Earning a degree through one of Maine's online colleges may help you to qualify for a higher-skill (and higher-wage) job in one of Maine's key — and growing — industries, such as renewable energy, forest products, life sciences (like biotechnology), hospitality and tourism, or advanced materials and composites.

The flexibility of distance education means you can study around your current work schedule or family responsibilities while still pursuing an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree program — an important educational step that can help you begin or enhance your career in just about any field.

Let's take a look at what you can expect from online colleges in Maine.

  • 16 colleges in Maine currently offer online associate degree programs, 14 offer online bachelor's degree programs, and 10 provide online master's degree programs.
  • Of the 19 online colleges in Maine, 12 are public and 7 are private, including one faith-based college and one that focuses on the arts.
  • Kaplan University-Augusta Campus, Kaplan University-Maine Campus, and University of Maine at Augusta offer the most online degree programs.
  • The Maine Community College System consists of seven two-year institutions with six additional off-campus educational centers that offer distance education.

The state of Maine is eager to bring higher education to underserved areas of The Pine Tree State in order to increase college graduation rates. The statewide program, Bring College to ME, offers programs related to early childhood education, medical assisting, and emergency medical services.

Read on to learn about the best colleges in the state as well as the most affordable ones at the two-year and 4-year level. You can also learn about opportunities for eligible students to pay for their education through Maine-specific scholarships and student loans available through the Finance Authority of Maine or FAME.

What Makes a Good Online College in Maine?

There are many opportunities for higher education within the state of Maine. That's why rankings exist: to help students narrow down their options and choose the school that best suits their needs.

Our rankings of the best online colleges in Maine only display accredited schools in the Pine Tree State. Whether online or on-campus, students should always check to see if the schools they are considering are accredited (for specifics about why, visit our "What is College Accreditation?" page). Regional accreditation in Maine is provided through the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), while some schools might hold national accreditation through an agency such as the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) or the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). If you're not sure whether a particular accreditation agency is valid in Maine, check at the Maine State Board of Education.

To create our rankings, we judge schools based on factors that are relevant to the online college experience, and we display much of our data in order to help students make better-informed decisions. Some of our criteria include graduation and retention rates, the number of online programs offered and resources available for online students, such as the total electronic library collections in each school. For a full list of our criteria and why we chose them, please visit the "What Makes a Good Online College" section of our "About Us" page.


Best Online Colleges in Maine for 2019-20

What follows is a list of what we judge to be the 10 best online colleges in Maine, compiled using data from the National Center for Education Statistics. This list offers details about the types of online programs available at schools, benefits available to online learners and the typical cost of in-state tuition. Visit our methodologies page to learn more about how we use official data to evaluate schools.


Saint Joseph's College of Maine

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is SJC Like?

Founded in 1912 as a women's educational institution by the Sisters of Mercy, Saint Joseph's College of Maine remains the only private Catholic college in the state.

In 1976, six years after the school adopted coeducation, SJC started a distance learning program for working adults. The college's many online programs serve students from all 50 U.S. states and nine countries.

What Online Programs are at SJC?

SJC's online degree and certificate programs range from accountancy to theology, at undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels. The school also allows online students to earn selected master's degrees at an accelerated pace. Of note is SJC's RN to MSN Fast Track Program, which can be completed sooner and at less cost than its regular equivalent.

Online learning at SJC is facilitated through Brightspace. Classes are almost entirely asynchronous, except for some required courses in the school's Master of Health Administration program. These courses demand one live session per week where the instructors and students interact online at the same time.

What Online Resources Does SJC?

All SJC students have access to Smarthinking, a tutoring and coursework assistance service that connects students with certified tutors online. Furthermore, the college has robust career development initiatives that include a self-assessment tool, experiential learning programs, academic internship offers and employment opportunities.

Flexible financing options in the form of credit-based loans may also be available through SJC's Office of Financial Aid.


University of Maine at Machias

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is UMM Like?

Known affectionately as "Maine's Coastal University," the University of Maine at Machias is known for its marine biology program, although UMM was founded in 1909 as a teacher's college. This rural, public institution focuses on close mentoring and active learning opportunities, but it also offers well-developed distance learning options.

UMM fosters strong local connections through its Office of Community Services. The initiative builds partnerships between the school and its surrounding residents through offering non-credit workshops and courses and maintaining services and facilities for local gatherings and events.

What Online Programs are at UMM?

UMM's marine biology programs are centered around hands-on research and outdoor learning, so they unfortunately cannot be taken online. However, the school hosts online programs in other fields -- such as business, education and psychology -- through the learning platform Blackboard.

