Whether you're hoping to attend a campus in the University of Maine System or one of the state's independent colleges, it's a good idea to know as much as you can about the available options before deciding where to earn your degree. We collected a bunch of info for prospective students, including state-based financial aid opportunities, details of job market projections and a rundown of the state's top degree programs by enrollment.
Each satellite campus of the U of M System was treated as a separate school in our analysis. Students at Maine community colleges can often take advantage of special transfer agreements with bachelor's programs at U of M system schools. Check with a transfer advisor at your school for details.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Maine
Hundreds of degree programs are available at dozens of Maine colleges, but which institution has the right mix of affordability, flexibility and student-focused initiatives help you achieve your goals? We took a deep dive into the statistics and ranked the best colleges and universities in Maine. When you're through here, be sure to read about the best community colleges in Maine for additional insight into education in the state.
Originally established as the Maine College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts, the flagship Orono location of the University of Maine was founded shortly after the U.S. Civil War. Just 13 students walked the halls in its inaugural year of 1868, but it's clearly grown in leaps and bounds since.
Today, it boasts the largest campus by enrollment among all Maine universities. The eight academic schools and colleges at this institution of more than 11,000 students offer around 210 programs in total, including 90 bachelor's plans and close to 120 graduate and doctoral programs.
Students looking for fully or partially online degree programs have a range of options here, especially at the graduate level. UMaine has one of the state's biggest selections of online degrees and online courses, as well as offering graduate certificates in health care, business, education, engineering and more.
This private institution has its roots in two small Maine schools founded more than 100 years apart: St. Francis College, founded in 1939 as a high school and junior college for Quebecois boys in Maine, and Westbrook College, established as a seminary in 1830. St. Francis took the University of New England name in 1978 and merged with Westbrook under the older institution's charter in 1996.
Total enrollment here is over 8,200, with a significant majority of students pursuing graduate or professional degrees. Undergraduates compose less than 30 percent of the population -- around 2,400 students -- while master's and doctoral degree programs claim close to 50 percent.
UNE also features a great way for students to travel the world while they learn. The institution maintains a satellite campus in Tangier, Morocco, where you can spend a semester learning and exploring.
The University of Southern Maine is the regional institution of the University of Maine System, featuring three separate campuses across the southern reaches of the state. Its primary academic center is located in Portland, with a residential undergraduate hub in Gorham and a smaller campus in Lewiston.
Around 60 undergraduate majors are available here, which works out to a total of more than 120 degree programs. Plenty of program options are available for graduate students as well -- more than two dozen post-baccalaureate certificate plans and 50 full-fledged master's degrees are available.
This public institution was also one of the top colleges and universities in Maine for students who want to get into grad school as fast as possible. Accelerated pathways to USM graduate programs offer expedited graduate admissions and allow you to begin taking advanced courses while still an undergraduate.
Located in the St. John Valley by the Canadian border, the University of Maine at Fort Kent is the University of Maine System's prime rural university. Enrollment here is modest, with just over 1,750 students on the rolls in 2017, so you're unlikely to feel like just another face in the crowd during your time on campus.
UMFK also makes a strong showing among online colleges in Maine, offering more than a dozen degrees and certificates in the virtual classroom. Students can pursue online bachelor's degrees in business management, cybersecurity and health care, along with two-year programs in accounting, criminal justice and emergency management.
Students who fear a mountain of debt after leaving school can take heart here, as well. A recent report showed that UMFK graduates had some of the lowest student debt numbers in the nation.
The University of Maine at Farmington was the first public institution of higher education established in Maine, opening its doors to a class of 31 students in 1864. The entire student body of Farmington Normal School, as it was called then, fit into an attic above a downtown building.
Today, UMF is one of the top liberal arts schools in Maine, serving around 1,600 students and working to provide a close-knit academic setting. Approximately two-thirds of classes here have fewer than 20 students, and the student-faculty ratio is a comfortable 13:1.
