About COA

College of the Atlantic is a small, liberal arts college on Mount Desert Island, off the coast of Maine.  Founded in 1969, COA offers all students a shared focus: human ecology. How that focus is directed is up to each student. Whether observing whales from the college's research vessel, pursuing an independent photo-journalism project in the Yucatan, studying international treaties, converting a campus building to solar power, or volunteering on one of COA's organic farms, students at COA learn from experience both inside and outside the classroom.

At COA each student designs his or her own course of study in human ecology. Faculty at the College are passionate about teaching and relish interacting with their students, which allows students to pursue their interests with academic guidance and enthusiasm. With an advisor, students are encouraged to chart their educational journeys based on their individual goals and passions. 

Academics here are rigorous, with an approach to learning where students not only think, read, and write, but also create, act, and do. Studies here bring together perspectives from multiple disciplines to address issues facing our world. Academic pursuits will lead from classroom, studio, and laboratory to field, island, and community. COA students push themselves, expand their thinking, and explore new paradigms. 

The Atlantic Ocean is our front yard, and Acadia National Park is in our back yard. An inspiring and close-knit community, there is room at COA both for lively academic discussions and solitary contemplation. There are also opportunities to expand beyond the campus: more than half of COA students include international study in their curriculum, and 100% of our students complete an internship while they work toward their degree.

Students and faculty come to COA because they long to enhance the good in the world while discovering new ways to transmute the difficulties. If you like the idea of small, rigorous classes, ocean air, and an inspiring academic community, we encourage you to sign up for more information about COA.


The Parent Perspective

COA Video for Prospective Parents from College of the Atlantic on Vimeo.

Career Possibilities

COA students go on to careers in many fields. But at the end of the day, what sets them apart is that they care — and often find creative ways to express this caring.

Here are just a handful of examples:

  • Urs Riggenbach '12 Solar Fire Energy, designed local, renewable energy system for remote Nepalese school
  • Elena Piekut '09, Assistant City Planner at City of Ellsworth, Maine
  • Juan Hoffmaister '07, Loss & Damage Coordinator for the United Nation’s G-77, China
  • Scott Bishop '97 National Design Award-winning landscape designer
  • Amy Toensing '93 National Geographic photographer
  • Nell Newman '87, CEO, Newman’s Own Organics
  • Chellie Pingree '79, US Congresswoman from Maine
  • Scott Kraus '77, VP for Research, New England Aquarium


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