Need to know


This fall, at the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias, there is a Research Learning Experience (RLE) for everyone, whether you like to solve problems, build sculptures, or spend time in the Maine outdoors.

Sign up runs from June 1 until July 15.  Seats fill quickly!

For Incoming First-year Students, each RLE consists of two components:

  • The week before the start of regular classes, where students will participate in a “bridge week” (see below), and 
  • The fall semester, where students will engage with the theme of their chosen RLE in a graded course.

Sophomore-level RLEs do not have a bridge week component, may occur in either the fall or spring terms, and some include extended travel outside of the regular semester.

Bridge Week – First-year Students in RLEs arrive on campus a week before everyone else to move-in (Sunday, August 21st). You’ll then spend that week laying a foundation for success in your first semester.  This “bridge week” takes two forms, depending on which RLE you sign up for.  You may:

  1. Join with students from many different RLE courses for our “Black Bear Bridge” experience, where you’ll learn the basics of a “research mindset,” hear from students and faculty about the many opportunities on campus, get to know all the ways UMaine is here to support you in your first semester, and spend the evenings getting to meet new friends during a variety of fun social events.
  2. Start exploring the theme of your fall course with an “RLE Bridge” experience.  For these courses, you will begin working with your fall RLE instructor right away and get to know the students you will work with throughout the fall and develop the skills that will be important for the rest of your course.  Some of these experiences include overnight travel to off-campus locations.  See the course details page for more information.


First-year Students pay no more for this enhanced experience than they would for any course with a similar number of credits, and some students will pay less.  To cover the costs of the bridge experience without raising the cost for you, you will see the following two items on your bill:

  • A waiver worth one credit of tuition ($388 – $1493, depending on the type of student)
  • A flat fee of $388 (regardless of the type of student)

Sophomore Students will still receive the one credit tuition waiver, but will not be assessed a fee for their RLE unless they enroll in one of our travel courses.  Travel courses each have a unique fee associated with the costs of the particular travel involved.  Reach out to the course instructor to learn more.

Financial Aid is available for RLEs for those who qualify. Don’t let the costs prevent you from participating! Contact Katlyn Lemay in the Office of Student Financial Aid at 207.581.1330 or to see how we can find a way to make RLEs an important part of the start of your college experience.

Contact Us

If you have more questions about RLEs call 207.581.4848 or email

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