15 Best Colleges in Maine

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Beautiful Maine with its over 200 miles in coastal shoreline and the highest moose population in the country also hosts a number of well-ranked, research-driven, affordable colleges and universities.

Maine is perhaps most known for its University of Maine system of schools, which makes sense when you consider the size of and contributions made by this greater network of universities. They also made news last year when they radically dropped tuition rates for residents in surrounding states. This means, for example, that a student at UMass Amherst can attend any University of Maine school for the same price.

Top 10 Best Colleges in Maine

Rank School Location
1 Colby College Waterville, ME
2 Bowdoin College Brunswick, ME
3 Bates College Lewiston, ME
4 University of Maine Orono, ME
5 Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME
6 University of New England Biddeford, ME
7 Maine Maritime Academy Castine, ME
8 Husson University Bangor, ME
9 Thomas College Waterville, ME
10 University of Southern Maine Portland, ME

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Outside of the sprawling University of Maine system, however, are numerous other options for students to pursue. And currently the state is trying to promote just that. Recent studies conducted in Maine have found that high schoolers who have the opportunity to enroll in early college courses are far more likely to graduate, attend college, and earn a degree. The state is currently trying to bolster this program in an effort to bring academic and economic success to its citizens. You may want to check out the Best Online Schools in Maine as well, an initiative helping many students earn degrees.

What are the Best Colleges and Universities in Maine?

Best Colleges in Maine Badge

Maine, like many East Coast schools, offers students an array of liberal arts education options, as it does bigger universities, including the renowned University of Maine System. Despite all the variation in size and emphases, those schools listed below share something key in common: they are the best in all of Maine. To cultivate such a definitive list, we first examined the academic reputations of each college and university in the state. From there we pared down to those that retain the most students, as this is often a reflection on student satisfaction. Then, bringing in tuition rates and post-graduation career salaries we were able to determine the best in the state, “best” meaning academically rigorous as well as student-centric, affordable with a great return on investment. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, Maine’s Department of Education, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.

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  1. Colby College
    Location

    Waterville, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Colby College was founded in 1813 in Waterville, Maine. Colby is the 12th-oldest independent liberal arts college in the nation and one of America’s most selective liberal arts colleges. The campus houses 714 acres that overlooks downtown Waterville and the Kennebec River Valley. This area is also home to the 128-acre Perkins Arboretum wildlife refuge that is bog preserve and environmental studies lakefront property. Colby is located 20 minutes from the state capital and an hour north of Portland or south of Bangor.

    Features

    Colby College offers 58 majors for 1,857 undergraduate students. Most students at Colby live on campus in one of the 26 co-ed residence halls. Inside the classroom, student-faculty ratio is 10-to-1. Nearly 76% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 100 student organizations. 70 % choose to study abroad in more than 60 countries. Students look forward to cheering on their NCAA Division III athletic teams. Top majors include:

    • Social Sciences
    • Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences
    • English
    • Physical Sciences

    Notables

    In the past 200 years, Colby has seen their fair share of setbacks. However, Colby’s tradition for academic rigor and innovative thinking has never wavered. Here is a small list of some of the college’s firsts in the new nation: First collegiate anti-slavery society (1833). The first previously all-male New England college to admit women (1871). First intercollegiate women’s varsity ice hockey game (1975). The first college to issue e-mail accounts to all students (1983). Finally, in April 2013, Colby became one of the first colleges to achieve carbon neutrality.

  2. Bowdoin College
    Location

    Brunswick, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Bowdoin College was founded in 1794 in Brunswick, Maine, and named after the French Bowdoin family who became one of the wealthiest merchant families in Massachusetts. Initially, Bowdoin College was for men only. However, in the mid-1970s, the college became co-ed. The main campus has 207 acres. Bowdoin College is noted for being one of the selective schools to make the SAT and ACT scores optional in 1969. They also count Nathaniel Hawthorne and former U.S. President Franklin Peirce as some of their own alumni.

    Features

    Bowdoin College offers 40 majors for 1,799 undergraduate students. Please note that freshmen are required to live on campus and are assigned to a college house that provides residential social activities. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 9-to-1. Nearly 68% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 100 student organizations and cheer for their NCAA Division III sports teams. Top majors include:

    • Political Science & Government
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Biology/Biological Sciences

    Notables

    Bowdoin abolished fraternities in 1997 and replaced them with a system of college-owned social houses. One of the largest and most active student groups on campus is the Outing Club, which offers the chance to go on over 100 excursions each year. Another point of interest is the Peucinian Society, one of the oldest literary and intellectual societies. The society was founded in 1805 and was attended by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

  3. Bates College
    Location

    Lewiston, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Bates College was founded in 1855 in Lewiston, Maine, along the Androscoggin River by Oren B. Cheney, a Dartmouth graduate, abolitionist statemen and Freewill Baptist minister. The college was named after Benjamin E. Bates, a Boston manufacturer. Today, it is a private, highly selective, residential college academic rigor, intellectual curiosity, egalitarianism, social justice and freedom. The college owns the following properties: 133-acre main campus, 600 acre Bates Mountain, and 80-acre Coastal Center.

