Best Online Community Colleges in Maine

By Seph Anderson | Updated 9/2/2022
2020 Best Online Community Colleges in Maine Badge

Students in Maine can earn an online associate degree or certificate from these four community colleges. They are all part of the Maine Community College System, so they all have the same affordable cost per credit - just $94 per hour. York County Community College is ranked #2, and offers nine different online associate degrees, more than any other school on this list. Students can earn an AAS in Accounting, and an AAS in Criminal Justice, and an AA in Information Technology among other degrees.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Locations
# 1 #1 Kennebec Valley Community College $3,008 Fairfield
# 2 #2 York County Community College $2,820 Wells
# 3 #3 Central Maine Community College $2,820 Auburn
# 4 #4 Southern Maine Community College $2,820 South Portland

2020 Online Community Colleges in Maine - Ranking Details

For each school, we conducted manual research to provide prospective students with more details about the schools' online programs. Explore online degrees offered and accreditation information below.

#1 Kennebec Valley Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $3,008
  • Locations: Fairfield
  • Accreditation: NEASC CTCI

Kennebec Valley Community College offers a total of five associate degrees available fully online in the following areas: business administration with an option of either marketing/management or accounting, mental health technology, and liberal studies. Some programs may require on-campus visits for testing or practicums. Students are able to access their course material and classes online 24/7. Hybrid courses are also available. Students use the Blackboard learning management system to correspond with instructors, read coursework, and submit assignments.

#2 York County Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $2,820
  • Locations: Wells
  • Accreditation: NEASC CTCI

Several associate degrees are offered 100 percent online by York County Community College, including an Associate of Applied Science in Behavioral Health Studies, an Associate of Applied Science in Gerontology, and an Associate of Arts in Liberal Studies. Hybrid programs and programs offering at least 80 percent of courses online are also offered by the school. Online students use Blackboard to communicate with classmates and instructors and are able to take their classes day or night, on the weekends, and through the summer. Students should plan to spend 10–15 hours a week studying per course.

#3 Central Maine Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $2,820
  • Locations: Auburn
  • Accreditation: NEASC CTCI

Central Maine Community College offers both fully online associate degree and hybrid programs to individuals in need of a versatile learning alternative. Fully online degree programs are offered in the following areas: accounting, business administration and management, criminal justice, general studies, human services, and medical coding and electronic health records. Online students adhere to the same schedule as on-campus students and have access to a variety of resources including financial assistance, online tutoring, technical support, and academic advisement.

#4 Southern Maine Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $2,820
  • Locations: South Portland
  • Accreditation: NEASC CTCI

Southern Maine Community College offers online degrees in liberal studies and business administration. Within nine months of graduating, 90% of graduates either got a job or continued taking courses. The majority of online coursework is delivered through Blackboard, a learning management system, and course materials can be accessed at any time. Depending on the course, additional software may be used. Online students at SMCC participate in discussion boards, journaling activities, and group projects. Several online support services are offered through SMCC’s online student portal, My Maine Guide. Such services include academic and transfer advising, career services, tech support, and 24/7 online tutoring services. Students can access these services through an online chat system or by setting up a Skype video call.

Overview of Colleges in Maine

The Maine Community College System consists of seven public community colleges:

  • Central Maine Community College
  • Eastern Maine Community College
  • Kennebec Valley Community College
  • Northern Maine Community College
  • Southern Maine Community College
  • Washington County Community College
  • York County Community College

The community colleges collectively offer more than 300 distinct degree and certificate programs from which students may choose. In 2021, total enrollment across Maine’s seven community colleges was greater than 15,000.

In terms of affordability, the average annual tuition at Maine community colleges is $3,700 ($96 per credit hour), the lowest among community colleges in the New England area.

In this article, you’ll learn which institutions rank among Maine’s best online community colleges, as well as helpful information on tuition, financial aid, accreditation, graduate salaries, and more.

Why Study in Maine?

With a total enrollment of more than 70,000 across 37 institutions of higher education — 10 public universities, 20 private colleges, and 7 community colleges — Maine is a state steadfastly committed to higher education.

In 2019, 47% of Maine residents aged 25 and older earned at least a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the unemployment rate of Maine residents holding a bachelor’s degree was only 1.3%.

Check out our full list of the best online bachelor's degrees, and search by major to find the right fit for you.

Does Maine Have Good Online Colleges?

