17 Best Colleges in Oregon

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Are you ready to find your fit?

Is it still worth it to go to college? I mean, with tuition rates going up with no end in sight, might it be better to just start working and forego college altogether?

Well, we can’t answer that question for you, since everyone is different. But we will point you toward some other statistics as well. According to the Center on Education and the Workforce, 99 percent of new jobs created since the Great Recession went to people with at least some college education. And many of the people in this 99 percent have bachelor’s or even graduate degrees.

So if you are at least thinking about going to college, and you’re from Oregon or want to relocate there, then you’ve find the right page. We’ve drilled down into the data to find the best schools in the state. Additionally, we provide you with the Best Online Colleges in Oregon for those who are looking for distance education. With awesome public and private colleges and universities, a strong tradition of college sports, along with every hip type of food you could imagine, Oregon has a lot going for it. And with tons of opportunities to get out into nature, even in the cities, this beautiful state beckons especially to hikers, runners, bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Especially if you want a nice craft beer after your hike or run.

Top 10 Best Colleges in Oregon

Rank School Location
1 Reed College Portland, OR
2 University of Oregon Eugene, OR
3 Willamette University Salem, OR
4 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
5 Concordia University Ann Arbor, MI
6 University of Portland Portland, OR
7 Linfield College McMinnville, OR
8 Portland State University Portland, OR
9 Pacific University Forest Grove, OR
10 George Fox University Newberg, OR

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Best Colleges in Oregon Badge

What are the best colleges in Oregon?

So you might be wondering how we ended up deciding which colleges are the best in Oregon, and why they’re ranked in the way they are. Well, it all comes down to our methodology. Using data from IPEDS, a data set put together by the National Center for Education Statistics, we looked at information on academic quality, student diversity, and return on investment. While the first two factors are fairly self-explanatory, the return on investment factor is worth some comment. It is a weight of total cost against expected early career salary. Basically, we’re taking into account how much you’ll pay for college, and how much you can expect to earn after. It’s an important thing to consider when you’re going to spend at least four years on your education.

2017 Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Reed College
    Location

    Portland, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview Reed College was founded in 1908 by Reverend Thomas Lamb Eliot, a Portland-based Unitarian minister and steamboat pioneers Amanda and Simeon Reed – the college namesake. The doors opened as Portland’s first nonsectarian college in 1911. Today, Reed College is 5 miles southeast of Portland, Oregon on 116 acres. The college doesn’t focus on grades. All classes are a pass/no pass system. The only time that students know their grades is if they score below a C. Features Today, the college serves over 1,400 students through 40 degrees at the Bachelor and Master levels. On campus, most classes have less than 20 students and students enjoy a 9 to 1 student faculty ratio. In addition to the Reed College degrees, Reed has partnerships for dual degrees with University of Washington, California Institute of technology, Columbia University or Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Outside of the classroom, students can get involved in 100 student organizations. Top majors include

    • Biology
    • English
    • Arts
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    Notables The college has been going green since 1970s by installing a nuclear reactor on campus. Today, it is run 100% by undergraduates. This saves the environment and gives students the chance to get industry experience. This college is also known for where Steve Jobs went to school – but did not graduate.

  2. University of Oregon
    Location

    Eugene, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview University of Oregon was founded in 1859 in Eugene Oregon. It was part of the agreement for Oregon to become a state to have a public university. Doors first opened in 1876. Since its founding, the university has developed to be a Tier 1 research university that has joined the prestigious Association of American Universities – only 61 other public and private research institutions located in North America are involved. expanded to over. Features Today, over 23,600 students study one of 300+ degree programs on their 295 acres with over 3,000 trees to provided plenty of locations to live, learn and practice their green initiatives. Most classes have an average of 20 students. With 17 students to every one faculty member. Students can join hundreds of student organizations or one of 30 Greek life organizations. Top programs are:

    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Social Sciences
    • Economics
    • Physiology
    Notables University of Oregon prides itself with a top ranked “green MBA” program and Sustainable Cities Initiative where students create environmentally sustainable solutions to urban planning. Their athletic teams, the Ducks, play in NCAA I division.

