Oregon State is one of the most democratic states in the nation, having voted for the democratic party every year since 1988. On the contrary, geographically speaking Oregon is an incredibly diverse state: bordered to the west by beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline with high deserts sprawling to the Great Basin, Volcano-studded cascades surrounded by countless waterways, and seemingly endless evergreen forests (or deciduous forests at lower altitudes). With nearly half of the state covered in forest it is no surprise that Oregon is renowned for outdoor adventures, agriculture, and its massive populations of diverse wildlife. Students in Oregon can expect a unique atmosphere where the land is dominated mostly by the great outdoors with several booming, one-of-a-kind metropolises such as Portland and the state’s capital, Salem. With nearly half of the state covered in forests, home to “Oregon’s Seven Wonders,” the state’s seven most incredible and unique wilderness adventures, Oregon is likely the perfect state for students who love the outdoors.
While one of the most notable perks of online education is the ability to complete schooling from anywhere, Oregon offers a number of reasons for both residents and prospective out-of-state students to seek online education within its borders. For instance, in-state tuition is often applied to public schools that offer online programs. Also, many online programs require some face-to-face time, or more numerous support services at their brick and mortar locations. Intensive study experiences — often on the weekends or in several week long bouts — enable many online students to accelerate their time until graduation and reduce overall tuition costs. And a factor that can often make the most impact is that students seeking online education can drastically expand their educational options if they also look to hybrid degrees (degrees where coursework is completed partially online with required courses or events on campus). Finally, one of the most common stipulations in scholarships is that students be from a certain state or region, and so often more funds are available to students seeking degrees in-state.
Featured Online Schools
Top Public Offerings in Oregon
There are four major online public universities in Oregon: Oregon State University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University-Cascades Campus, and Western Oregon University. Oregon’s public online degree programs are mainly offered at the undergraduate level with a smaller number of online graduate programs available. Together these four schools offer a total of 87 online bachelor’s degrees and 12 master’s degrees. When discussing Oregon’s public universities, however, a special emphasis must be placed on Oregon State University (OSU), which offers nearly half of the online degrees mentioned and receives more research funding than all of Oregon’s other public education institutions combined. As the state’s online land-grant institution it offers one the country’s most beautiful campuses and consistently ranks among the highest undergraduate enrollment. OSU also consistently ranks among the best universities in the state according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, Washington Monthly, and QS World University Rankings. As of July 1, 2015, all of Oregon’s public universities, previously under the authority of the State Board of Higher Education (SBHE), are governed by a governor-appointed, Senate approved, institutional boards of trustees. Thus public online education in Oregon is marked by heavy regulation and state oversight, meaning that students can expect online degree programs to adhere to very high standards — both in affordability and academic reputation.
Top Private Offerings in Oregon
There are six major private universities in Oregon: Linfield College, Marylhurst University, Linfield College-McMinnville Campus, Bushnell University, Willamette University, and Warner Pacific College. With far more major private universities in the state offering online degree programs it is counterintuitive that they would collectively offer less online degree options than the private institutions mentioned above, however, between the 7 major private universities only 36 online degree programs are offered in total. This is largely due to the fact that the online public degree offerings operate according to specific state-funded research projects, and thus cover an array of degree specializations and concentrations with highly focused areas of study, while the private universities focus on more general degrees that cover a wider array of topics. While there are certainly exceptions to the rule, it seems that students interested in highly specialized, research-driven online degrees will have more luck with public institutions, while private institutions offer online degrees with a broader, more career-oriented focus.
The 2016 national average for the annual cost of college based on the average of family income ($51,939) was $26,725. This number, however, incorporates the average impact of financial aid, housing, and other typical costs of the college experience. In 2016-17 the average published tuition and fee prices for in-state students at public four-year institutions ranges from $5,060 in Wyoming and $6,360 in Florida to $15,450 in Vermont and $15,650 in New Hampshire (CollegeBoard.org). According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2016 — 2017 school year was $33,480 at private colleges, $9,650 for state residents at public colleges, and $24,930 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. It is important to note here that private universities offer static tuition regardless of state residency, although some small extra fees may apply.
For the academic year 2015-2016, the average undergraduate tuition costs for Public Colleges in Oregon was $ 6,224 for in-state and $ 14,074 for out-of-state, placing both well under the national average tuition costs while still distinguishing the financial benefit of in-state tuition over out-of-state. The 2016 average private tuition in Oregon was $24,070, which is about $9,000 less than the national average. While Oregon’s college tuition costs are lower across the board, the average cost of living is about 18% higher than the national average. The bulk of this increased cost, however, is for the most part due to higher costs in the housing market. But because distance-learning affords the freedom to live where you please, online students may be able to circumvent these costs through living in more affordable areas.
Sporting a population of over 633,000, Portland is Oregon’s most populous city, and the 26th most populous city in the country. Located in the Willamette Valley Region where the Willamette and Columbia Rivers meet, Portland began as one of the most influential colonial ports of the 1800’s. Portland experienced an economic boom after World War II which proceeded into the 21st century, centered around the industries of agriculture, timber, and technology. The city developed a well-known reputation for counterculture in the 1960’s that persists today as one of the city’s popular personas. According to a 2009 Pew Research Center study, Portland ranked as the nation’s eighth most popular city based on where people want to live. The city operates with the only directly elected metropolitan planning organization in the United States — a commission-based government led by a mayor and four commissioners. The city government is notable for its land-use planning and investment in public transportation. Portland is has been recognized by numerous ranking entities as one of the world’s most environmentally conscious cities, largely due to its high walkability, active cyclist community, farm-to-table dining, its expansive network of public transportation, and its 10,000 acres of public parks.
Oregon’s capitol, Salem, is the state’s third most populous city located along the Willamette River, which bisects the city into its two main counties. Salem is just an hour drive from Portland, though it is a powerhouse of its own. With a rich history rooted in the development of the colonial west, Salem offers an incredible variety of state monuments, parks, gardens, and historical tours. With a thriving tourism industry and four large colleges, Salem is an active and youthful city with a median resident age of just 35 — well below the state’s resident median age. The State of Oregon is the city’s largest employer, meaning that a very large portion of the city’s residents enjoy state benefits. This also makes it an excellent location for students looking for internship or employment opportunities by the state.
Also located along the Willamette River is Eugene, Oregon, the state’s second-most populous city. The Willamette River flows through the heart of Eugene where it connects with the McKenzie River, and is just about an hour’s drive from the Pacific Coast. Eugene is home to the University of Oregon and Lane Community College, where student life recreational activities consist of a thriving night life, countless outdoor adventures, with a rich culture of arts and music. The city’s slogan, “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors” perfectly encapsulates the city’s persona. The city is also known as “The Emerald City” for its vibrant green parks and forests, and as “Track Town” for its famously active running, track, and field athlete communities. The brand superpower, Nike Corporation, began in Eugene and has played an instrumental part in facilitating the city’s hosting of the 18th Track and Field World Championships in 2021. Eugene is an excellent city for budding professional educators as two of the city’s top employers are the University of Oregon and the Eugene School District.
Cost of Living: 1.063
Top Industries (Male): Manufacturing;Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services;Retail Trade
Top Industries (Female): Healthcare and Social Assistance;Educational Services; Accommodation and Food Services
Local Online Degrees: 9
Cost of Living: 0.96
Top Industries (Male): Manufacturing; Construction;
Top Industries (Female): Healthcare and Social Assistance;Accommodation and Food Services;Public Administration
Local Online Degrees: 6
Cost of Living: 0.974
Top Industries (Male): Manufacturing;Retail Trade; Educational Services
Top Industries (Female): Healthcare and Social Assistance; Educational Services;Retail Trade
Local Online Degrees: 6
Cost of Living: 0.992
Top Industries (Male): Manufacturing;
Retail Trade; Accommodation and Food Services
Top Industries (Female): Healthcare and Social Assistance; Retail Trade; Accommodation and Food Services
Local Online Degrees: 23
Cost of Living: 0.975
Top Industries (Male): Retail Trade; Construction; Accommodation and Food Services
Top Industries (Female): Healthcare and Social Assistance;Retail Trade;Accommodation and Food Services
Local Online Degrees: 0
Cost of Living: 0.997
Top Industries (Male): Educational Services;
Retail Trade; Accommodation and Food Services
Top Industries (Female): Educational Services;
Healthcare and Social Assistance; Accommodation and Food Services
Local Online Degrees: 21
The Best Online Colleges in Oregon
1. Oregon State University
Online Programs: 21
Oregon State University’s slogan, “Never Settle” aptly characterizes the school’s mission, particularly in the area of online education. In recent years, OSU has developed its E-Campus to off over 80 online degrees and professional certification programs. OSU’s E-Campus was ranked as the 10th best online college for earning a bachelor’s degree in the country. As the state’s only land-grant University, OSU offers one of the country’s most beautiful campuses and receives more research funding than all other public universities combined. OSU also offers numerous ways for students to enhance their degrees — whether through degree specializations, degree minors, or university-facilitated internships. The E-Campus also offers a number of hybrid learning options, professional development events, and regularly hosts renowned speakers, making it an excellent choice for distance-learning students interested in the occasional brick-and-mortar visit. These factors combined with affordable tuition costs make it a school that’s hard to beat — no matter how you look at it.
2. Linfield College-Adult Degree Program
Online Programs: 6
Linfield College of Online and Continuing Education specializes in degree and certification programs for the adult learner. A key focus of the College is to facilitate in students a healthy work-life balance, so that students can comfortably progress through degree programs while holding down jobs or managing demanding schedules. From the moment of enrollment to graduation, students maintain access to professionally trained student advisers who specialize in helping students receive optimal transfer-credits, navigate their degree program, and make the choices that best align with their career goals and passions. Classes are delivered on an asynchronous schedule, meaning students can choose to address schoolwork when best fits their schedules.
3. Oregon Institute of Technology
Online Programs: 11
The Oregon Institute of Technology employs a philosophy of hands-on learning and career-oriented student success. Though an inherent shortcoming of online education is the lack of real-world experience or peer to peer, or peer to instructor, interaction, Oregon Tech directly combats this shortcoming by incorporating peer interaction with each other and with instructors. Oregon Tech also consults with industry leaders in order to employ state-of-the-art curriculums and technology, so that students are both learning from the best and learning through the best technology available in online education. The success of these strategies is evident in the school’s student success rates: 88% of graduate are either employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation, and even more impressive is the average starting salary of recent graduates, $54,000.
4. Oregon State University-Cascades Campus
Online Programs: 23
Oregon State University, Cascades Campus is a new and thriving university with a number of online degree options and the undergraduate and associate level. The University’s E-Campus delivers courses entirely through the program, Canvas, which is a highly rated online learning software of higher education. The University is also growing rapidly and has just opened the first new college campus in Oregon in 50 years. The University also recently received millions in research grants in relation to the University’s “Natural Laboratory” project. This project empowers students to make use of over 2.5 million acres of Oregon’s natural wilderness, making it an excellent school for any students considering a degree in the natural sciences, or those who would simply appreciate the occasional visit to such a wondrous place of study. Numerous campus locations also make this university particularly accessible to the online student.
5. Marylhurst University
Online Programs: 13
Marylhurst University is a liberal arts college renowned for its career-focused curriculum based on the real world demands of the job market. At Marylhurst University online students enjoy small class sizes where they can develop interpersonal relationships and collaborate on group-based projects. While the University offers an array of degree programs at the associate, undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate level, the University employs a strict criteria for professional development in its undergraduate programs. Regardless of the degree chosen, online students can expect heavy emphases on critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills. This makes the University a strong option for students who favor the liberal arts approach while valuing career-oriented skill development.
6. Linfield College-McMinnville Campus
Online Programs: 6
Linfield College, McMinnville is described as a “hidden jewel amid the northwest” and is a comprehensive undergraduate college, offering over 45 bachelor’s degree majors and 36 minors. These majors and minors are offered through four major academic divisions: Arts and Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Nursing. Linfield McMinnville is one of very few schools to offer online undergraduate degrees in nursing. The nursing degree prepares students for certification and licensure upon graduation. In its online programs the College employs “The Linfield Curriculum,” which is comprised of six major components and is designed to facilitate deeper levels of learning in order to prepare students for continued professional successes across their entire careers. This approach is designed to accommodate the many different learning styles and propensities of students, so that no matter your strengths or weaknesses in learning you will be able to truly learn in your degree program.
7. Bushnell University
Online Programs: 6
Bushnell University (BU) “fosters wisdom, faith, and service through excellent academic programs within a Christ-centered community.” BU is unique in that it delivers an online curriculum strongly rooted in Christianity, spiritual development, and community service. Online students are assigned an academic adviser to facilitate community engagement opportunities, so that even if you are an Oregon resident far from campus you can benefit from the University’s traditions. Undergraduate degree programs incorporate elements of both professional development as well as inner spiritual development, because at BU one is impossible without the other. BU is an excellent choice for online students looking to practice their faith while earning their degree.
8. Willamette University
Online Programs: 1
Willamette University is a highly respected institution that prides itself on a teacher-oriented philosophy. The University emphasizes the role of its teachers, that they are more than just educators, they engage and challenge each and every student in order to bring out the best in them. At Willamette teachers engage online students as if they were in the classroom: they ask questions, pursue ideas, and facilitate deeper discussions. The University delivers degrees through three main colleges: The College of Liberal Arts, The College of Law, and The Willamette MBA College. These three colleges act as education hubs for online learning students, so that they can join research projects, find internships, or participate in hybrid learning experiences on campus.
9. Warner Pacific College
Online Programs: 4
Warner Pacific College offers a highly specialized online degree program. It is designed to accommodate the adult learner, who is working a full-time job and managing a family. And it is also designed to develop one’s personal development as a Christian. The College offers fully online degrees programs for these learners including 2 associate’s, 4 bachelor’s, and 4 master’s. The four online bachelor degree programs offered are Accounting, Business Administration, Healthcare Administration, and in Human Development. With the working adult in mind, these degrees are designed to facilitate career progression, so that graduates can leverage past experience along with their newly acquired degree to gain a competitive edge in the job market.
10. Western Oregon University
Online Programs: 5
Western Oregon University is a school with an exceptional history. Founded in 1856, it is one of the oldest universities in the state and aims to honor its roots with continued growth in the modern era. The University’s most popular online undergraduate majors are Business, Criminal Justice, Education, Exercise Science, and Psychology. The University has received positive reviews from numerous sources including Parade.com who ranked the University as one of the ‘Top 20 Small Colleges in America.” Online students will engage in fully accredited degree programs, so that they can hit the ground running upon graduation and leverage their degrees for career advancement.
Monitoring the accreditation of a university you are interested in attending is incredibly important. Accreditation ensures your credits can transfer that you can receive Federal financial aid, and most importantly that certain standards of educational quality are during your schooling. The highest accreditation standard for most programs in the United States is provided by regional accreditation agencies. The regional accrediting agency for Oregon is the Northwest Accreditation Commission, one of six regional accrediting agencies responsible for accrediting schools in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
Making sure that a University you’re hoping to attend is regionally accredited — or accredited by a real and respected accrediting agency — is one of the most important choices you can make in ensuring the quality of your education.
Three Steps for Securing Financial Aid
- Submit your FAFSA.
- Check to see if additional forms are needed at your university of choice.
- Search and apply for private scholarships.
Through the previous three steps most students find themselves offered some sort of federal grant, work study, private grant, scholarship, or stipend.
Great Oregon Higher Education Resources
- Open Educational Resources The State of Oregon is open-sourcing educational resources such as textbooks, reviews, and course materials to make readily available to students in order to cut down on the costs of college.
- Open Oregon: Educational Resources This website explores numerous resources for college students, including educational materials, guides, and links to other resources. This website also serves to help develop educators, and facilitates pedagogical skills.
- Oregon Blue Book This website hosts an almanac of information concerning Oregon’s higher education institutions, government branches and departments in relation to higher education, as well as general information concerning the state. This is an excellent resource for current or prospective students new to a certain area of Oregon, looking to learn about the area and their school.
- Oregon Student Aid As a facet of Oregon’s Higher Education Cordination Commission, this website helps connect Oregon students with opportunities to attend college through financial aid, grants, scholarships, or loans.
- The Oregon Indian Education Association This website hosts resources to help Native Americans succeed in higher education in Oregon. Educational resources, scholarship opportunities, and more are made available through this site.
- Oregon Higher Education Sustainability The Oregon Higher Education Sustainability is a platform for empowering and inspiring both students and educators towards change making, facilitating action, networking, and collaboration related to sustainability within Oregon's higher education institutions, so that students may learn more effectively and more efficiently.
- College Goal Oregon This website hosts a wealth of resources to direct students towards correct sites and resources concerning federal student aid support, Oregon’s specific scholarships, scholarship application trainings and tips, and more.
- Campus Compact Oregon Campus Compact Oregon is an organization dedicated to empowering students and facilitating community involvement and improvement. This site’s resource page offers students a wealth of information concerning various scholarship, grant, learning, and community engagement opportunities.
- Worksource Oregon Education & Training This website offers numerous official state training and education guides, videos, and other resources. These can be used to prepare students for jobs, or simply to gain education or training in a specific area. This is an excellent resource for students looking to develop their professional marketability during their degree program.
- Oregon Student Nurse Association This website is dedicated to facilitating the education of student nurses through offering educational resources, professional networking, and professional development opportunities to nursing students all across the state of Oregon.
- Info Quest: Educational Resources This website offers a wealth of resources for both students and instructors. This is a particularly valuable resource for online students, as it offers numerous links to guides, videos, and training information to better prepare you to maximize your online education.
- Oregon Live: Higher Education This blog is an excellent resource for keeping students up to date on important events and news developments concerning colleges and universities in Oregon.
- Trauma Informed Oregon This site represents a collaboration of various colleges, universities, and private parties to better prevent traumatic events, and also to provide resources to trauma care for affected students.
- Oregon Goes to College Oregon Goes to College is a statewide organization dedicated to helping students of all backgrounds succeed in college. This specific page is designed to help undocumented students navigate their choices in higher ed, however, there are a wealth of other resources beneficial to students throughout the site.
- Oregon Gear Up Oregon Gear Up is an organization dedicated to ensuring that Oregon's low-income middle school and high school students are prepared for, pursue, and succeed in postsecondary education whether that be a Bachelor's degree, Associate’s degree, professional certificate, apprenticeship or some other type of training.