CASTINE, Maine — Students who graduate from Maine Maritime Academy get good jobs, which is a big reason the school was recently ranked highest in the nation among public colleges and universities by Money Magazine.
The magazine used educational quality, affordability and alumni earnings provided by PayScale.com to measure each school’s success teaching students and preparing them for the workforce.
MMA, which ranked 12th overall out of the 665 private and public colleges listed by the economics-focused publication, was praised for giving students “lots of practical experience on training ships” and providing students with “a solid career path.”
Margaret Smith, a 2012 MMA graduate, said Monday that real-world projects assigned by her professors gave her meaningful business experience. For example, during her senior year, she helped create a business plan for a mining boot manufacturing company that was looking to expand its product to international markets.
Smith and her classmates researched whether the product would be successful in various countries and then made recommendations to the company’s president.
“It was real, so we really all did try our best,” she said.
Smith, of Bath, now works as a production planner and business process engineer at Sappi Paper, a job she accepted in February of her senior year. She was part of MMA’s international business and logistics program.
The school’s alumni earn an average of about $64,000 annually within five years of graduation, according to Money Magazine.
About 90 percent of MMA alumni get a job within 90 days of graduation, according to the college’s website. The school offers its nearly 1,000 students programs in engineering, management, science and transportation.
“As a small public college with many points of differentiation, we consistently strive to convey the value of the high-tech, hands-on education we provide,” said MMA President William Brennan in a press release. “Money’s rankings — taking into consideration quality, affordability and outcomes — help to tell that story.”
He went on to explain that 98 percent of MMA seniors who were surveyed said that the financial commitment required to attend the college was worth the investment.
MMA is among the 50 public, four-year institutions with the highest net price, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center. That database lists the annual cost to MMA students at $17,726.
The description of Maine Maritime Academy in Money Magazine did note that the school is not for everyone, given its focus on maritime fields. It also reported that the university’s student body is only 14 percent female and 97 percent white.
Money Magazine is one of several media outlets to get into the college ranking game. Last week, Forbes also released a list of top U.S. colleges using different metrics, which MMA did not make. The school was included in a list of colleges in the northeast in U.S. News and World Report where it was listed seventh among 47 ranked schools.
The other Maine schools to make Money Magazine’s list were Bowdoin College at 44, Colby College at 86, Bates College at 150, the University of Maine at 400 and the University of New England at 653.