Why go to College in Oregon?
With its lush forests, picturesque mountains, quirky culture, and relatively mild climate, Oregon is an ideal place to attend college. From large research universities like the University of Oregon to private liberal arts schools like Reed College, Oregon offers a broad selection of programs to help you meet your higher education goals. Oregon also has a dynamic economic landscape — including the aptly named Silicon Forest — that offers numerous opportunities for college graduates to find well-paying jobs.
Oregon has an estimated population of just over 4 million, making it the 27th most populous state. The clear majority of residents live in the western part of the state between the Pacific Coast and Cascade Mountains.
The western portion of Oregon features a temperate, oceanic climate with mild summers and wet, cool winters. The eastern part of the state has a desert-like climate, with hot, dry summers and cold winters.
- Number of Higher Learning Institutions
There are 125 colleges and universities throughout Oregon. These include two-year and four-year schools, along with universities offering graduate-level programs. There are also numerous online colleges in Oregon, giving students the option to attend school completely off-campus.
- Sporting Events
Oregon is a great place for sports, especially at the collegiate level. The University of Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers represent their schools in dozens of sports. A local favorite is the Portland Timbers, a Major League Soccer team that packs Providence Park with each home game.
The state is known for its diverse, eclectic, and quirky culture, and that bleeds into its nightlife. Portland has been a launchpad for many well-known musicians and features live music venues including Mississippi Studios and the Waypost.
What Options are Available for Colleges in Oregon?
Whether you’re looking for a two- or four-year program, there are many institutions in Oregon that offer on-campus learning for students. These programs are perfect if you’re seeking a more traditional college experience with plenty of opportunities for peer and instruction interaction. Attending an on-campus program in Oregon will also work well if you prefer the structure of scheduled classes and enjoy the social aspects of student clubs, sports, and other activities.
Enrolling in one of the many reputable online colleges in Oregon offers both convenience and affordability. While some courses require you to take classes at prearranged times, other online formats give you the flexibility to complete coursework on your own schedule. Because online courses lack the structure of more traditional classrooms, students in these programs need to be more self-motivated and independent. If you have commitments outside school that make it more difficult to attend classes on campus, including work or family obligations, you might consider one of the many online schools in Oregon.
Many online colleges in Oregon offer hybrid programs that combine online and on-campus learning. These programs enable you to receive in-person instruction on concepts that are difficult to teach digitally, while still taking a good portion of your courses online. For example, many scientific and practical disciplines make use of labs and practicums that require students to attend on-campus sessions. Hybrid programs are good options for working professionals who require a greater level of flexibility as they pursue their degrees. In some cases, in-person classes can be taken in the evenings or on weekends, making them easier to attend if you work during the week.
Popular Degree Programs in Oregon
Oregon is known for its lush forests, pristine coastlines, and all-around natural beauty. It’s also home to a progressive culture that values both people and the environment. Perhaps it is little surprise, then, that the most popular majors at both on-campus and online schools in Oregon are forestry and psychology.
These programs, available through many online colleges in Oregon, prepare students to manage, sustain, and develop forests for ecological, economic, and recreational purposes. Common topics include mapping, harvesting, natural resource management, and public administration.
This field of study focuses on both individual and collective behaviors and the treatment of behavioral disorders. Research methods, principles of psychology, and psychological assessment methods are all common components of these programs.
Best Online Colleges in Oregon for 2017
Selecting the right college is one of the most important decisions someone can make on both a personal and professional level. To help make your search easier, we have compiled a list of the best online colleges in Oregon. The list serves as a comprehensive guide to help you find the school that meets your needs when it comes to higher education. Since schools vary in terms of curricula, tuition rates, program requirements, and online delivery platforms, this guide can take some of the stress and uncertainty out of your college search.
