Oregon Colleges and Universities

Most colleges and universities in Oregon are considered small to midsize, and only three are large research universities. Residents of Oregon can attend select colleges in 14 states through the Western Undergraduate Exchange, including in the neighboring states of Idaho, Washington, Nevada and California, and pay no more than 150 percent of the in-state tuition rate. 

Oregon University System

The Oregon State Board of Education works to ensure that every Oregon public school student has equal access to high-quality educational services that promote lifelong learning and prepare students for their next steps following high school graduation including college, work, and citizenship.

The Oregon Legislature created the State Board of Education in 1951 to oversee the state’s schools. The board sets educational policies and standards for Oregon’s 197 public school districts and 20 educational service districts. All of these agencies have separate governing bodies responsible for transacting business within their jurisdiction.

The Oregon State Board of Education is comprised of seven members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate. Five members represent Oregon’s five congressional districts, and two members represent the state at large. Members serve four-year terms and are limited to two consecutive terms. Board members elect their chair each year. The State Board meets at least six times per year and the public is welcome to attend State Board meetings. 

Smooth Transfer Between Oregon State Colleges

Oregon college students are able to transfer more smoothly among the state’s community colleges and universities as the result of common criteria for general education courses adopted by two state education boards in early 2010. The course guidelines define what students should learn in a given subject, such as writing, and what the course should include.

The Oregon Board of Education approved common course standards for an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree that will allow students to move more freely among the state’s 17 community colleges and transfer smoothly into any of the seven public universities for their final two years of studies.  In addition, the joint boards approved policies that will allow high school students to get up to a year’s credit in the state’s seven public universities by earning an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma.

Oregon University System Guaranteed Admission Program

The Oregon University System now offers an Automatic Admissions option for in-state students, to recognize students who show strong preparation for college in certain assessments of the new Oregon High School Diploma. Most OUS campuses offer the option to be considered for Automatic Admission on their campus admissions application. The Portland State University website has a document entitled Senior Handbook that explains the criteria for Automatic Admission. 

Online Course Options

The Online Schools Web site has a directory of all college programs that students can take online apart from the more well known online schools.

College Accreditation

College accreditation is a process by which schools are certified by an outside agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) or the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC), to provide quality academic services and student support. Accredited schools can guarantee adequate library resources, qualified faculty, solid student achievement rates and financial aid access, as well as the ability to receive a license to work in fields that require licensure for practitioners.

The Discover Business Degrees website is a resource that is helpful to prospective college students thinking of attending a business school.

Oregon College Savings Plan

The Oregon College Savings Plan, part of a network of similar investment options, allows parents to save for tuition tax-free. Oregon residents also get to claim a state income tax deduction  up to $4,170 a year  for money they put into an account.

The Oregon College Savings Plan is administered by the State of Oregon, acting by and through the Oregon 529 College Savings Board, and distributed by OppenheimerFunds Distributor, Inc. OFI Private Investments Inc., a subsidiary of OppenheimerFunds, Inc., is the program manager of the Plan.

In 2008, investors in the most conservative portfolio were alarmed when their savings plummeted. An investigation by The Oregonian found that state officials didn’t closely monitor the fund or act fast enough to stop the losses until most of the damage was done. The state sued the plan manager at the time, OppenheimerFunds Inc. In late 2009, the state agreed to a settlement that reimburses about 56 percent of the $36 million lost from mismanagement of the accounts.

The Oregonian estimates that for every $1,000 invested in the Conservative or 1-3 Years to College Portfolio, investors might get $125 back. Both portfolios declined 24 percent in value in 2008, and one-third of each portfolio was invested in the Core Bond fund.

College Rankings

How much graduates earn is driving more college rankings. PayScale introduced its first college salary report in 2008, and the College Scorecard from the federal government followed in 2015. Despite the hand-wringing of many in academia, who saw the immeasurable richness of a college education crassly reduced to a dollar sign, the data has wrought a sea change in the way students and families evaluate prospective colleges. Earnings data are finding their way into a proliferating number of mainstream college rankings, shifting the competitive landscape of American higher education in often surprising ways.

  • The Times Higher Education World University Rankings are the only university performance tables to judge world class universities across all of their core missions — teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The top universities rankings employ 13 performance indicators to provide a comprehensive and balanced comparison. The results of the 2016-2017 annual Times Higher Education World University Rankings includes 980 institutions from 79 countries.
  • College Scorecard  Federal government rankings.
  • Last year The Economist released its first college rankings, and it relies even more heavily on earnings data. It took the College Scorecard earnings data and performed a multiple regression analysis to assess how much a school’s graduates earn compared with how much they might have made had they attended another school.
  • The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce has issued another set of rankings, adjusting the College Scorecard salary rankings first for choice of major (since disproportionate numbers of students studying high-paying fields like engineering and business skew the results), and yet another ranking that assesses students’ expected earnings, given their characteristics when they entered college, to the actual outcome.
  • PayScale itself has refined its rankings in response to criticism, by including along with salary data the percentage of students who major in subjects other than high-paying science, technology, engineering, and math, as well as the percentage of respondents who found “high meaning” in their work.
  • Both Forbes and Money magazines, in their rankings, incorporate PayScale data on earnings.
  • U.S. News & World Report steadfastly disdains the use of earnings or other outcomes in its rankings. While it continues to tweak its criteria, it relies primarily on measures of reputation and selectivity.

Bestcolleges.com Ranking of Oregon Colleges 

There are 7 public universities, 17 community colleges and 67 private colleges and universities in Oregon, offering a diverse range of academic opportunities and degree programs, with 246,860 students enrolled in Spring 2015. We have applied our rigorous methodology to the latest education data to rank the best colleges in Oregon, including the top four-year and two-year schools. We hope this will help you gain perspective amidst the state’s evolving economic and educational landscape, and to sort through an ever-expanding wealth of education and government data. Bestcolleges.com rates the Oregon public and private colleges along with the 17 community colleges — also institutions offering online classes.

Oregon Private Colleges and Universities

Oregon Public Universities

Community Colleges

Other Schools