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Best Colleges in Oregon

College
by Adren Setian
June 9, 2023
10 min read
Award$25,124
Deadline7 days left to apply
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Oregon offers a number of vastly different colleges and universities throughout the state. There are top-ranked universities in Oregon with impressive academics, as well as flourishing student life, and other great qualities.

When faced with the number of colleges in Oregon, it can seem impossible to make a decision. You have to decide what is most important to you. Do you want to prioritize academics? Do you want to have a beautiful campus? Do you want programs similar to online colleges? Is a diverse student body more important? Are you passionate about athletics?

Whatever is most important to you, search for schools that reflect the values you care about and narrow your list down from there.

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Best Colleges in Oregon

University of Oregon

Location: Eugene, OR

Students enrolled: 16,400

Acceptance rate: 84%

University of Oregon is the number one public university in Oregon, and the school is a Tier 1 national public research university. The University of Oregon boasts nine schools and colleges, an 87.2% freshman retention rate, and a 17:1 student-faculty ratio.

Oregon State University

Location: Corvallis, OR

Students enrolled: 18,496

Acceptance rate: 82%

Oregon State University is an excellently rated public university, less than an hour away from the Pacific coast. Among its highly rated programs, it has the #2 forestry program in the world, #3 oceanography program in the world, #5 best online bachelor's degrees in the US, and #3 human development and family studies in the US. Oregon State University school has more research funding than any public university in Oregon and is among the large research universities in the area.

Pacific University Oregon

Location: Forest Grove, OR

Students enrolled: 1,687

Acceptance rate: 89%

Pacific University is a private school that is the No. 1 private research institute in the Pacific Northwest, as such it is one of the best Oregon colleges. The school has been named Best in the West, the best value school in Oregon, and the best school for Veterans.

Lewis & Clark College

Location: Portland, OR

Students enrolled: 1,812

Acceptance rate: 80%

Lewis & Clark College is a private liberal arts college. It boasts a 12:1 student-faculty ratio. 60% of Lewis & Clark College students complete some sort of study abroad program as part of their education. It is ranked in the Top 100 of Best National Liberal Arts Colleges.

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Best Community Colleges in Oregon

Linn-Benton Community College

Location: Albany, OR

Students enrolled: 2,153

Acceptance rate: 100%

Linn Benton Community College is one of the largest of Oregon's community colleges. It is a great choice for associate's degree programs or transferring to a four-year school, getting employment training, improving employment skills, and obtaining continuing education.

Portland Community College

Location: Portland, OR

Students enrolled: 8,886

Acceptance rate: 100%

Portland Community College offers 97 academic programs and 240 degrees and certificates. Forty-seven of these programs are intentionally designed to transfer to four-year colleges and universities.

Mt. Hood Community College

Location: Gresham, OR

Students enrolled: 2,405

Acceptance rate: 100%

Mt. Hood Community College serves students in the Gresham area. It offers many programs, including a dual enrollment program and fully online programs.

Best Colleges for Art in Oregon

Reed College

Location: Portland, OR

Students enrolled: 1,338

Acceptance rate: 39%

Reed College is a moderately competitive private university known for its unique conference-style classes and good student-faculty ratio. Reed College is one of the best colleges on the West Coast. The Art department at Reed College comprises both studio art and art history, but the two branches are united through the programs.

Pacific Northwest College of Art

Location: Portland, OR

Students enrolled: 413

Acceptance rate: 96%

Pacific Northwest College of Art at Willamette University offers 11 Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees, eight minors, and eight graduate programs. Prospective students can look forward to the school's emphasis on exploration and interdisciplinary work between departments.

University of Oregon

Location: Eugene, OR

Students enrolled: 16,400

Acceptance rate: 84%

University of Oregon is the number one public university in Oregon, and the school is a Tier 1 national public research university. It boasts nine schools and colleges, an 87.2% freshman retention rate, and a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The University of Oregon has an art program that includes core art courses along with the flexibility to pursue advanced coursework in areas of your interest.

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Best Colleges in Oregon for Teaching

University of Oregon

Location: Eugene, OR

Students enrolled: 16,400

Acceptance rate: 84%

University of Oregon is the number one public university in Oregon, and the school is a Tier 1 national public research university. It boasts nine schools and colleges, an 87.2% freshman retention rate, and a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Their college of education has the No. 3 special education graduate program in the nation, the No. 7 graduate school of education among public institutions, and the No. 14 graduate school of education in the nation.

