2023 Top Colleges in Oregon

Oregon Colleges of Distinction

Published: September 1, 2022

By: Colleges of Distinction Staff

Jump to: Eastern Oregon University | Lewis & Clark College | Linfield University | Reed College | University of Oregon | University of Portland | Willamette University | Frequently Asked Questions

Colleges of Distinction has hand-picked a selection of top schools that are well equipped to provide a personalized education catered to students’ interests. Through a rigorous vetting and interview process for the 2022-2023 academic year, we have refreshed and reaffirmed that these institutions strive for excellence in line with the four overarching distinctions—Student Engagement, Teaching, Community, and Outcomes.

These schools vary in size, cost, location, academic offerings, and more, but they are all distinguished by their commitment to the undergraduate experience. The diversity of the college list is intentional, giving students and parents a variety of public and private universities to consider. No matter what, they all exhibit the foundational qualities of a fulfilling undergraduate education.

Eastern Oregon University logo

Eastern Oregon University

La Grande, OR ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Eastern Oregon University was founded in 1929 as a teachers’ college and today serves as a center for education, culture and scholarship in rural areas of Oregon. Students receive personal attention from professors and build strong relationships with peers and mentors. Officially designated Oregon’s Rural University in 2018, EOU cultivates innovative partnerships with communities across the region to expand economic and educational opportunities for all.

Students get hands-on experience starting their freshman year at EOU. They continue building their résumés by working alongside faculty to carry out and present undergraduate research and participate in internships. Such practices are valued highly by employers and graduate schools. During their courses of study, students participate in service learning programs and research. Undergraduates also have unparalleled access to cutting-edge science and technology labs where they sequence DNA or design new software. Each year, students from across disciplines come together to present their original research and creative accomplishments for the Spring Symposium.

Acceptance rate 94%      •      Net price $15,436
Total Undergrad Population 2,853      •      Setting Town      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 28%      •      Retention rate 70%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 15:1

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Lewis & Clark College

Portland, OR ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

A liberal arts college with a public conscience and global reach, Lewis & Clark is the ideal place to explore the world and find one’s place in it.

At Lewis & Clark, students can find graduate-level research options, opportunities to work with nationally recognized professors, and top-ranked overseas programs. While the school’s campus (regularly ranked among the most beautiful in the nation) is located in Portland, Oregon, Lewis & Clark intellectually spans the globe, offering one of the strongest international education programs in the United States.

Lewis & Clark’s Center for Entrepreneurship builds on the college’s strong liberal arts foundation to transform the entrepreneurial impulses of students into effective practice in emerging enterprises, existing businesses, and public life. Rapidly expanding internship opportunities and mentoring programs enrich the academic experience and allow students to put knowledge into action in practical and innovative ways.

The College Outdoors program is so popular and its offerings so rich and diverse that 9 out of 10 students take at least one College Outdoors trip. And with millions of acres of natural wonders, the Pacific Northwest abounds with opportunities to explore.

Acceptance rate 80%      •      Net price $37,478      •      SAT Range 1198-1380      •      Students submitting SAT scores 56%
Total Undergrad Population 3,157      •      Setting City: Large      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 74%      •      Retention rate 79%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 11:1

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Linfield University

McMinnville, OR ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Linfield University is a private institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees from campuses in McMinnville and Portland, Oregon. It features a low student-to-faculty ratio, a tradition of strong academics, powerhouse athletics programs, and a vibrant student life.

All new first-year students and many transfer students take First Semester Seminar. This course introduces new students to Linfield and launches them on a path to success. Students learn about the academic advising process, their role and responsibility in meeting degree requirements, the resources of the Linfield community, and the process of making sound academic choices.

Students at Linfield are better prepared for success when they can identify specific people in their life who they trust and know they can go to for support. Through this course, a student gets connected with a faculty advisor and a peer mentor right at the start of their Linfield journey. Importantly, their faculty advisor is also an instructor of one of their academic courses, and comes to know the advisee both academically and holistically.

Acceptance rate 80%      •      Net price $28,517      •      SAT Range 1050-1210      •      Students submitting SAT scores 64%
Total Undergrad Population 1,392      •      Setting Town      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 75%      •      Retention rate 81%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 11:1

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Reed College

Portland, OR ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Engage in a meaningful way with faculty and peers at Reed College, a private institution in Portland, Oregon, with an impressively low student-to-faculty ratio. Reed was founded in 1908 and is “known for its high standards of scholarly practice, creative thinking, and engaged citizenship.” Students can explore learning opportunities across 40 majors at Reed.

