Distance learning was once an alternative to campus-based education in the form of correspondence schools, but today online education has been embraced by traditional brick-and-mortar universities and colleges. Maine’s private and public online schools offer diverse undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate programs, as well as continuing education courses. Some institutions stand above the others based on sustained academic excellence and a support network providing student services for distance learners. The following innovators made the list of the Best Online Colleges in Maine for 2016.
|Rank||School Name||Score||Tuition & Fees||#ONLINE PROGRAMS|
|1||University of Maine at Augusta||99.50||$$||31|
|2||University of Maine at Fort Kent||98.49||$$||12|
|3||University of Maine at Presque Isle||98.42||$$||9|
|4||University of Southern Maine||98.19||$$||15|
|6||University of Maine at Machias||86.00||$$||9|
|Rank||School Name||Score||Tuition & Fees||Financial Aid %||#ONLINE PROGRAMS||Student-teacher Ratio||Grad Rate|
|1||University of Maine at Augusta||99.50||$$||26%||31||17:1||11%||
The Bachelor of Architecture is a program that distinguishes the University of Maine at Augusta from other public, four-year degree granting schools. No other school in Maine currently has an architecture program that leads to a public, five-year degree. Other academic programs taught include American studies, French, social science, nursing, aviation, biology and computer information technology. More than 6,000 students take a class at the school. Campuses that are part of the university's system are Bangor, Centers Statewide and Augusta, the latter location being the place where the main campus is.
|Read More Read Less|
|2||University of Maine at Fort Kent||98.49||$$||86%||12||16:1||50%||
University of Maine at Fort Kent is located in Maine's St. John Valley. A rural community surrounds the school that has been offering postsecondary training since 1878. On a semester basis, the school boasts a student population of about 900 students. The school that borders Canada, awards associate and bachelor's degrees in subjects like applied forest management, conservation law enforcement, allied health and biology. With an RSVP, new students can attend open house at the start of school. In addition to specialized accreditations, the university is accredited by the New England Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.
|Read More Read Less|
|3||University of Maine at Presque Isle||98.42||$$||79%||9||13:1||43%||
Education at the University of Maine at Presque Isle is customized to fit individual student needs. Much of the customized learning takes place at the Center for Innovative Learning, a place where students receive tutoring, computer, library research and writing support. The support helps students as they pursue a choice of seven associate degrees and 22 bachelor's degrees. These undergraduate degrees are in several career fields, including accounting, film studies, medical lab technology, women's studies and project management. Students who might otherwise be too busy to attend college, finish classes at the university by logging into the distance education myUMPI portal.
|Read More Read Less|
|4||University of Southern Maine||98.19||$$||63%||15||15:1||32%||
The University of Southern Maine is part of the University of Maine System. Public transportation routes are near the main campus. The university is home to more than 2,000 courses, 245 faculty members who instruct full-time and 120 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Seven of the undergraduate and three of the graduate degrees are online. Online degrees are mainly in leadership, business and humanities. Recently, the university kicked off its Samstarf Project. Through the program and in partnership with the University of Iceland, students study for two months overseas.
|Read More Read Less|
When Husson University started in 1898, its instructors taught in a small building. Husson became a university in 2008. The school is in the process of expanding its on-campus residence dormitories, adding a new townhouse residence building. The school's property covers 208 acres. Its 2,800 undergraduate and 700 graduate students declare majors and minors in programs that give them deep learning in accounting, entertainment production, psychology, sciences, humanities, education and liberal arts. There is a choice of 18 NCAA Division III sports that sports lovers can sign up to join.
|Read More Read Less|
|6||University of Maine at Machias||86.00||$$||87%||9||12:1||31%||
University of Maine at Machias is an environmental liberal arts higher education school. It is the only public school of its kind in New England. Depending on the major, learning may take place outdoors, allowing students to study the environment. About 1,000 students attend the 243-acre campus that is situated in coastal Maine. Work experience is derived through the school's cooperative education program. Students enrolled in the program attend class while they gain work experience. Virtual tours or all-day campus visits give prospective students and their parents a real-life view into the university.
|Read More Read Less|
In 2013, 10 four-year colleges in Maine offered online programs, with everything from the occasional class to full-length programs that culminate in a degree or professional certificate. The physical size of the state, and its location in one corner of the country, encourage distance education in Maine. With a relatively small population, Maine is home to both surprisingly sizable towns and tiny hamlets located far from the nearest university.
