For those who live in Oregon, many factors may be involved in determining which school might be the best one for your needs. It's probably hard to imagine — and a bit overwhelming — to think about independently researching all of Oregon's traditional and online options before making your college choice.
To help you narrow down your list of four-year schools, our data team gathered tons of information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and other U.S. Department of Education sources. We analyzed the NCES data using a 13-point methodology, including such quantitative metrics as the median student debt of their graduates, the depth of their academic catalog and their enrollment rate in distance education courses.
Student who are not quite ready to commit to a four-year school, and plan to start at a community college hoping to transfer to a four-year school after graduating with their associate degree, should look into the Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT) degree. The AAOT plan doesn't guarantee admission to Oregon universities, but it is designed to meet the full lower-division general education requirements of a bachelor's degree in the state.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Oregon
When comparing colleges in Oregon, consider more than whether they have the degree program you want. You'll also want to look for schools that help students graduate on time and stay out of debt. To find the best Oregon colleges, we ranked them based on 12 factors including student services, tuition, placement rates and availability of online programs. Explore the best Oregon community colleges, too.
Oregon State University wants its students to step "out there" to find solutions to today's pressing problems. The university prides itself on being an international research institution and one of only two land, sea, space and sun grant universities in the United States.
As one of the best colleges in Oregon, OSU draws students from across the globe to its top-ranked degree programs in fields such as forestry, oceanography, robotics and big data. Overall, there are 11 colleges at the school which cover everything from the liberal arts to veterinary science. Dozens of online degrees are available as well.
Founded in 1868, Oregon State University has grown to enroll more than 31,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year. Its main campus is in Corvallis.
As another of the top colleges in Oregon, the University of Oregon says it is in the constant pursuit of excellence. The accredited school has a strong retention rate, diverse student body and affordable tuition.
Within its nine schools and colleges, UO offers more than 300 degrees and certificates. Popular degree programs include business administration, journalism and economics. The university is one of only two Oregon schools to be accepted into the Association of American Universities and is considered a top national research institution. The faculty at the University of Oregon include Pulitzer Prize winners, Guggenheim Fellows and National Medal of Science recipients. Alumni include award winners, statesmen and entertainers.
The University of Oregon opened its doors in 1876. It has its main campus in Eugene.
Not all the top schools in Oregon are public institutions. The private University of Portland makes the list as well. The institution can trace its roots back to 1901 when it was founded by the Congregation of Holy Cross. The Catholic order guides the university even today.
There are five colleges and schools at the University of Portland. In addition to the College of Arts & Sciences, there are schools of business, education, engineering and nursing. All students, regardless of their major, complete a core curriculum of 13 classes designed to provide a foundation in the liberal arts.
As its name suggests, UP has its campus in Portland. Nicknamed "The Bluff" because of its location, the campus overlooks the Willamette River and hosts approximately 4,000 students each year.
George Fox University is another of the best schools in Oregon. The nationally recognized Christian university seeks to provide quality academics in a Christ-centered environment.
As the oldest Christian university in Oregon, George Fox University was founded in 1885 as the Pacific Friends Academy. President Herbert Hoover was an early alumni of the academy. Later, the school would be renamed for a founding leader of the Society of Friends, often referred to Quakers.
More than 4,000 students are enrolled in the dozens of degree programs offered at George Fox. While the school has its main campus in Newberg, there are also learning sites in Portland, Salem and Redmond. Plus, as one of the state's online colleges, there are a number of online programs for those who prefer online courses as well.
Known more commonly as Oregon Tech, the Oregon Institute of Technology takes a different approach to education. Unlike Oregon colleges that focus primarily on the liberal arts, Oregon Tech is all about practical, hands-on instruction.
Founded in 1947, the school is the only public institute of technology in the Pacific Northwest. While it originally offered only associate degrees, it has evolved into a four-year school that teaches some of the most cutting-edge technologies. Students can combine disciplines to create a personalized education in the fields of engineering, computer science and health.
Oregon Tech gets high marks for affordability and accessibility. It offers a robust catalog of online degrees as well as traditional degree programs at three sites throughout the state. Its residential campus is in Klamath Falls.
Pacific University claims its spot among the best universities in Oregon for having generous financial aid, a strong placement rate for graduates and a diverse catalog of degree options at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels.
At Pacific, students can choose from programs available through five academic colleges including a College of Optometry. Continuing education options are also available. To help students succeed, the school provides them with an advising team that includes a professional from the Advising Center, a faculty academic advisor and a career development adviser. Special services are also available for transfer students and first-generation students.
More than 3,800 students are enrolled at Pacific University. The school's main campus is in Forest Grove with other learning locations in Hillsboro, Eugene, Woodburn and Portland.
There is power in a small college, says Linfield College. The private, co-educational school enrolls approximately 1,600 students at its main campus in McMinnville in addition to those studying for online degrees and at its Portland location.
With dozens of degree programs, Linfield College is unique in that it focuses exclusively on undergraduate education. The school's four academic divisions all make use of the Linfield Curriculum. That approach to learning is designed to promote intellectual exploration, civic engagement and experimental learning.
Linfield College was chartered in 1858. Its accredited programs have been the starting point for alumni who have gone on to work in diverse occupations such as those of business and non-profit executives, sports professionals, educators and health workers.
Founded by the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod in 1905, the Concordia University System includes 10 campuses nationwide. The Portland location has since grown from humble roots to become one of the top Oregon universities.