In particular, OnlineColleges has found UMM to be one of the best online colleges for entrepreneurship. Students pursuing an online bachelor's in business and entrepreneurial studies at UMM can either choose from an existing concentration for the program -- such as accounting, marketing or business sustainability -- or design their own concentration from scratch. Online certificate programs are also available in entrepreneurship, human resource management or marketing.

What online resources does UMM offer?

As a small public school, UMM waives student application fees and regularly gives out grants, tuition waivers and scholarships. Around 90 percent of all UMM students receive some form of financial assistance.

UMM also hosts "Mainers in Exile," a special tuition offer available to the school's former students currently living out-of-state. The program makes it possible for them to re-admit, avail of in-state tuition rates and finish their degree program through distance learning.


University of Maine at Fort Kent

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is UMFK Like?

Situated near the Canada-U.S. border in northern Maine, the University of Maine at Fort Kent is recognized as an academic center for French American and Acadian heritage. In fact, the university is home to one of the only two Acadian Archives in the nation. With its unique fusion of cosmopolitan and rural atmosphere, UMFK works to educate students not just about academic subjects but also about rural communities and how to serve them.

What Online Programs are at UMFK?

The school offers online certificate programs and several distance learning associate's and bachelor's degree offerings in fields like healthcare, information security and more. UMFK also permits online students to explore different educational disciplines at their own pace, through enrolling in a self-designed Bachelor of Arts and Sciences program. This BAS program allows students to customize a major with their faculty advisor, which may then be recorded on their official transcript.

Like other schools in the University of Maine System, Blackboard is used to facilitate UMFK online classes.

What Online Resources Does UMFK Offer?

UMFK helps students become acquainted with financial literacy and money management through a partnership with educational technology company iGrad and the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). The collaboration includes a scholarship database, financial calculators, quizzes and more.

Military service personnel and veterans, as well as their dependents, may also qualify for VA educational funding and UMFK in-state tuition rates.


University of Maine

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is UMaine Like?

Founded in 1865, the flagship school of the University of Maine System is the state's only public research university. UMaine is also one of the few sea, land and space grant educational institutions in the United States. The 150-year-old university's diverse list of notable alumni includes NHL player Paul Kariya, Hoover Dam engineer Francis Crowe, author Stephen King and Nobel Peace Prize awardee, Dr. Bernard Lown.

With students from all over the U.S., as well as more than 50 foreign countries, UMaine is well-known across the globe for its comprehensive research and outreach initiatives. The latter includes a focus on distance learning through the school's expansive online education department, UMaine Online.

What Online Programs are at UMaine?

UMaine's online offerings are offered through Blackboard and include disciplines such as education -- i.e., educational leadership, instructional technology and special education -- and engineering -- i.e., innovation engineering and surveying engineering. A particularly unique subject at UMaine is Maine Studies, designed for students looking to pursue in-state careers in social services, government and business.

The school specifically highlights the recent addition of a non-thesis master's degree program in food science and human nutrition, as well as two related graduate certificate programs: food technology and human nutrition.

What Online Resources Does UMaine Offer?

The school has a separate student services department specifically for distance learners enrolled in UMaine Online programs, which offers relevant advice and support for issues such as academic advisement, financial aid, remote tutoring and access to library resources.

Qualified online students may take advantage of a special e-tuition rate. As a military-friendly school, UMaine also offers in-state tuition rates for military service members and veterans. Military dependents may avail of the same rate through the G.I. Bill. Assistance provided by UMaine's Veterans Education and Transitions Services is available to online students, too.


Unity College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is UC Like?

Also known as "America's Environmental College," this private liberal arts school is named after the town of Unity in Maine. Originally founded in 1965 to counter the economic decline of its namesake, Unity College has made a name for itself with its emphasis on sustainability. In 2012, the school became the first college in the U.S. to divest from fossil fuels.

Although Unity College is known for face-to-face and hands-on education, the school has also made a significant investment in creating premier distance-learning programs in environmental studies and related fields.

What Online Programs are at UC?

Unity College delivers all its distance learning options 100 percent online, adding experiential content through required fieldwork in your locale. Canvas is the online platform used by the school to facilitate asynchronous distance learning over the internet.

Online offerings are not diverse but are certainly fitting and impactful, in tune with Unity College's environmental leanings. The school's online programs, both degree and certificate, revolve around topics such as environmental emergency management and law enforcement, environmental studies, sustainable business management and wildlife conservation.