  3. Willamette University
    Location

    Salem, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview Willamette University was founded in 1842 in Salem, Oregon by a Methodist Missionary named Jason Lee. His goal was to provide educational opportunities to Native Americans and missionary children. As time continued, their first graduate was a woman and by 1877, the university accepted women into their medical program. Today, it is known as the first university in the western United States and one of the first co-educational institutions in the US. The campus has 60 acres next to the 305-acre Zena Forest. Features Today, nearly 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students study one of 49 academic programs – including several dual degree programs. In the classroom students can expect most of their classes to be less than 20 people and a student – faculty ratio of 11 to 1. Outside the classroom, students can join over 100 student organizations and 9 Greek life organizations. Top Programs include:

    • Social Sciences
    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences
    • English Language &Literature
    • Visual & Performing Arts
    • Foreign Languages, Literatures & Linguistics
    Notables Willamette University has multiple sister–university relationships with institutions overseas. Notable connections include: Tokyo International University of America, East Chine University of Politics and Law, and Xiamen University in China. These connections allow students to be a part of exchange or study abroad programs between these universities.

  4. Oregon State University
    Location

    Corvallis, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview Oregon State University was founded in 1868 as a land-grand university in Crvaliis, Oregon. This 422-acre campus is located 90 minutes south of Portland and about 1-hour from the Pacific coast. It is recognized as one of the top college towns in the United States. Oregon State University touches all 36 counties in Oregon through 15 agricultural experiment stations, 35 county extension offices, a Hatfield Marience Science center in Newport, Oregon, and OSU Cascades in Bend, Oregon. The other campuses are in Corvallis, Bend, Newport, Portland and online. Features Today, over 30,000 students study at Oregon State University. These students study over 200 academic programs not including the 100 master programs that are available. This is a commuter school – 83% commute or attend classes online. However, students can appreciate the NCAA division 1 sports, medium class sizes and the 18 to 1 student-faculty ratio. Top majors include:

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Marketing
    • Family and Consumer Services
    • Social Sciences
    Notables It is one of the two American universities that have a sea grant, space grant, land grant AND sun grant groundwork. These grants mean that the work completed in various fields need to directly improve the life of those around the university.

  5. Concordia University
    Location

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview Concordia University was founded in 1905 by the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod (LCMS) as a 4-year academy for local pastors and school teachers. It is in Portland, Oregon on 24 acres. It is the only LCMS university in Oregon. Since its inception, it has grown into a university complete with its own school of law. Today, it is a private, non-profit Lutheran liberal arts university. Features Today, more than 3,500 students are enrolled in one of 32 undergraduate and graduate level programs between its four main locations: Boise, Idaho; Portland, Oregon; Bend, Oregon; and online. Students can pursue dual degree options, student life organizations and enjoy an NCAA Division II game. Most classes are under 20 students and the student faculty ratio is 17 to 1. Most students commute to their various classes.

    • Business/marketing
    • Health professions
    • Education
    • Sport and Fitness Management
    • Psychology Social Work and Youth Services
    Notables Concordia University is part of the United States National Concordia University Systems. One of 10 locations. The Oregon location is the fastest growing university in Oregon.

  6. University of Portland
    Location

    Portland, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview University of Portland was founded in 1901 by Archbishop Christie of the Congregation of Holy Cross, a Catholic monastic order founded by Basil Moreau. University of Portland is located on a 108-acre plot of land overlooking the Willamette River and the city of Portland, Oregon called “the bluff”. Features Today, over 4,200 students study over 40 undergraduate and 18 graduate program. The small class sizes include a 14 to 1 student-faculty ratio. Because of the focus on residential living, 94% of the freshmen live on campus. By their senior year, over 58% still live on campus. This is due to a thriving residential community, 80 student clubs, NCAA division I sports and academic support. Top Programs include:

    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Mechanical & Civil Engineering
    • Spanish Language &Literature
    • Psychology
    Notables The Congregation of Holy Cross also founded Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Just like its counterpart, is well known for its STEM, nursing, and their NCAA division I sports. The University looks for a place where the heart and the mind can both be cultivated. As Archbishop Christie stated: It is known for “their superior education unequaled by institution on the Pacific Coast.”