The town of Farmington is a culturally engaged community of around 7,500 that has a lot to offer lovers of the outdoors. Students can go on kayaking excursions on the Kennebec River, hike up Tumbledown Mountain and take snowshoeing trips on the Maine Huts and Trails.
The University of Maine at Presque Isle features one of the lowest tuition and fees expenses among the best schools in Maine. Not only does its average 30-credit year cost less than most other Maine colleges -- roughly $7,900 for in-state students in 2018 -- but the cost is around $2,000 more affordable than the national average expense at four-year public colleges.
The learning environment at UMPI is low-key, with just over 1,400 students enrolled in 2017. The academic catalog consists of exclusively undergraduate plans, including more than 20 bachelor's degrees and several two-year programs.
UMPI students also have access to the school's Personalized Learning initiative, which gives students more control over their education and helps them develop their résumés and job interview skills. Personalized Learning permits students to attend class either on campus, online or both over the course of their degree plans.
This small institution near the eastern tip of the state is another great option for cost-minded Maine students. Tuition for the 2018-19 academic year at the University of Maine at Machias cost over 20 percent less than the national public university average, and around 90 percent of students receive some form of financial aid each year.
UMM may also be one of the top schools in Maine for students who like the feel of a small campus. Around 700 students attend school here, making for an intimate college atmosphere, and the ratio of 12 students per faculty member makes individual faculty help available.
Online degrees and certificates can also be earned at UMM. Programs in psychology and community studies, business and entrepreneurial studies and the open-ended Bachelor of College Studies (B.C.S.) degree each can be personalized with a range of specializations.
Ensuring that Maine students have access to education is a big part of the mission at the University of Maine at Augusta. The institution operates two comprehensive campuses in Maine -- the Augusta flagship and one in Bangor -- and contributes its courses and degree programs to University College centers in Ellsworth, Houlton, Rockland, Rumford and East Millinocket, among others.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the distance education catalog at UMA is one of the most robust among all Maine colleges. More than three dozen accredited undergraduate programs are available, including a bachelor's degree in public administration, an associate degree in music and certificates in Web development and human resource management.
The city of Augusta and the surrounding Kennebec Valley offer plenty to do in your time away from class. Kayaking, fly-fishing and other river sports abound, and towns in the area are steeped in local history.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Maine
Every academic year, there are some degree programs chosen by greater numbers of students than others. Check out the most popular university study plans in Maine, according to recent NCES data.
In-Demand Careers in Maine
Knowing what career fields might be most in need of qualified applicants once you're done with your degree can help you aim your education toward an up-and-coming career. Here are a few of the careers that recent employment projections suggest are the hottest jobs available for Maine residents.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Information Security Analysts||22.7%||220||$87,590|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||21.5%||3,000||$95,410|
|Operations Research Analysts||20.5%||420||$71,250|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||20%||330||$78,170|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||17.6%||350||$53,770|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Programmers||15.2%||70||$50,650|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||13.6%||290||$59,220|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||13.4%||420||$101,230|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||13%||200||$53,280|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||12.7%||16,960||$27,400|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||12.1%||2,080||$95,600|
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants||11.6%||1,170||$52,320|
|Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||11.4%||2,580||$35,790|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||11.3%||810||$65,820|
|Morticians, Undertakers, and Funeral Arrangers||11.3%||140||$56,840|
|Fast Food and Counter Workers||11.3%||13,530||$24,790|
|Atmospheric and Space Scientists||11.1%||50||$81,430|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologists||11%||100||$77,270|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Maine
The State of Maine makes certain financial assistance programs available exclusively to its residents. Once such program, the Alfond Leaders, provides student debt reduction assistance for Maine residents working in designated science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations. Also, the State of Maine Grant Program awards need-based grants to undergraduate students at eligible Maine institutions.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
- University of Maine System
- Finance Authority of Maine (FAME)
- Maine Community College System
- Transfer from a Maine Community College
- Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) Maine
To get our list of the best colleges, we ranked 1,383 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the following data points and the weights specified. In order to be included in the ranking, schools had to report data for each of the following data points:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- The average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduate students as a percentage of in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered on campus, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Programs of study that can be completed entirely on weekends or in the evening
- Remedial services
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Guaranteed tuition plan
- Tuition payment plan
- Any other alternative tuition plan
Note:Tuition prices are based on data for the 2016-17 academic year reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.
