Skip to content

When students decide what college they want to go to, sometimes the location of that school is just as important — if not more — than the college itself. That being said, if you have a destination in mind of where you’d want to attend university, it’s helpful to know what schools in that area are some of the best. If you’re looking for colleges in Oregon, the state is an attractive choice not just for an opportunity to attend college in the Pacific Northwest, but because Oregon is home to some excellent schools.

What Are The Best Colleges In Oregon?

If you’re wondering what the best colleges in Oregon are, the names of a few schools may come to mind. Schools like the University of Oregon and Oregon State are rather well-known. But don’t limit yourself. If you’re interested in going to college in Oregon, there are a lot of great universities and colleges that have a lot to offer prospective students, depending on what it is you’re looking for in your degree program.

Ranking The Best Oregon Colleges And Universities Based On Value

There are many great colleges to choose from in Oregon. Though many of the schools are based in the state’s largest city, Portland, there are several other high-ranking schools spread out across the state. Read up a little bit about each of these schools so that you can decide which ones seem like a good match when it comes time to apply.

University of Oregon football game
Image by Pat Edwards from Pixabay

1. University Of Oregon

The University of Oregon is located in Eugene, Oregon. It’s been around since the 1800s. Today, it’s a Tier 1 National Public Research University and a member of the Association of American Universities — a prestigious recognition that only 62 schools across the United States and Canada hold as a leading public or private institution of research.

It’s not just the research advancements and capabilities of the school, though, that has designated the University of Oregon as the #1 Public University in the state, but also its law school, business school, and its College of Education.

Additionally, students who attend the University of Oregon won’t get bored with activities, as studying hard can be rewarded with outdoor adventures in the WIllamette Valley. The school is home to more than 20,000 students and Division I sports teams. The University of Oregon consistently has successful graduates and is home to faculty with notable designations.

2. Oregon State University

Oregon State University is the largest school in the state with over 33,000 students. The school offers a plethora of unique programs, including the #2 Forestry program in the world, the #3 Oceanography program in the world, and interestingly enough, OSU also has one of the best Robotics Engineering schools in the world.

Oregon State University has superlatives not just in their academic programs, but in perks for students, having been ranked the Second Friendliest College Town and for how extremely bike-friendly the campus is. Although there are campuses in Bend and Corvallis, as well as branches in other cities, Oregon State University has one of the best online programs in the United States. So, you can attend Oregon State without having to actually be there physically.

3. Pacific University

Unlike the large student bodies at state schools, Pacific University is a private university located in Forest Grove, Oregon with a student population close to 4,000. This is a small yet diverse liberal arts college that welcomes students with open arms from all walks of life. The school offers exceptional nationally recognized academic programs, and one out of four students here are the first in their families to graduate from college.

Here, students can combine their academic experiences with research, community engagement, and life experiences. Pacific University is known as the #1 Private Research University in the Pacific Northwest, earning the nickname “The Best in the West.” The school also prides itself on sustainability, being a great option for someone who cares about the environment as much as their academic career.

4. George Fox University

George Fox University is Christian private school, founded by the Quakers at the end of the 19th century. This is one of the United States’ top Christian universities, with seven seminary degree programs in addition to many other options in undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Though there are many programs to choose from, George Fox is well-known for sciences and health professions. There are four campuses with 4,000 students, offering high-quality academic experiences mixed with spiritual ones. It’s one of the 11 universities in the Richter Scholar Program, which offers research grants to students.

5. Willamette University

Located in the state capital of Oregon in Salem, Willamette University is the oldest university in the western United States, with the oldest law school in the Pacific Northwest. It is one of the first co-educational colleges in the United States, with the first ever graduate being a woman.

There are nearly 50 academic programs to choose from at Willamette, as well as a number of student organizations to get involved with on campus. And, for those who are interested in studying abroad at some point in their academic career, Willamette has a wonderful study abroad program with sister-university connections and programs all over the world.

6. Reed College

Reed College is yet another prestigious private liberal arts college, located in Portland, Oregon in the Eastmoreland neighborhood along Reed Lake. The campus actually has a nature preserve in the center. It’s known as one of the most “intellectual colleges” in the United States and encourages its student body to engage in intellectual inquiry in any of their 40 majors and programs. Smaller classes allow students to get the attention they need in their coursework, and the school celebrates inclusion and diversity as part of its commitment to pursuit of intellect.

7. University Of Portland

While it may sound like a public university, the University of Portland is a private, Roman-Catholic college that dates back to 1901. The school gets recognition for being one of the best value colleges, as it offers top-notch education with a reasonable price for tuition. It’s rated the top Oregon school by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance annual ranking, and the top school in Oregon by Bloomberg Businessweek for return on investment.

There are more than 40 undergraduate programs and 30 minors, with a 12:1 student/faculty ratio. The Portland Pilots compete in NCAA Division I athletics, and was a top producer of Fulbright scholars in the 2015-2016 school year.

Bridge and fall foliage in Oregon
Image by Joan Greenman from Pixabay

8. Portland State University

Portland State University is a public institution of higher education and is one of the best urban public research universities in the state. It was ranked one of the top “innovative universities” in the country, and is known for its academic expertise.

Though there are 203 degree programs to choose from in its undergraduate and graduate schools, Portland State University is best known for its programs in Environmental Studies and Urban Planning, which is easy to see at this socially-conscious and progressive campus. There are over 26,000 students attending PSU, more than half of them being women.

9. Linfield College

Linfield College is located in McMinnville, Oregon, but there is also a branch in Portland. Though the school is known as a small, yet high-quality liberal arts college (ranked the #1 Liberal Arts College in Oregon, as a matter of fact) there’s a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs to choose from. Perhaps the most unique quality of Linfield College is that fact that it has been offering an Online Continuing Education program (OCE) since 1975, which is open to students not just in Oregon, but all over the world. The program even offers a Master of Science in Nursing.

10. Southern Oregon University

While many universities distinguish themselves as a college that specializes in either liberal arts, technical, or academics, Southern Oregon University combines all of this, which is a pride point of the school.

Located in Ashland in the beautiful Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon University has thus been rated one of the best hiking colleges, and has received recognition for its positive treatment of the environment.

But it’s not just the atmosphere on the campus that makes Southern Oregon University a desirable option for prospective students. The school is a top school for education majors, among many other degree programs.

11. Lewis & Clark College

Yet another private liberal arts college in Portland, Lewis & Clark College was, of course, named after the famous Lewis & Clark Expedition. The school encompasses that same adventurous spirit, nestled in an environment surrounded by trees and creeks. While Lewis & Clark College is probably known more for their stunning campus than anything else, students here have their choice from a number of diverse degree programs when declaring their major, and can look forward to a successful job placement upon graduation.

Oregon Colleges Or Online Colleges?

Some of these colleges in Oregon are not just the best in the state, but are also well known around nationally and globally. While these schools certainly have a lot to offer students, from their programs to their rankings and gorgeous campuses, not every student will have the ability to pay for tuition at these schools or attend classes in person.

That’s why attending a tuition-free online university like University of the People is a great choice if you want to earn your degree in a program that revolves around your life, not the other way around. And, if you want to live in Oregon so that you can have access to the beautiful nature and cities like Portland, you could do so while attending school online. Get your degree, live in Oregon, but without having to pay the hefty fees of physically attending school there. It’s a win-win!

University of the People