For online students, Maine features a variety of options, including public and private four-year universities, community and junior colleges, religious institutions and wholly online colleges. Online students still benefit from exceptional professors and tuition assistance, and can even earn identical degrees as those granted on-campus. But, with online programs in Maine, students have the convenience that comes with distance learning as well as a choice of self-paced and accelerated degree programs.
To understand the evolving educational landscape in Maine, take a look at its largest city, Portland. Its traditional campus-based institutions are complemented by a growing number of online colleges offering distance learning options to students both in and outside the city.
Portland is a coastal city in southeastern Maine, with a population approaching 70,000. It has won a host of awards for its seafood, outdoor activities and family-friendly atmosphere. The city was also named one of the Top 20 Best Small Cities for College Students by the American Institute for Economic Research.
Because of its size, Portland is home to just four colleges and universities. However, from arts to law school to liberal studies, there’s no shortage of educational opportunities in this small metropolitan area. University of Maine, which has a law school in Portland, was ranked among the top universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. It is the state’s only law school and has an enrollment of less than 300, with student access to limited class sizes and individualized attention.
Students at the University of Southern Maine (USM) in Portland see similar benefits. Listed in 2012 as one of the Best in the Northeast by The Princeton Review, the college counts nearly half of its classes as accommodating less than 20 students. USM offers more than 115 areas of study and 100 student organizations. Opportunities for continuing professional education and lifelong learning and enrichment are also available.
Busy professionals and those living on the outskirts of town benefit from distance learning opportunities. USM provides online degrees and certificate programs year-round. Applied technical leadership and organizational studies, communication and business administration are just a few of the fully online bachelor’s degree programs. The University of New England, recognized by Forbes as one of America’s Top Colleges in 2013, offers eight graduate certificates, nine master’s degrees and a doctorate that can be completed entirely online.
No matter what the state, college costs can be substantial. In-state residents who chose to attend college in Maine in 2012 paid an average of $13,335 per year in tuition, making Maine 35th in the nation for the cost of college tuition. Keep in mind that the tuition can vary greatly depending upon the location, school, program and student residency – those who reside outside the state are likely to pay more in tuition than in-state students do.
In addition to tuition, fees also come into play when planning finances for a college education. Fees might include everything from use of recreational facilities to parking, depending upon the school. Maine students paid an average of $14,700 per student per year in fees in 2012. When added to the average tuition, the typical student paid $15,140 per school year to attend college in the state.
Finally, there is room and board to consider, as well as other living expenses. These costs can add up quickly, so it pays to know what the cost of living is like in a particular state. Maine has a cost of living (COL) approximately 16 percent higher than the rest of the nation. The chart below lists what students can expect for the COL in various areas of the state, with the national average shown as 100 percent.
|Urban Area||Composite Index||Housing||Groceries||Utilities||Transportation||Health Care||Misc.|
In order to receive financial funds from the federal government, students must attend a college that has been accredited. Those who intend to transfer credits might find that only courses from accredited schools are accepted. Students might also need a degree from an accredited college in order to be taken seriously in their future profession.
Accreditation means that the college or university has met the basic standards of education set forth by the accrediting body, proving that the education is on a par with other schools in the state, region and nation. Students curious about regional accreditation in Maine should check out the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Want to learn more about higher education in Maine? The state’s Finance Authority website has information about financial aid. Other organizations listed below cover topics like accreditation, veteran’s education benefits, scholarships, college savings plans and more.