Best Colleges in Maine

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Maine is home to 35 accredited colleges and universities, with many more research, outreach and cooperative extension centers statewide. Deciding on the right college involves doing research, from considering the length and type of degree programs available to tuition cost to campus lifestyle. Fortunately, we have applied our rigorous methodology to the latest education data to rank the best colleges in Maine, including the top four-year and two-year schools.

The University of Maine System consists of seven public four-year schools; a law school; and more than 35 research, outreach and cooperative extension centers statewide. Maine is also home to 21 private higher education institutions. All of Maine’s university systems (including private universities) are autonomous and oversee their own procedures and administration. Maine enrolls about 40,000 students every year and reaches over 500,000 people through its educational and cultural offerings. Though not a large increase, the number of earned bachelor’s degrees has increased by about 1% over the past 10 years (2004-2014). However, about two-thirds of alumni live full-time in Maine. According to Maine’s Department of Education, about 75% of students attending a public university in Maine receive financial assistance. Maine places an emphasis on public service and green technologies, and students will find a range of these and other programs of study at many of the top four-year schools listed below.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1Bowdoin College 5/593.03%Brunswick, ME

Bowdoin is the oldest college in Maine. Students enjoy a beautiful campus on the coast, and a small student body where undergraduates can thrive and work closely with world-renowned faculty. Bowdoin has a “no student loans” policy, instead providing students with grants that do not require repayment.

Bowdoin encourages a well-rounded, inclusive education, and more than half of students study abroad. The school’s newspaper is the oldest continuously published weekly in the United States, and students are encouraged to enjoy the natural beauty of Maine through the college’s Outing Club, which is the largest student group on campus.

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2Colby College 5/590.46%Waterville, ME

Colby College is one of the most venerated colleges in Maine, and the school emphasizes academic flexibility and independence. Students are allowed to design their own independent study program and encouraged to study abroad. Colby also partners with universities around the world for dual degrees and applicable credits. In addition to its strong academic program, Colby emphasizes environmental sustainability. The school is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint, and offers a variety of state-of-the-art facilities for students interested in environmental studies, including a wildlife refuge.

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3Bates College 5/588.48%Lewiston, ME

Bates offers students challenging academics and the opportunity to work closely with professors. Undergraduates enjoy an average class size of 10 students, and can conduct research alongside their professors. Bates produced 20 Fulbright scholars in 2015.

The college also offers opportunities a variety of extracurriculars for students. Enrollees can get involved in media and journalism, and the Bates debate council is ranked among the top ten debate societies in the world, and top among colleges in Maine. Bates is also renowned for its excellent dining halls, which have drawn local and national acclaim.

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4University of Maine 3/559.66%Orono, ME

The largest college in Maine, UM is the only institution classified as a research university. The school offers dozens of academic programs across a range of disciplines, along with a strong athletics program, and a thriving student community that includes Greek life and many extracurricular clubs. Among Maine’s many strong academic offerings, the college’s marine sciences program earns a specific mention, as it allows students to explore and learn about the environment of coastal Maine.

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5University of Maine at Farmington 2/553.52%Farmington, ME

Maine at Farmington offers excellent educational opportunities for students. The school features small class sizes for students (over half of all classes have fewer than 20 students), a tradition of competitive athletic teams, and a collegial, supportive environment for all. UMF is also known for its strong teacher education programs; over thirty percent of enrollees major in education, and the school also offers teacher certifications. Students are also encouraged to design their own majors; academic advisors and department chairs will work with you to design a program tailored to your interests and career goals.

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6University of Maine at Fort Kent 2/549.55%Fort Kent, ME

UMFK features strong academics across a variety of disciplines, while offering 14 degrees and five certificates online. Due to its location near the Canadian border, the school is an academic center for French American culture and heritage. Many French-speaking students are drawn here, and academic and degree programs are offered in both French and English, unique among colleges in Maine. UMFK offers associate and bachelor’s degrees, and has established a long tradition of educational excellence.