    Features

    Bates College offers 36 majors and 25 minors for 2,000 undergraduate students – 22% of the student body comes from unrepresented groups. Nearly 95% students live on campus. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 10-to-1. 68% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 100 student organizations. Students look forward to cheering on their NCAA Division III sport teams. Top majors include:

    • Social Sciences
    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences
    • English Language & Literature/Letters
    • Psychology
    • Foreign Languages, Literatures, & Linguistics

    Notables

    Bates was the first coeducational college in New England, admitting students without regard to race, religion, national origin, or sex. It was one of the only colleges in the U.S. to admit black students before the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment. It is also the first to award a degree to a woman in New England.

  4. University of Maine
    Location

    Orono, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Maine (UMaine) was founded in 1865 in Orono, Maine, on the banks of the Stillwater River. IT was created in response to the Morrill Act. Today, the University of Maine is one of only nine land, sea and space grant institutions in the nation. It is flagship university of the University of Maine System and Maine’s only public research university. The main campus has 660 acres about 60 miles from the Atlantic coast and approximately 100 miles from the Canadian border.

    Features

    The University of Maine offers 100 majors for 9,323 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 16-to-1. Nearly 40% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 200 student organizations. Students look forward to cheering their NCAA Division I teams to victory. Top majors include:

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Social Sciences
    • Health Professions

    Notables

    The University of Maine is the largest and most research-comprehensive university in the state with a firm foundation in the liberal arts and ranks among the top 102 public research universities by the National Science Foundation. Notable UMaine alumni include bestselling horror author Stephen King, who wrote “Carrie” and “The Green Mile.”

  5. Saint Joseph's College of Maine
    Location

    Standish, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Saint Joseph’s College of Maine was founded in 1912 on the shore of Sebago Lake in Standish, Maine by the Portland Regional Community of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Today, it is Maine’s only co-ed Catholic college. The college provides certificates as well as undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program that operates in collaboration with the College’s Sebago Lake 474-acre campus. Standish, Maine is located 18 miles northwest of Portland, Maine’s largest city and 2 hours north of Boston.

    Features

    Saint Joseph’s College of Maine offers 40 majors for 1,000 on-campus undergraduate students and over 2,500 online students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 12-to-1. The average class size is 17. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 40 student clubs and organizations. Students look forward to cheering on their NCAA Division III teams. Top majors include:

    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Education
    • Exercise Science & Sports Management
    • Biology

    Notables

    Saint Joseph’s is a member of the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP). This collaboration offers students the ability to study abroad at 265 colleges in 37 countries. Students have the option to study abroad for either a semester or a full academic year.

  6. University of New England
    Location

    Biddeford, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of New England can trace its beginnings to a small co-ed boarding school in 1831 in Biddeford, Maine, where the Saco River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The main campus in Biddeford has 540 acres. However, there are two other campuses available for students to pursue their educational goals. One campus is in Portland, Maine. The second is in Tangier, Morocco.

    Features

    The University of New England offers over 40 majors for 3,801 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 13-to-1. Nearly 48% the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 60 student organizations and cheer for their NCAA Division III (without football) sports teams. Top majors include:

    • Health Professions
    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences
    • Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies
    • Psychology
    • Social Sciences

    Notables

    The University of New England has pioneered an inter-professional approach to medical education. It offers a cosmopolitan environment that allows students to intermix, gain a global perspective and hands-on learning experiences. While University of New England has Maine’ s only medical and dental schools, their approach also includes pharmacy, nursing and an array of allied health professions. The goal is to produce well-rounded scholars and professionals who can adapt, prosper and lead in a rapidly evolving global world.

  7. Maine Maritime Academy
    Location

    Castine, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Maine Maritime Academy was founded in 1941 in Castine, Maine, overlooking the Castine Harbor as a nautical training institute. Today, it is a public, co-educational college on 30 acres with rigorous courses and experiential programs to equip students with the practical skills, knowledge, and training to launch successful careers with their degree. Academy students can choose to be in the independent or regimental programs. Students who enroll in a regimental program are considered midshipmen and train on the ship, State of Maine. Students who enroll in independent programs go about their day as a regular residential school student. After graduation, students are not obligated to go to sea or into the military. Only 5% of the graduates take a commission in the military.