Corban UniversitySalem, OR
Admissions Rate 31%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 59%
Online Enrollment 12%
Founded as a Baptist school in Arizona, Corban University is now a small, private university in Salem. Named after the Hebrew expression for “a gift dedicated to God,” Corban offers online degree programs in business or psychology. Ranked high among online schools in Oregon, Corban distinguishes itself with small class sizes and Bible study requirements. Online students at Corban can complete elective, general education, and major courses all remotely. Tuition is the same for all online learners regardless of residency status. Applicants should have a high school GPA of 2.7 or a transfer GPA of 2.0. All students must have a professed faith in Jesus Christ. Corban features an archaeology museum with an extensive collection. The school’s Salem campus is marked by verdant conifers and more than 100 species of birds.
Concordia University-PortlandPortland, OR
Admissions Rate 51%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 48%
Online Enrollment 75%
Founded in 1905 as a college for educators, Concordia University - Portland is a private school associated with the Lutheran Church. CU is located in the Concordia neighborhood of Portland on a small 13-acre campus. The school offers three online bachelor’s degrees: early childhood education, healthcare administration, and homeland security and emergency preparedness. CU Portland also offers online master’s degrees in business or education and an online doctorate of education. Courses are taught asynchronously with a cohort model. Class sizes range from six to 18. CU has a relationship with Portland Community College for student transfers. The majority of CU students are online learners.
Oregon State UniversityCorvallis, OR
Admissions Rate 78%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 64%
Online Enrollment 17%
With more than 30,000 students, Oregon State University is the largest university in Oregon. Located in the college town of Corvallis, OSU is one of only two universities in the US to have a land grant, sea grant, sun grant, and space grant. In addition to being one of the top online colleges in Oregon, OSU is known for its environmental science facilities, including an earthquake engineering simulator for tsunami research. OSU offers 22 bachelor’s degrees online, including political science, Spanish, psychology, and fisheries and wildlife science. Online programs are taught through the school’s Ecampus. Tuition rates are the same for all online students regardless of residency. OSU is home many notable alumni including Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling and U-Haul founder Leonard Shoen.
Oregon Institute of TechnologyKlamath Falls, OR
Admissions Rate 57%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 46%
Online Enrollment 14%
The Oregon Institute of Technology was founded in in the 1940s to teach veterans vocational skills. Today, Oregon Tech is a public university specializing in applied science, health technology, engineering, and management. The only public polytechnical institution in the Northwestern US, Oregon Tech has several regional campuses in the state, including in Klamath and Wilsonville. Online students can complete undergraduate degrees or certificates in areas such as information technology or health informatics as well as graduate degrees in allied health or engineering. All applicants must submit transcripts. Transfer students must complete at least 45 credits through Oregon Tech.
University of OregonEugene, OR
Admissions Rate 74%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 88%
Graduation Rate 71%
Online Enrollment 1%
The University of Oregon is the flagship public research university in the Beaver State. Located in Eugene, UO provides education for nearly 25,000 students. The school is well known for its athletics programs, including the Ducks basketball team, a member of the PAC-12 Conference. With five colleges, seven professional schools, and more than 300 academic programs, UO offers students a wide range of educational options. UO provides a number of its classes online through Canvas learning platform. Tuition rates are much lower for in-state students. The university has produced many accomplished alumni, including 13 Pulitzer Prize winners and two nobel laureates. One of the best known graduates of UO is Nike founder Phil Knight, who still has a close relationship with the school.
Multnomah UniversityPortland, OR
Admissions Rate 59%
Default Rate 3%
Retention Rate 70%
Graduation Rate 55%
Online Enrollment 6%
Multnomah University is a private nondenominational Christian university. Located on a 17-acre campus in Portland, Multnomah is best known for its ministry and degree completion programs. Multnomah is connected to a number of ministries in Portland and other cities in Oregon. Online learners can earn a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology, business management, or theology. Multnomah offers multiple online seminary degrees, including a master’s of divinity and a master’s in Christian leadership. The school also offers an online master of arts in global development and justice. Online classes are taught through Canvas. Freshmen applicants should have a 2.5 minimum GPA to be considered. All online students pay the same tuition rates, with variants only between college and seminary credit prices. Adult learners with 48 transferable credits can enroll in the degree completion program.
