According to Maine’s Center for Workforce Research and Information, the healthcare and information technology fields should experience the strongest employment growth in the state through 2026. The majority of these jobs, particularly those with the highest levels of compensation, require some form of postsecondary education.
This page provides an overview of the top online colleges in Maine, including information about financial aid, possible career paths after graduation, and the importance of choosing an accredited program.
Higher Learning Initiatives in Maine
Little Open Online Course Initiative (LOOC)
In 2012, the University of Maine at Presque Isle started experimenting with open courseware on a smaller scale. Called LOOC, this initiative allows a set number of nonpaying students to select online classes. Tuition-paying and non-tuition-paying students are treated equally and must perform the same work; however, the latter do not earn credit. The institution implemented the initiative in hopes of attracting more students to officially enroll in its traditional and online classes.
Maine Compact for Higher Education
In 2003, the Maine Community Foundation partnered with the Maine Development Foundation to launch the Maine Compact for Higher Education, an initiative aimed at increasing the number of degree holders in the state by 2020. The initiative also plans to gain support from employers so that workers can enroll in more online schools in Maine and complete coursework on job sites. This means more accessibility to career advancement.
Popular Degree Programs in Maine
Second only to Florida and Louisiana in terms of total miles of coastline, Maine’s economy relies heavily on ocean-based industries, such as international shipping and lobster fishing. Maine also hosts two large ship construction facilities, Bath Iron Works and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, where the United States Navy repairs and modernizes its submarines.
- Naval Architecture: Naval architecture involves the design and construction of large ships, such as oil tankers and aircraft carriers. This major requires above-average skills in mathematics and science. Courses cover topics like fluid dynamics, the principles of ocean systems engineering, and analytical applications in ship design. Graduates often take on jobs with the federal government or defense contractors.
- Marine Engineering: Marine engineering focuses primarily on the building of all kinds of marine vessels and structures. For example, a student majoring in this area may learn how to design and maintain the automated control systems of an offshore rig to work for an oil or natural gas company. Coursework includes subjects like movement variables and conservation law.
Paying for College in Maine
You should consider both the cost of a program and your potential earnings when choosing an online college in Maine. You can qualify for many entry-level positions with just an associate degree, which often costs considerably less than a bachelor’s. For example, students who attend Maine community colleges online can take on jobs such as police officer or registered nurse.
Maine residents who attend two-year institutions in the state pay less than the national average. Students who attend in-state four-year colleges and universities pay slightly more than the national average.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2017-18
|Public Two Year||Public Four Year|
Source: College Board
Employment Outlook in Maine
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Maine’s unemployment rate sat at just 3.4% in December 2018, slightly below the national average. However, while Maine residents may enjoy better job prospects than individuals from other states, they often earn less. The BLS projects that workers in Maine earned an average $45,300 in 2017, roughly $5,000 less than the national mean wage.
The state’s Center for Workforce Research and Information (CWRI) projects that the healthcare and information technology fields will experience the highest levels of employment growth through 2026. The CWRI also projects that fields like industrial production, farming, and retail sales will see continued decline in employment over that same period.
Accreditation for Colleges in Maine
Students should be sure to attend accredited online colleges in Maine. To receive accreditation, a school must demonstrate that it meets certain academic standards and adequately prepares its graduates for careers in their chosen field. If you attend an unaccredited program, you may not qualify for state or federal financial aid. In addition, future employers may not recognize your degree, and other schools may not accept your transfer credits.
Your college or university may hold one of two forms of accreditation: regional or national. Most public and nonprofit institutions seek out regional accreditation, as this is generally considered the more prestigious of the two. In Maine, the New England Commission of Higher Education serves as the primary regional accreditor.
If you attend a for-profit or vocational institution, the school may instead hold national accreditation. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the United States Department of Education authorize more than a dozen accrediting bodies to oversee the national accreditation process. For example, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission provides national accreditation to many online programs. Regionally accredited colleges and universities may not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited institutions.
