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Online Schools in Maine

Hybrid and Online Degree Programs: Making Education Accessible

Online schools in Maine could help residents complete their education by making college more accessible. According to the 2010 Census (census.gov, 2010), Maine is statistically the most rural state in the nation, with 61.3 percent of its population living away from urban centers and, in turn, many colleges. In a 2011 report by the Maine Heritage Policy Center (mainepolicy.org, 2011), researchers Anthony Picciano and Jeff Seaman noted that online schools are "not simply an attractive alternative to face-to-face instruction, but increasingly becoming a lifeline to basic quality education" for the state's rural residents.

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Online Schools in Maine Help Meet Occupational Demand

If Maine residents want to take advantage of new career opportunities within their state, it helps to know which fields may offer the most promise -- and how to get their foot in the door. According to Maine's Center for Workforce Research and Information (maine.gov, 2011), health care is expected to grow faster than any other industry between 2010 and 2020, adding an estimated 7,726 new jobs across the decade. Students who want to take advantage of this new opportunity must invest in related training. St. Joseph's College Online (sjcme.edu) currently offers a number of online programs in health care-related disciplines, including bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing and a graduate certificate in health care education. Students can also earn bachelor's or master's degrees in health administration.

Another field that Maine's CWRI projects could boom between 2010 and 2020 is computer and math. The Center estimates that this field -- the third fastest growing industry in the state -- will add 907 positions during this period, which represents an overall increase of 10.1 percent. Maine online colleges have programs that can help computer and IT hopefuls take advantage of this trend, including the University of Maine Online (online.maine.edu). The University of Maine offers eight online programs within the computer and IT discipline, including associate and bachelor's degrees in computer information systems, and an associate degree in information security.

Distance Learning Benefits Working Professionals

Online schools in Maine are an ideal solution for working professionals who want to advance or change their careers despite existing job obligations, and residents may find they have a number of schools to choose from. Perhaps the largest school to do so is the University of Maine, which offers students the option to complete some degrees and certificates exclusively online or through hybrid programs that combine classroom and online instruction. The University of Maine offers 72 online credentials across a number of disciplines, including business, computer and information science, health studies and education.

The University of Southern Maine (usm.maine.edu) is another major institution that offers online programs geared toward working professionals, including many degrees and certificates that are earned fully online without any classroom time. Some business degree programs fall into this category. According to the CWRI, Maine's business and financial occupations are expected to grow by more than 10 percent between 2010 and 2020, making it one of the top five fastest-growing industries in the state. At the University of Southern Maine, students can earn online bachelor's degrees in business administration and applied technical leadership, and can earn bachelor's and graduate certificates in leadership and organizational studies.

Industries for Job Growth in Maine

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012) reports that Maine was home to approximately 656,000 workers in 2012. Education and health services were the state's largest industry, employing nearly 122,700 workers. Trade, transportation and utilities -- employing 116,600 workers -- was Maine's second-largest industry, followed by government, which employed 100,800 workers.

Education is not only Maine's largest industry, but also includes a number of the state's fastest-growing occupations. The CWRI projects that special education teachers should be in particularly high demand between 2010 and 2020, adding 161 jobs overall. The University of Maine offers 13 online education credentials today, four of which are geared specifically toward special education professionals.

Sources:
State Workforce Investment Board, Executive Summary of Workforce Investment Act Strategic Plan
State of Maine, Colleges and Universities
Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information, High-Wage, In-Demand Jobs, 2010
Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information, Job Outlook to 2020, 2010
The Maine Heritage Policy Center, Schools for Maine's Future: The Promise of Digital Learning, January 2011
University of Maine System
University of Southern Maine
Saint Joseph's College Online
U.S. Census Bureau, Growth in Urban Population Outpaces Rest of Nation, March 2012
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maine Economy at a Glance, 2012

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