George Fox UniversityNewberg, OR
Admissions Rate 77%
Default Rate 3%
Retention Rate 81%
Graduation Rate 70%
Online Enrollment 1%
George Fox University has quickly become known as one of the most religious online schools in Oregon. The private Christian university has nearly 4,000 students and is located in Newberg. Founded by Quakers in the 1880s, the school maintains the sect’s values, as well as a center for Quaker thought and a library collection on nonviolence. Students at George Fox can complete online or hybrid programs in management, education, and ministry. Most degrees at George Fox are face to face or hybrid. Among the school’s famous graduates are several businesspeople, authors, and athletes, including Richard Foster, Ken Carter, and Peggy Fowler. Former President Herbert Hoover attended the school briefly before enrolling at Stanford.
Linfield College-McMinnville CampusMcMinnville, OR
|Admissions Rate 84%||Default Rate 3%||Retention Rate 86%||Graduation Rate 63%||
Linfield College is a private liberal arts institution with campuses in McMinnville and Portland. Linfield offers six online degree programs in accounting, business, information systems, management, marketing, and nursing. The school also offers 14 unique online certificates, including in yoga, wine marketing, and coaching. Linfield is geared specifically toward older students. Students have the opportunity to take a tutorial in online learning through the school’s website prior to applying. Classes are delivered through Blackboard.
Warner Pacific CollegePortland, OR
|Default Rate 8%||Retention Rate 67%||Graduation Rate 50%||Online Enrollment 13%||
Located in southeast Portland, Warner Pacific College provides education for nontraditional students, including older students, parents, and working professionals. The private college was founded in the 1930s and is affiliated with the Church of God, a Christian denomination. The small college has four online degree programs in business, healthcare, and management. Applicants only need to submit their transcripts and fill out an application. Each potential student is assigned an enrollment counselor to help them through the application and orientation process. WPC features small class sizes, even for online students, and promotes Christ centered education. WPC’s campus is located at the bottom of Mount Tabor, a volcanic hill with a beautiful view.
Portland State UniversityPortland, OR
Admissions Rate 86%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 42%
Online Enrollment 6%
In the heart of Oregon’s most populous city, Portland State University is a large and diverse public research institution. The nearly 30,000 student university was founded after World War II for community education. The school now has community partnerships with a variety of businesses such as Intel, General Electric, and Portland public schools. PSU is one of the top online colleges in Oregon and offers a wide range of online degrees, mirroring the school's robust on campus academic catalog. Some of the online options include construction contracting, collaborative government, and the business of craft brewing. To apply, prospective freshmen should have a minimum 2.25 GPA and transfer students should have a minimum 2.00 GPA. Co-admission with a local community college is also possible. PSU has a strong sustainability effort on campus, including an ecology plaza and bike sharing for one of the best cycling cities in the US.
How We Ranked the Schools
To determine the best programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school’s commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online master’s in management information systems programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school’s ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category’s ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.
Education Trends in Oregon
Although Oregon’s state spending on postsecondary education is lower than the national average, a slightly greater percentage of its residents have received associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees. Thus, even while the state government may not prioritize the needs of students, Oregonians possess a demonstrable thirst for higher education. These numbers are detailed in the chart below:
|Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census|
|Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student||$4.788||$6,954|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||4.9%||5.8%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree||8.4%||8.1%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree||19.3%||18.5%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher||11.5%||11.2%|
Paying for College in Oregon
The price of attaining your degree will be an important factor when deciding between programs. When researching traditional and online schools in Oregon, you should understand that tuition rates can vary considerably from one institution to the next. The tuition rate for public four-year schools, for example, is generally higher than the rate for public two-year schools, and Oregon charges slightly more in tuition than the average U.S. state.
