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An aerial view of Unity Environmental University's campus at Pineland.

Unity Environmental University Named Maine’s Largest University

University Ranks #1 in 2023 Social Mobility Index Report


Unity Environmental University has been recognized as Maine’s largest university, enrolling over 7,500 students from all 50 states, U.S. territories, and 21 countries. This milestone reflects the institution’s innovative approach to education and commitment to affordability and accessibility.

This significant growth can be attributed to the University’s strategic pivot towards online education, which began in 2016 with the introduction of Unity Environmental University Distance Education. Since then, Unity has continuously expanded its programmatic offerings, particularly in environmental programs, addressing the growing interest and urgency around environmental sustainability. At the same time, the University also designed a system of more flexible terms, which has meant a substantial decrease in the amount of debt our students take out – even while the number of Unity learners continues to rise.

This infographic shows the increase of diversity and first-generation leaners at Unity.

As tuition continues to increase across higher education, access to specific minority demographic populations continues to drop. Recently, the 2023 Social Mobility Index ranked Unity Environmental University first in Maine and top 15% of out 1,200 schools evaluated nationwide.

“By minimizing our students’ reliance on private loans, which often lack flexibility and can create long-term financial challenges, we are not just educating them; we are investing in their future,” said President Melik Peter Khoury. “Last year our students received $37 million dollars in aid, with only 3% of that coming in the form of private loans.”

This expansion into online learning underscores Unity’s success in making quality environmental-based education accessible to a diverse student body, the University’s self-identified multicultural student population has risen from a 50-year average of 8% to now 25%. This includes our rapidly growing Hispanic/Latino population which now represents about 6% of all Unity learners.

Quote about living close to home for college by Reinna, a Unity grad.

“Our team works tirelessly to support access to education for students with diverse backgrounds and experiences,” said Executive Vice President of Distance Education, Denise Young. “Unity’s sustainability focus resonates with a global audience and the significant growth in online learning opportunities has been instrumental for us in reaching individuals who cannot or choose not to put their lives on hold in the pursuit of a degree.”

An impressive 31% of our learners are first-generation college students, like Rienna Peak, who is earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Health and Behavior at Unity Distance Education, “I never wanted to move out of state to go to college, I’m very close to my family so Distance Education is perfect.”

A visual of a quote from John V., a recent Unity graduate.

With 90% of students starting their careers before graduation, Unity ensures they are equipped with the necessary tools to be successful as lifelong learners. John Vigneau, a recent master’s degree graduate, now a Teacher of Ecology and Life Science, shared, “My degree from Unity Environmental University has led to various opportunities, including photography publications and innovative studies in alpine geo-morphologies in Western Europe and the United States.”

Whether it be through online, low-residency, or expeditionary learning, Unity Environmental University is on track to serve over 10,000 learners by 2025, continuing our commitment to providing accessible, high-quality education in environmental studies.