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 the best 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, then we scored them on important metrics to see which ones stood above the rest.
Check out our list of the best community colleges in Maine and learn how they can help you get where you want to go.
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 around 20 majors for academic study alongside career-focused certificate, diploma and Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree plans.
WCCC features the most personalized learning environment of any of the top community colleges in Maine, enrolling fewer then 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.
Programs offered here include an A.A.S. in computer technology, and those that culminate in a certificate or associate degree in early childhood education or a criminal justice degree with a concentration in conservation law enforcement. Online courses are available for students hoping to add some flexibility to their class schedule.
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, providing an active extracurricular life on campus.
The city of Bangor, where EMCC is located, is 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 top community colleges in Maine. More than 3,000 students attend courses here each semester.
The catalog at CMCC contains more than 40 degree and certificate programs in total. 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. Campus programs include those that result in certificates in culinary arts, electromechanical technology and forensic investigations.
The town of Auburn offers a pleasant combination of urban and rural environments. It's part of the Lewiston metro area, one of the more densely populated urban areas in Maine, but it remains in close proximity to rural quiet and natural beauty.
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 15:1 ratio of students to faculty members in 2018, one of the best ratios among the best Maine community colleges.
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 of their credits through distance education, giving you more than 700 potential virtual classmates.
Students here can choose among close to 40 degree and certificate programs. Fully online degree programs include A.A.S. plans in gerontology, behavioral health studies, information technology and more.
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 populated city. Southern Maine Community College educates more than 5,800 students each term — close to twice as many as the second-largest two-year school in the state.
In addition to its South Portland flagship campus, SMCC operates a secondary campus in Brunswick and seven satellite locations spread across southern Maine, as well as making two of its degree programs 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.
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. The Fairfield institution has now 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 features a range of degree options, including a liberal studies degree designed to allow community college students to explore their interests while earning general education credits that can transfer to a university bachelor's degree program.
Close to 20 programs here feature at least some opportunity for distance education coursework. A.A.S. degree plans in marketing and management, early childhood education, mental health technology and accounting can be earned entirely online, while degree programs in health information management, radiologic technology and more have significant online components.
CTE in Maine
Career technical education (CTE) in Maine consists of high school and college programs that focus on teaching employable skills while also providing a firm basis for advanced academic study. High school students in the state who focus on CTE studies on their path through school graduate at a rate of 93 percent, compared with an 87 percent graduation rate for the state overall.
Students who go on to college and pursue an associate degree or other career and technical education credential tend to have success after graduation, as well. According to the Association for Career and Technical Education, within six months of finishing their programs, 96 percent of postsecondary CTE students in Maine found jobs, began apprenticeships or became members of the military.
If you're curious about the finer points of CTE in Maine, here's a list of state resources to browse:
- The Maine Career and Technical Education Portal is a vast resource that helps students find CTE schools in Maine, learn about CTE program standards and keep up on news and events surrounding career and technical education.
- The Maine Department of Education provides descriptions of and links to a wide range of state-specific CTE resources that can be helpful to students, parents and educators alike.
- Southern Maine Community College offers career technical education articulation agreements that allow students to take college courses — at no charge — at one of the approved regional technical centers.
There are two ways that students can partake in CTE study in Maine: through the member institutions of the Maine Community College System (MCCS) or through independent vocational schools and technical centers. MCCS schools are likely to be your best bet for accredited training, although some independent schools may have also earned accredited status for individual programs.
Transferring Credits 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 and the University of Maine System (UMS), students planning to transfer from a two-year school to a public university in Maine can access these helpful sources:
- 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.
There's also plenty of general information about transfer agreements and the overall transfer process in the college transfer guide elsewhere on this site.
Resources for Community College Students in Maine
- Information about the state's two-year schools and the types of programs offered at the college level can be found on the Maine Community College System (MCCS) site.
- The MCCS also provides a handy hub for online degree and certificate programs available at two-year schools in the state.
- Learn about financial aid in Maine from the State of Maine's Financing Education page and the financial aid and scholarships section of the MCCS site.
Using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following criteria:
- Level of institution is either "At least 2 but less than 4 years" or "Less than 2 years (below associate)"
- Data is reported for all 14 ranking variables listed in the Methodology section
We ranked the resulting community colleges member schools on multiple factors related to educational opportunity, student performance and student services. Each school was scored on a 10-point scale, using the following data points:
- The published in-district tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- The published in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- The in-district per credit hour charge for part-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- The in-state per credit hour charge for part-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- Percentage of students receiving financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- Percent of students that transferred to a 4-year institution and completed within 8 years, College Scorecard, 2017
- The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
- Percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Flexibility, based on the following data points from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- Whether the school offers credit for life experiences
- Whether the school offers programs of study that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers on-campus day care for students' children
- Whether the school offers any kind of alternative tuition plan. These may include, but aren't limited to, payment plans or guaranteed rates.
- Association for Career and Technical Education, accessed December 27, 2019: Why CTE?, https://www.acteonline.org/why-cte/; State Profiles, https://www.acteonline.org/why-cte/state-profiles/
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Maine, Advance CTE, accessed December 27, 2019, https://careertech.org/Maine
- Maine, College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed December 27, 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=ME&ct=1&ic=2
- Maine Career and Technical Education Portal, accessed December 27, 2019, https://mainecte.org/
- Maine Community College System, accessed December 27, 2019, https://www.mccs.me.edu/
- QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed December 27, 2019: 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
- Resources, Career and Technical Education, Maine Department of Education, accessed December 27, 2019, https://www.maine.gov/doe/learning/cte/resources
- Welcome to the City of Bangor, Maine, accessed December 27, 2019, http://www.bangormaine.gov/
- Why Visit the Greater Bangor Region?, Greater Bangor Convention & Visitors Bureau, accessed December 27, 2019, https://www.visitbangormaine.com/about-the-region/why-visit-the-greater-bangor-region/
School pages, accessed December 27, 2019
- Washington County Community College
- About WCCC, https://www.wccc.me.edu/about-wccc/
- Housing, https://www.wccc.me.edu/student-life/housing/
- Programs of Study, https://www.wccc.me.edu/academics/programs/programs-study/
- Online Courses, https://www.wccc.me.edu/academics/programs/online-courses/
- Eastern Maine Community College
- History, https://www.emcc.edu/discover-emcc/overview/history/
- Programs of Study, https://www.emcc.edu/academics/programs/programs-of-study/
- Central Maine Community College
- Campus Information, https://www.cmcc.edu/discover-cmcc/our-campus/see-the-campus/
- Academics, https://www.cmcc.edu/academics/
- Online Learning, https://www.cmcc.edu/academics/programs/online-learning/
- York County Community College
- Degree Programs, https://www.yccc.edu/academics/degree-programs/
- Southern Maine Community College
- About the Midcoast Campus, https://www.smccme.edu/midcoast-campus/about-the-midcoast-campus/
- Career Technical Education Agreements, https://www.smccme.edu/academics/credit-for-high-school-students/career-technical-education-agreements/
- Community Satellite Locations, https://www.smccme.edu/community-satellite-locations/
- Online Learning Overview, https://www.smccme.edu/academics/online-learning-overview/
- Degree Programs, https://www.smccme.edu/academics/degree-programs/
- Kennebec Valley Community College
- History/Mission, https://www.kvcc.me.edu/about-kvcc/overview/history-mission/
- About KVCC, https://www.kvcc.me.edu/about-kvcc/
- Programs of Study, https://www.kvcc.me.edu/academics/information/programs-of-study/
- Online Programs, https://www.kvcc.me.edu/academics/information/online-learning/programs/