Oregon Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2015

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Oregon is home to 93 post-secondary institutions, including colleges and universities, public and private, as well as vocational and career training schools. As of 2013, an estimated 381,000 undergraduate and graduate students attended these schools, enrolled in certificate and degree programs of every kind. These figures place Oregon 29th nationwide in total number of post-secondary institutions and 26th in the number of students. Oregon students can choose from a generous variety of two-year community colleges, four-year public colleges and universities, religiously affiliated institutes, and online schools.

Oregon's Biggest College Education Centers

Oregon colleges and universities can be found throughout the state with most, but not all, located in or near major and mid-sized metropolitan areas. The following lists provide a breakdown of the busiest education communities in the state:

Popular Oregon Cities for College Students (Total)

  • Portland (110,100)
  • Eugene (43,700)
  • Salem (26,400)
  • Corvallis (24,200)
  • Gresham (16,400)

Most Colleges in Oregon by City (Total)

  • Portland (33)
  • Salem (7)
  • Eugene (6)
  • Bend (4)
  • Klamath Falls (3)

City Spotlight: College in Portland, OR

Supported in large part by university research, Portland has been called “America’s Greenest City” for its commitment to sustainability and alternative energy. Not surprising, many higher education institutions in the state offer cutting-edge green building, sustainable energy and sustainable forestry degrees. In this educated metropolis, more than 43 percent of the city’s 609,456 residents over 25 have completed at least a bachelor’s degree. The city plays host to two public universities, 16 private colleges and specialty schools and one community college.

The University of Portland, a private Catholic institution founded in 1901, has been ranked eighth among Western Regional Universities by U.S. News and World Report for 2014. An independent liberal arts school, Reed College is renowned for its interdisciplinary and dual degree programs along with 26 department majors at the undergraduate level. Reed also offers a master’s degree in liberal studies.

When it comes to The Rose City’s sustainability sweet spot, Portland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions leads the way. The Institute offers a graduate certificate in sustainability, undergraduate degrees in environmental studies and urban planning, and a master’s and doctoral degrees in environmental management. Portland State has a four-year degree completion guarantee in place, as well, meaning the university pays for all baccalaureate classes after the four-year deadline. For a two-year college experience, Portland Community College serves over 93,000 students a year at its three campuses in the city, making it the largest in the state. Students can complete associate degrees and certificates or enroll in an associate in arts or sciences Oregon Transfer Degree (AAOT) program in partnership with seven in-state four-year colleges and universities. The community college’s CLIMB Center for Advancement offers continuing education programs for healthcare professionals and small business owners.

Online Schools in Portland

Portland Community College is also a main provider of online education in the Rose City. It has eight associate degrees that can be completed entirely online, as well as four hybrid programs that combine online and traditional campus methodologies. In addition, community college students can earn an online associate degree in computer information systems, fire science, health informatics and business management.

Portland State University’s online programs include undergraduate and graduate degrees from the School of Business, a master’s of social work, and a master’s in global supply chain management. Concordia University, a private Christian liberal arts school, offers its Master of Education (M.Ed.) in a one-year online format. Students can choose among 19 different concentrations for their master’s concentration in education including the field of special education, curriculum, technical education and the Oregon Special Education Added Endorsement.

Online Colleges in Oregon

The distance learning industry has exploded over the past two decades, beginning with the establishment of a host of primarily online education providers. More recently, a number of traditional institutions in Oregon have aggressively entered the marketplace, creating courses and, in many cases, certificate and degree programs in fully online formats. In 2013, 16 four-year colleges and universities in Oregon offered some sort of online course or program to students. Portland State University, for example, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees through its PSU Online portal. Five schools offer various online degree programs: The Graduate School of Education, School of Social Work, College of Urban and Public Affairs, School of Business Administration, and Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer Science. Oregon State University (OSU) also offers dozens of online undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as more than 900 online and hybrid courses in more than 80 academic fields.

Paying for College in Oregon

Whether in Oregon or any other state, pursuing a college or university degree is an expensive proposition, which requires a great deal of forethought and planning. The first cost that any student must consider is tuition. Tuition can vary greatly from school to school, particularly when it comes to private colleges. In 2012, Oregon ranked 36th nationally in terms of average college tuition rates, with state residents paying $13,489 annually per student. However, tuition isn't the only cost that students may find at the college or university of their choice. Schools additionally charge an array of mandatory fees for items and services such as ID cards, student union membership, health care, parking and transportation.

The other major cost of attending college is broadly defined as "room and board." Living expenses in Oregon are relatively high in comparison to other states, at approximately 10 percent above the national average. The following chart provides a look at cost of living (COL) figures for specific Oregon urban areas in relation to the national average (100):

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Eugene 9.8% 32.3% -6.2% -14.7% 10.0% 18.2% 2.9%
Portland 11.3% 30.8% 5.8% -12.9% 5.8% 13.6% 5.1%

Although tuition and fees are important, what comes after college could be the difference maker. For example, students who graduate from an affordable university might have a difficult time finding a solid career, and vice versa. Therefore, when vetting colleges, never forget to look at each institution’s return on investment (ROI). Various entities collect and analyze the average cost of attendance at a school and subtract it from the average lifetime salary of its graduates. This estimates the lifetime ROI of that school. In Oregon, the following colleges stood out in 2013:

  • Oregon Institute of Technology
  • Oregon State University
  • University of Portland
  • Willamette University
  • University of Oregon

Student Financial Aid and Scholarships

For the vast majority of individuals, the cost of college would be prohibitive without funds secured from one or more sources of financial aid, including scholarships, loans and grants. Although private loans do exist, most student loans and grants are made available through the Federal Student Aid program. In 2012, Oregon ranked 20th nationally in regard to government financial aid, with about 69 percent of the state's undergraduates receiving some form of federal aid.

