Best Colleges in Maine

The experts at created a ranking of the best colleges in the state of Maine. Use this resource to compare them by affordability, flexibility, and academic quality.
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Updated on July 6, 2023
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According to data from the Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information (CWRI), Maine can expect virtually no job growth from 2016 to 2026. Despite this sobering outlook for the state's economy, certain industries in Maine should experience steady growth during this period. For example, the CWRI projects employment in healthcare occupations to increase by 9%, adding roughly 5,800 new positions in the coming years. Employment in computer and mathematical occupations is also projected to grow just over 6%.

While you may find entry-level jobs in these fields with just a high school diploma, the most lucrative roles usually require a postsecondary education. For instance, registered nurses in Maine earned an annual mean wage of $67,610 in 2018, nearly $21,000 more per year than the average pay for all other occupations in the state. Computer systems analysts in the state earned even more, with an annual mean wage of $81,670. Both of these roles typically require a college degree.

Top 10 Colleges in Maine

  1. Bowdoin College - Brunswick, ME
  2. Colby College - Waterville, ME
  3. Bates College - Lewiston, ME
  4. College of the Atlantic - Bar Harbor, ME
  5. Saint Joseph's College of Maine - Standish, ME
  6. University of Southern Maine - Portland, ME
  7. University of Maine at Farmington - Farmington, ME
  8. University of New England - Biddeford, ME
  9. University of Maine - Orono, ME
  10. Husson University - Bangor, ME

To help you decide where to continue your education, we have compiled a ranking of the best colleges in Maine. Each of the profiles below includes helpful information on the school's admission requirements, programs of study, online education options, and financial aid opportunities. Additionally, each college on this list holds regional accreditation.

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Best Accredited Colleges in Maine

Best Colleges in Maine

  1. Bowdoin College

    Brunswick, ME



    Founded in 1794, Bowdoin College is the oldest institution of higher education in Maine and one of the best colleges in the state. Bowdoin was also the first college in the country to adopt a test-optional admission policy, which means prospective students are evaluated by their academic performance and community service activities instead of ACT or SAT scores.

    The college exclusively offers bachelor's degrees, with programs of study available in fields such as anthropology, digital and computational studies, neuroscience, and theater and dance. Bowdoin's curriculum emphasizes the importance of a liberal arts education, and all students take foundational courses in math, statistics, and exploring social difference. Currently, Bowdoin does not offer any online programs.

    Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. Bowdoin waives its application fee for first-generation college students. In addition, the college has replaced all student loans in its financial aid packages with grants, making it easier for low- and middle-income families to afford a college education.

  2. Colby College

    Waterville, ME



    Colby College enrolls roughly 2,000 students from every state and more than 70 countries around the world. The elite college offers bachelor's degrees with majors such as classical civilization, data science, astrophysics, and computational psychology. Colby does not host any online programs.

    Colby provides a rich array of learning experiences outside of the classroom. The Goldfarb Center connects students with internship and community service opportunities both in the nearby community of Waterville and around the country. Additionally, the Oak Institute for Human Rights brings in advocates and scholars from around the world to teach and mentor students at the college.

    Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and submit three letters of recommendation. Prospective students can optionally submit ACT or SAT scores and artistic supplements. Once admitted, Colby meets 100% of demonstrated financial need without student loans. Incoming students may also apply for a variety of merit-based scholarships.

  3. Bates College

    Lewiston, ME



    Bates College prepares graduates for graduate education or for careers in fields such as biochemistry, environmental studies, politics, and sociology. Community-engaged learning plays a central role at the college, and students across all programs participate in internships, volunteer work, and action research projects. Ninety-eight percent of Bates graduates enroll in graduate school or find a job within six months of completing their degree.

    The college's Center for Purposeful Work prepares learners to lead lives of impact. Students can take career assessments, participate in job shadow opportunities, find alumni mentors, and complete projects that allow them to connect their classroom learning to their post-graduation plans. Career counselors also provide personalized guidance on resumes, cover letters, and interview skills.

    Admission to Bates requires a high school diploma or GED and three letters of recommendation. Applicants may also submit ACT or SAT scores and participate in an interview with a college admissions officer.

  4. College of the Atlantic

    Bar Harbor, ME



    With just 350 students and 35 faculty members, the College of the Atlantic creates an intimate learning environment that encourages collaboration and intellectual risk. Each student at the college builds their own interdisciplinary course of study within the broader field of human ecology. For instance, students interested in careers in environmental policy may design a curriculum that includes courses in community planning, environmental law, and climate change and energy.

    At the end of their undergraduate studies, all COA students must also complete a senior project that synthesizes their learning and applies it to a real-world challenge. Examples of past capstones include a research study on the rise of Lyme disease in Maine, an oral history project focused on aging, and a podcast meant to introduce young children to biology and anatomy.

