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What Makes Us Unique
College of the Atlantic's mission is to educate the people who will make a better world.
Founded in 1969 as an alternative to traditional liberal arts colleges, College of the Atlantic remains a different kind of place. Every college says that, of course — but the differences at COA are more pronounced and more profound.
We are a small college community of some 349 students and 41 faculty members, located on the ocean on spectacular Mount Desert Island, Maine. Although we are small, we cast a wide net. Around 13 percent of our students come from outside the US, we have students from every state in the U.S. except one, and options abound for our students to live and study in other places in the US and abroad.
At COA everyone is on a first-name basis, and it's impossible to fade into the woodwork. Classes are centered around discussion, debate and intensive one-on-one interaction among students and faculty. Other colleges talk about "inter-disciplinary"and "value-centered"studies, but we live them. COA has no departments and no formal majors, and offers only one undergraduate degree, a B.A. in human ecology. The degree is founded upon the premise that the complex problems and issues of modern society and the environment are not departmentalized — or compartmentalized. And neither is our education.
Since its founding the College of the Atlantic has been renowned for its environmental studies and marine science. It is also one of only a small number of colleges in this country dedicated to the teaching of natural history — a study of nature in its ecological and evolutionary context, with lots of outdoor, hands-on instruction. But COA is not just about science. Art and design, poetry and writing, history and politics, international studies: all integrated into COA's unique exploration of the relationship among humans and their environment. As its roster of outstanding graduates proves, COA teaches its students to understand the consequences of their actions and helps them gain the capacity to make future choices wisely, and to influence others to do so as well. COA practices what it preaches: it is a national leader in implementing sustainability policies and procedures.
One of the most important choices you will make in life is not where you go to college, but what sort of education you get while you're there. We are a different choice for those who want to make a difference with their lives.
What makes COA unique? See for yourself. Set up your campus visit today.