  7. Linfield College
    Location

    McMinnville, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview Linfield College was founded in 1885 by Sebastian C. Adams and the Oregon Baptist Educational Society on 189 acres in McMinnville, Oregon. The original name of the institution was McMinnville College. However, the name changed in 1922 after a substantial donation by the Linfield family in honor of their father, Reverend George Fisher Linfield. Features Today, Linfield offers 48 majors on three campuses: McMinnville, Portland and online. There well over 50 student organizations to join including Greek life. Inside the classroom, over 70% of the classes have less than 20 students and the student-faculty ratio is 11 to 1. Popular majors include:

    • Business
    • Social Sciences
    • Education
    • Biological & Biomedical sciences
    • Visual & Performing Arts
    Notables There is plenty for students to do around McMinnville, Oregon. You can visit the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, go to local vineyard tasting rooms, or go on a helicopter tour of the area.

  8. Portland State University
    Location

    Portland, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview Portland State University was founded in 1946 by Stephen Edward Epler, an Oregon General Extension Division Counselor in Portland, Oregon. The institution was created to address the G.I. Bill World War II Veterans’ demand on higher education. Since then, the university has become one of the 10 most innovative, research schools in the nation. Portland State University is located on 50-acres in the university district of the Rose City. Features Today, there are over 27,000 students studying 226 bachelor, master and doctoral degrees. Inside the classroom, there is a 17 to 1 student to faculty ratio and over 30% of the classes have less than 20 students. While Portland State University does have a residential opportunity for students. Most students commute to campus or online to continue their education. But commuters and residential students alike enjoy the community events that include NCAA Dvision I sports. Top programs include:

    • Business
    • Social Sciences
    • Health Professions
    • Psychology
    • Humanities
    Notables Portland State University is the only public urban university in a major metropolitan city in Oregon. This creates fantastic opportunities for students to live, work, and play in Portland. The city of Portland has it all: food, culture, shopping, outdoor adventures and fantastic employers. Top employers are Intel, OHSU, and Nike.

  9. Pacific University
    Location

    Forest Grove, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, is the oldest chartered university in the West. It founded by Congregationalist pioneers, Tabitha brown and Reverend Harvey L. Clark, in 1849 to be a school for orphans that made it through the Applegate trail – this is 10 years prior to Oregon becoming a state. Features Since then the humble school has grown to a four campus Oregon university that serves over 3,600 students a year. These students study over 74 undergraduate and graduate degree programs and participate in over 60 different clubs that include Greek life and enjoy NCAA Division II varsity sports. The average class size is 19 and the student-faculty ratio is 10 to 1. Top Programs include:

    • Health Professions
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies
    • Business & Marketing
    • Social Sciences
    Notables Pacific University is known for their innovation. They were the first school to award a doctor of optometry degree in the United States. This cutting edge program has designed contact lenses specific to outdoor sports and assisted with designing a soccer ball for Nike that made it easier for everyone to see the ball when in play.

  10. George Fox University
    Location

    Newberg, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview George Fox University was founded in 1891 by the Evangelical Friends Church (Quaker pioneers). It is considered the oldest Christian University in Oregon. The final location is on 108 acres in Newberg, Oregon, about 23 miles from Portland. The university has grown so much that they offer courses on four main campuses and online. Features Today, George Fox University has over 40 majors, 45 minors and 6 pre-professional programs. There are 2,400 undergraduates and 1,400 graduate students studying throughout the year. In the classroom, most students will find over 65% of the classes have less than 20 students and the student-faculty ratio is 14 to 1. Top programs are:

    • Business & Marketing
    • Multi-Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Health Professions
    • Visual and Performing Arts
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    Notables George Fox University is one of 11 universities in the Richter Scholars Program – other schools include Yale, Cal Tech and University of Chicago. This program provides research funding to 20 students. Most of the grants are between $3,600 to $5,000 and must be completed prior to the student graduating.

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