SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Southern Maine Community College and the University of Southern Maine are announcing a new partnership that leaders at both schools say will boost Maine's tourism industry.
The two schools announced an agreement this morning that allows students who complete SMCC's hospitality management program to apply credits towards earning their bachelor's degree in tourism and hospitality at USM.
Students say the chance to earn their degree will give them a jump start on finding a job in such a competitive field, and officials who work in tourism say the joint program will help produce qualified and highly skilled graduates who understand the industry locally.
"It will be much easier to keep them here. We operate the Samoset Resort, we operate four hotels up in Bar Harbor, and being able to keep Maine natives here to take our leadership roles and management roles is really a great asset to our properties," Marriott at Sable Oaks General Manager Ed Palmer said.
Under the new agreement, students who graduate from SMCC's two-year associate degree program will be able to earn their bachelor's degree at U-S-M in an additional two years.