- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2015-16, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed March 2, 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2014-15, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, accessed March 2, 2016, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- School pages, accessed May 22, 2017: Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer Degree, Lane Community College, https://www.lanecc.edu/sites/default/files/collegecatalog/aaot.pdf; Undergraduate Degrees Online, Oregon State University, http://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/online-degrees/undergraduate/; Online Degrees and Programs, Oregon Institute of Technology, http://www.oit.edu/online/degrees; About, Oregon Institute of Technology, http://www.oit.edu/visitors-info/about; Bachelor's Degree Completion Programs, Southern Oregon University, https://inside.sou.edu/distanceeducation/programs.html; Online Degree Search, Portland State University, https://www.pdx.edu/psu-online/online-degree-search?degree-type=15&topic=All; Online Programs & Degrees, Eastern Oregon University, https://www.eou.edu/online/programs/; About Reed, Reed College, http://www.reed.edu/about_reed/; About Multnomah, Multnomah University, http://www.multnomah.edu/about/; Adult Degree Majors, Northwest Christian University, http://www.nwcu.edu/adultdegree/majors/;
- Grants, Office of Student Access and Completion, Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, accessed May 13, 2017, https://oregonstudentaid.gov/grants.aspx
- Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
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
Here are the best traditional and online colleges in Oregon, according to the numbers. More details about the categories of data we used and how they were weighted to come up with the final rankings are available in the "methodology" section.
Our No. 1 school posted impressive numbers pretty much across the board, including on one of our more complex affordability metrics. Average net price is a measure of college affordability that subtracts the expected amount of institutional grant aid from the raw costs of college — tuition, fees, books, supplies, room and board and other necessities — to produce an out-of-pocket estimate. The University of Oregon placed among the top three most affordable schools statewide for the average net price paid by low-income students.
The University of Oregon also placed among the top two schools on our list for the size and variety of its academic degree catalog. Students graduated from the Eugene institution at the second-highest rate of any school in our top ten.
Oregon State University had the largest selection of on-campus degrees in the state, featuring around 40 more programs than the University of Oregon. OSU also was one of the top destinations for students looking to earn an online bachelor's degree in Oregon, thanks to a distance education degree catalog that was the No. 1 statewide in 2015-16 and contains more than 20 undergraduate degree options.
The Corvallis institution also earned high marks for its ability to keep students enrolled and engaged throughout their degree track. OSU ranked No. 2 in first-year student retention rate and No. 3 in graduation rate among the schools on our list. On top of all that, OSU took the No. 5 spot in the state for the manageable amount of student debt carried by its graduates in 2015.
Despite its stature as one of the smaller schools in the state by enrollment, Oregon Institute of Technology looms large in the world of distance education. It was a hotspot for online bachelor's degree programs in Oregon in 2015-16, posting a No. 3 ranking for the size of its online catalog and offering a total of 12 undergraduate degree and degree completion programs that can be completed entirely online.
Affordability was also a major reason this multi-campus university took the No. 3 overall ranking. Its average net price for low- and middle-income students came in at No. 6 and No. 5 statewide, respectively. On top of that, more than 87 percent of Oregon Tech alumni reported being able to pay off their student loan debt in three years or less after graduation.
Southern Oregon University put up strong affordability numbers, ranking No. 3 for its relatively low raw cost of tuition and fees and taking the No. 4 and No. 3 spots, respectively, for the average net price paid by low- and middle-income students. It also charged less for books and supplies than all other schools on our list but one.
Ensuring course access for as many students as possible is a priority at SOU. Not only does the Ashland school offer five online degree completion programs in education, business administration and criminal justice, but it also provides nine out of the ten on-campus flexibility metrics we included in this study. Students at SOU can earn degrees entirely on weekends and evenings, earn course credit for life experience and take advantage of placement services for graduates.
Students at this institution in Oregon's largest city paid the second-lowest raw cost of tuition and fees in the state, and that translated to some manageable overall out-of-pocket costs on average. Portland State University placed at No. 1 statewide in the average net price category for middle-income students, and just one other school in the state charged a lower average net price to economically disadvantaged residents.
