Maine Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2017-2018

  1. You are here:
  2. Home
  3. »
  4. Online Colleges »
  5. Maine

A Guide to Maine Colleges Online

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.

City in Focus: Portland’s Higher Education Scene

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.

Online Education Opportunities in Portland

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.

Budgeting for College Expenses 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 (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.
Portland 16.5% 43.0% 1.8% 2.9% 11.8% 9.7% 5.5%

Accreditation Standards in Maine

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.

Best Online Colleges In Maine

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 University Location ScoreAnnual Tuition# of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 University of Maine at Augusta Augusta, ME 99.50$$$$$31 26% 17:1 11% Yes Yes Yes

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 a architecture program that leads to a public, five yea 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.

2 University of Maine at Fort Kent Fort Kent, ME 98.49$$$$$12 86% 16:1 50% Yes Yes Yes

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.

3 University of Maine at Presque Isle Presque Isle, ME 98.42$$$$$9 79% 13:1 43% Yes Yes Yes

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.

4 University of Southern Maine Portland, ME 98.19$$$$$15 63% 15:1 32% Yes Yes Yes

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.

5 Husson University Bangor, ME 97.94$$$$$9 90% 15:1 42% Yes Yes Yes

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.

6 University of Maine at Machias Machias, ME 86.00$$$$$9 87% 12:1 31% Yes Yes Yes

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 coaster 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.

Best 2-Year Online Colleges in Maine

Rank University Location ScoreAnnual Tuition# of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 York County Community College Wells, ME 94.02$$$$$9 35% 14:1 17% Yes Yes Yes

York County Community College's history dates back more than 20 years to 1994. Adults are not limited to the classroom while receiving training at the college. If adults are juggling demands like work or family, they can enroll in fully online or hybrid degree and certificate classes at York. Degree programs to choose from cover 27 specialties, including career studies, education, architecture, veterinary technology and information technology. Certificates are in the culinary arts, technology and architecture. More than 1,700 adults are enrolled in a degree, certificate or professional program at York.

2 Kennebec Valley Community College Fairfield, ME 93.93$$$$$12 38% 18:1 42% Yes Yes Yes

Credits from Kennebec Valley Community College's more than 30 two-year degrees are transferrable to accredited four-year schools. Path to a classroom or online degree at Kennebec Valley starts with submitting an online application, meeting admissions requirements and finishing prerequisites. To create an academic plan that best supports their personal and professional goals, adults can use the school's advising guides. They can also meet with a guidance counselor. Trades, technology, arts, healthcare, business and sustainable agriculture are fields that degrees can be earned in. Instructors also teach non-degree professional development classes.

3 Central Maine Community College Auburn, ME 90.47$$$$$3 22% 17:1 24% Yes Yes Yes

Practical, technical, arts and career academic programs are taught at Central Maine Community College. Learning is structured at the individual and team level. Technology built into classrooms encourages team building, especially when completing broad projects. More than 40 certificates and degrees are awarded at the college. During open houses, current and prospective students can learn about majors directly from industry leaders. Classes are taught during the day, evening, online and on weekends. Academic programs at Central Maine are supplemented with athletics and student clubs and organizations. To schedule a campus tour, students should contact the admissions office.

Useful Resources for Online Students in Maine

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.

Major Maine Educational Resources: