Famous for its stunning coastlines, Maine also offers top-ranked online degrees in many in-demand fields.
Many of Maine's fastest-growing careers require bachelor's degrees; for example, a college degree meets the entry requirements for jobs in finance, education, and management. Compared to a high school graduate, a professional with a bachelor's degree earns $26,000 more per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Online bachelor's programs offer several benefits compared to in-person programs. Mainers in remote parts of the state can enroll at top colleges without relocating or commuting long distances. Many of Maine's online colleges also offer in-state tuition discounts for Maine residents. Maine's online colleges offer programs in popular areas like business, cybersecurity, nursing, and education.
Our list ranks the best online colleges in Maine. Prospective students can use these rankings to find the right fit for their personal interests, budgets, and career goals.
|#1||St. Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME|
|#2||University of Maine at Augusta Augusta, ME|
|#3||University of Southern Maine Portland, ME|
|#4||University of New England Biddeford, ME|
|#5||University of Maine Orono, ME|
|#6||Husson University Bangor, ME|
|#7||University of Maine at Fort Kent Fort Kent, ME|
|#8||University of Maine at Machias Machias, ME|
Featured Online Schools
The Best Online Colleges in Maine
St. Joseph’s College of Maine is a Catholic liberal arts university established in 1912. Originally, an all–female university, the school became a coeducational institution when it launched its online programs in 1976. An estimated 2,400 students attend online, from all 50 states and nine countries. The college offers 40 academic programs, most of which are also available online. The university also offers a study abroad program in about 35 countries around the world.
St. Joseph’s College of Maine offers several associate, baccalaureate, master and certificate programs entirely online. Associate degrees include business administration. Bachelor’s degrees include human services and interdisciplinary studies. Master’s degrees include accounting and education. Certifications available include health administration and nursing.
Resources available to online students include an academic advisor, online tutoring, ADA accommodations, technical support and an online library with librarian live chat.
The University of Maine at Augusta, established in 1965, teaches more than 6,000 students. The university provides more than 45 programs of study from its two academic colleges. The university developed a statewide interactive television system in 1986 to help deliver class content to its students.
The University of Maine at Augusta offers several associate, baccalaureate, post–baccalaureate and certificate programs online. Online associate degree programs include business administration and mental health. Online bachelor’s degree programs include cybersecurity and social science, while online post–baccalaureate degrees include public health and computer information systems. Certifications available online include web development and health informatics.
Online student resources include online tutoring in math and writing, an online job board and an online library with librarian live chat.
The University of Southern Maine, a public university and part of the University of Maine System, has over 9,500 students in attendance. The university’s three main campuses are located in Portland, Lewiston, and Gorham in Maine. The university offers more than 110 degree programs and contain eight academic colleges.
The University of Southern Maine offers several online baccalaureate, master’s and certificate programs. Online bachelor’s degree programs include communication and applied technical leadership. Online master’s degree programs include special education and leadership studies. Certifications available online include English as a second language and gerontology.
Resources available to online students include academic advising, online tutoring, technical support and an online library.
Located in Biddeford, the University of New England offers distance education opportunities to students through the Blackboard LMS. With no residency requirements, students can earn their degree entirely online. The university charges the same affordable tuition rate irrespective of residency status.
The academic catalog includes remote prerequisite courses in scientific topics like anatomy, genetics, organic chemistry, and medical physiology. Distance learners may also pursue graduate certificates and degrees in applied nutrition, health informatics, public health, and social work. UNE stands out from other online colleges in Maine by providing not only two master of science in education degrees (a generalist track and a reading-specialist concentration), but also a 51-credit doctor of education in educational leadership. The Ed.D. program accepts students for the fall, spring, and summer terms, and applicants do not need to submit GRE scores. Most students earn their doctorate in three years.
The University of Maine, established in 1865, is a land–grant university and the flagship university of the University of Maine System. This university was the first in America to appoint a woman to head a major university department. The university offers more than 90 degree programs across its five academic colleges.
Through its UMaine Online platform, the University of Maine offers a vast array of online baccalaureate, master’s and certificate programs. Bachelor’s degree options include political science and university studies. Master’s degree offerings include social work and several topics in education. Certifications available include political science and geographic information systems.
Resources available to online students include technical support, over–the–phone writing support, an online job board and an online library with librarian live chat.
Founded in 1898, Husson University, a private university, began as a business school. It gained the ability to grant bachelor’s degrees in 1953 and became a full–fledged university in 2008. It is one of the largest universities in the state with a 200–acre campus, two colleges and four schools on the campus grounds. The university has over 3,000 students in attendance and offers them over 60 programs of study.
Husson University has several baccalaureate and master’s degrees available online via Husson University Online. Bachelor’s degree options include business administration and nursing, while master’s degree offerings include healthcare management and organizational management.
Resources available to online students include technical support, an online job board, an online writing center and an online library with access to Britannica Online, Academic Search Complete, JSTOR and a host of other academic databases.
The University of Maine at Fort Kent, a public liberal arts university, founded in 1878, provides academic programs in both French and English due to its proximity to Quebec. The university has just over 1,000 students in attendance. The university provides many associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees.