All of the National Center for Education Statistics data came from IPEDS:
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2015-16, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- School pages, accessed April 23, 2018: About UMaine, The University of Maine, https://umaine.edu/about/; Quick Facts, The University of Maine, https://umaine.edu/about/quick-facts/; Browse Degrees, UMaineOnline, University of Maine, https://online.umaine.edu/browse-degrees/; At a Glance, University of New England, http://www.une.edu/about/glance; University of New England History, University of New England, http://www.une.edu/about/histories/une-history; Westbrook College History, University of New England, http://www.une.edu/about/histories/westbrook-college-history; Semester Program, UNE Morocco, University of New England, http://www.une.edu/morocco/semester-program; About USM, University of Southern Maine, https://usm.maine.edu/about; Campuses, University of Southern Maine, https://usm.maine.edu/campuses; Majors, Minors & Programs, University of Southern Maine, https://usm.maine.edu/majors-minors-programs; About UMFK, University of Maine at Fort Kent, https://www.umfk.edu/about/; Academic Programs, University of Maine at Fort Kent, https://www.umfk.edu/programs/; About UMF, University of Maine at Farmington, http://www.umf.maine.edu/about/; UMF Facts, University of Maine at Farmington, http://www.umf.maine.edu/about/umf-facts/; Campus Life, University of Maine Farmington, http://www.umf.maine.edu/campus-life/; Mainely Outdoors, University of Maine at Farmington, http://www.umf.maine.edu/campus-life/outdoor-recreation/mainelyoutdoors/; About UMPI, University of Maine at Presque Isle, http://www.umpi.edu/about-umpi/; Tuition and Fees, University of Maine at Presque Isle, http://www.umpi.edu/offices/student-financial-services/student-accounts/tuition-a-fees/; Academics, University of Maine at Presque Isle, http://www.umpi.edu/academics/; About UMM, University of Maine at Machias, https://machias.edu/about-umm/; Tuition & Fees, University of Maine at Machias, https://machias.edu/admissions/tuition-fees/; Distance Degree Programs, University of Maine at Machias, https://machias.edu/academics/distance-degree-programs/; UMM Facts, University of Maine at Machias, https://machias.edu/about-umm/umm-facts/; Quick Facts, University of Maine at Augusta, https://www.uma.edu/about/facts/; Campuses, University of Maine at Augusta, https://www.uma.edu/about/campuses/; Online Degrees, University of Maine at Augusta, https://www.uma.edu/academics/online/degrees/;
- University of Maine System, accessed May 23, 2018: Universities, http://www.maine.edu/universities/; Fall 2017 Enrollment Report, http://staticweb.maine.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Fall-2017-Enrollment-Report-final-1.pdf?0d0f03#page=5;
- Tuition and Fees and Room and Board over Time, Trends in Higher Education, The College Board, accessed May 23, 2018, https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-room-and-board-over-time
- Farmington Town, Franklin County, Maine, QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed May 23, 2018, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/farmingtontownfranklincountymaine/PST045216
- The Kennebec Valley Explorer, Accessed May 23, 2018, https://kennebecvalley.org/
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- Maine Grants & Loan Programs, Finance Authority of Maine, accessed May 17, 2017, http://www.famemaine.com/education/topics/paying-for-college/maine-grants-loan-programs/
- Articulation Agreements, University of Maine System, accessed May 17, 2017, http://www.maine.edu/transfer-students/current-college-student/mcc-student/articulation-agreements/