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Online Degrees in Oregon (OR)

A recent study from the Lumina Foundation reveals some interesting statistics about the state of higher education in Oregon, and how its residents compare to other populations around the country. For the most part, it's all good news. According to the study, aptly named A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, approximately 40.5 percent of Oregon residents age 25 to 64 held at least a two-year college degree in 2013. That compares favorably to the results from 2008, when only 38.6 percent had earned a degree. You can't deny the statistics -- higher education is on the rise in Oregon. Still, there's room left for improvement.

Specifically, the number of Oregon residents with some college experience but no degree remains rather high. According to the statistics, around 26.66 percent of working age Oregon residents had some college credit, but no formal degree, in 2013. Compared to other groups, that's a lot. As the numbers show, 9.13 percent of Oregon residents held an associate degree in 2013, while 20.29 percent had their bachelor's and another 11.03 percent held a graduate or professional degree.

Fortunately, plenty of schools offer opportunities for both on-campus and online degrees in Oregon. In fact, National Center for Education Statistics figures show that approximately 97 colleges, universities, trade schools, and technical schools currently call the state home. While some of these schools focus solely on traditional education, others focus on offering state of the art online education in Oregon.

  1. Why Should I Earn a Degree in Oregon?
  2. What Makes Oregon Ideal for Online Education?
  3. Top 10 Degrees in Oregon
  4. Top Cities for Oregon College Students
  5. College Roadmap
  6. Scholarships and Financial Aid
  7. Discover Degree Opportunities

Why Should I Earn a Degree in Oregon?

Earning a degree in Oregon isn't just about getting a piece of paper. Ultimately, you'll want to use that degree to begin a career that fits your lifestyle and goals. Fortunately, Oregon has lots to offer in terms of career, industry, and job potential. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates reports, the state of Oregon is currently home to 1,683,470 workers and a mean annual wage of $46,850. The jobs that employed the most college-educated workers in Oregon in 2014 are as follows:

Occupation

Number of Workers in 2014

Registered Nurses

31,050

General and Operations Managers

27,020

Business Operations Specialists

13,630

Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education

12,000

Accountants and Auditors

11,120

Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Technical Education

8,600

Computer User Support Specialists

7,670

Software Developers, Applications

7,350

Lawyers

6,490

Financial Managers

6,130

Nature lovers and city dwellers will rejoice in Oregon's diverse landscape and cultural climate. With California to the south, Washington to the north, and the beautiful Pacific coastline to the west, Oregon offers access to everything from large urban environments to lush forests, rolling hills, and sprawling coastal environments. When it comes to major metropolitan areas, Oregon has two -- the Portland metropolitan area and the Salem metropolitan area. Oregon's population is densely populated in these areas, with a great majority of its residents residing in the Willamette Valley. Other popular areas for new settlers in Oregon are Medford in the south, Corvallis, and Ashland.

According to Oregon.gov, key industries in the state currently include advanced manufacturing, clean technology, forest and wood products, high technology, and outdoor gear and activewear. Meanwhile, forestry and agriculture also contribute to the state's economy and growth. Oregon is also home to several of the world's most powerful companies, with Nike, Adidas, Harry and David, and Lithia Motors all keeping headquarters in the state.

A recent economic summary from Oregon.gov outlines several factors that are contributing to both the economic recovery and anticipated growth in the state. According to the report, wages for all occupations combined in the state are growing at an average of 7 percent per year. Meanwhile, Oregon employers added over 47,400 jobs in 2014, an increase of 2.8 percent. New jobs in health services, leisure and hospitality, and business accounted for around 52 percent of all growth in the state in 2014.

Non-traditional students who want to take advantage of the anticipated job growth in the state are in luck since infrastructure for online education already exists in Oregon. While some new schools have emerged to offer online-only instruction, several big-name schools, including Oregon State University, have led the pack in terms of online offerings and access. Oregon State University established OSU Online, a virtual campus dedicated to e-learning, several years ago in an effort to attract new online students. The school's ecampus currently offers dozens of bachelor's and master's programs that can be completed entirely online.

