- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2015-16, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed March 2, 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2014-15, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, accessed March 2, 2016, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- School pages, accessed May 30, 2017: About UMM, University of Maine at Machias, http://machias.edu/about-umm/; Undergraduate Degrees, UMaine Online, University of Maine, https://online.umaine.edu/undergraduate-degrees/; About UMFK, University of Maine at Fort Kent, https://www.umfk.edu/about/; Degrees, Minors & Certifiates, USM Online, University of Southern Maine, https://usm.maine.edu/online/degrees-certificates; Personalized Learning Changes Everything, University of Maine at Presque Isle, http://www.umpi.edu/personalized/; Online Degrees, University of Maine at Augusta, http://www.uma.edu/academics/online/online-degrees/#squelch-taas-tab-content-0-0; About UMF, University of Maine at Farmington, http://www.umf.maine.edu/about/; Human Ecology Degree, College of the Atlantic, http://www.coa.edu/academics/human-ecology-degree/;
- 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/
- Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
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
Here are the ten four-year schools that made the cut as the best traditional and online colleges in Maine, based on a detailed methodology that looked at multiple data points, including student success rates, affordability metrics and other quantifiable measures of higher education quality
The University of Maine at Machias ranked well on multiple factors and that gave the school the top spot on our list. Affordability stood out above all at this small institution near the eastern tip of the state. Average net price is a measure of the out-of-pocket cost of college that subtracts expected grant and scholarship aid from the total expense of tuition, fees, room and board, books and other necessities. University of Maine at Machias ranked No. 2 in the state for the affordability of its average net price, for both low- and middle-income students.
Students at UMM also took advantage of the flexibility of online courses at the second-highest rate of any school in the state. More than 65 percent of students enrolled at UMM in 2015-16 took at least some of their coursework via distance education. The school also offered seven of the 10 flexibility metrics we included in our methodology.
The main Orono campus of the University of Maine is the largest school in the state by enrollment, and students there have access to the largest variety of academic programs available at any school statewide. The 246 programs offered on campus at UMaine provide students with nearly 100 more options than the next-largest catalog on our list. Out of all of those programs, more bachelor's degrees were awarded in 2015 to UMaine students in psychology than in any other major.
The online degree selection at UMaine was also one of the most prodigious in the state. It took the No. 3 spot statewide in 2015-16 and includes a Bachelor of University Studies (B.U.S.) program for which online students are free to design their own degree track. UMaine also awarded students the state's No. 4 proportion of institutional grant aid as a percentage of average tuition and fees.
Located up north by the Canadian border, the University of Maine at Fort Kent ranked very well on our flexibility metrics. In 2015, more than 60 percent of its students were enrolled in distance education programs, giving this school the No. 3 ranking in the state for that factor. In addition to offering incoming students credit for life experiences, career-bound students can also take advantage of career counseling while enrolled and job placement services after completing their degrees.
The Fort Kent location also posted strong affordability numbers, for raw as well as aid-assisted cost. Tuition and fees expenses were the fourth-most affordable in the state, and average net price for middle- and low-income students ranked No. 4 and No. 6 respectively Those favorable rankings in average net price likely contributed to the manageable median amount of college debt reported by recent graduates of the Fort Kent institution. Students who left UMaine in 2015 carried an average of $18,500 in student loan debt — good for the No. 1 ranking in that category statewide.
The second-largest academic catalog in Maine can be found at the University of Southern Maine, fittingly the second-largest school on our list. Students at the Portland school had more than 150 degree programs to choose from in 2015-16. Those seeking an online bachelor's degree in Maine can choose from the state's fifth-largest selection of distance education study plans at USM, including programs in business administration, social science and communications.
On-campus flexibility initiatives also helped push USM into the No. 4 spot overall. It was the only school in our top ten to feature degree programs that could be earned entirely in the evening or on weekends, and students may be able to earn course credit for life experience that applies to their degree plan or the general education core.
The University of Maine at Presque Isle features Maine's lowest raw cost of tuition and fees, and average net price amounts for both low- and middle-income students were more affordable here than at all but two other schools in the state. The small upstate school also posted the No. 6 graduation rate among schools on our list.
UMPI students also had access to the school's Personalized Learning initiative, which is designed to allow students to work at their own pace and partake in career preparation activities like résumé development and job interview skills practice. Personalized Learning students aims to empower students to play an active role in their education and allows them to attend class on campus, online or both in the course of their programs.
This medium-sized institution about 60 miles north of Portland was one of the top destinations for online bachelor's degree programs in Maine, according to the NCES. The University of Maine at Augusta took the No. 1 spot in the state for the size of its distance education catalog, which includes programs in computer information systems, library science, cybersecurity and several concentrations of business administration.
