Co-Enrollment Program Streamlines Pathway to UMaine and Machias for Community College Students

April 18, 2024

BANGOR, Maine — On Thursday, April 18, the University of Maine (UMaine); its regional campus, the University of Maine at Machias (UMaine Machias); and the Maine Community College System (MCCS) signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize Black Bear Advantage, an innovative co-enrollment program that will benefit community college students statewide and ultimately grow the size and skill of the Maine workforce.

Black Bear Advantage creates a seamless pathway with minimal loss of community college credit for students transferring to UMaine or its regional campus, UMaine Machias, following the successful completion of an associate degree from a participating MCCS college.

“We are grateful for this partnership with the Maine Community College System, which promises to expand academic opportunities and enrich the futures of Maine students. This collaboration builds upon the solid educational foundations laid by community colleges, empowering students to broaden their horizons,” said UMaine President and Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “As Maine employers increasingly seek out individuals with a four-year degree, Black Bear Advantage comes at an advantageous time. This co-enrollment program will support the continuing development and growth of tomorrow’s innovators, problem solvers and leaders who will carry Maine into the future.”

Students who pursue the Black Bear Advantage will receive multiple benefits, including co-enrollment and a guaranteed next step to UMaine or UMaine Machias. While attending a participating MCCS college full time, students will take one in-person or online course at UMaine or UMaine Machias each semester to fulfill lower-level degree requirements for the specific degree program. These courses will be counted toward the participating MCCS college and UMaine or UMaine Machias degree programs. After successfully completing an associate degree, students can transfer to UMaine or UMaine Machias to complete their bachelor’s degree with minimal to no credit loss. This program will allow students to earn two degrees in four years.

“We know many of our students transfer to and thrive at UMaine. This new co-enrollment agreement puts community college students on the path to UMaine or UMaine Machias at the start of their academic experience, it welcomes community college students from across the state and it streamlines the path to transfer for them,” said MCCS Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Janet Sortor. “This unique partnership between the universities and Maine’s community colleges provides collaborative support and resources to students to help them achieve their goals.”

As part of the agreement, UMaine and UMaine Machias will also offer academic advising and transfer support, an accelerated transfer process, a waiver of application fees and priority registration. The agreement will also offer a co-enrollment scholarship of $2,000 when students transfer from a participating MCCS college following the successful completion of the associate degree and begin full-time studies.

The Black Bear Advantage program underscores our commitment to providing accessible pathways to higher education for students across Maine,” said UMaine Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost John Volin. “We are excited to work closely with Maine’s community colleges to empower students and facilitate their academic and career aspirations.”

The program’s initial phase will focus on degree programs with existing articulation agreements between participating MCCS colleges, UMaine and UMaine Machias. These programs encompass a wide range of disciplines, including business, engineering technology, education, social work and psychology.

Maine’s public universities and community colleges have a long tradition of working together. The two public systems are doing so now more closely than ever before given the needs of Maine students and employers and the institutions’ imperative to achieve efficiencies through partnership. There are now more than 180 formal articulation agreements that allow MCCS students to transfer into the University of Maine System (UMS) and have all their Maine community college credits count. The two public systems prioritize the development of these pathways based on state workforce needs and by identifying which UMS programs MCCS students most want.

For a complete list of the individual program articulations supported by the Black Bear Advantage program for each of the participating MCCS colleges, please visit the UMaine and UMaine Machias transfer agreement website.

About the Maine Community College System: Maine’s seven community colleges have the lowest tuition and fees in New England and serve more than 30,000 students a year through early college, short-term workforce training, associate degree, certificate, and advanced certificate programs.

About the University of Maine: As Maine’s only public research university and a Carnegie R1 top-tier research institution, the University of Maine advances learning and discovery through excellence and innovation. Founded in 1865 in Orono, UMaine is the state’s land, sea and space grant university with a regional campus at the University of Maine at Machias. Our students come from all over the world and work with faculty conducting fieldwork around the globe — from the North Atlantic to the Antarctic. Located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation with UMaine Machias located in the homeland of the Passamaquoddy Nation, UMaine’s statewide mission is to foster an environment that creates tomorrow’s leaders. As the state’s flagship institution, UMaine offers nearly 200 degree programs through which students can earn bachelor’s, master’s, professional master’s and doctoral degrees as well as graduate certificates. For more information about UMaine and UMaine Machias, visit and