Although financial aid may be available, it's important for students to learn about the costs of college before they sign up. Fortunately, Oregon tuition rates remain relatively steady despite exceptional growth in the cost of college reported across the country. College Board statistics show that the average tuition for in-state students at four-year schools came out to $8,932 for the 2014-15 school year, and only $4,555 for public two-year schools.

But college costs and good job prospects aren't the only reasons someone would want to move to this dynamic, eclectic state. The truth is, from the cool city scene in Portland to the state's scenic coastlines, Oregon has much more to offer than meets the eye. Here are some fun and quirky facts about Oregon that you probably didn't know:

  • Love spooky adventures? Oregon is home to more ghost towns than any other state in the nation.
  • Oregon contains not only the deepest lake in the nation, Crater Lake, but also Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America.
  • Eugene, Oregon is consistently rated as one of the most bike-friendly communities in the nation.
  • Oregon is home to dozens of state parks including its largest, Silver Falls State Park, which features ten waterfalls.
  • Frugal shoppers can rejoice in the fact that Oregon has no state sales tax.

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What Makes Oregon Ideal for Online Education?

When deciding where to pursue an online education, it makes sense to consider locations where infrastructure for online learning is already built out. In that respect, Oregon is an excellent choice since distance learning has been popular in the state for quite some time now.

Several big schools in Oregon have fully functioning online degree programs, while others offer options in hybrid education. Oregon State University, for example, has its own ecampus that offers undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs taught by the same faculty as their traditional programs. Meanwhile, Eastern Oregon University offers several fully-online degree programs, some of which mirror the same program you can complete on-site.

The fact that most schools in the state reside in the large metropolitan areas near the coast plays a large part in why distance learning is so popular in Oregon. Since most of the state's rural areas are underrepresented in terms of educational opportunity, online schools in other areas of the state have stepped up to the plate. A student living in rural Oregon, for example, can now earn their degree without commuting to a big city or moving to be closer to school.

According to many experts, including Ray Schroeder, Director of the UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy, and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning at the University of Illinois in Springfield, location independence is one of the biggest advantages that come with earning an online degree.

"Flexibility is the key benefit of online degrees -- the university comes to you, rather than you to the university," explains Schroeder. However, he notes that the faculty members who teach online are often the same as those who teach on-campus courses.

Meanwhile, online degrees are typically held to the same standards. "Online programs are just as rigorous as on-campus programs," says Schroeder. "They offer many of the same intellectual challenges as you would expect in an on-campus program, but your class is often comprised of professionals who are starting out in your career field."

According to Schroeder and other online education experts, you should expect to put in as much time for your online coursework as you would for a similar on-campus program, if not more.

The bottom line: Oregon is the perfect place to earn an online degree, but success becomes much more likely when students start off with realistic expectations and a good work ethic. Meanwhile, self-motivation, a willingness to ask questions and seek answers, and plenty of follow-through are qualities that any student could benefit from.

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Top 10 Degrees in Oregon

The Oregon Department of Labor predicts healthy job growth in a wide range of industries in the coming decade. Using wage and employment projections from the U.S. Department of Labor, we've created this list of the top 10 degrees in Oregon:

Marketing

Oregon's economy is booming, and that means more businesses need professionals to help them market and advertise their products and services. Because of the anticipated growth in the state's economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of marketing professionals, such as market research analysts and marketing specialists, to increase 38 percent between 2012 and 2022. To find a program that can help you get started in this field, check out these Oregon schools:

  • Blue Mountain Community College
  • Corban University
  • Eastern Oregon University

Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Almost all health care careers are booming in Oregon, and sonography is no exception. In most cases, students who earn a degree in diagnostic medical sonography do so in order to transition directly into the field. According to the BLS, demand for these workers is expected to increase 38 percent in Oregon from 2012 to 2022, which means excellent job prospects for those who make the cut. If you want to learn more, explore the following schools and their respective programs:

