Frequently asked questions

Q: How much does it cost to participate in an RLE?

A: See our need to know page for a thorough description of costs, tuition waivers, and financial aid.

Q: After I submit my interest form, how soon will I be registered for the course?

A: We will send you a confirmation letter once we have begun processing your request. If you are a first-year student, someone from your academic major will let you know when you have a schedule for your entire fall semester courses, including your RLE. If we are unable to enroll you in an RLE, we will contact you directly. “No news” means that we are working diligently on it.

If you are a rising second-year student, you can sign up for any second-year RLE of your choice with open seats right now. The online form is meant only for first-year students. The MaineStreet course signup information is listed after each course description for fall courses. We will list this information here for our sophomore spring RLE offerings this fall. If you are a rising sophomore and have questions about how to sign up for courses, please contact your normal contact in your major for assistance.

Q: I see that I have to select my top 5 preferences. What’s the likelihood that I will get my first choice?

A: Each course section has a limited number of seats, so the earlier you submit your registration request the better your chances! If we can’t fit you into these five preferences, we will contact you and ask if you are interested in any of the courses that still have seats open.

Q: Can my financial aid cover the cost of the program fee?

A: Yes, this cost will be considered and there are additional opportunities for financial aid to cover the fee for those who qualify. For specific questions contact Katlyn Lemay in the Office of Student Financial Aid at 207.581.1330 or

Q: Where on campus will I live during the pre-semester week?

A: If you are living on campus during the fall, you will move into your dorm room early on Sunday, August 21st.  For most RLEs, you will live in the same room that will be your room for the upcoming year.  For those who don’t, it’s because you are traveling somewhere amazing (but you can still leave your stuff in your dorm room before you go)!

Q: Do I have to live on-campus if I live close to Orono or if I am a first-year commuter?

A: First year students are required to live on campus unless they request and are granted a waiver/exemption. If you have not yet requested an exemption to this requirement, email Andra Bowen, Director of Residence Life (  If you are granted a waiver, it applies to the summer week RLE program as well.  Second year RLEs do not have pre-semester programming, and should follow the regular move-in schedule.

Q: I have questions about the course. Can I email the instructor?

A: Instructor information is listed as part of the course information on the website. Most faculty, however, are engaged in travel and other scholarly activity during the summer and may not check their email prior to the end of August. For further assistance please contact us at or call 207.581.4848.

Q: Do I have to attend the activities the entire week before classes start?

A: All first-year RLE courses have a mandatory pre-semester program connected to the RLE fall semester course. The mandatory programs will occur the week before the fall semester begins. Unless you are engaged in another UMaine activity that week, the pre-semester program is required for participation in the fall course.  Sophomore level RLEs do not have pre-semester activities.

Q: I am an in-coming first-year student, but I have another UMaine activity during the week before classes.  May I still sign up for an RLE?

A: Yes!  If you participate in UMaine athletics, marching band, Maine Bound, or any other UMaine sponsored activity the week before classes begin, you may still sign up for many of our RLEs. You may not, however, sign up for any RLE which is designated as having a “tailored bridge week.” These courses with tailored pre-semester programs involve experiences that are critical to the rest of the course. Those RLEs not designated as “tailored” participate in our “Black Bear Bridge,” a week of cohort and mindset building to get you prepared for the semester academically and socially. You’ll receive some of this preparation regardless of what UMaine activity you are involved in the week before classes, so you are allowed to skip the Black Bear Bridge for another UMaine activity that week. Unfortunately, however, if you cannot participate in any UMaine activity the week before classes begin, you cannot participate in an RLE. But if you have plans with UMaine the week before classes, go ahead and select any of the courses without the “tailored bridge week” designator in the course descriptions!

Q: Is this a class where I will earn a letter grade? Can I take it Pass/Fail? Will it count toward my GPA?

A: Grading is set by the individual RLE instructors. Most students will earn a letter grade that will count toward their GPA, and for all students the credit will count toward the 120 minimum credits required by the university to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Q: Is taking an RLE required?

A: Participating in a research learning experience is not required for all UMaine students. Biochemistry, microbiology, and molecular and cellular biology majors are required to take our “Hunt for Viruses” experience (RLE 20: Phage Genomics). Some other majors (e.g., business, marine science, ecology and environmental science, honors) have designed RLEs that most or all of their students will take, but they are not required; and some of our RLEs (RLE 01, 02, 03, 05) fulfill a requirement for many of our majors. Regardless, all RLEs have been designed to give students skills that will make them more successful during their entire UMaine experience. See the course descriptions for more information.

Q: May I sign up for more than one RLE?

A: Unfortunately, you may only sign up for one RLE course. We are trying to offer this experience to as many students as possible, and many of our courses occur at the same time. We get it, though; we wish we could have a schedule with nothing but RLEs too. 

Q: Am I allowed to switch to a different RLE course in the fall (drop one and add a different one) during the August week or even during add/drop period?

A: Maybe. During the add/drop period (i.e., the first week of classes) you will be able to switch RLE sections if there are open seats. We do not anticipate many open seats, however. Speak with the office of your home major before the end of the first week of classes to get help with this.

Q: Who do I contact to ask another question?

A: Please contact us at or by phone at 207.581.4848.

Supported by a generous donation from the Harold Alfond Foundation as part of UMS TRANSFORMS.