Concordia is notable for several reasons, not the least of which is the challenging academic environment it strives to create. What's more, its students benefit from a low student-faculty ratio, study abroad opportunities and generous financial aid packages.
There are five colleges and schools at Concordia University - Portland, including a College of Education and a School of Law. The university notes more teachers earn their graduate degrees at Concordia than any other school in the Northwest. Through Concordia Online, there is also an opportunity to complete fully online degrees at a quicker than usual pace.
The words creative and unexpected are used by some to describe Lewis & Clark College. Although a private institution, the school says it has a public conscious and is working to create global thinkers and leaders.
Founded in 1867 as the Albany Collegiate Institute, the school was established by the Presbytery of Oregon. Today an independent institution, Lewis & Clark College has grown to include three schools: the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Law and the Graduate School of Education and Counseling. At the undergraduate level, there are dozens of majors and minors available as well as more than 30 overseas and off-campus programs.
On its Portland campus, students learn in an environment that promotes diversity, sustainability and community engagement. Small class sizes with personalized instruction are the norm.
Thanks to affordable tuition and a large degree catalog, Portland State University is another of the top universities in Oregon. The public research institution enrolls more than 27,000 students from diverse backgrounds to its accredited campus-based and online degree programs.
There are nine colleges and schools within PSU. They offer more than 200 degree programs in fields such as engineering, social work and the liberal arts. As an innovative school, Portland State University is the only Oregon university to offer a Four-Year Degree Guarantee. That promises participating students will graduate within four years or pay no additional tuition costs to finish their degree.
Portland State University was founded in 1946 as the Vanport Extension Center. It is now an urban research university located in the heart of Portland.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Oregon
Oregon students enroll in certain degree programs at much higher rates than others, which can tell you a few things about the average student body. Check out this list of the top majors in Oregon:
In-Demand Careers in Oregon
If you know which careers are likely to see the most growth over the next several years, you can plan your education to make the job search a little less stressful after graduation. Here's a list of the hottest careers in Oregon today.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Wind Turbine Service Technicians||69.8%||190||$60,000|
|Cartographers and Photogrammetrists||38.5%||360||$69,500|
|Physical Therapist Aides||36.4%||530||$29,950|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||35.4%||810||$59,910|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||35.3%||30,580||$28,740|
|Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters||34.8%||290||$41,050|
|Mechanical Door Repairers||34.7%||240||$41,880|
|Operations Research Analysts||33.6%||1,200||$90,340|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||32.6%||350||$63,270|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||32.3%||18,200||$104,260|
|Brickmasons and Blockmasons||32%||330||$61,250|
|Information Security Analysts||31.5%||1,020||$98,550|
|Structural Iron and Steel Workers||31.3%||950||$74,820|
|Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers||30.9%||80||$86,670|
|Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers||30.9%||2,540||$52,430|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||30.1%||3,640||$147,880|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||30.1%||500||$83,900|
|Hearing Aid Specialists||29.7%||160||$55,900|
|Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers||29.7%||2,180||$32,810|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Programmers||29.6%||690||$57,700|
|Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists||29.2%||30||$66,330|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||29.2%||7,650||$74,730|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Oregon
Certain financial aid programs may only be available to Oregon students:
- The Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG) is a state-funded, need-based grant program that serves nearly 40,000 students per year.
- Oregon Promise is a state grant that covers a significant portion of tuition for recent high school graduates and GED recipients who go on to attend Oregon community colleges.
- The Oregon office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) gives students access to more than 500 scholarship opportunities with a diverse set of criteria.
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- State of Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission
- Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion
- Oregon College Savings Plan
- Oregon Promise
- Oregon Opportunity Grant
To get our list of the best colleges, we ranked 1,383 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the following data points and the weights specified. In order to be included in the ranking, schools had to report data for each of the following data points:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- The average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduate students as a percentage of in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered on campus, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Programs of study that can be completed entirely on weekends or in the evening
- Remedial services
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Guaranteed tuition plan
- Tuition payment plan
- Any other alternative tuition plan
Note:Tuition prices are based on data for the 2016-17 academic year reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.
All of the National Center for Education Statistics data came from IPEDS:
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2015-16, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- Grants, Office of Student Access and Completion, Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, accessed May 13, 2017, https://oregonstudentaid.gov/grants.aspx
- About, Oregon State University, Accessed May 2018, https://oregonstate.edu/about
- About the UO, University of Oregon, Accessed May 2018, https://www.uoregon.edu/about
- UP Today, University of Portland, Accessed May 2018, https://www.up.edu/about/index.html
- History and Heritage, George Fox University, Accessed May 2018, https://www.georgefox.edu/about/history/index.html
- About, George Fox University, Accessed May 2018, https://www.georgefox.edu/about/index.html
- About Oregon Tech, Oregon Institute of Technology, Accessed May 2018, https://www.oit.edu/visitors-info/about
- About Pacific University, Pacific University, Accessed May 2018, https://www.pacificu.edu/about
- Linfield McMinnville Campus, Linfield College, Accessed May 2018, https://www.linfield.edu/arts-sciences.html
- About Concordia, Concordia University - Portland, Accessed May 2018, http://www.cu-portland.edu/about
- About Lewis & Clark, Lewis & Clark College, Accessed May 2018, https://www.lclark.edu/about/
- Portland State University History, Portland State University, Accessed May 2018, https://www.pdx.edu/portland-state-university-history
- About Portland State University, Portland State University, Accessed May 2018, https://www.pdx.edu/about-portland-state-university
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/