  • Oregon Institute of Technology
  • Portland Community College

Geography

Although employment figures are relatively small for this career nationwide, the numbers are expected to rise significantly in Oregon and elsewhere over the next decade. Due to this expected growth, the BLS predicts that employment of geographers could increase by as much as 37 percent in Oregon from 2012 to 2022. For more on earning a degree in geography, check out these Oregon schools:

  • Oregon State University
  • Portland State University
  • University of Oregon

Biomedical Technology or Engineering

A degree in biomedical technology could lead to a number of careers with exceptional demand, including medical equipment repairer. As the BLS notes, job opportunites for medical equipment repairers in Oregon are expected to increase 36 percent from 2012 to 2022, making this an excellent option for anyone considering it. If you want to learn more about biomedical technology degrees, check out the programs at these schools:

  • Portland Community College
  • Oregon Health & Science University

Hospitality Management

With tourism on the rise all over Oregon, it makes perfect sense for students to pursue a degree in this growing field. Students who earn a degree in hospitality management or tourism management typically do so in order to gain employment as a meeting, convention, or event planner. According to U.S. Department of Labor data, employment for these professionals is expected to increase 36 percent in Oregon between 2012 and 2022. Students who want to work in this field should consider these schools for their excellent hospitality programs, both online and on-campus:

  • Chemeketa Community College
  • Lane Community College
  • Mt. Hood Community College

Finance

Earning a degree in finance can lead to a number of careers, but one of the most popular is personal financial advisor. Since people will continue to need assistance in investing their money and planning their estates, this career is expected to see exceptional growth over the coming decade. Specifically, data shows that employment of personal financial advisors in Oregon is expected to rise 35 percent from 2012 to 2022. Meanwhile, demand for financial analysts is expected to increase 26 percent. Learn more about this major by checking out the following schools:

  • University of Oregon
  • Oregon State University
  • George Fox University

Multimedia Art and Animation

Earning a degree in multimedia art and animation, or a related field, is a great way to showcase your artistic ability and get started in an exciting new career. Today, multimedia artists are needed in a wide range of industries, which means demand for these professionals should be high over the coming decade. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of multimedia artists and animators to increase 34 percent in Oregon from 2012 to 2022. If you love art and want to get started right away, check out the on-campus and online programs at these Oregon schools:

  • University of Oregon
  • Oregon State University
  • Portland Community College

Physical Therapy Assistant

As with almost every aspect of health care, the use of physical therapy is on the rise. Earning a degree as a physical therapy assistant is the best way to begin a career in this field. Because of anticipated demand, workers in this field are expected to see a 32 percent surge in employment during the decade leading up to 2022. If you want to learn more about this industry, check out the excellent programs these Oregon schools have to offer:

  • Mt. Hood Community College
  • Lane Community College
  • Rogue Community College

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Another health care field booming in Oregon is occupational therapy. Most students who desire to work in an occupational therapist's office pursue a degree as an occupational therapy assistant. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of these professionals is expected to increase 29 percent in Oregon from 2012 to 2022. The following schools can help you get started in this career:

  • Linn Benton Community College
  • Rogue Community College
  • Portland Community College

English or a Foreign Language

People often earn degrees in a foreign language in order to begin careers as interpreters or translators. And because these professionals are in high demand, job prospects in the field are excellent. Specifically, the BLS predicts that job openings for interpreters and translators in Oregon could increase by as much as 33 percent between 2012 and 2022. If you want to master a foreign language and break into this industry, look into these on-campus and online programs:

  • Oregon State University
  • Central Oregon Community College
  • Southern Oregon University

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Top Cities for Oregon College Students

Portland

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Oregon's biggest city, Portland, boasted a total population of around 609,456 in 2013. Approximately 43.8 percent of the population ages 25+ held a bachelor's degree or higher from 2009 to 2013, while more than 90 percent had their high school diploma. Portland is part of the Portland metropolitan area, a region of the country known for the numerous bridges that cascade its downtown area, its proximity to the Pacific Ocean via the Willamette River, and the many tech industries that call the area home. In addition to its moderate climate and bike-friendly attitude, Portland is also famous for its natural beauty, glutton of trails, parks, and green spaces, and its many festivals and cultural events.

