Online learning in the Pine Tree State is often a public affair. Affordable programs are available across the University of Maine System (UMS). UMaine is working to attract new learners with its Think 30 initiative and E-Tuition rates. And public colleges & universities are part of a discount tuition break known as the Regional Student Program (RSP). For more on all these options, plus some advice on how to check for regional accreditation, take a look at our short guide to choosing an online program in Maine.
Online Degrees in Maine: What to Know
1. How to Find Online Programs in the University of Maine System
The UMaine System (UMS) has a distance education arm called University College (UC), and UC has a website called Learn.Maine.edu. This site maintains a useful database of online degree & certificate programs available through UMS’s seven universities. The database includes all levels of UMS degrees (associate through to doctorate) and all methods of delivery (blended, web, interactive television, etc.). UC advisors are available to help online students with the admissions process.
Trying to find a better job? UC has also partnered up with ed2go/GES to offer non-credit career training. These online, open enrollment programs are focused on a variety of high-demand careers (e.g. hospitality, healthcare, IT) and are often six months to one year in length.
2. How to Find Online Programs in Maine Community Colleges
The Maine Community College System (MCCS) has a section on its online offerings, with links to online courses at all seven of Maine’s community colleges. A limited number of associate degree programs are offered completely online, including degrees that are intended to help students transfer to a four-year institution (e.g. Associate of Arts in Liberal Studies).
3. The University of Maine Wants You to Finish in 4 Years
UMaine is trying to help full-time undergraduates slash their education debt with its Think 30 initiative. This program encourages students to take advantage of year-round online courses, summer school, and online winter sessions to earn 30 credits per year. The idea is to get a bachelor’s degree finished as quickly as possible. According to the university, “the average student debt for typical UMaine graduates increases by 38% when they finish in five years instead of four.”
4. Discount Tuition for Out-of-State Online Programs
The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) has a tuition break program called the New England Regional Student Program (RSP). This allows residents from six states—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont—to enroll in discounted programs at out-of-state New England public colleges and universities. All UMS schools participate in RSP.
- According to NEBHE, the discount means you pay less than out-of-state tuition rates, but more than in-state. The RSP regional rate is usually based on a percentage (up to a maximum of 175%) of a college’s in-state rate.
- Students must be enrolled in an approved major that isnot offered by the public colleges and universities in their home state. However, “at certain colleges, a student may also qualify when the out-of-state college is closer to home than the in-state college offering the same program.”
Some online degree programs are offered with RSP tuition rates—check with your prospective school for details.
Affordable Online Schools in Maine
The following schools have the honor of appearing on both our “Most Affordable” and “Top Online” lists. That means they met our rigorous criteria for quality, flexibility, price, and use of financial aid money. (You’ll see a CAG Score next to their profiles in our ranking.) If you fancy more than one school, College Scorecard also has some useful financial statistics, including the percentage of students paying down debt within three years of graduation.
University of Maine
UMaine Online is where you’ll find info on the university’s online degrees and courses, including details on tuition & fees. With a few exceptions, out-of-state students enrolled in fully online degrees or certificate programs are eligible for special E-Tuition rates. The page on Financial Aid & Scholarships has advice for undergraduates and graduates and a list of scholarship opportunities for online adult students.
UMaine is the flagship university for the University of Maine System, and it’s heavily committed to distance learning. In addition to the Think 30 initiative that we mentioned, it has an online degree completion program for working adults called the Bachelor of University Studies (BUS). It also offers online courses to high school students through its Academ-E program. All Academ-E classes carry UMaine credit and meet the General Education (GE) requirements of UMaine.
University of Maine at Fort Kent
UMFK’s Distance Education website has a complete list of its online degrees & certificates, as well as info on ed2go non-credit courses. The site also has a breakdown of tuition & fees for online learners and links to scholarships and financial aid opportunities. Servicemembers should check out UMFK’s section on Veterans and Military; UMFK has been designated as a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs and one of the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report.
University of Southern Maine
USM Online is the central hub for USM’s distance learning offerings, with details about its online undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. Its section on tuition & fees notes that Canadian residents and NEBHE/RSP students can qualify for reduced rates; online students may also be eligible for certain scholarships.
If you’re coming from another school, there’s some helpful advice on transferring credits to an online degree (1/2 of all USM admitted students are transfers); the independent Office for Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) can assist with alternative credit options.
Online Schools in Maine with Accreditation & Quality Concerns
Be sure your college or university is fully accredited by an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. National accreditation applies to distance learning institutions, but regional accreditation is the gold standard, especially if you’re thinking of transferring credits or applying for financial aid.
Maine does not like diploma mills! Unlike states such as California, there aren’t many unaccredited schools lurking in the shadows. What’s more, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) maintains an alphabetical list of Non-Accredited Colleges & Degree Mills throughout the United States. If you’ve been approached by a school you’ve never heard of, check this list.
Maine Online Education Resources
Distance Learning Resources
- K-12 Approved Online Learning Providers: The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has developed the Maine Online Learning Program to provide K-12 students with high-quality distance learning options. This is its list of approved online schools (e.g. Connections Academy, Virtual Learning Academy, etc.).
- University of Maine System (UMS) Transfer Students: UMS has transfer guidelines for all kinds of learners, including adult students, veterans & military, and online students. You’ll also discover answers to FAQs and info on Transfer Course Equivalencies.
Online Degree & Course Catalogs
- University of Maine System (UMS) Online Program Database: Use this database to find online degree & certificate programs offered through any one of UMS’s seven universities—the University of Maine, the University of Maine at Augusta, the University of Maine at Farmington, the University of Maine at Fort Kent, University of Maine at Machias, the University of Maine at Presque Isle, and the University of Southern Maine.