College of the Atlantic's Great Duck Island is rugged, beautiful place for students to observe, research, and create in a non-traditional classroom setting. Many students spend weeks on the island in the summer researching birds, botany, and much more.College of the Atlantic's Great Duck Island is rugged, beautiful place for students to observe, research, and create in a non-traditional classroom setting. Many students spend weeks on the island in the summer researching birds, botany, and much more.

COA’s pioneering, interdisciplinary curriculum earns it the #12 spot in the Most Innovative Schools list, a collection of “schools that the public should be watching because of the cutting-edge changes being made on their campuses,” U.S. News writes.

“I believe strongly that being innovative isn’t about chasing ‘the next greatest’ idea, but on focusing our innovations around what we do best and have been doing for nearly five decades—interdisciplinary, experiential education focused on addressing our planet’s most pernicious social and environmental issues,” said COA President Dr. Darron Collins ’92. “I’m especially excited COA was ranked alongside an excellent cohort of the country’s most innovative schools.”

Field research opportunities are abundant at College of the Atlantic. From trips into the rainforests of Costa Rica, to checking out frogs just next door in Acadia National Park, students get extensive hands on experience working outside in their natural environment.Field research opportunities are abundant at College of the Atlantic. From trips into the rainforests of Costa Rica, to checking out frogs just next door in Acadia National Park, students get extensive hands on experience working outside in their natural environment.

U.S. News’ Most Innovative Schools are compiled from surveys completed by college presidents, provosts, and admissions deans. The colleges on the list are noted for making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology, or facilities. Schools are ranked in descending order based on the number of nominations they received.

COA also ranks high as a 2019 Best Colleges Best Value School, coming in at #13. To calculate the country’s best value colleges, U.S. News takes into account a school’s academic quality and the net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal.

Focusing on academic excellence, the Best Colleges rankings evaluate schools on hundreds of data points using up to 16 measures of academic quality. U.S. News updated the Best Colleges methodology to further emphasize student outcomes, which hold the most weight at 35 percent – up from 30 percent last year. Through this update, U.S. News is measuring how well schools support low-income students through graduation.

College of the Atlantic is consistently within the top 100 national liberal arts colleges, coming in at #95 this year.

“A university is not successful if it does not graduate its students, which is why the Best Colleges rankings place the greatest value on outcomes, including graduation and retention rates,” said Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News. “By including social mobility indicators, U.S. News is further recognizing colleges that serve all of their students, regardless of economic status.”

Students use COA's boat Osprey to observe and learn about marine organisms and mammals in Frenchman's bay such as, seals, whales, porpoises, and gulls. Osprey is also used for bringing students to COA's two islands, Great Duck and Mount Desert Rock.Students use COA's boat Osprey to observe and learn about marine organisms and mammals in Frenchman's bay such as, seals, whales, porpoises, and gulls. Osprey is also used for bringing students to COA's two islands, Great Duck and Mount Desert Rock.

College of the Atlantic is premised on the belief that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is to enabling students to actively shape the future. COA is a leader in experiential learning and environmental stewardship, and was named the #1 Green College in the U.S. by The Princeton Review and the Sierra Club in 2016 and 2017. Every COA student designs their own major in human ecology—which integrates knowledge from across academic disciplines and seeks to understand and improve the relationships between humans and their natural, built, and social environments—and sets their own path toward a degree. Learn more at coa.edu.