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||$$$$$||278 Whites Bridge Rd|
Standish, ME 04084-5236
With more than 40 online undergraduate majors and minors to choose from, Saint Joseph’s is one of the best online schools in Maine. The school has a wide variety of online programs, including accounting, theology, business administration, criminal justice, and several interdisciplinary options. Many of the programs offer a fast-track option that allows students to take graduate-level courses as undergraduates, making it possible to earn a Master’s degree in half the time it typically takes. The school’s career development office offers several online tools to help students choose a major or career. An online jobs portal lists full and part-time internships in New England and around the country. Distance learners have access to personal advisors and online tutoring. St. Joseph's also offers graduate, postgraduate, and graduate certificate programs. Online students have the opportunity to participate in accelerated, on-campus summer programs.
|2||University of Maine||Orono||$$$$$||168 College Avenue|
Orono, ME 04469
Maine is a 150-year-old institution that has increased its enrollment with the help of its distance learning option, UMaineOnline. UMaine offers a choice of two online undergraduate degrees: a BA in political science and a bachelor’s of university studies. The university studies degree has four tracks: self-designed, labor studies, leadership studies, and Maine studies.
UMaine is one of the best online colleges in Maine for students who already hold a degree. The school offers 15 different graduate programs, including Ph.D. opportunities in biomedical science and biomedical engineering (which require in-state residence for laboratory rotations, but not an on-campus presence). Online support resources include tech support, academic advising, online tutoring, and editorial assistance. Regular courses begin at the start of every month. Short three-week sessions are also offered during summer and winter and are a good way to test online courses.
|3||University of Maine at Fort Kent||Fort Kent||$$$$$||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.
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||$$$$$||46 University Dr|
Augusta, ME 04330-9410
UMaine at Augusta is the third largest public university in the state. As a commuter institution they are sensitive to providing educational opportunities to off-campus students and have been providing distance learning options since 1986. It is one of the best online schools in Maine for students looking to earn associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degrees completely online. Minors programs are also available. Programs cover business administration, liberal studies, and contemporary and popular music with a performance emphasis. Some programs include internships as capstone projects; in-state residency may be required. UMaine - Augusta also has distance learning options such as video conferencing, center, and interactive television. Centers offer the opportunity for students to take full programs at more convenient locations. Online course are taught through Blackboard, WebCT, and FirstClass. Some courses require students to take proctored tests. Hybrid programs are also available.
|6||University of Southern Maine||Portland||$$$$$||96 Falmouth St|
Portland, ME 04103
Southern Maine’s confidence in their online programs shows by not distinguishing between online and on-campus courses on student’s transcripts. The school’s seven undergraduate degrees focus on business and leadership, while their five graduate programs focus on leadership and education. Undergraduate programs include applied technical leadership, organizational studies, social and behavioral sciences, and communications. Several certificate programs also offer credentials in growing areas such as English as a second language and gerontology, this includes undergraduate and graduate certificates. Students are assigned a faculty advisor and an online academic advisor who will guide them through an online orientation and offer course counseling. USM is among online colleges in Maine that have an Office of Prior Learning Assessment. This department helps students earn college credit for their work experience and military service. Distance learning courses are taught completely online, and students have the opportunity to take classes on campus. Southern Maine accepts transfer credits from accredited institutions.
|7||University of Maine at Machias||Machias||$$$$$||116 O'Brien Ave|
Machias, ME 04654-1397
UMaine - Machias is a liberal arts college located on the coast of Maine. It has slightly limited program offerings compared to some of the other online colleges in Main. The school’s small class sizes (average of less than 20 students per class) apply to online courses as well, this provides a more personalized educational experience. Students can earn bachelor’s degrees in three areas: psychology and communication studies, business and entrepreneurial studies, or college studies, which can be tailored with self-designed concentrations to fit students interests. The college studies degree is often taken as a business, special education, or health professions degree. The school also offers several certificate programs, and favors former New England residents with a “Mainers-in-Exile” incentive, which lets past UMM students living out of state take classes online at the in-state resident tuition rate.
|8||University of Maine at Presque Isle||Presque Isle||$$$$$||181 Main St|
Presque Isle, ME 04769-2888
UMaine - Presque Isle, one of the best online colleges in Maine, offers bachelor’s degrees in English, history, and psychology. These degrees take approximately four years of full-time work, just like in a traditional setting. Courses are offered monthly, including summer, offering students the opportunity to earn their degree quicker. What makes UMPI one of the best online schools in Maine is its affordability. The school has an average in-state cost of $220 per credit. OpenU is the school’s free education portal, which offers online courses in literature, creative writing, history, government, and communications at no cost — however, students don’t earn any credit. OpenU is a great way to test run the online learning experience, and OpenU students who decide to enroll in a UMPI program can earn up to six units toward their degree for “prior learning experience.”
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Maine
Below, you’ll find another list of the best online colleges in Maine, sorted by tuition rate.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||University of Southern Maine||Portland||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||University of Maine at Machias||Machias||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||University of Maine at Augusta||Augusta||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||University of Maine at Fort Kent||Fort Kent||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||Saint Joseph's College of Maine||Standish||School profile||$$$$$|
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.
Find Schools in Maine
Explore accredited online colleges with our comprehensive database of online programs. Sort the results based on criteria like degree level and location.Start Your Search