Maine now boasts more than a dozen institutions offering an internet-based, degree-granting education, and enrollment in online programs continues to grow. Since 2012, the number of students taking online college courses in Maine grew by about 6%, and the trend keeps pointing upward. Public institutions comprise the majority of the Pine Tree State's online colleges, with two-year online Maine community colleges represented among them. Close to half of all schools claim nonprofit status. Whether you're seeking an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree, you can find a school in Maine that meets your needs.
The following guide will help you compare accredited online colleges in Maine, search for local scholarships, and consider the exciting possibilities of college life. You will gain an understanding of higher education trends in the nation's most easterly state and learn where online college courses in Maine may lead you.
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 Maine.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Maine
Perhaps best known for its flagship institution, the University of Maine, and the famous private liberal arts schools of Bowdoin, Bates, and Colby, the Pine Tree State offers its 72,000 college students an array of options. Schools like Maine Maritime Academy, the University of New England, the College of the Atlantic, and the University of Maine at Farmington saw their profiles rise nationally over the last decade. Additionally, the state’s community colleges grew in number and added to their offerings.
- 15 public
- 15 non-profit
- 2 for-profit
Higher education costs about the same in Maine as it does around the U.S. The average tuition for students in the state’s public two-year and four-year institutions sits near the national mean. The University of Maine’s $30,282 tuition costs less than the University of Michigan and the University of Massachusetts; it costs more than the University of Mississippi and the University of Montana for out-of-state students. Mainers pay only about a third of that for tuition, at $10,902, but they still pay more than resident students in Iowa, Florida, and New Mexico.
Mainers get help to cover those expenses through financial aid. The 15,779 undergraduate students who received monies from the Maine State Grant Program reported more than $18 million in aid, according to the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs. Graduate students amassed another $2.1 million from programs like Educators for Maine and Doctors for Maine’s Future.
The state demonstrates its commitment to higher education with initiatives like Bring College to ME, a community college-based effort that offers programs in underserved corners of the state. Bond issues, too, like the one slated for November 2018, promote investment in the state’s community colleges.
The State of Online Higher Education in Maine
Online education continues to grow in Maine. Thirty-two colleges and universities call the Pine Tree State home, enrolling more than 70,000 students among them. Of these learners, more than 30% took at least one of their courses through the internet. About half of those attended class entirely online.
The state’s 16% rate of online enrollment bests the national average of 14%, according to the Distance Education State Almanac of 2017. More than 85% of students in Maine report taking a mix of classroom and internet-based classes. Of the students who enroll exclusively online, about 58% come from Maine, and the remainder register as nonresidents. The national average for resident students in online programs is 55%. Graduate students tend to study online at a higher rate than undergrads, with just less than half taking at least some of their classes in digital classrooms.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
The governors of the six New England states founded the New England Board of Higher Education in 1955 to foster cooperation among the academic institutions of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The organization continues its mission to this day. It aims to make college affordable to the region’s students; to that end, it implemented the New England Regional Student Program (NERSP).
NERSP allows students to study at a significant discount in fields not available at their home-state public universities. Not only does the program provide tuition relief for undergraduates, it also reduces redundancies in public education across the region, saving state’s millions in operating costs.
Degree candidates at accredited online colleges in Maine can also qualify for in-state tuition at schools in neighboring states, enjoying even more savings. Some universities even extend resident tuition rates to all students enrolled in web-based programs. Do your research and you can often find considerable savings in online education.
Best Online Colleges in Maine
Below, you will find our ranking 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 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||$$$$$||278 Whites Bridge Rd|
Standish, ME 04084-5236
A Catholic, liberal arts college in Standish, Saint Joseph's College of Maine welcomes students of all faiths. Founded in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy, the school offers degrees inspired by the order's educational ideals. Saint Joseph has been providing distance education for over 40 years.
Saint Joseph's offers programs in many disciplines. Learners take online courses in Maine in nursing, accounting and finance, business administration, marketing, social work, and theology. Students follow either a term-based or self-directed plan of study.
Term-based programs require students to enroll during set registration periods; this includes 10 online degrees in the areas of health administration, accountancy, business, and nursing. Self-directed online programs begin on the first day of every month; this format affords students scheduling flexibility and convenience. Saint Joseph's offers over 30 self-directed degrees. Students can choose to participate in group learning, where they progress through a program as a cohort. Most interaction takes place through the school's online learning portal, Brightspace.