To confirm that your school possesses either regional or national accreditation, review the CHEA online directory of accredited programs.
Scholarships for Maine Online College Students
In addition to federal aid, students attending online colleges in Maine can also apply for state grants and private scholarships. You should look for scholarship opportunities that match your background and professional goals. For example, if you plan to become a teacher, you may qualify for Maine’s student loan forgiveness program.
- State of Maine Grant Program
Who Can Apply: The State of Maine Grant Program offers financial aid to students pursuing an associate or bachelor’s degree who demonstrate financial need. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by May 1 to qualify.
- Alfond Leaders Program
Who Can Apply: The Alfond Leaders Program provides student loan repayment assistance to Maine students who major in fields like science, technology, engineering, or math. The program repays up to half of your total qualifying debt.
Amount: Not to exceed $60,000
- Educators for Maine Program
Who Can Apply: Students who plan to work as teachers or childcare professionals can apply for this forgivable student loan program. To qualify, you must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and submit an essay detailing your professional goals.
Amount: Up to $3,000 per year
- Tuition Waiver Program for Public Servants
Who Can Apply: This program provides financial aid to the children of Maine police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services technicians who died while performing their service. To receive funding, you must submit a notarized application.
- Doctors for Maine's Future Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Aspiring doctors and medical professionals can apply for this scholarship to defray tuition costs at either the Tufts University School of Medicine or the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. Students can receive up to four years of funding.
Amount: Up to $25,000 per year
- American Society of Civil Engineers Maine Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: High school seniors in Maine who plan to study civil engineering can apply to this scholarship program. The society chooses recipients on the basis of academic achievement, extracurricular activities and community service, and the applicant’s statement of their professional plans.
Resources for Students in Maine
- Finance Authority of Maine: FAME oversees nearly all of Maine’s need-based financial aid programs. It also provides funding to aspiring educators and health professionals. Students who grew up in the state’s foster care system or whose parents died while working as a public servant can also receive tuition waivers through FAME.
- New England Board of Higher Education: In addition to policy analysis and resources for students and families researching colleges, NEBHE administers the Tuition Break program. During the 2016-17 academic year, about 9,000 New England residents participated in the program and saved approximately $60 million in tuition. The average full-time student in the program saves roughly $8,000 per year.
- Maine Community Foundation: MCF offers a variety of scholarships to Maine students, with a particular focus on students seeking graduate education or returning to school after a prolonged absence. MCF also hosts a library of resources for students, including information on how to complete the FAFSA, where to look for additional sources of aid, and how to choose a student loan provider.
- Maine Department of Education: In addition to overseeing K-12 education in the state, Maine’s DOE maintains a helpful list of nonaccredited institutions and “degree mills,” or schools in Maine that fail to meet minimum academic standards. High school students can also participate in the department’s Aspirations Program to earn college credit through dual enrollment.
- University of Maine System: The University of Maine comprises seven universities throughout the state and enrolls roughly 30,000 students annually. The system’s website provides a wealth of information for students, such as how to transfer credits from a community college to a four-year institution, how to identify public and private scholarships, and how to qualify for a tax credit to help pay back student loans.
Online Schools in Maine
- Graduation Rate: N/A
- Average Net Price: N/A
University of Maine at Machias
- Graduation Rate: 29%
- Average Net Price: $10,858
University of Maine at Fort Kent
Fort Kent, ME
- Graduation Rate: 38%
- Average Net Price: $14,194
University of Southern Maine
- Graduation Rate: 30%
- Average Net Price: $17,672
Saint Joseph's College of Maine
- Graduation Rate: 51%
- Average Net Price: $24,334
University of Maine at Augusta
- Graduation Rate: 13%
- Average Net Price: $12,371
University of Maine
- Graduation Rate: 59%
- Average Net Price: $16,602
University of Maine at Fort Kent
- Graduation Rate: 38%
- Average Net Price: $14,194
University of New England
- Graduation Rate: 58%
- Average Net Price: $29,655