The National Center of Education Statistics lists 36 colleges, universities, community colleges, and trade schools in the Portland area, many of which offer distance learning throughout Oregon. Here are some schools that stand out:

Portland State University

Located in the heart of downtown Portland, Portland State University is a four-year public school recently named among the top ten "up and coming" universities by U.S. News and World Report. With a total enrollment of 28,241 for the 2014-15 school year and a student-to-faculty ratio of 21:1, PSU aims to bring big city higher education down to a personal level. Full-time tuition and fees came out to $7,794 per year for resident undergraduate students and $13,689 for resident graduate students for the 2014-15 school year, although a full 69 percent of students received financial aid. Among their many popular programs, the following stand out:

  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
  • Online Master of Social Work
  • Bachelor of Arts in Accounting

University of Portland

Approximately 3,900 students attended the University of Portland in 2013-14, many of which were there to pursue one of the dozens of undergraduate and graduate degree options currently available there. As the National Center for Education Statistics reports, tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to $40,424, which represents a 4.5 percent increase over the previous year. The school is known for its excellence in graduate education programs, many of which are repeatedly given honors in school rankings across the nation. Some of the University of Portland's most popular degree programs are as follows:

  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Bachelor of Science in Mathematics
  • Bachelor of Arts in Social Work

Portland Community College

With up to 90,000 students enrolled at any given time, Portland Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the state of Oregon. This two-year career college offers degree programs that lead directly to the workforce as well as programs that help students transfer into four-year schools. Pre-college and continuing education programs are also offered, in addition to several distance learning opportunities. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year came out to $3,592. Popular among adults returning to college later in life, Portland Community College has something to offer everyone. A few of their most sought-after programs include:

  • Certificate in Dental Assisting
  • Online Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Management
  • Associate of Science in Business Transfer Degree

Salem

As the capital of Oregon, part of the Salem metropolitan area, and the state's second largest city, Salem was home to a population of approximately 160,614 residents in 2013. Food production and state government are some of the city's biggest industries, although manufacturing and corrections also produce many of the region's jobs. As of 2013, only 26.6 percent of adult Salem residents held a bachelor's degree. However, more than 86 percent had at least a high school diploma.

With a median housing value of $187,200 in 2013, Salem is known as an affordable place to settle down and raise a family. Meanwhile, it's also a great place to continue your education due to the fact that there are so many options. The National Center for Education Statistics lists eight colleges, universities, and trade schools as active in the Salem region. The following schools help educate Salem adults while also contributing heavily to the local economy:

Willamette University

Founded in 1842, Willamette University was built on a foundation of student exploration and excellence in liberal arts theory. Total enrollment for the 2013-14 school year included 2,725 students pursuing undergraduate degrees in liberal arts or graduate degrees in both law and management. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year were $44,076 for in-state students, although a large percentage of the population receives some form of financial aid. Out of the school's 49 academic programs, these programs get the most attention:

  • Bachelor of Science in Economics
  • Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Forestry

Corban University

A Christian Liberal Arts school founded in 1935, Corban University aims to spread the gospel while also focusing on excellence in liberal arts higher education. With an enrollment of 1,143 and average tuition of $28,640 for the 2014-15 school year, Corban provides degree programs in a number of disciplines, some of which are offered online. Among their most popular degree programs, these few stand out:

  • Online Bachelor degree in Business: Organizational Leadership
  • Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in English

Chemeketa Community College

As a two-year community college, Chemeketa Community College focuses on preparing students for quick entry into the workforce. Current student enrollment is approximately 12,111, while tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year were only $4,230 for in-state students. Some of the school's most popular programs include:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management
  • Associate of Applied Science in Accounting
  • Associate of Applied Science in Fire Suppression

Eugene

Although Eugene is the third largest city in Oregon, it only has a population of around 159,190, as of 2013. Approximately 39 percent of Eugene's residents age 25 and above held a bachelor's degree in 2013, while 93.8 percent possessed at least a high school diploma. With a median housing value of just $238,700, Eugene residents enjoy a relatively affordable cost of living. Meanwhile, the city is known for its natural beauty, plentiful recreational opportunities, and cultural dominance in the area. But Eugene has more than just plenty of biking trails and parks; it also boasts a plethora of cultural events and festivals focused on the arts.

