Willamette University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Willamette University
"Willamette University challenges enterprising, high-achieving students through individualized experiences in and out of the...

Willamette University

Salem, Oregon

A Premier Liberal Arts University in the Northwest

Whether pursuing innovative research, interning with a business or nonprofit, working one-on-one with a professor, studying abroad or leading a campus organization, Willamette University students hone their creativity, global perspective, and critical thinking for a lifetime of success.

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
2,123 undergraduate students
92% of undergrad students are full time
43% male — 57% female
82% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
242 full-time faculty
51 part-time faculty
10 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

68% of students live on campus.

School Location

Salem, Oregon — the state capital; 50 miles south of Portland and 220 miles south of Seattle.

Retention Fall 2015

87% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full-time, first-time freshmen)

6-Year Graduation Rate 2015

79% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 8%
Hispanic/Latino 11%
Black or African American 2%
White 57%
American Indian or Alaska Native 1%
Asian 9%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 9%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 4%


NCAA Division III Northwest Conference (NWC). 20 varsity sports (10 men’s: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, rowing, soccer, swimming, tennis, track & field; 10 women’s: basketball, cross country, golf, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track & field, volleyball)

Other Information

Willamette University is a four-year, private liberal arts university with three professional graduate schools. 

Academic Programs

Degrees offered: Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Music (BM).
American Studies; American Ethnic Studies; Anthropology; Archaeology; Art; Art History; Arts, Technology And Multimedia; Asian Studies; Biochemistry; Biology; Chemistry; Chinese Studies; Classical Studies; Comparative Literature And History Of Ideas; Computer Science; Economics; 3-2 Engineering; English; Environmental And Earth Science; Exercise Science; 3-2 Forestry (Special Program); French; Geography; German; History; Humanities; International Studies; Japanese; Japanese Studies; Latin American Studies; Mathematics; Music; Philosophy; Physics; Politics; Pre-Law (Special Program); Pre-Medicine (Special Program); Pre-Veterinary Medicine (Special Program); Psychology; Religious Studies; Rhetoric And Media Studies; Russian; Sociology; Spanish; Theatre; Women’s And Gender Studies; Writing; BA/MBA Joint Degree; BA/MAT Joint Degree; BA/JD Joint Degree

More Distinctions

  • Princeton Review called Willamette one of the nation’s best value colleges, and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance named it among the best values in private liberal arts colleges.

  • U.S. News & World Report lists Willamette among the top tier of liberal arts colleges, and one of 11 up-and-coming national liberal arts colleges.

  • Willamette is ranked first university in the nation for sustainability activities by the National Wildlife Federation, and listed as one of the top “Cool Schools” by Sierra magazine.

  • Willamette was one of six colleges and universities in the nation in 2010 to earn the presidential award for exemplary service from the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Willamette’s rich curriculum and collaborative learning environment allow students to explore a wide variety of subjects that are critical to helping them navigate the world. Students research side-by-side with professors, intern at companies and nonprofits worldwide, and improve their communities through service.


Willamette offers competitive, funded undergraduate research opportunities in all subject areas, providing students with the opportunity to explore their interests and build a valuable set of skills for the future. About 28% of undergraduates conduct faculty-mentored research through a variety of programs, and at least 75 competitive Willamette grants are available annually for student research.


Politics, biology, economics, and psychology are among our top majors, but our students nevertheless explore a wide spectrum of interests. About 68% of students investigate their academic interests and career possibilities through one or more internships—from the Oregon State Capitol across the street to Intel to the Art Institute of Chicago—as they gain work experience to enhance their job and grad school applications.


Willamette students are always looking for new ways to make their mark on the world. They frequently launch new endeavors both on campus and in the community, learning valuable skills of teamwork and productivity. The Bistro coffee shop on campus, the Wulapalooza art and music festival, and Zena Farm are just a few student-created initiatives.


Undergraduates are engaged in communities both locally and internationally (about 50% study abroad before they graduate!). In 2010, the president’s higher-ed honor roll named Willamette one of the top six schools in the country for exemplary service. Undergraduates volunteer almost 33,000 hours annually. Willamette is also strongly dedicated to sustainability—the National Wildlife Federation ranked us first in the nation for sustainability activities.

Willamette professors contribute a wide range of expertise to create a dynamic and collaborative learning environment for their students. They not only engage in scholarly research and publication, but they also commit to teaching and serving as mentors and advisors.


Since 1990, ten Willamette faculty members have been named Oregon Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. They have been honored among the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country for excelling in teaching and for positively influencing the lives and careers of their students.

Small Classes. Great Relationships.

With an average class size of 14 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1, Willamette provides a personal classroom experience in which professors get to know their students well, making it easy to find individualized help or ask questions. Professors frequently involve their students in research outside of class as well, both for independent and collaborative projects.

First-Year Program

Students are introduced to the intellectual life of Willamette from the moment they arrive on campus through College Colloquium. This first-year program allows students to hone their critical reading and writing skills, actively discuss issues in a small class setting, and broaden their worldview. Students have many Colloquium topics to choose from. Furthermore, they get to use their Colloquium professor as their academic advisor until they choose a major.

