Dual Degree Program Maine’s Fastest and
Most Affordable Path to a College Diploma
Beginning in the Fall of 2015, students attending the Maine School of Science and Mathematics will be able to take advantage of the most comprehensive early-college pathway in Maine, potentially completing enough college-level coursework to earn an Associate’s degree in Liberal Studies from the University of Maine at Presque Isle in addition to a high school diploma. At $15 per credit hour, the 64-credit Associate’s degree could cost students and their families less than $1,000, a 93% savings over the traditional cost of a similar course load for Maine residents attending UMPI.
UMPI President Linda Schott and MSSM Executive Director Luke Shorty held a signing ceremony on Friday, Feb. 27, in UMPI’s Alumni Room, finalizing an articulation agreement that establishes Maine’s fastest and most affordable path to a college diploma. The dual-degree agreement will provide MSSM students with approximately 50 course equivalencies worth more than 150 college credits, providing some of Maine’s most promising students a first-of-its-kind head start at earning an affordable Bachelor’s degree.
“For nearly three years, students at MSSM have been able to earn college credit from our University for several of their high school courses because of the qualifications of their faculty and the academic rigor of their classes,” President Schott explained. “The dual degree agreement signed today expands upon this work and provides MSSM students with an unparalleled head start on college, a stronger pathway into a public university system that leads the nation in commitment to affordability, and an even greater potential to join Maine’s workforce as a STEM graduate.”
MSSM students will be able to take advantage of the expanded college credit and dual degree opportunities starting in Fall 2015.
“This is the next step in the ever important journey of meeting students where their ability is at and giving them proper credit and recognition for those who are achieving at the collegiate level and I’m excited to be taking this journey with the University of Maine at Presque Isle and the University of Maine System,” Luke Shorty, Executive Director of MSSM, said.
While there are many early college credit programs available in Maine, the impact and affordability of this agreement has captured the attention of state education officials.
“With the rising cost of college and the huge student debt burden our young people are facing, it is such great news that more Maine students will now have the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school, not only saving them money but giving them a great advantage over their peers,” Tom Desjardin, Acting Commissioner for the Maine Department of Education, said.
“The Dual Degree program between the University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Maine School of Science and Mathematics is an outstanding example of the kind of innovative thinking we must have to increase student opportunity,” said University of Maine System Chancellor James Page. “This creative partnership will result in more STEM graduates for the state with less loan indebtedness for some of our most promising students.”
This new articulation agreement was the result of a rigorous review of MSSM’s academic portfolio, including faculty qualifications, course syllabi and texts. More than 40 MSSM courses were deemed to be equivalent in content, rigor, and instructional credentials to UMPI courses and faculty qualifications, paving the way for the awarding of college credit. MSSM’s students who successfully complete Multivariable Calculus, for example, will receive college credit for its course equivalency at UMPI, Math 231.
Marsden Jacques, a sophomore at MSSM, sees the new agreement as very beneficial for his future: “It’s really exciting for me to be able to get a degree while still in high school. I’ve looked into courses outside of high school to take, but those are hard to balance while still in high school. Getting recognized at the college level for the hard work we’re putting into high school is really exciting to me,” he said.
Students who want to take advantage of the Associate’s degree opportunity will receive a degree plan that specifies the courses they need to take at each institution, with equivalent courses noted, to earn an Associate of Arts degree at UMPI and a diploma at MSSM.
“This is an invaluable and unique opportunity for both of our institutions. I think it’s really going to benefit the state of Maine by helping us to retain more young people,” Nancy Richardson, MSSM Academic Dean, said. “I’m really excited to see this come to fruition and look forward to watching it develop in the coming years.”
Officials noted that this agreement comes at an important time with the current national focus on higher education reform. According to Complete College America, only 19% of students across the U.S. complete a 4-year university degree within four years, and only 4% complete a 2-year degree within two years. In Maine, 64% of college students owe money coming out of college with an average indebtedness of nearly $30,000. That indebtedness can double if students don’t complete a degree in four years.
“Allowing students to graduate with an AA degree or its equivalent, and over two years’ worth of guaranteed, highest quality college coursework, is the most meaningful way to achieve affordable degree completion,” Ray Rice, UMPI Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, said. “Higher education should be a right for all students—not an increasingly expensive privilege. Our partnership with MSSM, one of the most outstanding high schools in this country, and a true leader in educational reform, is the single most meaningful step ever taken in Maine to accomplishing this goal. This truly is a game changer—for students, their families, and higher education itself.”
The Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) is a tuition-free, public, residential high school that enrolls students from across the state and serves over 600 students each year through its academic and summer offerings. Opened in 1995, the school provides high school students a rigorous, student-centered curriculum that emphasizes the connections between math, science, and humanities, and culminates in opportunities for authentic research. MSSM’s summer camps inspire Maine middle school students to explore their passions for science, math, engineering, and technology. MSSM also provides professional development opportunities for teachers throughout the state. In 2013, U.S. News and World Report ranked the Maine School of Science and Mathematics the best public high in New England. For more information about MSSM, please visit the school’s website at www.mssm.org or contact (207) 325-3303.
The University of Maine at Presque Isle is an institution of opportunity where every student has the ability to thrive and succeed. UMPI specializes in personalized, technologically innovative learning and access to real-world career experience. A low student-to-teacher ratio and class sizes of 30 students or less, even in introductory-level courses, ensure lots of one-on-one interaction for each student. An invested, highly-motivated team of faculty and staff adds to the family-like atmosphere on campus. Located in the heart of northern Maine, the University of Maine at Presque Isle was established in 1903 as a state teacher’s school. The University now offers a wide range of liberal arts and professional programs, as well as several programs that are offered completely online. UMPI is one of the seven universities within the University of Maine System. For more information about UMPI, please visit the school’s website at www.umpi.edu or call (207) 768-9532.