Below are average tuition rates for public two-year and four-year colleges and universities in Oregon compared to rates in the U.S. overall. Note that these numbers do not include other costs, such as transportation, books, technology, housing, and child care.
No matter where you attend college, be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). After completing the FAFSA, you may be offered grants, work-study awards, subsidized loans, and/or unsubsidized loans. Since they don’t have to be paid back, you should always accept grants and scholarships first, followed by work-study awards that allow you to take part-time jobs on campus. When it comes to loans, you should accept any subsidized loans first, as the government pays the interest on them while you’re attending college. Unsubsidized loans sometimes come with low interest rates, but interest will continue to build while you’re in school.
Cost of Living by Region
As you look at potential colleges, remember to consider cost of living in your search. Rent and other housing costs vary greatly depending on where you live. Attending school in an expensive market will add significantly to the cost of your education and may also limit career options after you graduate. The table below features average housing costs in Portland and Eugene compared to other cities in the western United States.
Cost for Online Programs in Oregon
In general, you will have access to the same financial aid benefits no matter whether you are enrolled in on-campus or online schools in Oregon. Online programs tend to charge about the same tuition rates as their on-campus counterparts, although you may be able to save money on fees, transportation, books, child care, and other costs associated with attending classes in person. Be sure to factor in all the costs of pursuing your degree, beyond just tuition.
Scholarships for Oregon College Students
- BBB Foundation Students of Integrity Scholarship
$10,000; must reside in Oregon and demonstrate and communicate ethics in the real world.
- Oregon Community Quarterback Scholarship
$10,000; must have demonstrated leadership while in high school and plan on attending an Oregon college or university.
- Pride Foundation Scholarship
$10,000; available to members of the LGBTQ community in Oregon.
- A. Victor Rosenfeld Scholarship
$10,000; must be an Oregon resident and employee of Calbag Metals.
- Oregon Space Grant Consortium Scholarship
$8,000; available to students with excellent academic records who plan on pursuing degrees in STEM-related fields.
- Cancer for College Henry Streuli Scholarship
$5,000; open to any cancer survivor enrolled in college. Students must be from Oregon, Idaho, Montana, or Washington.
- Henry & Joyce W. Sumid Scholarship
$5,000; must have minimum GPA of 3.0 and demonstrate financial need. Must also have an interest in studying theater arts.
- Education First Scholarship
$4,000; available to low-income high school seniors who are enrolling in a two-year or four-year institution. Preference is given to first-generation college students.
- NIADA Foundation Regional Scholarships (Region IV)
$3,500; must have a record of outstanding academic achievement and excellent scores on the ACT or SAT.
- Oregon Chafee Education and Training Grant
$3,500; must currently be in or were in foster care for at least six months after your 14th birthday.
- Sharon D. Banks Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship
$3,500; must have a GPA of at least 3.0 and be a woman who graduated from high school in Oregon or southwest Washington.
- WTS Leadership Legacy Scholarship for Graduates
$3,500; must have minimum GPA of 3.0. Open to all women who plan to go into a transportation-related field.
- Beat the Odds Scholarship
$2,500; three awards available to college-bound high school seniors in Oregon. Minimum GPA of 3.0 required.
- NSHSS Tesoro Youth Leadership Awards
$2,500; must have minimum GPA of 3.0 and demonstrate financial need.
- Oregon Opportunity Grant
$2,100; must be an Oregon resident and enrolled at least half-time as an undergraduate student.
- Alyce Marcus Scholarship
$1,000; must be a graduate of a Portland-area high school with a minimum GPA of 2.75. A one-page essay is also required of all applicants.
- Mike Hopper Memorial Scholarship
$1,000; must have minimum 2.0 GPA, be a resident of Umatilla County, Oregon, and be in pursuit of an agriculture-related degree.