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7Saint Joseph’s College of Maine 5/562.62%Standish, ME

Saint Joseph’s is a private school, and is the only Catholic college in Maine. In addition to a traditional on-campus education, Saint Joseph’s also offers online degrees in liberal arts and the sciences, as well as a variety of professional programs, including nursing and business management. Students are encouraged to contribute to their community through service trips and by providing healthy, local food to the underserved through the school’s on-campus farm.

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8Husson University 3/542.09%Bangor, ME

Husson offers a range of academic opportunities for its students. With two campuses that serve 3,000 students, Husson is one of the largest colleges in Maine. Class sizes are small, which allows faculty to give students more individualized attention. Students can partake in professional and social clubs on campus. The university owns an alternative rock radio station, which provides students interested in media and music with a great opportunity to earn practical experience in a creative and fun environment.

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9University of New England 5/556.61%Biddeford, ME

UNE is a global college, and has campuses in Biddeford, ME and Tangier, Morocco. UNE is the largest educator for healthcare professionals in Maine, and the university’s medical and dental schools are the only facilities of their kind in the state. UNE is renowned for its science and health science programs, which are just two of the dozens of majors and minors available to students. The school also offers ten master’s and two doctoral degrees online, along with a certificate program in educational leadership. Students enjoy the school’s storied traditions, including the annual campus Thanksgiving dinner.

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10University of Maine at Machias 2/531.43%Machias, ME

The University of Maine at Machias is located along the scenic Machias River. The college opened its doors in 1909, and has maintained a strong liberal arts focus while also incorporating new fields of study. One popular field is environmental studies; the school’s location near the river as well as forests, lakes, blueberry fields, and the Atlantic Ocean provides students with a variety of opportunities to pursue outdoor learning in the field.

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11University of Southern Maine 2/532.39%Portland, ME

USM offers a strong traditional on-campus degree, as well as online courses and programs for students who are looking for more flexibility. USM has three campuses, and is one of the only colleges in Maine to offer an accredited computer science degree program. Popular majors at USM include business, management, and marketing; the school also has several fields applicable to the healthcare field.

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12University of Maine at Presque Isle 2/543.03%Presque Isle, ME

UMPI offers a variety baccalaureate degrees, associate programs, and professional certificates. The school also features three fully online bachelor’s degrees, in psychology, history, and English. The university is considering adding more online degrees in future years. The Northern Maine Museum of Science is on the UMPI campus, as is the world’s largest 3-D solar system model. UMPI is also dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint; the school will be the first college in Maine to have a wind turbine on campus. Like many colleges in Maine, UMPI’s campus features gorgeous scenery and wonderful views.

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13University of Maine at Augusta 2/510.97%Augusta, ME

UMA awards baccalaureate and associate degrees for students, in academic fields ranging from architecture to nursing to the natural sciences. The school offers a nationally recognized online program in information and library science, and provides online courses to national guard units stationed around the world. UMA encourages students to participate in cultural tours, outdoor activities, and seasonal events.

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The Maine Community College System is comprised of seven schools statewide. MCCS emphasizes small class size and accessible faculty, as well as opportunities for students to study abroad and participate in summer programs, join clubs and associations and play organized sports.

The number of associate degrees earned has decreased by almost 4% over the past 10 years (2004-2014). To help maintain and increase its number of graduates, The Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges, which was created in 2009, has raised funds to ensure its community colleges have the resources needed to offer all students an affordable education. Since its founding, the foundation has raised $26 million for expanding academic programs, improving student support services and implementing the latest technology.

Over the past few years, MCCS has also made a concerted effort to create and invest in programs in the energy services technology and sustainable agriculture industries. Another initiative designed to increase opportunities in the IT sector, Maine is IT! was recently awarded a $13 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration, which is projected to serve 2,100 Maine participants in IT programs over the next three years. An increased investment in schools and program opportunities makes it an ideal time to begin your college education at one of the two-year schools listed below.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1The Landing School 3/5100%Arundel, ME

Providing structured training toward careers in Yacht Design, Marine Systems, and Composite and Wooden Boat Building at its location in an internationally famous shipbuilding area on the Kennebunk River, The Landing School is distinctive among Maine colleges. Graduates go on to enjoy rich careers in the marine, engineering, and wind energy industries.