Over the past few years, the idea of pursuing a college education online has moved from one of exception to one of universal expectation. The same holds true for students attending any one of Maine’s nearly 40 colleges and universities. The quality and strength of Maine’s traditional in-person model of higher education has been replicated through 300+ online degree and certificate programs.

Combined with an average online community college tuition rate of $96 per credit hour, which is significantly less than the national average of $141 per credit hour, online learning in Maine provides ample access and affordability to higher education — especially at the community college level.

According to a study by Strada Education Network, 12,000 nationally-representative college students asked students, “If you had $5,000 to spend on education, how would you use it?” In answering the question, 46% stated they would “prefer online programs over in-person programs.”

What Community Colleges Are in Maine?

As noted earlier, there are nearly 40 different colleges and universities in Maine, including 7 community colleges, each of which offers online degree and certificate programs.

Collectively, these 2-year institutions offer more than 300 online degree and certificate programs.

Accredited Online Community Colleges in Maine

In higher education, accreditation serves as an official stamp of approval by a third-party agency, which is contracted to evaluate whether an institution meets the minimum requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). The U.S. DOE and Council for Higher Education Accreditation are not part of the institutional accreditation process. Instead, the two entities simply provide oversight of accrediting bodies.

The accreditation process entails an extensive review of an institution’s academic quality. In considering online colleges in Maine, be sure and research the accreditation status of any community college you are considering.

To learn more about accreditation and determine whether or not the institutions on your shortlist have earned accreditation, you can review our List of Online Colleges by Accreditation.

Popular Online Programs at Maine Community Colleges

The most popular online degree programs and topics at Maine community colleges include liberal studies, business administration and management, nursing, health care administration, and criminal justice.

Seven community colleges offer online liberal studies degree programs, six offer business administration and management programs, four offer online nursing programs and three offer health care administration and criminal justice degree programs.

Cost of Online Schools in Maine

The cost of pursuing a college degree is a key factor in the college decision-making process. Making a sound decision about where to attend college requires being an informed consumer.

In considering your options, it’s crucial that you thoroughly research tuition costs at each school. Students pursuing an online degree at any of Maine’s seven community colleges pay the same tuition.

The U.S. DOE provides the tuition rates at Maine community colleges from 2020-2021:

  • In-State (Maine) residents: $2,880 per year ($96 per credit hour)
  • Out-of-State students: $5,760 per year ($192 per credit hour)

In contrast, the average tuition across all community colleges in the U.S. is $141 per credit hour for in-state students and $339 per credit hour for non-residents, making online community college in Maine one of the most affordable options available.

Financial Aid for Online Students in Maine

There are a number of financial aid options available to online community college students in Maine. By completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will be considered for federal student aid, including different grants and student loans.

Similarly, by completing the FAFSA, Maine residents will also be considered for state grant programs offered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). Residents who are adult learners can qualify for the Maine State Grant Program for Adult Learners.

Students attending a Maine community college, who are also residents of New England states other than Maine, may qualify for reduced out-of-state tuition through the New England Board of Higher Education’s APPLE Program. This program provides qualified New England-area students with a tuition rate equal to 150% of the in-state tuition rate.

Is Community College Free in Maine?

Maine residents who graduate from high school in 2020, 2021, or 2022 can attend a Maine community college at no cost through the Free College Scholarship, which is made possible by the Maine Community College System (MCCS).

Certain residents may also qualify for The Tuition Waiver Program (Foster Care) or The Tuition Waiver Program (Public Servant), which are available to certain foster children and adopted children/wards of Maine and children or spouses of Maine firefighters, law enforcement officers, or emergency responders killed in the line of duty.

As an additional resource, MCSS maintains an online list of scholarship resources for students.

Employment Outlook for Community College Graduates in Maine

The Maine Department of Labor's Center for Workforce Research and Information projects more than ten different occupations to be in high demand by 2028. "High demand" is defined as an occupation projected to have 20 or more openings each year.

By 2028, the following occupations are projected to experience the greatest growth for individuals holding at least an associate degree:

In terms of the projected state growth of “high-wage, in-demand” jobs by 2028, the Department of Labor projects the following occupations to experience the greatest increase in the number of jobs available for individuals holding at least an associate degree:

  • Paralegals and legal assistants
  • Mechanical drifters
  • Dental hygienists
  • Engineering technicians
  • Radiologic technicians

To learn more about career opportunities, take a look at our Career Guide.

For a national look at which type of associate degrees lead to the highest paying jobs, visit our article that lists the associate degrees that typically lead to the highest salaries.

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