Affordability rankings also stood out at UMA. Its tuition and fees expenses were second-lowest in the state in 2015-16, and the average net price paid by middle- and low-income students came in at No. 1 and No. 4, respectively. UMA also features an open admissions policy, which means that applicants can be granted admission regardless of past academic performance or standardized test scores.
The University of Maine at Farmington, located in a culturally active community, put up respectable numbers nearly across the board on our rankings, giving it the No. 7 spot on our list. The University of Maine at Farmington took the No. 6 spot for tuition and fees affordability, the No. 7 spot for cost of books and supplies and the No. 5 and No. 7 rankings, respectively, for the average net price it charged middle- and low-income students.
UMF landed at No. 7 among schools on our list for its percentage of graduates who paid their student loans off within three years and ranked No. 6 in the state for its graduation and retention rates. It tied for the sixth-largest selection of on-campus degrees in the state and placed seventh for its percentage of students enrolled in online courses. According to the NCES, in 2015 the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology was the most-awarded bachelor's program at the school.
This small liberal arts college located between Augusta and Bangor featured a graduation rate high enough to take the No. 1 spot in Maine, but that's not all. Colby College students graduated at a rate that landed just outside the 99th percentile among all 1,649 national colleges and universities in our analysis. The percentage of first-year students who returned for their sophomore study at Colby was also impressively high, coming in at No. 2 in the state.
Colby covered the state's largest percentage of tuition and fees with grant aid at the institutional level and featured the fifth-lowest average net price for low-income students. The median student debt of graduates was under $20,000 in 2015, and more than 90 percent of alumni managed to pay off their loan balances within three years of graduation.
Bowdoin College, a liberal arts and science school chartered in 1794, put up very similar numbers to its counterpart one spot higher in our rankings. The Brunswick school furnished students with the statewide second-highest percentage of institutional grant aid and posted the No. 1 most affordable average net price for low-income students. Bowdoin alum ni also enjoyed the top three-year student loan repayment rate of any school in the state — 94 percent in 2015.
Student success metrics were also hotspots for Bowdoin, according to 2015-16 data. Given the school's 9:1 student-faculty ratio, it's not surprising that its retention and graduation rates placed at No. 1 and No. 2 in the state, respectively, and both landed in the 98th percentile nationwide.
This tiny island institution off of Maine's southeastern coast had fewer than 350 students on its rolls in 2015, which suggests that those looking for individualized attention from advisors and professors are likely to find it here. Undergraduate study at College of the Atlantic is fairly unorthodox, in that their Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in human ecology is the only named plan in the catalog and students have the freedom to design their own curriculum from the school's list of course offerings.
COA students graduated at the No. 3 rate in Maine and received the third-highest percentage of institutional grant aid in the state. The median student debt of graduates was $19,000 in 2015, good for the No. 2 ranking statewide, and no other school on our list charged students less for books and supplies.
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|
|Operations Research Analysts||25.3%||300||$70,680|
|Cartographers and Photogrammetrists||21.6%||60||$65,400|
|Forensic Science Technicians||19.6%||50||$46,930|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||19.6%||280||$50,960|
|Interpreters and Translators||19.4%||140||-|
|Morticians, Undertakers, and Funeral Directors||19.2%||120||$47,050|
|Personal Financial Advisors||18.6%||370||$134,380|
|Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians||18.6%||230||$66,970|
|Biochemists and Biophysicists||18.3%||210||$74,370|
|Atmospheric and Space Scientists||18.3%||-||-|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||18.3%||210||$73,250|
|Orthotists and Prosthetists||17.1%||-||-|
|Physical Therapist Aides||16.4%||70||$31,920|
|Software Developers, Applications||16%||1,680||$87,940|
|Computer Systems Analysts||15.8%||1,770||$81,710|
|Funeral Service Managers||15.6%||50||$83,370|
|Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs||15.4%||950||$27,130|
|Software Developers, Systems Software||15.3%||340||$91,550|
|Septic Tank Servicers and Sewer Pipe Cleaners||15%||140||$33,790|
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||14.8%||250||$73,660|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||14.6%||140||$51,410|
|Home Health Aides||14.4%||2,530||$25,810|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||14.1%||750||$69,120|
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 1,649 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the most recent data available from government sources. Our data points include:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The estimated cost of books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The average net price for students receiving Title IV grant and scholarship aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
- The average net price for low-income students receiving Title IV grant and scholarship aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
- 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, 2014-15
- Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2014-15
- 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2014-15
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered, 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, 2015-16
- Average retention rate for full-time and part-time students, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2015-16
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- 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