free education portal, which offers online courses in literature, creative writing, history, government, and communications at no cost — however, students don’t earn any credit. OpenU is a great way to test run the online learning experience, and OpenU students who decide to enroll in a UMPI program can earn up to six units toward their degree for “prior learning experience.”
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Maine
Below you’ll find another list of the best online colleges in Maine, sorted by tuition rate.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||University of Maine at Machias||Machias||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||University of Maine at Augusta||Augusta||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||University of Maine at Fort Kent||Fort Kent||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||University of Southern Maine||Portland||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||Saint Joseph's College of Maine||Standish||School profile||$$$$$|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Maine
Bowman Travel Grant
The Bowman Travel Grant is administered by the Council on International Educational Exchange. It is intended to help students who wish to study abroad in Africa, Asia Pacific, the Caribbean, or Latin America. Selection is based on applicants’ personal statement, financial need, economic profile and EFC. Award is up to $2,000.
Dean’s Scholar Award
The Dean’s Scholarship is available to incoming freshmen at the University of Maine. A GPA of 3.0+ and SAT score of 1200+ or ACT of 26+ is required. Award amount is $16,000 for Maine residents or $40,000 for out-of-state students.
Maine Legislature Memorial Scholarship
The Maine Legislative Memorial Scholarship is a one-time award of $1,000 given to one student from each Maine county (16) each year. Applicants must demonstrate academic excellence, contributions to community, and financial need.
Maine Metal Products Association Scholarship
Maine Education Services provides $1,000 scholarships to Maine students who have an outstanding academic record and will attend an in-state higher education institution to study a metal working trade. For a list of approved majors, see the scholarship webpage.
Maine State Chamber of Commerce Scholarship
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce scholarship is available to Maine high school seniors who will attend a higher education institution the upcoming Fall. Preference is given to students seeking a degree in Business or Education. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.
Mainely Character Scholarship
The Mainely Character Scholarship Fund seeks to reward Maine students who demonstrate a commitment to character, integrity, responsibility, and concern for others. To be eligible, applicants must be entering a postsecondary institution in the upcoming Fall semester.
Top Scholar Award
This full tuition scholarship is awarded to incoming freshmen at the University of Maine who rank number one or two in their graduating high school class. Applicants must be residents of Maine.
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