    Features

    The Maine Maritime Academy offers 18 programs of study to 950 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is13-to-1. Nearly 52% the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, student have access to 30 student organizations – over 80% participate. Students look forward to cheering on their NCAA Division III sports teams. Top majors include:

    • Engineering Technologies & Engineering-Related Fields
    • Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering
    • Marine Science/Merchant Marine Officer
    • International Business/Trade/Commerce
    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences

    Notables

    The Maine Maritime Academy continues Maine’s seafaring traditions and builds upon their worldwide reputations for shipbuilders and sea captains. Maine peoples are leaders in every aspect of maritime affairs. The first English ship built in America, the Virginia, was built and launched in 1607 from Maine. Today, Mainers continue to build and sail vessels including custom yachts, warships, windjammers, fishing fleets, and America’s Cup defenders.

  8. Husson University
    Location

    Bangor, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Husson University was founded in 1898 in Bangor, Maine. Today, Bangor, Maine, has a total population of 30,000 residents with one of the lowest urban crime rates in the United States. Husson University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, health, education, sciences, English and pharmacy. The campus has 200 acres and is approximately 250 miles north of Boston and 250 miles east of Quebec City.

    Features

    Husson University offers degree options for 2,800 undergraduate students – 61% live off campus. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 15-to-1. The average class size is 21 students. Nearly 53% the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 35 student organizations and cheer for their NCAA Division III teams. Top majors include:

    • Business
    • Health Professions
    • Psychology
    • Communications Technologies/Technicians
    • Criminal Justice & Corrections

    Notables

    Husson University looks to provide a top-notch curriculum to motivated, career-oriented students who want both academics and hands-on learning experiences. All students will need to complete a variation of an internship prior to graduation. All students will get to know their professors because most professors know all their students by name.

  9. Thomas College
    Location

    Waterville, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Thomas College was founded in 1894 in Waterville, Maine. The college is named after John L. Thomas Sr., a New Hampshire-based railroad administrator and graduate of the Thomas College business program. The main campus has 120 acres of woods and fields along the historic Kennebec River.

    Features

    Thomas College supports 1,212 undergraduate students’ educational pursuits at their highly residential campus. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 15-to-1. Nearly 57% the classes have less than 20 students. The average class has 18 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 40 student organizations and cheer for their NCAA III sports teams. Top majors include:

    • Criminal justice
    • Business & Accounting
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Computer Science

    Notables

    Thomas College has a 100% guarantee. Their students are guaranteed the following: a job upon graduation; guaranteed tuition; guaranteed to graduate in four years; and guaranteed career services for life. Thomas College wants to give you the best possible start in your career. So, check out the Thomas Guarantee to get your start in the right direction.

  10. University of Southern Maine
    Location

    Portland, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Southern Maine was founded in 1878. Today, USM’s has three primary campuses that are in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston. USM provides students with a free, energy-efficient shuttle bus to commute between the Portland and Gorham campuses. The trip will take about 30 minutes; but, you are in luck – the bus has Wi-Fi. It’s a safe and sustainable way to get around — and it even makes occasional stops at the Maine Mall.

    Features

    The University of Southern Maine offers 50 majors and 50 minors for 6,126 undergraduate students – 80% live off campus. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 16-to-1. Nearly 51% the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, student have access to over 100 various student engagement opportunities. Students look forward to cheering on their NCAA Division III sports teams. Top majors include:

    • Health Professions
    • Business
    • Social Sciences
    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences

    Notables

    When you become part of the University of Southern Maine, you are part of the Husky Pack. Students are immediately engaged with welcome week activities, student life events and the Husky Fest. It is not just a meeting of the minds, it has jousting, obstacle courses, dunk tanks, and more.

  11. University of Maine at Fort Kent
    Location

    Fort Kent, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK) was founded in 1878 in Fort Kent, as the Madawaska Training school for teachers. Today, Fort Kent is nestled in the St. John Valley at the international crossroads of Maine, Quebec and New Brunswick. The 52-acre campus is a couple of hours west of Fort Kent is Quebec City and north of Bangor and coastal Maine.

    Features

    The University of Maine at Fort Kent offers education opportunities for 1,559 undergraduate students – 71% live off campus. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 15-to-1. Nearly 79% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to many student organizations. Students look forward to cheering on their sports teams on the weekends. Top majors include:

    • Health Professions
    • Business,
    • Education,
    • Liberal Arts & Sciences
    • Humanities & Social Sciences.