    Applying to the college requires a high school diploma or GED and three letters of recommendation. Prospective students may also elect to submit ACT or SAT scores or a portfolio of creative or professional work.

  5. Saint Joseph's College of Maine

    Standish, ME



    As Maine's only Catholic college, Saint Joseph's College of Maine emphasizes faith and academic excellence. Students can choose from a diverse selection of undergraduate programs in subjects such as business communication, exercise science, leadership and community engagement, and special education.

    To serve the needs of working professionals, SJC also offers fully online bachelor's and master's programs in health administration, nursing, and theology. Many online programs feature accelerated courses of study that allow students to move through their coursework as soon as they can demonstrate an understanding of core concepts and skills. Accelerated programs feature start dates every 10 weeks to accommodate working students.

    Undergraduate applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. They must also submit a letter of recommendation from both a teacher and a guidance counselor. While nursing and homeschooled students must submit ACT or SAT scores, other applicants do not need to complete entrance exams.

  6. University of Southern Maine

    Portland, ME



    In addition to its three campuses across southern Maine, the University of Southern Maine delivers fully online undergraduate and graduate programs in areas such as business administration, leadership and organizational studies, adult and higher education, and instructional technology. Students can also select one of three online minors or seek one of 10 online certificates.

    USM offers on-campus programs in subjects such as biology, computer science, economics, and linguistics. Regardless of how they choose to study, USM students receive free access to tutoring, academic advising, career counseling, and research and writing assistance. Additionally, the university's Portland campus is home to the Maine School of Law, the only accredited law school in the state.

    Undergraduate applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, while graduate applicants need a bachelor's degree. Prospective students must also submit results from an entrance exam, such as the ACT, SAT, or GRE. On top of tuition discounts to residents of any New England state, USM offers more than $12M annually in merit- and need-based scholarships.

  7. University of Maine at Farmington

    Farmington, ME



    The education at the University of Maine at Farmington is rooted in more than 150 years of liberal arts tradition. Whether students major in adulthood and aging, environmental planning, or interactive media, UMF prides itself on helping students learn how to think critically and interdisciplinarily.

    Undergraduate students unsure of what to study are encouraged to design their own major. These students work in close collaboration with a dedicated faculty adviser to lay a foundation of general education courses and sample unique electives in their first two years. As students' post-graduation plans become clearer, advisors and career counselors help them choose more advanced coursework, internships, and a relevant capstone project.

    UMF also offers master's degrees and graduate certificates in teacher education. Many of these programs are available in either a fully online or hybrid format.

    First-year applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, though ACT and SAT scores are not required. Graduate applicants must have a bachelor's degree.

  8. University of New England

    Biddeford, ME



    The University of New England trains more health professionals than any other college or university in Maine. In addition to its expansive undergraduate offerings in exercise science, dental hygiene, and nursing, UNE hosts the state's online medical college, dental college, and physician assistant program. The university also serves current medical professionals with continuing education courses in subjects like manual medicine and stress reduction.

    UNE also provides more than a dozen fully online programs, including curriculum and instructional strategies, health informatics, and social work. Both online and in-person learners at UNE may take advantage of tutoring, research assistance, skill development workshops, and mental health counseling services.

    Freshman applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, but UNE does not specifically require prospective students to take the ACT or SAT. Each year, the university awards more than $40M in institutional scholarships, with each student receiving an average aid package of roughly $26,000.

  9. University of Maine

    Orono, ME



    As the flagship school of the University of Maine system, UMaine serves more than 11,000 students through approximately 100 programs. Students can pursue bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in fields such as athletic training, environmental horticulture, medical laboratory sciences, and Romance languages. Upon graduation, UMaine students join a network of more than 109,000 alumni working around the world.

  10. Husson University

    Bangor, ME



    Of the more than 70 undergraduate and graduate programs available at Husson University, 19 feature accelerated tracks that allow students to earn their degree and advance in their careers at their own pace. Students can also pursue fully online degrees in areas such as business administration, data analytics, healthcare administration, and integrated technology.

    In addition to its online offerings, Husson maintains three campuses across Maine where students can explore subjects such as audio engineering, forensic science, hospitality management, and paralegal studies. As a supplement to their classroom learning, more than 95% of students at the university participate in at least one internship, practicum, or clinical learning experience.

    Applicant's to Husson's bachelor's programs must submit high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, one letter of recommendation, and a brief personal essay. The Trustee's Scholar Award provides up to $5,000 in annual aid to students with high entrance exam scores. Admission requirements for graduate programs vary; however, some require professional experience along with a bachelor's degree.

Click here to see the best community colleges in Maine.