- OSWILG/Harry S. Chandler Memorial Scholarship
$1,000; must be a resident of Clackamas, Clark, Columbia, Coos, Marion, Multnomah, Umatilla, or Washington counties in Oregon.
- Alice and Mason White Memorial Scholarship
Award amount varies; must have minimum GPA of 3.0 and demonstrate financial need.
- Oregon Ford ReStart Program Scholarship
Award amount varies; must be at least 25 years old and starting or returning to a post-secondary institution. Must also be a resident of Oregon and have a high school diploma or certificate.
Can all Scholarships be Used for Online Programs?
In most cases, you may use scholarship funds to pay for school expenses at any of the accredited online colleges in Oregon. However, some scholarships come with specific program requirements. Be sure to check with the organization awarding each scholarship to make sure you can use the funds to cover tuition or related expenses for your program.
Employment Outlook in Oregon
Oregon benefits from a healthy economy, with an unemployment rate that’s slightly lower than the U.S. average. The annual mean wage in the state is slightly higher than what workers earn in most other parts of the country. The state’s economy has also experienced notable growth in the healthcare, technology, and education sectors over the past several years. This makes Oregon a great place to earn a degree and land a job after you graduate.
|Source: BLS and BLS|
|Unemployment Rate, May 2017||4.1%||4.3%|
|Annual Mean Wage, May 2016||$49,710||$49,630|
Top Employers and Industries in Oregon
- Food services: The largest Oregon industry for employment includes restaurants, bars, breweries, and related businesses. These businesses employ thousands of cooks, servers, bartenders, delivery drivers, managers, and caterers.
- Administrative and support services: This sector includes executive assistants, receptionists, office clerks, laborers, and security guards. These jobs typically require a high school diploma or associate degree.
- Health services: Health care is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the United States. It represents more than 55,000 jobs in Oregon alone. Health services includes primary care physicians, surgeons, nurses, psychiatrists, along with thousands of support staff.
Source: Oregon Blue Book
Top Employers in Oregon
- Oregon Disaster Medical Team: 10,000 employees
- Oregon State University: 8,000 employees
- OHSU Hospital: 6,738 employees
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
Accreditation for Colleges in Oregon
As you look at different online colleges in Oregon, one thing to be aware of is the importance of accreditation. When a school is accredited, it means it has met stringent standards for academic quality. There are two main types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation is generally considered more desirable, and schools must meet rigorous standards to achieve it. National accreditation usually applies to vocational and technical schools.
In general, there are no differences in accreditation for online programs versus more traditional on-campus options. To be sure a school is properly accredited, be sure to check that the school is listed with the Council on Higher Education Accreditation, which oversees regional accreditation bodies in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education. For online schools in Oregon, you should look for accreditation through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Resources for Students in Oregon
- Office of Student Access and Completion: This state-based program helps students find the right higher education options for them, while also delivering various financial aid resources that help them complete their degrees.
- TRiO Support Services: Many colleges and universities in Oregon offer TRiO, which provides resources to help students stay enrolled. The goal of the program is to increase retention and graduation rates while helping underrepresented students achieve their higher education goals.
- College Housing Northwest: A nonprofit property management organization, CHNW offers affordable housing options for students attending various colleges and universities throughout Oregon. It currently has properties available to college students in Portland and Corvallis, with more locations under development.
- College Possible: The Portland chapter of College Possible helps low-income individuals apply for and secure admission to Oregon colleges and universities. Each year, the nonprofit organization serves more than 470 high school and nearly 300 college students across the state. A majority of these students are people of color.
- College Horizons: This national nonprofit partners with colleges and universities, including several in Oregon, to help Native American students apply for and enroll in school. The organization also connects students with various scholarship opportunities to help them pay for college.
- Minds Matter Portland: This nonprofit organization helps low-income high school students succeed in college and beyond. Among its support services are assistance with college and financial aid applications.