Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Maine
Anyone who wants to become a registered nurse (RN) has two pathways to earning their license: an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN or ASN) or a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN). Both satisfy Maine's requirements for licensure and qualify students for the NCLEX-RN, the standardized test for nurses.
While an associate degree is easier to earn, many hospitals are pushing for nurses to have at least a BSN. What's more, BSN holders earn a much higher average salary than RNs with an associate degree.
Regardless of which you choose, any prospective nurse in Maine should start their career with a degree and become an RN.
This is a panel-reviewed selection based on a number of factors including,
- NCLEX pass rate
- Acceptance rate, when available
- Only ACEN or CCNE accredited schools are eligible
Our selection panel includes 4 Registered Nurses with over 55 years of combined nursing experience and 7 nursing degrees.
- Tracy Everhart, MSN, RN, CNS
- Tyler Faust, MSN, RN
- Kathleen Gaines, BSN, RN, BA, CBC
- Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN
Because nursing careers take different forms, the top 10 Maine nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.
Top 10 Nursing Schools in Maine
Annual Tuition: $18,985 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 88.89%
Based out of the busy area of Bangor, Husson University combines over 100 years of experience in traditional education with experiential learning, letting students use previous experience to work toward their degrees. The nursing program is offered through a partnership with Eastern Maine Medical Center, though degrees earned are still through Husson University. Undergraduate students take the BSN, while graduate students can select either a family nurse practitioner program (with an MSN and post master's certificate option) or a mental health nurse practitioner program. All students pay the same tuition rate, making this a good option for out-of-state students.
Annual In-State Tuition: $8,475 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $12,885 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 93.28%
The University of Maine at Fort Kent is based near the Canadian border in St. John Valley. This prime location is perfect for students that enjoy exploring the great outdoors and mountain views. Of course, nursing students will spend a decent amount of their time working toward their degree. Home to the second-largest undergraduate nursing program in Maine, UMFK has three BSN options: a traditional BSN, an accelerated second degree BSN, and an online RN-BSN. Recent graduates did very well on the NCLEX, with 111 of the 119 graduates in 2019 passing the NCLEX on their first try.
Annual In-State Tuition: $9,900 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $23,640 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 89.04%
Spread across three campuses in Portland, Gorham, and Lewiston, the University of Southern Maine is one of the largest institutions of higher education in the state. As a result, USM also graduated the most BSN students in Maine. The traditional BSN program prepares students to take the NCLEX and to begin one of the many graduate nursing programs offered by USM. Other undergraduate options include an online RN-BSN and an accelerated second degree BSN. Nurses who already have an RN license in Maine can also choose the RN Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) program.
Annual Tuition: $38,820 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.35%
Saint Joseph's College of Maine is a private, Catholic liberal arts college based in Standish. Founded over 100 years ago by the Sisters of Mercy, Saint Joseph's currently teaches just 3,500 students, only 1,000 of whom study on campus. Online studies make up a large part of Saint Joseph's programs, including the nursing school. Two of the three nursing options -- the MSN and the RN-BSN -- are offered online, while only the traditional BSN is available on campus. The small size of the BSN might play a role in student success, as the vast majority of graduates passed the NCLEX on their first try in 2019.
Annual Tuition: $10,080 (based on per-credit tuition rate) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 88.64%
Usually, global campuses don't offer on-campus programs. However, Purdue University Global has two locations in Maine, and nursing students can enroll in the ASN program. The ASN offers accelerated, 10-week courses and has a good NCLEX pass rate for grads. If your goal is to earn a BSN, Purdue Global counts some of the ASN credits toward an online or on-campus RN-BSN. All undergraduate programs in New Hampshire have the same per-credit tuition rate ($315), so students can easily budget for whichever degree they plan on earning.
Annual In-State Tuition: $6,045 (based on per-credit tuition rate) | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $16,887 (based on per-credit tuition rate) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.31%
The University of Maine at Orono, better known simply as the University of Maine, is the premier public research university in the state. Ranked as one of the greenest colleges by The Princeton Review, the nearly 10,000 undergraduate students enjoy a location near nature. The University of Maine also started the state's first nursing program back in 1939 with what's now the traditional BSN. The four-year BSN also has an honors program option for students who earn admission into the honors college. Tuition is charged per-credit and outcomes for the undergraduate program are excellent.
Annual Tuition: $38,750 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.97%
The University of New England is Maine's largest private school. While students won't have access to in-state tuition since UNE is a private school, the average student receives $26,000 in financial aid. UNE is also the top provider of healthcare professionals in Maine, meaning graduates of the nursing program could have a relatively easy path to their first job. Nursing students choose between a BSN and an accelerated second degree BSN. The BSN program is among the largest in the state, and 96 of 99 undergraduate students in 2019 passed the NCLEX on their first try.