    Notables

    UMFK hosts the annual Fiddlers Jamboree. At the Jamboree, people can hear more than 40 fiddlers, guitarists, banjo pickers, drummers and accordion players from both sides of the Canada–US border. The event draws members of the New Brunswick Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame and people throughout the area. It is usually standing-room-only, so you would want to get there early.

  12. University of Maine at Farmington
    Location

    Farmington, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) was founded in 1864 historic, downtown Farmington, Maine, on 55 acres. UMF is Maine’s first public institution of higher education. Today, UMF is about the same size as many of New England’s most selective private colleges and offers many of the same advantages, yet at a very affordable price in a spectacular natural setting. The campus is just a short walk away from a good number of coffee shops, funky stores, restaurants, banks, bookstores, a multi-screen movie theater and so much more.

    Features

    The University of Maine at Farmington offers high quality programs for the 1,662 undergraduate students – over 50% live on campus. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 13-to-1. Nearly 63% the classes have less than 20 students. The average class size is 17 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to many student organizations and regularly cheer on their NCAA Division III sports teams. Top majors include:

    • Education
    • Health Professions
    • Psychology
    • English Language & Literature/Letters
    • Business

    Notables

    The town of Farmington (pop. 7,500) is in the foothills of the Western Maine Mountains including the Saddleback, Sugarloaf, and Sunday River ski areas; the Appalachian Trail; the Kennebec and Androscoggin Rivers;, and a variety of lakes, streams and countryside. These natural wonders serve as a classroom, a place to getaway and place to enjoy nature. In this area, the winters do get cold. That is probably why Farmington is known as the birthplace of Chester Greenwood – the inventor of the earmuff.

  13. Unity College
    Location

    Unity, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Unity College was founded in 1965 in Unity, Maine, with a campus of 225 acres. Today, Unity College is known as America’s Environmental College and for their focus on sustainability science, ecological problem solving and their fight for global climate change. The college is located 35 miles southwest of Bangor, Maine, and 25 miles from the Maine coast.

    Features

    Unity College offers 16 majors for 665 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 12-to-1. Nearly 60% the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 30 student organizations – including beekeeping, sugar making and intramurals. Top majors include:

    • Wildlife Biology
    • Outdoor Education

    Notables

    The area surrounding Unity College provides a unique opportunity when it comes to research and adventure. The college is in the middle of 3 climate zones. So, there is all sorts of hiking, camping, skiing, hunting, canoeing and so much more available.

  14. University of Maine at Presque Isle
    Location

    Presque Isle, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI) was founded in 1903 in Presque Isle, Maine, as the Aroostook State Normal School. Today, the campus has 150 acres surrounded by the rolling hills and potato fields of northern Maine. The university specializes in personalized, hands-on learning and providing access to real-world career experience. UMPI is one of most competitively-priced college education opportunities in the Northeast, and just recently lowered its out-of-state tuition rates by 40%.

    Features

    The University of Maine at Presque Isle offers 22 bachelor degrees and 40 minors for 1,200 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 15-to-1. Nearly 75% the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, student have access to over 40 student organizations and NCAA Division III teams. Top majors include:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Liberal Arts and Sciences
    • Humanities, Public Administration & Social Service Professions
    • Psychology

    Notables

    You must ask your tour guide about Interstellar. It is the Maine Solar System Model stretches over 54 miles, from the 50-foot-diameter sun on campus to the one-inch-diameter dwarf planet Eris in Topsfield. It is the largest solar system model in the Western Hemisphere. It has become a significant summertime tourist attraction.

  15. University of Maine at Augusta
    Location

    Augusta, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) was founded in 1965 in Augusta, Maine, by the Maine Legislature. UMA is the third largest public university in Maine. It is the seventh campus of the University of Maine System with at eight University College Centers and 56 receiving sites in virtually every corner of the state. The main campus in Augusta has 159 acres.

    Features

    The University of Maine at Augusta offers 33 degree programs for 4,683 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 16-to-1. Nearly 76% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, the Student Center is the hub for student activities and student organizations. Top majors include:

    • Health Professions
    • Business
    • Homeland Security & Related Protective Services
    • Computer & Information Sciences

    Notables

    The University of Maine at Augusta is a commuter institution. The main goal of UMA is to be a great choice for students without uprooting their lives. UMA takes great pride in their professional programs such as architecture available for students to take locally or online. As a point of interest, the UMA architecture program is the only one offered by a public higher education institution in northern New England.

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