Originally founded in 1969 by Catholic priest and peace activist Father James Gower, the College of the Atlantic is a premier senior private liberal arts institution focused on human ecology. Each year, COA enrolls around 364 full-time students at the bachelor’s and master’s level. COA is located on a beautiful 37-acre rural campus in Bar Harbor on Maine’s Mount Desert Island overlooking Frenchman Bay. Its campus also includes two organic farms, two off-shore research stations, and a protected wildlife area. All classes are seminar style with field-based and applied learning projects. The College of the Atlantic has a high freshman retention rate of 83 percent, which indicates student satisfaction.
According to the USNWR, the College of the Atlantic is ranked as the country’s 82nd best liberal arts college, 11th top value school, and 60th best school for veterans. Forbes magazine has crowned COA the 59th top college in the Northeast. Along with being placed in Princeton Review’s “Best 380 Colleges,” COA ranked 17th nationwide for best quality of life. With a commitment to ecological practices, the College of the Atlantic has been named Popular Mechanics’ #1 Greenest College in America. Washington Monthly magazine recognized COA for being the region’s 48th “Best Bang for the Buck.” COA is also one of just six colleges receiving the MacArthur “Genius” Award.
College of the Atlantic Accreditation Details
Reaffirmed in 2007, the College of the Atlantic is formally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). This is one of six regional accrediting bodies recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Accreditation by the NEASC applies to the institution as a whole and includes all degree programs.
College of the Atlantic Application Requirements
Listed as more selective with an acceptance rate of 71 percent, the College of the Atlantic has implemented several admissions criteria that must be met. First-year freshmen must hold an approved secondary diploma or GED equivalency. Applications will be reviewed holistically to evaluate each applicant’s intellectual potential and love of learning. Required grades aren’t posted, but admitted COA students have an average high school GPA of 3.68. Accepted applicants also earn an average score of 1813 on the SAT or 26 on the ACT. Incoming freshmen must show a desire to study in a small college community in human ecology.
Around 20 percent of COA’s student body consists of transfers. Undergraduate transfer students must have completed at least one full-time semester at another accredited college or university. A maximum of 18 COA credits can be transferred in. Students must be eligible for reenrollment at their formal school with good standing. Having a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 is mandatory. Graduate students must possess a four-year bachelor’s degree from a U.S. institution or foreign equivalent. Taking the GRE isn’t required, but holding an overall GPA of 3.0 is preferred. International students must score at least 550 (paper-based) or 80 (Internet-based) on the TOEFL.
Prior to the regular decision deadline on February 15th, interested students must apply to the College of the Atlantic by submitting these materials:
• Completed Common Application form
• Payment of the $50 fee
• At least two teacher recommendations
• School counselor recommendation
• Official transcripts for all academic work
• Standardized testing score reports
• Three short essay responses
Tuition and Financial Aid
Annually, full-time undergraduate students at the College of the Atlantic can expect to pay $41,535 in tuition. An additional $549 is charged for fees. Residential students will have to pay $6,000 for room and $3,432 for board each year. COA estimates that learners will spend $600 for textbooks and $1,080 for miscellaneous expenses annually, too. Overall, the total cost of attendance for undergraduates is around $53,196 each academic year. Graduate tuition is two-thirds the undergraduate rate. On average, graduate students are billed $26,631 in tuition and $549 in fees annually.
More than 94 percent of degree-seeking students at COA obtain financial assistances. After all, Princeton Review ranked it within the top 20 schools nationwide for financial aid. Students can borrow money via the Stafford, Perkins, Direct, or PLUS loans, but funding must be repaid following graduation. Some students may qualify for the Pell Grant, FSEOG Grant, TEACH Grant, or Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. In-state residents should apply for the NextGen Student Grant or Initial Matching Grant. Federal Work-Study (FWS) will offer tuition help in exchange for part-time employment. Veterans and military dependents are given education benefits. Scholarships are also abundant, such as the Presidential Scholarship, Children of Maine Teachers Scholarship, and Community College Scholarship.
Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and Acadia National Park, COA is the ideal location for students wishing to study ecology. Although all undergraduates earn a B.A. in Ecology, most distinguish their studies by choosing a self-designed focus area. Concentrations include Environmental Law & Politics, Marine Science, Sustainable Business, Climate Change & Energy, and Educational Studies. Students can take classes in everything from Art and Design to Math and Physics. There’s also a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) in Human Ecology program for graduates. The College of the Atlantic maintains a low student-faculty ratio of 10:1 for small class sizes and professor accessibility.
Students at COA gain plenty of hands-on experience before graduation. They can conduct ecological research at the university’s GIS Lab, Herbarium, Allied Whale, or The Hatchery. Many choose to study with conservation biologist John Anderson in the Islands Program at Mount Desert Rock. All COA students are required to complete a 450-hour, off-campus internship, too. The College of the Atlantic offers term-long study abroad programs to exotic locations, including the Yucatan Peninsula, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Denmark. On-campus housing includes six seaside estates. COA is perhaps best known for its award-winning food at the Blair Dining Hall and Sea Urchin Cafe.
There are 17 official student-run organizations offered at COA. Students of eclectic interests could join the Poetry Collective, Botany Club, Random Acts of Kindness Club, Good Film Club, or Council on Foreign Affairs. Although there aren’t any official sports teams, every student receives a full membership to the local YMCA. Classes are held for Zumba, basketball, water polo, badminton, and more. Each year, COA students enjoy a competitive canoe race to Bar Island and back. Other fun events include Fireside Fridays, Springtime Teatime, and Community Talent Show. The College of the Atlantic also has nearby access to over 120 miles of hiking trails.