The university holds an annual “Fiddlers Jamboree” that includes fiddlers, guitarists, banjo players and more who come together for a concert held on both sides of the U.S./Canadian border.
The University of Maine at Fort Kent offers several associate, baccalaureate and certificate programs online. Online associate degrees include accounting and criminal justice. Online bachelor’s degrees include cybersecurity and nursing. Online certifications available include information security and public management.
Resources online students will have access to include live online technical support, an online job board and an online library with librarian live chat.
The University of Maine at Machias provides accessible academic opportunities to 800 undergraduate students. The catalog includes remote certificate programs in marketing, human resource management, entrepreneurship, and special education. Distance learners can also earn their bachelor's degree entirely online, choosing from majors in college studies, business and entrepreneurship studies, and psychology and community studies. Though all of the online programs at UMM boast specialization options, the bachelor of college studies enables students to fully personalize their interdisciplinary concentration according to their professional interests and goals.
Admission requirements include ACT/SAT scores, but applicants do not need to meet a minimum GPA. UMM bases its tuition rates on residency status. Like other online schools in Maine, in-state students enjoy the lowest fees. However, the university also offers slightly discounted prices for New England and Canadian residents. The school makes financial assistance available, including the Downeast Promise, which guarantees that qualified Maine high school graduates receive enough funds to pay for 30 credits each year until they earn their degree.
Online Colleges in Maine Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:
The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.
To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):
1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]
- Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
- Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
- Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
- Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
- Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
- Considers range of electives within that discipline
- Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline
2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]
- Considers education background of the faculty
- Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
- Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
- Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
- Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources
3. Reputation [weight = 20%]
- Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
- “Freshness” of academic knowledge
- Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
- Suitability of graduates for the workplace
4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]
- Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
- Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants
5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]
- Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
- Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business
6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]
Considers the following of the online classes:
- Types of online technology used to deliver content
- Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
- Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
- Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
Considers the following of instructors:
- Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
- Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
- Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
- Ratio to number of students in a class
- Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees
Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.
To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:
- Public or private status
- Acceptance rate
- Retention rate
- Graduation rate
- ACT/SAT requirements
- Cost in-state / out of state
- Undergrad, grad, or both offered
Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!
If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.
Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!
Employment in Maine
Earning a college degree can help Mainers increase their earning potential and qualify for more jobs. Maine's fastest-growing industries include management careers, educational services, and professional and technical services. The state also reports growth in the finance industry. These fields generally require a bachelor's degree, and yet in July 2019, only 31.8% of Maine's population held a bachelor's degree.
Maine benefits from a lower-than-average cost of living and a below-average unemployment rate. In Maine, the cost of living index sits at 96.5 when measured against the national rate of 100. In Feb. 2021, the state's 4.8% unemployment rate sat below the 6.2% national average.
Many careers offer above-average salaries in Maine. In May 2020, the state's mean annual wage exceeded $51,000. However, Mainers working as computer and information systems managers, financial managers, nurse practitioners, and sales managers all earned salaries more than double that average annual wage. Several of these career paths require a bachelor's degree and work experience for entry-level employment.
The following information explores some of the highest-paying roles employing more than 1,000 individuals in Maine. Salary information applies specifically to Maine, while job growth data pertains to the entire United States.
|Career||Annual Mean Salary (2020)||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)||Education Required|
|Chief Executives||$152,620||4%||Bachelor's degree|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$133,040||10%||Bachelor's degree|
|Financial Managers||$122,940||15%||Bachelor's degree|
|Sales Managers||$117,230||4%||Bachelor's degree|
|Nurse Practitioners||$111,580||45%||Master's degree|
Online Associate and Graduate Degrees
In addition to bachelor's programs, many online colleges in Maine offer associate and graduate degrees. The switch to online-only education during the COVID-19 pandemic increased dependence on hybrid and fully online programs. As a result, students now have many options when choosing online associate degrees, master's programs, and doctorates.
At the undergraduate level, the University of Maine at Augusta offers associate degrees in business administration, computer information systems, and justice studies. The university's liberal studies major meets general education requirements for a bachelor's degree.
Online graduate programs offer flexible formats for professionals seeking career advancement or changes. At St. Joseph's College of Maine, master's enrollees can study business administration, education, health administration, and nursing online. The college also offers online master's programs in theology and divinity. Meanwhile, the University of Southern Maine offers online master's degrees in nursing, education, and cybersecurity.
During an online degree, learners complete coursework through a distance learning platform. Online colleges offer both synchronous and asynchronous schedules, and most accept transfer credits. Programs that require in-person components, such as student teaching or clinical practicums, work with students to meet the requirement in their local areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Maine does not have any Ivy League schools. However, several Maine colleges and universities are quite prestigious, including liberal arts colleges like Bowdoin College and public universities like the University of Maine.
Maine is home to dozens of public and private colleges, including two-year and four-year institutions. Learn more about Maine's colleges from the state's higher education page.
According to the University of Southern Maine newspaper, several organizations have ranked Portland as the best college town in Maine. There are several colleges and universities operating in and around the Portland area.
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