The variety of available degree programs was also a bright spot for PSU, where students can choose from the state's third-largest on-campus academic catalog. What's more, if you're looking to earn an online bachelor's degree in Oregon, PSU has got you covered with distance education programs in English, social science, international studies, human resource management and more.
The lowest raw cost of tuition and fees in the state can be found at this small college in La Grande, where the average net price rankings for middle- and low-income students came in at No. 2 and No. 5 respectively. Eastern Oregon University was also one of the best online colleges in Oregon, reporting a list-leading distance education enrollment figure of more than 62 percent in fall 2015.
EOU's commitment to accommodating students in non-traditional circumstances extends to its campus-based degree programs as well. Weekend and evening programs are available at the Union County school, as well as credit for life experiences and remedial services for students who might need an academic refresher after spending some time out of school.
Western Oregon University put up some respectable numbers in multiple categories of our analysis, beginning with its No. 5 rank for raw affordability of tuition and fees. Its average net price figures placed at No. 7 and No. 6 statewide, respectively, and the 79 degree programs available on the Monmouth campus gave it the No. 5 spot among our top ten schools on that metric.
The distance education environment at WOU ranks it among the best online colleges in Oregon as well. It placed at No. 5 statewide for overall online enrollment and at No. 6 among schools on our list for its catalog of degree programs available in the virtual classroom.
The data breakdown for this private liberal arts college in Portland is a study in extremes. No other college in Oregon furnished its students with a higher percentage of institutional grant aid per dollar of tuition and fees than Reed College, and, at the same time, no other school in our survey had a higher raw cost of tuition. Reed had the No. 1 graduation and retention rates in the state, but it was the only college on our list to post a zero percent online enrollment rate.
The high institutional grant aid percentage at Reed likely contributed to another impressive statistic. Reed graduates left school with a median student debt burden of just $16,000, low enough for the No. 1 spot in Oregon and a place among the top 100 schools for manageable debt nationwide.
Multnomah University, a faith-based institution, stood out for the engaged and persistent nature of its students' paths from enrollment to graduation. Multnomah's first-year student retention rate ranked No. 3 among the schools on our list, and just three other institutions in our top ten posted higher graduation rates than this small Portland school.
Distance education enrollment at Multnomah was fairly robust as well, according to NCES numbers. More than 27 percent of students at the Portland school were taking at least some online courses as of fall 2017, ranking Multnomah at No. 8 statewide in that category.
Rounding out our list at No. 10 is another faith-based college with fewer than 1,000 students on its rolls. Northwest Christian University was one of the three best online colleges in Oregon by enrollment in 2015, reporting nearly 60 percent of its student body as taking some part of their coursework via distance education.
The delivery system for NCU's online study plans typically requires one night a week of in-person instruction, according to the website for the school's Adult Degree Program initiative. Students concerned about affordability are likely to find peace of mind that the state's second-lowest raw cost of books and supplies can be found at NCU, as well as a proportion of institutional grant aid that ranked No. 5 among schools on our list.
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|
|Physical Therapist Aides||54%||590||$28,920|
|Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners, All Other||51.6%||930||$82,870|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||43.8%||630||$56,380|
|Cartographers and Photogrammetrists||43.5%||480||$59,430|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||42.3%||230||$58,910|
|Operations Research Analysts||41.3%||1,100||$75,710|
|Computer and Information Research Scientists||39.8%||250||$154,220|
|Orthotists and Prosthetists||39.7%||80||$77,860|
|Helpers--Painters, Paperhangers, Plasterers, and Stucco Masons||37.6%||-||$24,790|
|Plasterers and Stucco Masons||36.1%||-||$44,490|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||35.6%||400||$45,830|
|Separating, Filtering, Clarifying, Precipitating, and Still Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders||35.1%||1,080||$37,050|
|Industrial Machinery Mechanics||33.8%||4,390||$55,900|
|Interpreters and Translators||33.7%||1,430||$41,610|
|Brickmasons and Blockmasons||33.6%||460||$50,160|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic||33.3%||680||$60,440|
|Home Health Aides||33.1%||5,900||$23,960|
|Tile and Marble Setters||31.1%||800||$43,510|
|Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic||30.6%||2,170||$40,000|
|Painters, Construction and Maintenance||30.5%||4,170||$36,040|
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