In addition to loans and grants, students can apply for any number of need-based and merit-based scholarships sponsored by private corporations and non-profit organizations, as well as through the charitable efforts of individual citizens. Scholarships are also offered by certain schools themselves. Below is a list of some of the associations and organizations that can provide scholarship opportunities to Oregon students:

  • American Lung Association in Oregon
  • Asian American Journalists Association - Portland Chapter
  • Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation
  • Burns Lions Club
  • Data Processing Management Association - Portland Chapter
  • Korean American Scholarship Foundation - Western Region
  • Multnomah County Deputy Sheriffs' Association
  • Northwest Osteopathic Medical Foundation
  • Oregon Association of Broadcasters
  • Oregon Association of Public Accountants
  • Oregon Ford Scholars Program
  • Oregon Parent Teachers Association
  • Oregon Space Grant Consortium
  • Project Management Institute (PMI) Portland Chapter

College Accreditation in Oregon

For students receiving financial aid, full institutional accreditation is critical. Proper accreditation of an individual school is a requirement for students at that school to receive federal loans or grants. In the United States, institutional accreditation is administered through U.S. Department of Education-recognized regional agencies. The primary regional accrediting agency for Oregon postsecondary institutions is the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Institutions in Oregon can also seek programmatic or specialized accreditation for specific programs, colleges, or departments, on top of regional accreditation. For example, all of PSU's individual schools and colleges have received programmatic accreditation from various agencies. Programs within PSU's College of the Arts has received accreditation from three different accrediting agencies, depending on the area of study: the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST).

We knew that Eastern Oregon University offered the state's most affordable online programs, but we wanted to know a little more about what makes EOU great. A representative from the school's online branch filled us in on the particulars of online education in Oregon. Read the interview below:

Online Departments in Oregon
  • Eastern Oregon University -

    How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

    Online learning at EOU is integrated across our larger academic enterprise. Instead of housing our at-a-distance programming in a separate department, each college and student services area takes an active role in providing high-quality, high-touch experiences for our students. Online is not just an additional modality for taking classes at EOU; our at-a-distance programming is a core aspect of who we are as a university.

    What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

    With ten degrees available entirely online, students enjoy the access and flexibility of taking classes that fit their academic goals, all while living in locations worldwide. At EOU, high-touch is not just a catch phrase – we mean it! Our online programs are founded on the same highest common denominators that all of our academic programs are built upon. Each student has an academic advisor helping them develop a degree completion plan based on their academic and career goals, and providing consistent guidance through their educational journey. Students also connect directly with our professors instead of teaching assistants.

    Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

    We foresee continued growth in the number of degree programs, associated minors and courses we offer for effective education at a distance. Our talented faculty and student services professionals will continue working to develop approaches and methods that further leverage technology for successful learning. We will continue providing enhanced blended experiences for students, connecting real-time instruction in the classroom with online options in a range of hybrid formats.

Oregon brings the Pacific Northwest to the rest of the country through its expansive online distance learning programs. Numerous four-year colleges in Oregon offer fully online degree programs to their students. With full accreditation and many degrees equivalent to those granted on-campus, online schools in Oregon are the best option for many students. Often online degree programs in Oregon also offer tuition assistance and flexible scheduling, which makes online learning a convenient method of education. To see all the wonderful opportunities Oregon offers its distance learners, check out the research we’ve done for you. For your convenience, we’ve indexed all of the premier Oregon online colleges from lowest tuition to highest.

Click here to see our methodology.
Eastern Oregon University
Tuition and fees: $6,102 Enrollment: 5,380 Accredited: YES Website: Eastern Oregon University

Eastern Oregon University offers dozens of undergraduate majors and minors, as well as four master's level degrees. All online college coursework can be completed entirely at a distance and students can enroll in up to eight credit hours per term without being admitted as a student. The University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Portland State University
Tuition and fees: $6,660 Enrollment: 30,128 Accredited: YES Website: Portland State University

Portland State University has interactive online college courses, certificates, and degree programs. Depending on the degree, PSU offers fully online, hybrid, and distance learning options. Those interested in applying from outside the state of Oregon should look at PSU's state authorization page to ensure they are eligible for the programs.

Western Oregon University
Tuition and fees: $6,696 Enrollment: 6,159 Accredited: YES Website: Western Oregon University

Both admitted and non-admitted students can take accredited online classes from Western Oregon University's WOU Online program. WOU Online includes undergraduate, graduate, and credit overlay classes taught using the Moodle platform. The school offers a free, introductory course for those interested in online learning that contains video tutorials, practice modules, and other resources.