Annual In-State Tuition: $3,784 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $6,604 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.55%
Central Maine Community College offers a variety of 1-2 year degrees that lead to high-growth and high-paying jobs. As a community college, CMCC doesn't offer any four-year degrees, so no BSN is available. However, CMCC has an excellent ASN program that's only gotten better over the past few years. This program takes less than two years to complete and leads to RN licensure in Maine. Also, students can always earn a BSN through an online RN-BSN through another Maine school.
Annual In-State Tuition: $3,820 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $6,640 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.31%
With roughly 6,000 students, Southern Maine Community College looks a lot more like a small university than a two-year community college. SMCC has two main campuses located in Portland and Midcoast, plus various satellite campuses across the southern part of the state. The associate nursing program leads to RN licensure and offers an upgrade option for current licensed practical nurses (LPNs). SMCC estimates that the associate program takes just over four semesters to complete, but students studying full-time and year-round can complete this program in under two years.
ADN Program Tuition: $28,551 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 82.09%
As the name implies, the Maine College of Health Professionals offers degrees that lead to high-growth healthcare positions. MCHP boasts a 100% job placement rate for all recent grads. Students interested in nursing can enroll in the associate nursing program which leads to RN licensure. After, if students want a BSN, they can enroll in MCHP's online RN-BSN. The path to a BSN isn't traditional, but students can complete all their education through MCHP.
4 Key Factors That Affect Nursing School Tuition
Keep in mind that colleges and universities reserve the right to change tuition rates at any time. The yearly tuition rates listed here will vary for each student depending on various factors including,
- Transfer credits
- Completed competency exams
- Amount of credits taken per year
- Financial aid awards
Check with the specific school for current tuition rates.
Nurse Salary and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),
- Maine nurses earn an annual mean wage of $67,610, which is lower than the national average of $75,510.
- Maine employs 14,460 RNs, a high number relative to the population.
While Maine pays a lower than average salary to RNs, the cost of living in Maine is lower than the national average. Where you work in Maine also impacts your potential income. Here are mean salaries for a few regions in Maine:
- Northeast Maine: $61,240
- Bangor: $73,740
- Southwest Maine: $65,220
The BLS also reports that Maine's location quotient is 1.17, meaning Maine employs more nurses for 1,000 workers than the national average. Maine also employs more nurses than nearby New Hampshire and Vermont, too.
Once you've looked over the best nursing schools in Maine, you'll want to create a list of the nursing schools you'd like to apply to. But before you send in any applications, you should take the following steps:
Contact each school’s admissions office. Every school has an admissions office that helps applicants through the admissions process. Get in touch with each admissions office to determine everything you'll need for the application.
Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. Nursing schools usually have stricter requirements than the colleges they're a part of, so make sure you meet the requirements for both the college and the nursing school.
Submit your application(s). Once you've determined everything you need for your application, the final step is to gather your materials and send in each app. Make sure you submit your application before the deadline!
On your application, you'll likely be required to submit:
- High school transcript (GPA)
- ACT and/or SAT scores
- College entrance essay(s)
- Letter(s) of recommendation
Important considerations when comparing schools:
Each school offers different benefits, so choosing the "best" school isn't as easy as it sounds. While one school may have a low tuition rate, another could have excellent career outcomes. So, compare each school and determine which is the best for your personal situation.
When comparing schools, take into consideration things like:
- Total program cost, including in-state or out-of-state tuition and fees
- Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered
- Cost of living on-campus or in the area
- School and nursing program acceptance rate
- Difficulty of the program
- Commute to school/hospital for clinicals
- Program outcomes (NCLEX pass rate and job placement)
- Accreditation (regional and programmatic)
Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation
Accrediting bodies verify the academic quality of schools and programs. In Maine, make sure that any school you apply to is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. Also, only apply to nursing programs that have programmatic accreditation.
The two nursing accreditation organizations to look for are:
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
If you earn a degree from an unaccredited school, you may have trouble securing federal financial aid and finding work as a nurse after graduation.
Getting a License in Maine
As a part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), an RN license earned in Maine easily transfers to other eNLC member states, and vice versa. eNLC membership also means that Maine has a relatively standardized approach to RN licensure.
To get a license in Maine, you'll need to:
- Study at a state-approved nursing school
- Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
- Pass a criminal background check and submit fingerprints
- Apply through the Maine Board of Nursing.
While Maine isn't the largest or highest-paying state for RNs, it does employ more nurses than its two closest New England Neighbors. Most programs have a BSN option, though associate degrees tend to be less expensive and take less time. Also, an RN without a BSN can always complete an online RN-BSN program. Once nurses earn their RN license, they're free to work anywhere in Maine and can easily work in any other eNLC member state.