A uniquely diverse environment, The Landing School welcomes high school graduates, adult learners, international students, and veterans, all of whom have a deep passion for their studies and work. Students embarking on a two-year degree will complete two different courses of study.

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2Washington County Community College 1/531.82%Calais, ME

Washington County Community College offers the lowest tuition of any colleges in Maine or greater New England. For its commitment to student success and educational excellence, it was also recently named one of the top 150 community colleges in the country.

About one-third of the college’s 450 students live in residence halls located near some of Maine’s most spectacular natural wonders. Maine’s natural beauty and spirit of outdoor adventurism inspired the Adventure Recreation and Tourism major. In addition to traditional studies in Business, Technology, and Healthcare, the college offers training for the growing number of manufacturing jobs returning to the United States.

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3Northern Maine Community College 1/539.38%Presque Isle, ME

With more than 40 degree and certificate programs, Northern Maine Community College is one of the most versatile colleges in Maine. Ninety percent of graduates are employed within six months of graduation in jobs directly related to their studies. In addition to traditional offerings in business, nursing, and liberal studies, some notable majors include Wind Power Technology and Building Construction Technology. Students interested in starting or expanding a small business can also study Entrepreneurship.

Apart from rigorous academics, students enjoy on campus housing, a dining hall, various student organizations including the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, and intramural sports leagues.

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4Eastern Maine Community College 1/525.48%Bangor, ME

This college offers over 30 majors with a focus on educating students for careers in mechanical, engineering, and construction industries as well as allied health professions and business occupations. However, the college also maintains a strong liberal arts curriculum.

Like other Maine colleges, Eastern provides on campus housing, a dining facility, and a quality gymnasium. Although Eastern does not have official sports teams, the fitness center hosts weekly games of basketball, dodgeball, floor hockey, and wiffleball. A number of student organizations including the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society are also active on the 72-acre campus.

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5Central Maine Community College 1/523.41%Auburn, ME

Like other Maine colleges featured on this list, Central Maine Community College provides on campus housing and dining. In addition to having access to a full gym, students are also able to participate in sports teams. Some options include baseball, basketball, and ice hockey for men, and basketball, soccer, and softball for women. Unique to Central is its completely tobacco-free campus, which includes prohibition of e-cigarettes.

Nearly 30 programs of study include Accounting, Life Sciences, and Building Construction Technology. Students also take general education requirements in order to develop competency in communication and critical thinking.

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6Kennebec Valley Community College 1/527.31%Fairfield, ME

Kennebec Valley Community College's 2,500 students come from a variety of backgrounds. A mix of high school graduates, adult learners, and veterans enriches the student experience. Kennebec offers 36 degree and certificate programs in such notable fields as Trades and Technology, Sustainable Agriculture, and Mental Health.

Kennebec Valley Community College is also the proud steward of one of Maine’s beautiful historic buildings, the Moody Memorial Chapel, which serves as an event space.

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7Maine College of Health Professions 2/550%Lewiston, ME

Central Maine Medical Center College is unique among Maine colleges for offering specialized instruction in nursing and health professions. The college’s main programs of study are Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Nuclear Medicine, and Computed Tomography. Coursework consists of a combination of classroom study, online participation, and clinical practice sessions. Second-year students are taught how to write a professional resume by a career advisor.

For those wishing to live on campus, single and double occupancy rooms are available within walking distance of the training facility and are assigned on a first come first served basis. Students may purchase meals from the cafeteria.

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8York County Community College 1/522.22%Wells, ME

York County Community College is a technical college offering a wide variety of majors. Unique among Maine colleges, York County Community College will begin to offer a major in Gerontology in the fall of 2016. More traditional majors in Business, Education, and Health are also available.