George Fox University

Location: Newberg, OR

Students enrolled: 2,265

Acceptance rate: 91%

George Fox University is a top religious university in Oregon. It is ranked among the best national universities, the best in undergraduate teaching, and is the #1 Christian college in Oregon. Undergraduate applicants can choose between two undergraduate programs in the school's College of Education to earn a bachelor's degree that leads to an initial teaching license in Oregon.

Portland State University

Location: Portland, OR

Students enrolled: 12,752

Acceptance rate: 95%

Portland State University is a large public institution. It has been ranked one of the nation's most innovative universities and is located in downtown Portland. The school's College of Education has over 40 programs and four departments for students to choose from while seeking their degree.

Southern Oregon University

Location: Ashland, OR

Students enrolled: 2,811

Acceptance rate: 90%

Southern Oregon University is a small public university founded in 1872. Their education school offers two programs for prospective students, Early Childhood Development and Education Studies, along with minors and graduate degree programs.

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Best Engineering Colleges in Oregon

Oregon State University

Location: Corvallis, OR

Students enrolled: 18,496

Acceptance rate: 82%

Oregon State University is an excellently rated public institution. Among its highly rated programs, it has the #2 forestry program in the world, #3 oceanography program in the world, #5 best online bachelor's degrees in the US, and #3 human development and family studies in the US. Oregon State University has more research funding than any public university in Oregon. Their College of Engineering offers 30 unique programs of study through the undergraduate and graduate levels, including bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees.

University of Portland

Location: Portland, OR

Students enrolled: 3,456

Acceptance rate: 77%

University of Portland is a highly rated private institution. It is also a Catholic school. For 26 consecutive years, the school has earned a top 10 ranking for best universities in the Western United States. Their engineering program is a member of the National Academy of Engineering's Grand Challenge Scholars Program, which prepares students to solve 14 grand challenges of engineering.

George Fox University

Location: Newberg, OR

Students enrolled: 2,265

Acceptance rate: 91%

George Fox University is a top religious university in Oregon. It is ranked among the best national universities and best in undergraduate teaching and is the #1 Christian college in Oregon. Their engineering program is rated among the best undergraduate engineering programs, and 100% of engineering graduates have a job or are in graduate school within the first six months after graduation.

Oregon Institute of Technology

Location: Klamath Falls, OR

Students enrolled: 2,391

Acceptance rate: 95%

Oregon Institute of Technology is one of Oregon's top colleges. 96% of graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school, and employed students have a $60k yearly median salary. The school has a number of engineering programs that you can choose from.

Check out Bold.org’s Engineering Scholarships to launch you toward engineering excellence!

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Best Business Colleges in Oregon

Willamette University

Location: Salem, OR

Students enrolled: 1,201

Acceptance rate: 80%

Willamette University was the first university in the West when the westernmost state was Missouri, making it the oldest university in Oregon and located in the Oregon state capitol. In the modern day, Willamette University boasts over 50 undergraduate programs, along with alumni who have served in federal government roles, as state supreme court justices, and as a Nobel prize winner. Their business program emphasizes real-world experience and personalized career development.

University of Portland

Location: Portland, OR

Students enrolled: 3,456

Acceptance rate: 77%

University of Portland is a highly rated private institution. For 26 consecutive years, the school has earned a top 10 ranking for best universities in the Western United States. The business program has a Bloomberg Trading Room for students to use as they research stocks and financial data.

University of Oregon

Location: Eugene, OR

Students enrolled: 16,400

Acceptance rate: 84%

University of Oregon is the number one public university in Oregon, and the school is a Tier 1 national public research university. It boasts nine schools and colleges, an 87.2% freshman retention rate, and a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Their business college is ranked among the top 50 business programs in the nation and maintains a career services office exclusively for business students.

George Fox University

Location: Newberg, OR

Students enrolled: 2,265

Acceptance rate: 91%

George Fox University is a top religious university in Oregon. It is ranked among the best national universities and best in undergraduate teaching and is the #1 Christian college in Oregon. Their program includes a master's degree and doctoral degree programs in business administration.

Best Colleges for Criminal Justice in Oregon

Western Oregon University

Location: Monmouth, OR

Students enrolled: 3,421

Acceptance rate: 79%

Western Oregon University is among the excellent small public universities among Oregon's colleges. The school has highly rated online programs and is one of the best colleges for master's degree programs in Oregon. Their undergraduate degree program for criminal justice is one of the top five majors at the school and offers the opportunity for students to jumpstart their Master's degree while an undergrad.

