Maine Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2014

In the far corner of the country, Maine is definitely a place to “get away” for a college student. The Pine Tree State was home to 43 universities, colleges and career schools in 2013, making it 40th in the nation for the number of colleges within its borders. That same year, 95,500 students took advantage of higher education opportunities in Maine, which made it 43rd in the nation for student volume.

Colleges in Maine offer undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs, as well as continuing education, available in a traditional classroom, through online education, or a hybrid of both. Maine features a wide variety of options, including religious institutions, community and junior colleges, public and private four-year universities, and online colleges.

College Type Number in Maine
Public 16
Private not-for-profit (no religious affiliation) 13
Private for-profit 3
Private not-for-profit (religious affiliation) 2

Where to Get a College Education in Maine

For its relatively small population, Maine is home to some surprisingly sizable towns, as well as tiny hamlets that offer peaceful, serene living. Colleges might be found in urban areas, or in the smaller towns, where education is a short drive away. Here is how the college landscape shapes up in Maine:

Most Popular Cities for College Students (Total)

  • South Portland (11,100)
  • Portland (10,200)
  • Orono (10,000)
  • Bangor (7,500)
  • Augusta (6,800)

Cities with the Most Colleges (Total)

  • Bangor (6)
  • Portland (4)
  • Lewiston (4)
  • South Portland (2)
  • Waterville (2)

City in Focus: Portland’s Higher Education Landscape

Portland, Maine is a small coastal city in southeastern Maine. With a population approaching 70,000, it is also the state’s largest city. It has won a host of awards for its amazing seafood, great 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 small 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 with an enrollment of less than 300, students benefit from small class sizes and individualized attention. Students at the University of Southern Maine have similar benefits. Listed in 2012 as one of the Best in the Northeast by The Princeton Review, nearly half of the college’s classes accommodate less than 20 students. USM offers more than 115 areas of study and more than 100 student organizations. Professional opportunities for continuing education are also available to the professional, lifelong learner.

Where to Find Online Education Opportunities

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 bachelor’s degrees students can earn fully online. 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.

Online Learning in Maine

Distance learning was once considered an alternative to traditional education, but today, online education has been embraced by many brick-and-mortar universities and colleges. In fact, 10 four-year colleges in Maine offered online learning in 2013, hosting everything from the occasional class to full-length programs that culminated in a degree or certificate. Learn more about distance learning opportunities in Maine via the list below. Each entry explains the college’s online education options with focus on how they work and why they offer value.

What Does College Cost in Maine?

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 approximately 16 percent higher than the rest of the nation. The chart below lists what students can expect for the cost of living (COL) in various areas of the state, with the national average shown as 100%.

One other very important financial aspect of Louisiana higher education is room and board, as well as other necessary living expenses. The state of Louisiana has a cost of living that is approximately 4 percent lower than the national average. In the table below, the national average cost of living (COL) is shown as 100%, and the cost of living in Louisiana’s major metro areas is listed in comparison.

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Portland 16.5% 43.0% 1.8% 2.9% 11.8% 9.7% 5.5%

Every college hopeful analyze financial metrics (tuition, fees, cost of living) should also consider return on investment (ROI). ROI looks at the ability of a graduate of a certain college to secure a decent salary after graduation. The following list represents the schools in Maine with the highest lifetime ROI figures:

  • Bates College
  • University of New England
  • Colby College
  • University of Maine at Orono
  • Bowdoin College

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Maine Students

College can definitely be expensive, but there’s good news: Funds from federal, state and local sources can make the cost more manageable. Students should always start with federal financial aid by filling out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This very important form can help determine eligibility for a college student in any state in the U.S., and could result in federal funds, courtesy of Uncle Sam. In Maine, 64 percent of undergraduate students received some form of federal funds in 2012.

Once federal assistance is established, students can then move to other sources of financing for their college education. Help might be available on the state level. Colleges and universities often offer their own scholarships, grants and other assistance for enrolled students. Those in Maine might also find funding from a variety of organizations, including religious institutions, nonprofits, private companies and even local governments. Below is a short listing of some places that may offer financial assistance to Maine students:

  • Seacoast Artist Association
  • New England Direct Marketing Association
  • Maine Skating Club
  • The A.V. Stout Fund
  • Boston Flower Exchange
  • Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange
  • Guy P. Gannett Foundation
  • Maine State Legislature
  • Maine Metal Products Association
  • Main State Chamber of Commerce
  • Rainbow Business and Professional Association

Why Does Accreditation Matter?

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 accreditation in Maine should check out the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (https://www.neasc.org/).