What Online Resources Does UC Offer?

Students of Unity College may be excited to access the unlimited, one-on-one, "green" career development counseling that is available on campus. The library also has a specific set of online resources and guides for distance learners.

UC offers round-the-clock Canvas Support on top of detailed video tutorials that teach students how to use the learning management platform. Therapist Assisted Online (TAO), an interactive online resource designed to address depression and anxiety issues, is another 24/7 service that UC makes available for its students at no cost.


University of Southern Maine

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is USM Like?

The University of Southern Maine is a significant part of the University of Maine System, with three campuses located in vibrant metropolitan areas of the state: Portland, Lewiston and Gorham. USM's long list of notable alumni includes WWE wrestler Luke Robinson, actor Tony Shalhoub, author Lois Lowry and current Google developer advocate Don Dodge.

What Online Programs are at USM?

USM's online courses are mostly asynchronous, with a few exceptions, and are delivered and managed through Blackboard. Online students living in Maine also have the option of attending classroom courses at any of USM's three campuses, at their convenience.

The university notably ranks as one of the best online colleges for adult education, with both an M.S. and a graduate certificate in adult education program available. A unique feature of the master's program in particular is its flexibility with concentrations. Students can select related electives and combine them into a concentration for this program by working with their faculty advisor. This gives students great control over what kind of concentration they would like and what classes they want to take to earn it.

What Online Resources Does USM Offer?

Distance learners are given an extensive list of resources that address everything from academic advisement to financial aid. All USM students are signed up for Zoom, an online meeting portal the school uses to offer online tutoring services.

USM is also part of the federally-funded Veterans Upward Bound program, which helps eligible military veterans to develop their academic and personal skills for college through tutoring and advising at no additional cost. The program has no set beginning or end dates; its sessions and workshops can be held throughout the year.


University of New England

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is UNE Like?

With its main campus in Biddeford, the University of New England is the largest private coeducational university in Maine. UNE is well-known for its College of Osteopathic Medicine, the sole medical school in the Pine Tree State. The university's College of Dental Medicine is also the only one of its kind in New England.

One of UNE's core values is the belief that education should occur beyond traditional campuses and classrooms, which is good news for students enrolled in any of the school's fully online programs under its Online Worldwide Learning (OWL) initiative.

What Online Programs are at UNE?

UNE OWL offers programs for distance learners seeking to earn online graduate certificates or degrees in applied nutrition, education, health informatics, public health and social work. Individual prerequisite courses are available for online students to enroll in as needed, to fill gaps in their academic transcripts.

The Blackboard learning system is used to deliver all UNE OWL coursework, which is developed in-house by instructional designers at the school's Portland campus.

What Online Resources Does UNE Offer?

Distance learners are provided with a comprehensive list of UNE resources for all academic, administrative and technical support inquiries and needs. UNE's Student Financial Services can help online students apply for and manage grants, loans and scholarships. Enrollment counselors and student support specialists are on standby for more complex queries and situations as well.

UNE also offers tutoring services to all its students at no cost.


University of Maine at Augusta

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is UMA Like?

The University of Maine at Augusta is the third-largest public university in the state. As part of the school's mission to benefit students "across the State of Maine and beyond," UMA complements its multiple physical satellite locations with a suite of far-reaching online programs. In fact, UMA's history of distance education goes back 30 years, starting with interactive television (ITV). Though the school has come to use Blackboard as its online learning platform for its distance learning programs, video conferencing and ITV are still used for some coursework.

What Online Programs are at UMA?

OnlineColleges has rated UMA as one of the best online colleges for information and library science (ILS) programs. As an online UMA ILS student, you can pursue a certificate, associate or bachelor's in the subject 100 percent online, through synchronous courses, streamed video instruction and computer conferencing. But don't take our word for it: the school's ILS program has also been certified by the American Library Association's Library Support Staff Certification Program.

UMA is also a good place to consider pursuing technological subjects such as cybersecurity, data science and computer information systems. Through a partnership with Cyberbit, the university opened a Cyber Range Training Facility in 2019 to create hands-on training opportunities and realistic simulations for students.

What Online Resources Does UMA Offer?

The Department of Learning Success is a key resource for online students at UMA. In addition to tutoring services, this department focuses on helping students learn how to learn. Students can schedule meetings with Learning Success staff members to discuss effective study skills, ways to reduce stress, techniques to make learning more effective and more.


University of Maine at Presque Isle

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is UMPI Like?

The University of Maine at Presque Isle is an autonomous public school within the University of Maine System. UMPI adopts a Personalized Learning approach that allows all students, on-campus or online, to study and learn at their own pace.