Pacific University Oregon

Location: Forest Grove, OR

Students enrolled: 1,687

Acceptance rate: 89%

Pacific University is a private college that is the No. 1 private research institute in the Pacific Northwest. The school has been named Best in the West, the best value school in Oregon, and the best college for Veterans. Pacific University has a criminal justice program that provides quality education by offering students an interdisciplinary experience and encourages real-life experiences through internships.

Southern Oregon University

Location: Ashland, OR

Students enrolled: 2,811

Acceptance rate: 90%

Southern Oregon University is a small public university founded in 1872 and is one of the great colleges among Oregon colleges. This school's criminal justice program is one of the oldest in the nation, and many of its graduates work immediately after graduation.

Portland State University

Location: Portland, OR

Students enrolled: 12,752

Acceptance rate: 95%

Portland State University is one of the larger higher education institutions. It has been ranked one of the nation's most innovative universities and is one of the best universities in Oregon. Portland State University has both in-person and online options for its criminal justice degree for incoming students to choose from.

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Best Colleges for Nursing in Oregon

University of Portland

Location: Portland, OR

Students enrolled: 3,456

Acceptance rate: 77%

University of Portland is a highly rated private institution. It is also a Catholic school. For 26 consecutive years, the school has earned a top 10 ranking for best universities in the Western United States. Their nursing program offers a special financial aid opportunity in the form of the Providence Scholars Program.

George Fox University

Location: Newberg, OR

Students enrolled: 2,265

Acceptance rate: 91%

George Fox University is a top religious university in Oregon. It is ranked among the best national universities and best in undergraduate teaching and as the No. 1 Christian college in Oregon. Their nursing program ranks among the best undergraduate nursing programs in the nation.

Oregon Health & Science University

Location: Portland, OR

Students enrolled: 329

Acceptance rate: Not reported

Oregon Health & Science University is a small public school that is also Oregon's only public academic health center. It has been ranked the best hospital in Oregon and is in the national ranking for health care in six adult specialties and seven children's specialties and for education in six programs and ten specialties. Their nursing program includes online options.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Oregon Colleges

How much is college in Oregon?

The average annual in-state tuition to attend college in Oregon is approximately $7,200, and out-of-state tuition is $15,790 for undergraduate students. The costs of college can vary depending on the program, college, or university you attend. Check out How Much Does College Cost? to learn more!

How many community colleges are in Oregon?

Oregon has 17 community colleges. If you are interested in pursuing community college, look through Bold.org’s community college scholarships to alleviate college costs!

How to establish residency in Oregon for college

In order to establish residency in Oregon for tuition purposes, a college student must establish the following:

  1. Establish a domicile and predominant physical presence in Oregon for 12 months or more prior to the beginning of the school term.
  2. Financial dependence on an Oregon resident or financial independence.
  3. Primary purpose for being in Oregon other than to obtain an education.
  4. Nature and source of financial resources.
  5. Various other indicators of residency.

This list is not a comprehensive list of requirements, and official state websites should be consulted.

Visit Bold.org’s Scholarship Blog to learn more about application processes and tips for maximizing your scholarship awards!

Adren Setian

About Adren

Adren has always loved writing both fiction and nonfiction, always with the intention to help other people. At Bold.org, she loves being a specialist who works to help students reduce their student debt and make financially wise decisions about the future of their education. 

Past experience that informs Adren’s expertise includes working with the Education and Employment Team of Catholic Social Services Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services. Being a research assistant analyzing data for research projects at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Several years as the Assistant Manager of an Equine Education program where responsibilities included creating and developing curriculums. Time spent volunteering as the Vice President and Senior Graphic Designer for the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Psychology Club and Psi Chi Honor Society chapter with the goal of furthering students’ professional skills and knowledge of the field of Psychology and building a sense of community.

Adren would like to end her introduction with a land acknowledgement relevant to Anchorage, Alaska, her hometown and place of residence: “Dena'inaq ełnen'aq' gheshtnu ch'q'u yeshdu. (Dena'ina)” [I live and work on the land of the Dena’ina. (English)] — Translated by Joel Isaak and Sondra Stuart

Adren is no longer with the Bold.org Writing Team, but we continue to value and appreciate her contributions.

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