The University of Maine in Orono was founded in 1865 and opened its meager doors 3 years later to a 12 student first class. No longer a little agricultural/mechanical school, UMaine stands today as the “state’s premier public university”, both a land/sea-grant research university and a comprehensive higher education institution, it today attracts students from over 60 countries (including ours), with a student body in excess of 12,000 graduates and undergraduates.
Academically, UMaine has programs that run the table offered from its 7 schools/colleges (including a graduate school and one of the oldest Honors programs in the US), with 88 Bachelor, 64 Master’s, and 26 PhD degrees available. The 660 acre Orono campus (which is home to one of the larger green/sustainability initiatives in the country) is home to students studying everything from Psychology (numerous, recognized programs, including a unique developmental/clinical degree) to Business(at the largest business school in Maine).
Though last year saw a push in their online offerings with the commitment to develop 7 new Master’s program for distance learners, UMaine proper doesn’t offer too many entirely online degree programs, though there is enough variety of online classes to bring a flexible option to most tracts. Currently, there is a Master of Liberal Arts which can be achieved online with “careful planning and in close coordination with an advisor”, with specializations in multiple disciplines (some Orono campus visits may still be required, though). UM also offers an Elementary/Secondary Education Masters online, but it the offerings are growing every semester and should result in around 10 before the next decade.
For undergrads, the Bachelor of University Studies tracts is able to be completed through distance learning, with online classes taking the bulk of the workload depending on the amount of transferred credit (at least 18 acceptable credits must be taken before admittance). There are also online certificate offerings for graduates, undergrads, and post-baccalaureates, though few seem to be entirely through distance learning alone. All Continuing Education related programs utilize weekend/evening classes at both undergrad and graduate levels, ensuring access to any schedule.
Then there’s the Hutchinson Center, the Belfast, Maine outreach campus of UMaine that offers not only “state of the art facilities…[and a] wealth of invaluable resources”, but also offers additional online options, allowing Maine residents in that area to mix Internet, video streaming, and live education. Bringing flexible learning to those in parts of Maine that are inaccessible to UMaine in Orono, they have facilities to imitate the traditional experience properly and offer Bachelor and Master’s tracts (the B.U.S, two B.A.s, an RNtoBSN, a MS in Nursing, and two M.Eds), as well as education and graduate certifications.
University College is also sponsored at UMaine’s Hutchinson center, bringing even more distance degree options to the Hutchinson distance learners with ITV (interactive television) allowing students to audit Maine’s public university classes from Belfast’s facilities. University College also offers non-credit and credit online courses, bringing an additional flexibility to most degree programs at UMaine.
Aware of the burden of learning and working, UMaine has several programs designed to make the college experience easier for undergrads and graduate, while not sacrificing their legacy of fine educational programs, and look to improve even more in the future.