Personalized Learning also plays a part in UMPI's OpenU initiative, a distinctive online learning program that makes certain non-credit courses available at no cost to learners of all ages and from all corners of the world.

What Online Programs are at UMPI?

UMPI lists fully online degree programs in English, history and psychology. A flexible elementary teacher preparation program is also maintained through a partnership with UMA, featuring separate tracks for incoming students with and without a bachelor's degree. For both tracks, distance learners may work with faculty advisors to identify field teaching opportunities within their locale.

Along with the rest of the University of Maine System, UMPI manages and delivers online courses and related materials through Blackboard.

What Online Resources Does UMPI Offer?

UMPI is a nonprofit institution and works with students to help find solutions to academic-related financial matters. Qualifying students may apply and receive various merit awards from UMPI, such as a $2000 award for transfer students who are transferring in with a minimum 3.0 GPA and 15 transferable credit hours. Maine residents may also be eligible for significantly reduced school fees.


Husson University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is HU Like?

With its Bangor location being only one of the school's three campuses, Husson University is the largest private university in Maine. It also features the largest and oldest College of Business in the state, founded over a hundred years ago in 1898. This nonprofit school emphasizes ethical behavior and social responsibility in its academic programs and strives to prepare its students for successful professional careers.

HU's list of alumni includes many local politicians, including former governor of Maine Paul LePage and former Maine state legislators Phil Harriman, Terry Morrison, Tarren Bragdon and Edward Youngblood.

What Online Programs are at HU?

Considering the long history of its College of Business, it's no surprise that HU puts an emphasis on their online business programs. There are four different concentrations for the online MBA program: healthcare management, organizational management, biotechnology & innovation, and data analytics. HU's strong business focus is also apparent in the workshops and seminars held by the school's Richard E. Dyke Center for Family Business (CFB), which is intended to support family-owned businesses throughout the state.

What Online Resources Does HU Offer?

HU makes personal enrollment and financial services counselors available to all its students to help navigate tuition support information, especially when filling out paperwork for federal financial aid. The school is also partnered with Tuition Management Systems to be able to offer interest-free payment plans for a small initial fee.

Affordable Online Colleges in Maine for 2019-20

If you're looking for the most affordable colleges offering distance education from Maine, you've come to the right place. Here we list some of the most affordable institutions in the state, using their in-state tuition as reported to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Financial Aid Resources in Maine

What Grants and Scholarships are Available in Maine?

Source: Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of CollegeXpress, a division of Carnegie Dartlet. Copyright © 2020 by CollegeXpress.

Student Loans in Maine

The state of Maine offers several student loans to its residents, each of which is provided by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). These loans are available primarily for students pursuing degrees in the fields of education and healthcare. You should always look into scholarships and grants before pursuing state, federal, or private loans since scholarship and grant money is "gift aid" that does not need to be repaid. Should you decide to seek federal financial assistance for your degree, keep in mind that you will need to fill out the FAFSA with details about your family's financial situation in order to qualify.

This forgivable loan program is for Maine residents studying in the education or child care fields. Loans are granted based on merit, with eligible candidates earning at least a 3.0 GPA. Students must also intend to work in Maine after graduation.

  • Application deadline: May 1, 2017
  • Award amount: Up to $3,000 per year ($12,000 total) for undergraduates
Maine residents may be eligible for this forgivable loan program if they are studying to become a dentist and intend to work in Maine after graduation. However, to receive loan forgiveness, primary dental care must be practiced full-time in an under-served area of the state.

  • Application deadline: May 30, 2017
  • Award amount: Up to $20,000 per year ($80,000 total)

Find out more about the process of applying for student loans and what types of loans are available in the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Maine

  • FAME - Paying for College provides information for Maine students on all of the different ways they can obtain financial assistance for their education.

Costs for Out-of-State Students in Maine

Maine is a top choice for many students, and you don't even have to live in the state to be eligible for reduced tuition rates. Colleges and universities offer a number of programs that make their education affordable to out-of-state students. That may be why institutions within the University of Maine System saw a 13.9 percent increase in out-of-state students in 2017 and 4.3 percent increase in 2018.

At The University of Maine, the Flagship Match Scholarship Program allows qualified first-year students to pay the resident rate for their home state's flagship institution. Those who don't qualify for the program could receive other scholarships to offset the cost of out-of-state tuition.