Accreditation matters for students who want to receive financial assistance; federal funds are only released to schools that have current accreditation. In addition, most colleges only accept transfer credits from accredited schools, and some employers rarely consider applicants who graduate from programs that are not accredited. These are all excellent reasons to verify that the chosen school holds accreditation in good standing. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the primary accrediting body for educational institutions in Kentucky (http://www.sacscoc.org/).

More About Attending College in Maine

There are many things to consider when planning to attend college. This guide is meant to help students who plan to attend college in Maine as they research where they might find the best fit, what to expect from tuition and cost of living, how to pay for it all, and whether they should choose an online education, traditional classroom setting, or a hybrid of both. To learn more about individual colleges and universities in Maine, especially those that offer online education of some sort, please take a look at the listings below.

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Maine possesses some of the strongest online distance learning programs in the country. Students seeking a degree from an accredited four-year school, but need the flexibility of distance learning, can take advantage of these fully online schools in Maine. 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. These programs have an array of degrees and certifications available. We’ve compiled a list of all of the best fully online colleges in Maine, ranked from lowest tuition to highest for value comparison. All of these Maine online colleges offer an exceptional education.

Click here to see our methodology.
1
University of Maine at Presque Isle
Tuition and fees: $7,300 Enrollment: 2,068 Accredited: YES Website: University of Maine at Presque Isle

University of Maine at Presque Isle offers a versatile online psychology program with coursework in social psychology, cognitive psychology, lifespan, personality development, research methods, behavior and psychological assessment. The program requires 1

2
University of Maine at Augusta
Tuition and fees: $7,448 Enrollment: 6,656 Accredited: YES Website: University of Maine at Augusta

University of Maine at Augusta, also known as UMA, offers online certificate and degree programs in business administration, justice studies, computer information systems, library services and other fields. Like other online colleges in Main, many of UMA's programs be completed entirely online, while other require minimal on-campus attendance.

3
University of Maine at Machias
Tuition and fees: $7,480 Enrollment: 1,367 Accredited: YES Website: University of Maine at Machias

Online learning at the University of Maine at Machias provides students with a rich learning experience as they work to gain a bachelor’s degree in program areas such as psychology and community studies or business and entrepreneurial studies. The Bachelor of College Studies Program offers online learners a unique option to create a specialized degree program designed for them, by them.

4
University of Maine at Fort Kent
Tuition and fees: $7,575 Enrollment: 1,769 Accredited: YES Website: University of Maine at Fort Kent

The University of Maine at Fort Kent offers an array of opportunities for online course study. The distance learning program contains areas of study which range from healthcare administration and nursing to broad reaching degrees like general studies or university studies. Online certificate programs are also offered by the university in major occupational areas such as special education teaching and emergency management.

5
University of Southern Maine
Tuition and fees: $7,776 Enrollment: 9,255 Accredited: YES Website: University of Southern Maine

University of Southern Maine offers a wide variety of degree programs through USM Online. USM Online students can choose from six online undergraduate degrees, one online undergraduate minor, three online undergraduate certificates, three online graduate degrees and two online graduate certificates. USM Online offers a free demo course for prospective students.

6
University of Maine
Tuition and fees: $10,594 Enrollment: 10,069 Accredited: YES Website: University of Maine

UMaine Online, a divisions of the University of Maine, is one of many online colleges in Maine offering a variety of degree programs that can be completed entirely online. UMaine Online currently offers nine graduate degree programs, and 13 graduate certificate programs and more than 300 undergraduate courses every year.

7
Husson University
Tuition and fees: $14,540 Enrollment: 2,807 Accredited: YES Website: Husson University

Husson University is one of the online colleges in Maine that offers a wide variety of business courses online. Husson University students can choose to take a mix of traditional and online courses in order to create a hybrid degree program. Prospective students can take a free virtual tour of the online campus.

8
Thomas College
Tuition and fees: $22,770 Enrollment: 1,061 Accredited: YES Website: Thomas College

Thomas College, an option for online colleges in Maine, offers students flexibility while seeking out a college degree through online course study. Based on career-focused concentrations, Thomas College offers associate and bachelor’s degree options in a number of business-related areas ranging from business administration to human resources management, all in addition to its arts and sciences degree program.

9
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
Tuition and fees: $30,030 Enrollment: 2,246 Accredited: YES Website: Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

Saint Joseph's College Online offers a wide variety of accredited courses and degree programs. The college is military-friendly. The online degree programs are designed to be flexible enough for students with other obligations. Students can choose from undergraduate and degree programs in accounting, business, criminal justice, nursing, education and many other fields.

10
University of New England
Tuition and fees: $31,870 Enrollment: 4,753 Accredited: YES Website: University of New England

University of New England is one of the many online colleges in Maine. Prospective students can take a free virtual tour of the online campus. Online programs include master's and doctoral programs in social work, physical therapy, educational leadership, education, public health and osteopathic medicine.