Best Community Colleges in Maine
Maine takes higher education seriously, from the advanced research and degree programs at Maine universities to the widely accessible entry-level degrees and career-oriented training programs at top Maine community colleges.
Whether you're looking to live on campus, commute to school or take online courses from the comfort of home, knowing what the best community colleges in Maine have to offer can help you make the right choice for your education. We used data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to put together a profile for each two-year school in the state and ranked them to see which ones stood above the rest.
Check out our list of the best Maine community colleges and learn about the ways in which they can help you get where you want to go. When you're done, don't forget to explore the top four-year colleges in Maine.
Washington County Community College (Calais)
Originally founded as Washington County Vocational Technical Institute in 1969, Washington County Community College grew into a comprehensive institution that offers close to 30 diploma, certificate and degree programs to students in eastern Maine.
WCCC features the most intimate learning environment of any of the top community colleges in Maine, enrolling approximately 400 students each semester and boasting a very comfortable student-faculty ratio of 12:1. Apartment-style housing on campus accommodates up to 125 residential students each year.
Maine is a haven for outdoor recreation, and WCCC takes full advantage of its proximity to some of the most breathtaking natural features in the country. The Outdoor Adventure Center on the Calais campus rents outdoor gear and equipment to students and puts on adventure camp excursions during select school holidays.
Kennebec Valley Community College (Fairfield)
Kennebec Valley Community College first opened its doors in 1970, to a class of 35 full-time and 131 part-time students. Today, the Fairfield institution has grown to inhabit a 600-acre campus and serve a student body of approximately 2,500 full- and part-time learners.
The academic catalog at KVCC consists of academic programs for university transfer as well as career-ready study plans. One example is the institution's liberal studies degree, which was developed as a way for community college students to explore their interests while earning credits that can transfer to a range of four-year degree programs.
KVCC also deserves a spot among Maine's online colleges, thanks to a distance education department that makes nearly 20 programs available via distance education. Make sure to check with an adviser to find out if your online program requires any in-person campus visits.
York County Community College (Wells)
A low student-faculty ratio indicates that professors are likely to be available to assist students individually or outside of class time. York County Community College posted a 14:1 ratio of students to faculty members in 2018, a figure that's around 12 percent better than the national university average.
Approximately 1,600 students were enrolled in programs at YCCC in the 2018-19 academic year, which is enough of a student body to make the campus feel alive without compromising the close-knit feel of a small rural college. Close to 40 degree and certificate programs are available to students here, including several that can be completed entirely online.
If you're thinking about online colleges but don't want to be the only one in your virtual classroom, YCCC might be a good fit. Around 45 percent of students here take at least some online courses.
Eastern Maine Community College (Bangor)
Eastern Maine Community College was established in 1966 and moved to its current campus location two years later. The former Eastern Maine Vocational Technical Institute expanded its educational efforts in the decades since its founding to include off-campus learning centers in Ellsworth, East Millinocket and Dover-Foxcroft.
EMCC awards degrees, certificates and diplomas in more than 30 areas of study, from building construction and fire science technology to small business development and digital graphic design. Numerous student activities and clubs are available as well, for students who enjoy an active extracurricular life.
The city of Bangor, where EMCC is located, is one of the larger municipalities in the state and central Maine's most populous city. Roughly 32,000 people make their homes in the Queen City, where hiking, fly fishing and whale watching are among the top attractions.
Central Maine Community College (Auburn)
Located on the banks of scenic Lake Auburn, Central Maine Community College is the second-largest institution by enrollment among the best community colleges in Maine. Just shy of 3,000 students attend courses here each semester, either in traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms or online.
Several of the associate degrees available here can be earned exclusively through online courses, including popular study plans like business administration, criminal justice and general studies. The catalog at CMCC contains more than 40 degree and certificate programs in total.
If you can't decide whether a rural or urban environment is best for you, Auburn is a town that offers the best of both worlds. It's part of the Lewiston metro area, one of the more densely populated urban areas in Maine, but remains in proximity to rural quiet and natural beauty.
Northern Maine Community College (Presque Isle)
Its position roughly 10 miles east and 30 miles south of the border with Canada gives Northern Maine Community College the distinction of being one of the northernmost two-year schools in the country. The Presque Isle school welcomed its first class in 1963 and has grown into a strong regional institution in its more than 50 years of service.
Close to 40 degrees and certificates can be earned at NMCC, including nearly 20 options for students seeking careers in health care and the technical trades. Online courses may be available in certain study plans.
In addition to the comprehensive degree catalog offered at its main campus in Presque Isle, NMCC partners with a learning center in Houlton to offer degree plans there and extends its nurse training resources to Houlton Regional Hospital.
Southern Maine Community College (South Portland)
It should come as no surprise that the largest community college in Maine is located in the metro area of the state's most heavily populated city. Southern Maine Community College educates roughly 6,000 students each term -- around twice as many as the second-largest two-year school in the state.
Not every one of those 6,000 students walks the halls of SMCC's flagship campus in South Portland, however. The institution operates a secondary campus in Brunswick and seven satellite locations spread across southern Maine, as well as making two of its degrees and over 200 individual courses available online.
Students at SMCC can choose from a total of almost 60 degree and certificate programs. The catalog includes an associate degree in computer science and a certificate in marine design aimed at aspiring maritime architects and engineers.
Resources for Transfer Students in Maine
Transferring from community college to one of the top four-year schools in Maine is a great way to continue your education beyond an associate degree, and the state's higher education systems have united to help guide you through the process.
Thanks to a partnership between the Maine Community College System (MCCS) and the University of Maine System (UMS), students planning to transfer from a two-year school to a public university in Maine have a range of helpful resources:
- A block transfer agreement for A.A. students that permits the transfer of up to 35 general education credits to a program at any MCCS or UMS institution
- Transfer advisors at every University of Maine campus
- Online transfer guides that allow students to see the requirements of their own path from community college to university in great detail
The UMS website also features a transfer portal for current college students seeking specific information about their own situation or the transfer process in general. Check with an advisor at your community college for more information about further transfer agreements with private or out-of-state schools.
For additional insight into education in the state, ready about the top universities in Maine.
We ranked community colleges in Maine on multiple factors related to educational opportunity, student performance and student services.
Each school was scored on a 10-point scale, using the following six data points:
- The percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- Cost of attendance, based on the average net price for students receiving scholarship and grant aid, and the total cost of tuition, fees, books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- The transfer-out rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- Flexibility, based on the following data points from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
a. Whether the school offers credit for life experiences
b. Whether the school offers programs of study that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
c. Whether the school offers on-campus day care for students' children
d. Whether the school offers any kind of alternative tuition plan. These may include, but aren't limited to, payment plans or guaranteed rates.
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed November 25, 2018, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=ME&ct=1+2&ic=2
- Our Colleges, Maine Community College System, accessed November 25, 2018, https://www.mccs.me.edu/our-colleges/
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- QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed November 25, 2018: Bangor city, Maine, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/bangorcitymaine/PST045217; Auburn city, Maine, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/auburncitymaine/PST045217; Lewiston city, Maine, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/lewistoncitymaine/PST045217;
- Welcome to the City of Bangor, Maine, accessed November 25, 2018, http://www.bangormaine.gov/
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- Transfer Tools, University of Maine System, accessed November 25, 2018, http://www.maine.edu/transfer-students/transfer-course-equivalencies/
- 21 Liberal Arts Colleges with the Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio, U.S. News and World Report, April 19, 2016, Jordan Friedman, accessed November 25, 2018, https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/the-short-list-college/articles/2016-04-19/21-liberal-arts-colleges-with-the-lowest-student-faculty-ratios
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/