There is also a Tuition Break program open to residents of six New England states. If your chosen major isn't offered in your home state, Tuition Break can reduce your tuition costs. On average, out-of-state students receive $8,033 savings off non-resident tuition.

Each school will have its own financial aid programs so be sure to talk to an adviser to understand all your options. You can also visit the following links that have more information for non-residents who want to go to school in Maine.

Best Careers in Maine

Maine has many iconic industries, such as manufacturing, transportation and wild blueberry farming, coupled with emerging industries such as tourism, financial services and healthcare. But which industries are the best for workers?

Students can use the data gathered here -- which uses statewide employment, job projections, average salaries and more -- to find the most in demand careers in Maine. This can help you narrow down your options when it comes to choosing a major.

EmploymentEmployment GrowthMedian High School SalaryMedian Bachelor's Salary

Top Maine Industries

*Industry rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Top IndustriesEmploymentProjected GrowthAverage Salary
Hospitals; state, local, and private485,4801%$58,164
Pipeline transportation155,5300%$66,199
Ambulatory healthcare services445,1701%$58,975
Postal service167,2800%$61,165
Data processing, hosting, and related services207,180-1%$61,593
Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities211,190-1%$59,738
Insurance carriers and related activities337,710-0%$58,083
Educational services; state, local, and private537,8201%$55,334
Rail transportation228,630-0%$60,194

For years, Maine has been known as the "oldest state" in the nation. The U.S. Census Bureau's 2017 American Community Survey found the median age in Maine to be 44.6, the highest of all 50 states. As this aging population begins to retire from the job market and seek out medical care and assistance, demand for healthcare jobs in Maine rises correspondingly. Employment in healthcare and social assistance increased by over 6,000 positions between 2010 and 2018, and Maine.gov predicts a shortage of 3,200 RNs by 2025.

When it comes to healthcare, one of the most needed jobs in Maine is the nurse practitioner. These graduate-level nurses have prescriptive authority in Maine, allowing them to prescribe drugs and medical services, and can fill a variety of important specialized roles, from pediatric to gerontological. Need for nurse practitioners and other nursing roles is so great that the University of Maine System is taking great steps to increase nursing student enrollment. For example, in 2018 the system launched a financial aid initiative that covers tuition and standard fees for first-year students who qualify for a federal Pell Grant. The initiative applies at UM-Presque Isle, -Fort Kent, -Augusta and -Machias, four institutions that notably all offer online programs to their student body.

Maine has need of other fields than just healthcare, however. Financial and insurance-related careers also are among the most high demand jobs in Maine. While Maine doesn't boast any Fortune 500 companies, it's become a haven for small businesses. In fact, Maine leads the U.S. for the number of small businesses that survive more than one year, making the Pine Tree State a great choice for executives, managers and analysts of all stripes. The state's financial sector employs more than 25,100 people and has created many good careers in Maine for students skilled in business, finance, entrepreneurship and similar fields.

In the sections that follow, we take a closer look at some of the most in demand jobs in Maine's two largest metro areas.

Portland-South Portland, ME Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

The February 2019 merger between Vets First Choice and Henry Schein Animal Health created one of the world's largest animal health companies and is expected to create up to 1,200 new jobs in the Portland area. The merged company, Covetrus, operates its headquarters out of downtown Portland and could be a good place for general and operations managers to earn employment.

As described above, healthcare is an important field in Maine, and the field has created many high demand jobs in Portland. Healthcare professionals of all kinds -- but nurse practitioners in particular -- should have many opportunities for employment, between Maine Medical Center, Northern Light Mercy Hospital and the other healthcare organizations in the area.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$108,930430
Marketing ManagersBachelor's degree$103,700810
Financial ManagersBachelor's degree$131,6901,130
General and Operations ManagersBachelor's degree$115,6604,380
Health Specialties Teachers, PostsecondaryDoctoral or professional degree$111,100240

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Bangor, ME Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

The Eastern Maine Healthcare System and Acadia Hospital are two of the Bangor region's top employers, which explains why healthcare dominates the list of high demand jobs in Bangor. However, business is an active field in the Bangor metro area as well. While much of the area's future economic development is expected to come from smaller businesses, workforce development experts successfully attracted online retailer Wayfair to Bangor in 2016, and other companies may decide to follow their example. Whether the employer is large or small, many new openings for talented general and operations managers may soon be developing in Bangor.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$104,240200
Physician AssistantsMaster's degree$112,920130
Registered NursesBachelor's degree$75,7402,240
Medical and Health Services ManagersBachelor's degree$103,760310
General and Operations ManagersBachelor's degree$87,2001,160

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.