Student life and organizations are part of the York County Community College experience as well. For example, students may join the Student Senate or The Creative Corner, a club which meets twice a week to explore and engage with art. Additionally, The Bridge, a Christian Bible study group, helps forge community.

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9Southern Maine Community College 1/515.38%South Portland, ME

With two full campuses and plenty of satellite locations, Southern Maine Community College offers students tremendous flexibility. On campus, students may enjoy a number of convenient facilities such as a full fitness center and dining hall that features panoramic views of Casco Bay.

An excellent campus resource is the entrepreneurial center, a distinctive feature among Maine colleges. Students who are interested in creating or growing their small business will have opportunities to network and find a wealth of information here.

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If you’re thinking about applying to one of the best colleges in Maine, continuing reading to learn more about living in the Pine Tree State.

Maine, the most northeastern state in the U.S., is known for its natural beauty and offers plenty of sightseeing opportunities, from beaches to parks to forests. Maine’s coastal maritime culture is evident in the 60 lighthouses built along its 4,000-mile, rocky coastline. Toward the interior of Maine lies the Appalachian Trail, which culminates at the mile-high Mt. Katahdin. Back east and to the north lies a range of famous lakes where mountains meld into the sea at Acadia National Park.

Arts and culture patrons will enjoy 73,000 works of art along the 200-mile Maine Art Museum Trail. The state boasts a variety of annual county fairs and festivals, celebrating everything from Maine heritage and maritime history to outdoor music. Maine is well known for its seafood cuisine, particularly lobsters and clams, as well as its low-bush wild blueberries—all of which are a central part of its annual traditions and celebrations.

Maine’s largest cities, and most of its colleges and universities, are located along or close to the coast. Portland is the state’s most densely populated city, holding 40% of the state’s overall population. There are large swaths of forestland in the state’s interior that remain uninhabited. Manufacturing, mostly wood and paper products, remain the driving industry in Maine. Construction; Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing; Trade, Transportation, and Utilities; and Retail Trade also have a comparatively sizable place in Maine’s economy. As of August 2015, the overall unemployment rate for Maine was 4.5%.

Regional Spotlight: Greater Portland and Midcoast Maine

  • Major Cities: Portland, Brunswick
  • Attractions: Camden Snow Bowl, Maine Maritime Museum, Portland Head Light, the Desert of Maine
  • Cost of Living: Portland
  • Popular Schools: Bowdoin College, University of New England

Regional Spotlight: Maine Highlands and Eastern Acadia Maine

  • Major Cities: Orono, Bangor
  • Attractions: Acadia National Park, West Quoddy Lighthouse, Deer Isle and Stonington, Baxter State Park, Appalachian Trail
  • Cost of Living: Bangor
  • Popular Schools: University of Maine (Orono), College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor), Maine Maritime Academy

Regional Spotlight: The Kennebec Valley and Maine’s Lakes and Mountains

  • Major Cities: Waterville, Augusta
  • Attractions: The Forks, Maine State Museum, Waterville Opera House, Sugarloaf, Rangeley Lakes
  • Cost of Living: Augusta
  • Popular Schools: Colby College, Bates College, St. Joseph’s College, University of Maine (Farmington)

Sources: US Census Bureau


The University of Maine System does not use any one factor in its determination of residency status, but considers all incoming students on a case-by-case basis. In general, the following criteria (not an inclusive list) will be used to determine residency:


  • Parents and/or guardians must be Maine residents in order for dependent students to attain residency status. In case of separation or divorce, students may be granted residency status if either parent is a resident of Maine and has contributed more than 50% financial support for at least one year prior to the semester for in-state status.


  • An individual has lived in Maine (for other than educational purposes) for a minimum of one year prior to registration or application to a university.
  • Students who are the domestic partner or spouse of a resident who has been continuously employed full-time for at least one year prior to the student’s application may be considered residents.
  • Members of the Armed Forces and their dependents and spouses/domestic partners are considered residents while stationed on active duty in Maine.

Additional Sources for Maine Students

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