Colleges and universities in Oregon are known for sustainability initiatives, flashy athletics and more recently, efforts to increase diversity and attract international students. Online services are also growing and expanding at schools in the state, leading more students from Oregon and outside states to request information on degree programs that would be otherwise inaccessible without online technology. As a student researching online degrees and programs in Oregon, you likely have questions about where to go, what major to choose, how to pay for school and more. We answer these and other frequently asked questions, and help online students identify the best colleges and universities for earning an online degree in Oregon below.
Thriving tech, business industries and natural beauty make Oregon is a popular place to live and work. But online degree options offer both in- and out-of-state students equal access to Oregon’s colleges and universities, making traditional on-campus amenities less important to today’s digital students. To kick off your research on the online college options in Oregon, we’ve compiled a list of colleges we consider the best combination of value, quality and online student support in the state.
Prospective students interested in online colleges in Oregon may have a few questions they need answered before deciding to enroll. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the state's distance learning programs.
Oregon offers many degrees in the arts in sciences, with popular schools like Oregon State University granting online undergraduate degrees in areas such as history, environmental science, and economics. To find the right school, students should consider both their intended area of study and the format in which classes are delivered. Many Oregon schools offer online degrees in both fully online and hybrid formats, and the best place to look for up-to-date information as programs evolve is on each school’s website.
Some students interested in online learning already have college credits to put toward a new degree. Many online schools in Oregon can work with a student to apply their prior school, work, and life experiences toward the required credits needed to graduate. Examples include:
Portfolio Assessment: Linfield College in McMinnville offers a Prior Learning Degree Portfolio option, which allows students to earn up to 31 of the 125 required credits by applying previous learning. This includes on-the-job experience, noncredit workshops, and travel, as well as family and other personal experiences.
Community College Credits: For those who are transferring in from an Oregon community college, the associate of arts Oregon transfer degree is accepted by the Ecampus program at OSU.
Work & Life Experience Exam: A knowledge assessment called the College Level Examination Program is used by the University of Oregon and others to determine the amount of college credits that can apply for a student’s work and life experience.
Military Training & Service: Providing transcripts from courses taken while in the military can determine how many credits will count towards a new degree.
Oregon State University has a search tool to help prospective students determine if their previously earned credits will transfer. Although this is not an official evaluation, it will give students an idea of what to expect.
Before investing time and money into getting a degree, students likely want to make sure it’s going to pay off. While an online degree doesn’t guarantee a lucrative career, it can help Oregon graduates land jobs that pay higher than those which require only a high school diploma or associate degree. On average, each step up in degree level opens up career opportunities at higher pay levels.
Mean Annual Salary for All Occupations in Oregon, by Minimum Degree Level Required:
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
The economy in Oregon is strong, but that means many jobs are going unfilled. Oregon's labor market needs well-educated, skilled workers, especially in specialized positions in the medical and engineering industries. Getting a degree can equip professionals with what they need to move into their dream jobs.
In Portland, the tech industry is thriving, thanks to Intel Corporation's presence there. Medical school graduates can also find work opportunities through the Oregon Health and Science University and Providence Health and Services.
Outside of Portland, Salem is a thriving business center for recent college graduates. Outside of state government, the top employer in the city is Salem Hospital, which has 2,700 workers. Major industries represented in the city are agribusiness, healthcare and technology.
Eugene is also a popular place to live, work, and play, with the PeaceHealth Medical Group, the University of Oregon, and federal offices all located there. With so many industries thriving throughout Oregon, professionals with degrees are offered greater ability to quickly move up the career ladder.
When choosing an online program, it's essential to look for one that is accredited by the appropriate agencies. The University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and Eastern Oregon University—among many others in the state—boast accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the regional accrediting agency for the Northwest region.
For students who want a more impactful, industry-specific degree experience, finding an online program in Oregon that hold specialized accreditations beyond the standard regional accreditation may be valuable. For example, Pacific University maintains nearly two dozen specialized accreditations, from the College of Optometry’s accreditation from the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education to the College of Education’s accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
Cost is always a consideration for prospective students, whether they're coming directly from high school or pursuing a degree while working full time. In Oregon, the introduction of free community college opened up new learning opportunities for many residents, but due to funding restrictions, not all students who want to participate are able.
Beyond this here are many funding options for Oregon residents that can make pursuing a degree more affordable. Students who can demonstrate financial need can apply for the Oregon Opportunity Grant, which is the largest state-funded, need-based grant available to students pursuing a higher education. Each year, the state issues approximately 40,000 grants to Oregon students through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For the 2018-19 school year, the maximum award amount is $3,200 for use at an Oregon public university or a private, nonprofit university based in the state. For students who attend school part time, the amount awarded is prorated.
Non-Oregon residents can also save money by attending college online. By comparing OSU's Ecampus tuition to its non-resident on-campus tuition, there's more than a $5,000 savings for out-of-state residents. A student who doesn't live in Oregon will pay only $4,320 for a 15-credit semester online, compared to $9,819 on campus.
In-state tuition requirements can vary from one college to the next, but many colleges require residency of at least 12 months to qualify. This is true of OSU, which requires either establishing residency or exhibiting a predominant physical presence in the state for this time period. The school also considers financial dependence on an Oregon resident and the student's primary purpose for being in Oregon as factors. Since OSU's online programs charge the same tuition for both in-state and out-of-state residents, these requirements don't apply.
Tuition Reciprocity Discounts: Oregon is one of 17 states and territories that participate in the Western Undergraduate Exchange, which allows students from participating states to attend schools for 150 percent of in-state rates, rather than being responsible for full out-of-state tuition.
Oregon ranks in the middle when it comes to affordable college tuition. For the 2017-2018 academic year, in-state tuition and fees fell just above $10,000, compared to $16,070 in New Hampshire and $5,220 in Wyoming. Out-of-state tuition was in the center, as well, at $30,000, compared to $12,480 in South Dakota and $38,990 in Vermont.
There are many opportunities for financial assistance available to Oregon students aside from the Oregon Opportunity Grant. To help connect students with the financial aid they need, the Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion has created a student portal. The website offers students a choice of more than 500 scholarship options in just one application. The portal includes scholarships worth more than $18 million, with opportunities organized by criteria such as the high school a student attended and where in the state the resident lives.
Today's education system is made up of a diverse group of students, including the many students coming directly from high school or a community college and the non-traditional learners who are returning to the classroom after being in the workforce. In Oregon, the 13,000-some adults who were served by an adult education program at the college level in 2016 to 2017 showed a measurable skill gain of more than 40 percent. This exceeded the state's goal of a 35 percent gain for the time period measured.
Adult education can provide a pivotal bridge to college for underserved populations in Oregon. Programs include:
Academic Skill Programs – includes basic reading, writing and math training, English as a Second Language courses and High School Equivalency preparation.
College and Career Planning – Oregon Career Pathways is an interactive program that helps learners plot their course towards college education and career success.
Professional Development & Continuing Education – For additional technical skill building and certification training after college.
To find an adult education program in Oregon, check with your local community college campus, high school or government center.