Joint Degrees

In addition to 48 undergraduate academic programs, Willamette students may also choose a joint degree program, pairing their liberal arts education with a master’s degree so that they may stand out from the competition and get a jump-start on their career. Willamette offers three joint degrees: a bachelor of arts/master of business administration (BA/MBA), a BA/master of arts in teaching (BA/MAT) and a BA/juris doctor (BA/JD).

The life of the Willamette student is active, thought-provoking, and focused on community both in and out of the classroom. More than 100 student organizations help students develop their character in addition to their intellect.

Something for everyone

Whether students want to sing or play a musical instrument, learn about foreign cultures, explore the outdoors, compete athletically, debate policy initiatives, or volunteer in the community, they will find a student organization at Willamette that supports their passion.


Academics come first at Willamette, but students still have time to compete. Willamette athletes have an enthusiastic network of supporters. Willamette’s NCAA Division III athletics program includes 10 men’s and 10 women’s sports. 25% of students participate in intercollegiate athletics. Intramurals are also popular with students, 65% of whom participate.


Academics come first at Willamette, but students still have time to compete. Willamette athletes have an enthusiastic network of supporters. Willamette’s NCAA Division III athletics program includes 10 men’s and 10 women’s sports. 25% of students participate in intercollegiate athletics. Intramurals are also popular with students, 65% of whom participate.

Life in the Northwest

Willamette enjoys all the benefits of the Pacific Northwest: beautiful landscapes and the ocean nearby, environmental consciousness, and a relaxed, creative, and civic-minded culture. The school is located in Salem, Oregon’s capital, the epicenter of state government, law, and business. Downtown Salem, next to campus, offers numerous restaurants, coffeehouses, concerts, and other activities.

Willamette alumni describe their experience as life-changing, and they appreciate having gained the expertise they needed for a successful career and life, whether they went on to a job, prestigious graduate program, national fellowship, or public service.

An experience that opens doors

Willamette alumni have gone on to a wide variety of successful careers in numerous fields, and many are also active in their communities. Recent employers of Willamette graduates include Intel, Nike, Boeing, Microsoft, Oakley, McKinsey & Company, the Federal Reserve Bank, the U.S. Vice President’s Office, the Environmental Protection Agency, and National Public Radio.

Willamette’s rigorous, interdisciplinary liberal arts environment prepares students to enter top-notch graduate programs including Yale University, Harvard University, Stanford University and the London School of Economics. Graduates frequently win prestigious national fellowships like the Fulbright Grant, which provides scholarship money for research and study abroad opportunities.

loyal alumni

Willamette alumni continue to demonstrate the enterprising spirit that they developed on campus, and they remain devoted to their alma mater. Some mentor current students, and some connect with each other through Willamette’s alumni Career Network.

career services

Willamette’s Career Services office provides numerous programs to help students explore career possibilities in any field. Apart from offering drop-in office hours and a popular online job board, the office also hosts events and activities that assist with everything from résumé building to school searching.


Admissions Fall 2015

6,332 Total Applicants 
4,935 Total Admissions 
521 Total Freshman Enrollment

77.94% of applicants admitted

Freshman Profile Fall 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 550 670
SAT Math 550 660
SAT Writing 550 650
ACT Composite 25 30
ACT Math 24 29
ACT English 24 32
ACT Writing    


Net Price Calculator



Tuition $45,300
Fees $317
Total $45,617
Room and Board (on campus) $11,400
Room Only $5,800
Board Only $5,600
Estimated Total On Campus $57,017


Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015

100% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
57% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded student loan aid

$24,877 Average amount of federal, state, local, or institutional grant aid awarded
$7,904 Average amount of student loan aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduates

My Academic Experience: A Voice of My Own

In his spoken word performance, slam poet Shane Koyczan reminds us of the importance of the individual. “This is my voice,” he says. “There are many like it — but this one is mine.” The...

Prepared for the Future

From student government to chemistry research to tennis to Greek life — Elise Helvie ’09 defined her Willamette University experience as much more than going to class. Whether she was studying liquid-liquid systems in the...

Helping Others Go to College

Julie Kennedy ’99 left Willamette University with a chemistry degree, a passion for teaching and a desire to create positive change for children in need. She went on to help found and lead a charter...

Turning Sports into Art

What can you do with an art degree? Jason Kenitzer ’00 pondered this question at Willamette University after choosing the major because art was his true passion. After he graduated, he discovered a perfect career...

Turning a Passion into a Career

When he first came to Willamette University, Noah Horton ’02 thought he wanted to be a lawyer. But he had been writing computer programs since second grade, and after taking related courses at Willamette and...

Exploring Global Leadership

Mika Lim is no stranger to globe-trotting, but her summer internship in Cambodia and Vietnam marked an important leg of her life’s voyage. The Willamette University sociology major got an in-depth look at global non-governmental...

Ready for the Real World

From working with children who have psychological disabilities to mentoring juvenile inmates to walking dogs, David “Bernie” Bernstein has already applied his Willamette University psychology and sociology lessons to the real world. Walking dogs may...

Questioning the Status Quo

“Many undergraduates don’t experience the research opportunities and relationships I’ve had with my professors at Willamette,” Willamette University student Michael Miller says. “Willamette has helped me develop and refine the analytical tools I need to...

Curious about the Natural World

As a child, Hannah Vietmeier went on nature walks and left no rock unturned — and at Willamette University, she continues training her eye on nature. The summer after her sophomore year, Hannah worked with...