In a 2013 college survey, online learners at Saint Joseph's named the "ability to manage coursework within my own individual schedule" as the top factor in earning a degree online. In the same survey, the school's monthly start dates were a close second, followed by rolling admissions.
About 1,000 students attend Saint Joseph's on campus, but the college reports a total enrollment of approximately 2,500. Online learners hail from more than 20 countries. Saint Joseph's holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
|2||University of Maine||Orono||$$$$$||168 College Avenue|
Orono, ME 04469
Created in 1865 on land granted through the Morrill Act of 1862, the University of Maine began its history as the Maine College of Architecture and the Mechanic Arts. Based in Orono, UMaine is the flagship campus of the University of Maine system. The public university is home to over 9,000 undergraduates and 2,000 graduate students.
UMaine offers over 500 courses online. UMaine students can choose to earn a four-year or advanced degree completely online. UMaine's faculty helps prepare students for diverse careers in business and social work, as well as digital curation and engineering. The school's MS in information systems, for example, admits students from all undergraduate backgrounds. The 30-credit program focuses on technical, managerial, and policy issues as they relate to data systems and their role in the modern organization.
UMaine offers online courses year-round. Through the school's summer university and new winter session, online learners at UMaine can continue their studies without interruption. UMaine also promotes a "Think 30" program, which helps full-time graduate students stay on track to graduate in four years.
UMaine has 16 extension offices and five research field stations across the state, providing comprehensive student and community outreach.
|3||University of Maine at Fort Kent||Fort Kent||$$$$$||23 University Drive|
Fort Kent, ME 04743-1292
The University of Maine at Fort Kent dates back to 1878 when then-Governor Seldon Connor approved a new teachers' school in the St. John Valley. Today, UMFK awards associate and bachelor's degrees in a variety of fields. UMFK serves more than 1,750 undergraduates both on campus and online. Though a small public university, UMFK has a higher percentage of international students than any other New England university.
Given its rural location, UMFK reaches even more students through distance education. As one of the online colleges in Maine, UMFK features 15 programs of study, along with dozens of individual online courses.
The university offers four, two-year degrees fully online, including an AA in general studies with five available concentrations. General studies students can focus on areas like accounting, conservation law enforcement, and homeland security. UMFK's two-year degree offerings place it among Maine's community colleges online as well. Associate-degree students can easily transfer into a four-year program at UMFK.
Online learners interested in cybersecurity, business management, or nursing can earn an online bachelor's degree at UMFK. The bachelor of arts and sciences degree features three areas of focus, including one students design themselves. The liberal arts program allows students to take courses from any discipline; learners can take anthropology one semester, then literature the next. UMFK uses Blackboard for all online courses.
UMFK gained university status in 1970, and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) re-accredited UFMK in 2016.
|4||Husson University||Bangor||$$$$$||1 College Circle|
Bangor, ME 04401
Based in Bangor, Maine, Husson University also maintains education centers in Westbrook and Presque Isle. At the main 208-acre campus in Bangor, Husson serves some 3,000 undergraduates and 800 graduate students.
Real-world learning pervades Husson's study programs, with an estimated 95% of students participating in an internship, practicum, or clinical experience; this includes distance-learning students. Husson grants 12 degrees online in the fields of business, technology, healthcare, liberal studies, and psychology. Online students follow the same curriculum as on-campus students and learn from the same faculty, only through a convenient, flexible format instead. Online college courses in Maine help students balance work, family life, and school. Like other online colleges in Maine, Husson features an accelerated calendar, with courses starting every seven weeks.
Husson offers several degrees and courses in technology. For example, learners can pursue a BS in integrated technology or an MBA in data analytics or biotechnology and innovation. Meanwhile, students who want to enhance their skill sets can apply to the university's certificate program in data analytics. BS students in business administration, healthcare management, or integrated technology can also complete certificate requirements as part of their overall curriculum.
Class sizes at Husson average about 20 students. The school, accredited by the New England Association of Colleges and Schools, has the lowest net price of any private four-year college in New England. Husson also maintains a generous transfer policy, which helps reduce overall tuition costs.
In 2008, Husson earned university status and today it offers 72 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, plus various certificate programs.
|5||University of Maine at Augusta||Augusta||$$$$$||46 University Dr|
Augusta, ME 04330-9410
With over 6,200 students, the University of Maine at Augusta is the third largest school in the University of Maine System. While UMA's main campus is in Augusta, the university also maintains a campus in Bangor and eight outreach UMA Centers throughout the state.