Southern Oregon University
Tuition and fees: $7,543 Enrollment: 7,068 Accredited: YES Website: Southern Oregon University

Southern Oregon University has a distance education program for students who have completed general education and prerequisite courses for their degree program. Students can complete their bachelor's and master's degrees with the online college. The school also offers endorsements and certificates. Students from Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Minnesota are not eligible for distance education with the University.

University of Oregon
Tuition and fees: $8,106 Enrollment: 23,266 Accredited: YES Website: University of Oregon

The University of Oregon first offered online college courses in 1996. Since then, they have expanded and now have online courses for many of their academic programs, including a master of science degree in Applied Information Management. No fully online undergraduate degree programs are offered. The University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Oregon Institute of Technology
Tuition and fees: $8,424 Enrollment: 5,183 Accredited: YES Website: Oregon Institute of Technology

Oregon Institute of Technology, or Oregon Tech, boasts being the only school in the Pacific Northwest that has online bachelor of science degree completion programs for dental hygiene, diagnostic medical sonography, echocardiography, and more. Oregon Tech's online college programs are for registered professionals who are interested in earning a bachelor's degree. The school works with all students to develop individual paths for program completion.

Oregon State University
Tuition and fees: $9,756 Enrollment: 27,925 Accredited: YES Website: Oregon State University

Oregon State University's online programs, also known as the OSU Ecampus, offers more than 30 accredited online degrees. Students can obtain undergraduate, master's, and doctoral level degrees in business, education, counseling, and natural resources. There are also a few certificate programs available in natural resources. Students of the OSU Ecampus have remote access to the school libraries, student services center, computer help desk, career services, and more.

Linfield College
Tuition and fees: $18,900 Enrollment: 2,601 Accredited: YES Website: Linfield College

Students of Linfield College's Adult Degree Program can earn their entire accounting, business, or RN to BSN degree with online classes. The college also offers accredited certificates in accounting, computer information systems, human resources, and marketing. Students can access coursework at any time, and all classes are taught using the Blackboard platform.

Marylhurst University
Tuition and fees: $18,945 Enrollment: 1,195 Accredited: YES Website: Marylhurst University

Marylhurst University has provided online learning since the 1990s. Students can complete their bachelor's degree in English or business or master's degree in business entirely online or though a mix of both online and in-person courses. The University is considering adding a bachelor's in interdisciplinary studies to their online offerings soon.

Multnomah University
Tuition and fees: $21,240 Enrollment: 661 Accredited: YES Website: Multnomah University

Students of Multnomah University can acquire most of their master's degrees in biblical seminary at a distance, with some meetings required in Reno, Nevada, or Seattle, Washington. Courses on campus are recorded and saved for online college use, meaning that online college students get the same lecture material. Multnomah also utilizes discussion forums and live online college courses.

Northwest Christian University
Tuition and fees: $24,780 Enrollment: 539 Accredited: YES Website: Northwest Christian University

Northwest Christian University's online program, though MyNCU, offers fully online and hybrid courses. The University has entirely online bachelor's degree programs for psychology, business administration, accounting, and interdisciplinary studies. Students can take programs at an accelerated pace with a semester's worth of material covered in two months, or at a decelerated pace.

Corban University
Tuition and fees: $26,431 Enrollment: 1,107 Accredited: YES Website: Corban University

Corban University began providing online courses more than 15 years ago. Today, about half of their adult and graduate degree programs are offered completely online. Students can access classes 24/7 and have access to the Corban online library. Diplomas from Corban do not distinguish between students who have acquired their degrees online from those who took classes in person.

Concordia University-Portland
Tuition and fees: $26,650 Enrollment: 1,408 Accredited: YES Website: Concordia University-Portland

Concordia University offers undergraduate, graduate, and degree completion programs for distance learners. There are no fixed hours for classes, courses can be completed entirely online, and everything is taught using Blackboard software. An online help desk is available for students having technological problems.

George Fox University
Tuition and fees: $30,230 Enrollment: 2,345 Accredited: YES Website: George Fox University

George Fox provides students online classes for their adult degree, education, business, and seminary programs. Courses are taught in the hybrid format, meaning that some in-person class sessions are required. The University also has undergraduate summer classes, which from the beginning of June through the end of July and are offered at a discounted rate.

Lewis & Clark College
Tuition and fees: $40,330 Enrollment: 2,285 Accredited: YES Website: Lewis & Clark College

Lewis & Clark College has distance learning programs for their business, humanities, nursing and health science, education, and business technology and service divisions. Their online-only, hybrid, and video-conferencing courses serve nearly 70 percent of the student population. Web-based classes use the Blackboard platform and proctors must be present for students taking tests off-campus.

Willamette University
Tuition and fees: $40,874 Enrollment: 2,269 Accredited: YES Website: Willamette University

Willamette University's nationally and state-accredited master of arts in teaching program is available online in an 18-month format. All students must be able to complete the University's two requirements for clinical experience at a school near them. Candidates in the program can add on specialty endorsements to their degree and all coursework is online.