A Reed education balances broad knowledge across the curriculum with depth of knowledge in a particular field of study. Reed’s teaching philosophy is characterized by close interaction between students and faculty in an atmosphere of shared scholarly concern and active learning.

Acceptance rate 42%      •      Net price $33,980
Total Undergrad Population 1,385      •      Setting City: Large      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 77%      •      Retention rate 83%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 9:1

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University of Oregon O logo

University of Oregon

Eugene, OR ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Explore the beauty of the Pacific Northwest while earning a top-tier education at the University of Oregon. With over 300 academic programs to choose from, including renowned programs in journalism, business, and environmental science, UO offers students a dynamic and engaging learning experience. The campus is home to state-of-the-art facilities, including the Knight Library, a hub for research and academic support, and the innovative Tykeson Hall, which provides personalized academic and career advising to students. 

The university also values community engagement and social responsibility, with a wide variety of opportunities for students to get involved in service-learning projects, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities. And with more than 500 student organizations, ranging from club sports to academic honor societies to environmental groups, there’s something for everyone to get involved in.

As a Pac-12 member school, the UO Ducks are known for their excellence in athletics, and the campus comes alive on game days with a sea of green and yellow. Discover all that the University of Oregon has to offer and find your place in the vibrant and welcoming UO community!

Acceptance rate 84%       •       Net price $17,646       •       SAT Range 1090-1290       •       Students submitting SAT scores 72%
Total Undergrad Population 18,045      •      Setting City: Midsize      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 74%       •       Retention rate 84%       •      Student-to-faculty ratio 18:1

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University of Portland

Portland, OR ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

An education at the university is guided by knowledge that is imparted by award-winning professors, enhanced by real-world experiences, and underscored by the values the University has embraced since its founding in 1901. University of Portland has a commitment to service and the unwavering belief that the mind is little without the heart.

A steady assortment of interesting guest speakers, fiction and poetry readings, dialogues on faith and justice, theatrical offerings, and other activities fill the campus calendar. Throughout the school year, students actively cheer for their competitive Division I athletic teams.

The University of Portland is located in a beautiful residential neighborhood that overlooks the Willamette River. On average, 90 percent of freshmen live in residence halls, and approximately 60 percent of students choose to live in residence halls or in off-campus houses owned by the university. University of Portland students say they value the intimate nature of the university as well as their ready access to Portland’s thriving downtown.

Acceptance rate 77%      •      Net price $37,317      •      SAT Range 1130-1320      •      Students submitting SAT scores 73%
Total Undergrad Population 3,999      •      Setting City: Large      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 84%      •      Retention rate 86%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 11:1

Click here for available majors

willamette university logo

Willamette University

Salem, OR ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Willamette is the first institution of higher education founded west of the Mississippi River. Deep historic roots in the region mean that Willamette was literally at the center of economic and political development as the Pacific Northwest grew up around campus. Willamette is the only institution of higher education in the United States that sits directly across the street from a state capitol building, providing unmatched access for students interested in policy, politics, law, and ethics.  

Mentored undergraduate research is extremely common across the college, particularly in the natural sciences; and it is required for several majors.

WU offers more than 75 competitive undergraduate research grants annually in all subject areas, from the arts to the natural sciences to the humanities. In addition, professors often invite students to collaborate on scholarly projects—thus helping them develop valuable critical thinking, writing, and analytical skills. Students often present their research at conferences, and some funding is available to help enable them to do so. 

Acceptance rate 80%      •      Net price $37,913
Total Undergrad Population 1,866      •      Setting City: Midsize      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 74%      •      Retention rate 82%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 10:1

Click here for available majors

What it’s like to attend schools in Oregon and other FAQ:

What are average tuition costs in Oregon?

The average undergraduate tuition & fees for colleges in Oregon is $7,739 for in-state students at public institutions, $20,520 for out-of-state students at public institutions, and $22,547 for students at private institutions.

Cheapest degree program in Oregon

Eastern Oregon University has an average net price of $15,436 making it the least expensive institution in Oregon that made our list.

Easiest degree program to get into in Oregon

Eastern Oregon University has an acceptance rate of 94%, with a test-optional admissions policy, making it the least exclusive college on our list of Oregon Colleges of Distinction.

Degree program with lowest student debt in Oregon

Eastern Oregon University has a median total debt after graduation of $20,458. This is the typical debt for a student who completed their undergraduate degree.

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