When comparing accredited online colleges in Maine, prospective students will notice UMA's on-campus programs resemble those available online. The university offers 12 undergraduate, five graduate, and nine associate degrees online. Students can tailor several degrees as well, through specialized concentrations within a major. The BS in computer information systems, for example, offers five tracks: software development, web development, database, networking, and information security.
Through online, video conferencing, and ITV learning options, UMA declares it can be every student's "local" university. In addition to its two campuses and eight UMA Centers, UMA also maintains more than 30 course sites throughout the state. At UMA's course sites, students can participate in ITV and online courses. Like other online colleges in Maine, UMA strives to remove limitations of location and rigid schedules.
Online degrees include business administration, CIS, justice studies, and the in-demand information and library science (ILS) major. UMA's ILS program dates back over 20 years and allows students to earn a degree or certificate online. Certified by the American Library Association (ALA), UMA's undergraduate program awards certification, an associate degree, and a bachelor of ILS. Library science is a sought-after skill for companies across many industries, as degree-holders enter the job market well equipped to lead projects involving big data research, analysis, and search.
Established in 1965 by the 102nd Maine Legislature, the University of Maine at Augusta became the seventh UMS campus six years later in 1971. UMA's long tradition of "meeting students where they are" through distance education began in 1986.
|6||University of Southern Maine||Portland||$$$$$||96 Falmouth St|
Portland, ME 04103
A public, three-campus university, the University of Southern Maine established its current name in 1978 -- 100 years after its founding and eight years after a merger between Gorham State College and the University of Maine at Portland. In 1988, USM added the Lewiston-Auburn campus.
As one of the online colleges in Maine, USM offers learners a choice of 21 programs and certificates and over 200 online courses. USM's undergraduate offerings include a BA in communication, a BS in leadership and organizational studies, and a minor in business administration. In graduate studies, students can earn credentials in areas like creative leadership, gerontology, and English as a second language (ESL). The curricula for online courses at USM match those taught on campus; most USM program faculty teach both.
USM strives to accommodate all students, no matter where they are in their careers or academic roadmap. Approximately 40% of students at USM are 25 years or older and the university regularly grants transfer credit for both prior college attendance and work or life experience. Credit may come from course credits earned from another regionally-accredited institution, military training, or Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).
For example, many students enroll in USM's BA in liberal arts humanities track with prior credit. Degree-completion students take credits earned from other accredited institutions, like one of Maine's community colleges online, and create a cost effective and efficient path toward a four-year degree. At USM, online courses use both asynchronous and synchronous options. USM has start dates in the fall, spring, and summer.
|7||University of Maine at Machias||Machias||$$$$$||116 O'Brien Ave|
Machias, ME 04654-1397
Founded in 1909 as a teacher's college, the University of Maine at Machias is a public liberal arts school. UMM is one of seven schools that comprise the University of Maine System.
The average class size at UMM is 17 students, with a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Approximately 1% of UMM's student body is international. As one of the online colleges in Maine, UMM admits 14% percent of its students from out of state. Currently, the university offers 11 undergraduate programs, three of which are online. In total, UMM offers eight degrees and certificates through distance learning.
The 120-credit BA in psychology and community studies, for example, allows for fieldwork and internships in students' hometowns. The BS in business and entrepreneurial studies, meanwhile, is available year-round, allowing students to work around their schedules in the spring, summer, fall, or winter. Online business students can choose to focus on nonprofit organization management or small business.
UMM courses combine various technologies to create a comprehensive online learning environment. Students can choose their online college courses in Maine based on one of five UMM learning formats: compressed video, hybrid, interactive TV, video conferencing, or web-based. Most UMM distance-learning courses are web-based.
|8||University of Maine at Presque Isle||Presque Isle||$$$$$||181 Main St|
Presque Isle, ME 04769-2888
The University of Maine at Presque Isle offers courses in the classroom, online, and in the field. Given its rural setting, size, and location, UMPI operates as a commuter campus, which supports the school's investment in distance-learning options. UMPI enrollment tops approximately 1,400, including nearly 800 degree-seeking students.
UMPI offers three online undergraduate programs in English, history, and psychology. The school also offers online courses that allow students to create a curriculum to meets their needs. The online course selection varies by term but is always diverse. From world religions to college algebra to topics in philosophy and literature, UMPI offers courses online for every major.
Like other accredited online colleges in Maine, UMPI serves students who require more scheduling flexibility. Specifically, UMPI offers two competency-based programs for working professionals who are ready to complete their degrees. These degrees, in business administration and the liberal arts, feature an adaptive learning platform which focuses on what the student is less familiar with, moving past what the student already knows.
Founded in 1903, the Aroostook State Normal School, a two-year teaching school with an inaugural class of just 17 students, changed its name three times in the subsequent 68 years before it became the University of Maine at Presque Isle in 1971; the school joined the University of Maine System in 1968. According to UMPI, 90% of the school's online instructors hold a Ph.D. or terminal degree.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Maine
Below, you’ll find another list of the best online colleges in Maine, sorted by tuition rate.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||University of Southern Maine||Portland||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||University of Maine at Machias||Machias||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||University of Maine at Augusta||Augusta||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||University of Maine at Fort Kent||Fort Kent||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||Saint Joseph's College of Maine||Standish||School profile||$$$$$|
Job Outlook for College Graduates in Maine
Unemployment in Maine hit record lows in the summer of 2018 at 2.9%, well below the national average of 4.0. The Pine Tree State enjoys a booming economy, and many employers across the state continue to struggle to fill positions. This demand drives up wages, making it an ideal time to graduate from online colleges in Maine. Students leave school to find more jobs than there are qualified applicants to fill them, creating a worker friendly environment.
Some of the fastest-growing areas include healthcare and tech, which continue to expand all across the country. Positions like nurse practitioners, physical therapists, registered nurses, and physician’s assistants currently thrive — all well-paying jobs that will likely continue to expand. Software developers currently find themselves in high demand, as well. Growth is also projected to occur in more traditional sectors, like business, the trades, and even service jobs.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Maine
Bar Harbor Bank and Trust Scholarship
Administered by the Maine Community Foundation, these scholarships go to students from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine's rural Hancock, Kennebec, Lincoln, Penobscot, Sagadahoc, Waldo, and Washington counties. Applicants must have attended a technical or career-oriented high school.
Guy Gannett Scholarship Fund
Distributed by the Maine Community Foundation in honor of the pioneering publisher, these scholarships make college more affordable for Maine students who intend to study journalism or a related field. Judges award scholarships based on a candidate's academic record, journalism interest, and need.
Lemieux-Lovejoy Youth Scholarship
Intended to help women, these grants follow a needs-based format and enable female Maine residents to attend an accredited university.
Jeanne L. Hammond Memorial Scholarship
Applicants to these scholarships must be recently graduated female residents of Maine who intend to enroll in an accredited university this year. Students must demonstrate need. Primary consideration goes to those with community service experience.
Maude MacKenzie Scholarship
Administered by the General Federation of Women's Clubs, these grants go to Maine students in possession of a high school diploma who have been accepted by a college or university. The GFWC bases its selection on academics, leadership, community service, and financial need.
James and Marilyn Rockefeller Scholarship Fund
These renewable grants go to nontraditional students, which the sponsor defines as over the age of 25, working full time, guardian of a dependent, out of school for longer than a gap year, or someone without a standard high school diploma. Preferred candidates can demonstrate their commitment to Maine and its communities.
Mainely Character Scholarship
Unlike many scholarships which reward academic or athletic achievements, these awards recognize Maine students with exceptional character. Applicants need to write an essay and go through an interview process.
Rice Scholarship Fund
Candidates for this grant must have lived on a Maine island Down East for a substantial length of time during their childhood (bridged islands may also qualify). The scholarships fund degree-granting college or vocational programs; they typically recognize students from nonsectarian schools with a commitment to community service and demonstrable need.
State of Maine Grant Program
The Finance Authority of Maine distributes these grants to Maine students in financial need enrolled at an eligible college or university at least half time.
Stephen Phillips Memorial Scholarship Fund
The sponsor awards these renewable, four-year scholarships to New England residents based on academic achievement, community service, leadership potential, and work ethic. Applicants must hold a GPA of 3.0 or better and demonstrate financial need.
Patriot Education Scholarship Fund
Founded by the Patriot Mutual Holding Company, these grants assist Maine high school graduates pursue a degree in business at a college or university in the Pine Tree State. Recipients must attend a Maine school full time or part time and study business. The sponsor gives preference to candidates with demonstrated interest in the insurance profession.
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