The National Center for Education Statistics lists five active colleges, universities, and trade schools currently active in the Eugene area. The following schools are perhaps the most well known:

University of Oregon

As a member of the Association of American Universities, the University of Oregon is one of only 36 schools with a focus on scientific research and exploration. Total enrollment for the 2014-15 school year included 24,181 students, the vast majority of which attended full-time. The school currently offers a whopping 272 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs to choose from. During the 2013-14 school year alone, they awarded 4,667 bachelor's degrees. Tuition and fees for 2014-15 averaged out to $10,287 for in-state students and $32,022 for out-of-state. Some of their largest degree programs include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology

Lane Community College

As a comprehensive community college, Lane Community College offers a wide range of career training and degree options for students who hope to enter the workforce quickly or transition to a four-year school. With a total enrollment of over 36,000, Lane also strives to remain affordable. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to just $3,988 for in-state students. Although the school currently offers only one fully-online degree program, they do offer a number of online and hybrid courses you can take in addition to on-campus instruction. A few of the school's most notable programs include the following:

  • Online Associate of Arts Transfer degree
  • Associate of Arts in Accounting
  • Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts

Northwest Christian University

As a small, Christian university with an average class size of 16, Northwest Christian University aims to transform the learning experience with exemplary instruction and a focus on religion-based values. Current enrollment includes approximately 700 students, and the school boasts a student to faculty ratio of around 12:1. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to $26,180 for in-state students, although a large percentage of the student population does receive financial aid. These are a few of their most popular degree programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood and Elementary Education

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College Roadmap

Considering an education in Oregon is one thing, but actually living it is an entirely different experience. That's why it makes sense to get a better feel for your options before you decide to pull the trigger. A road trip through the region might make it easier to choose a school that will not only meet your educational needs, but your cultural needs as well. If you decide to head to Oregon to see it for yourself, this college roadmap can help:

Since the vast majority of colleges are located in the western part of the state, you should start your journey in the center near Bend, Oregon. There, you can check out Central Oregon Community College, as well as Linfield College and George Fox University.

Next, head directly west to Eugene. Spend some time taking in the natural beauty of the area, hitting the bike trails, and kayaking. Once you're relaxed, check out the campuses at Northwest Christian University, Lane Community College, and of course, the University of Oregon.

Then consider heading north toward Salem. But before you get there, you should stop over in Corvallis to see Oregon State University and its sprawling campus. A quick jaunt north will also bring you to Western Oregon University, a school known for its obsession with athletics. After visiting there, you can head northeast to Salem, where you'll find Corban University, Willamette University, and Chemeketa Community College, among others.

End your journey in Portland, which just so happens to contain the bulk of the state's schools. While enjoying the city landscape and some nightlife, take time out to see schools like Marylhurst University, Concordia University, and Portland Community College before exploring the University of Portland and Portland State.

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Scholarships and Financial Aid

The first step toward getting financial aid typically involves filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form. This helps state and local governments, as well as schools, figure out whether or not you qualify for aid, and if so, how much. Types of federal aid you might qualify for can include Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, or Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.

Beyond federal aid, Oregon and its institutions have plenty to offer students in terms of state- and school-specific scholarships. The Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion offers plenty of resources that can help students find out which types of aid they may qualify for. In fact, they offer information on 475 different scholarship opportunities and grants, including these:

  • Oregon Opportunity Grant
  • Oregon Student Child Care Grant
  • Deceased or Disabled Public Service Officer Grants
  • Barbers and Hairdressers Grant

In addition to information on student aid, the Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion also offers help with saving for college and career planning.

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Sources:
A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, Lumina Foundation, 2015, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/#oregon
College Navigator, Oregon, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=OR
Degrees and Programs, Oregon State University Online, http://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/online-degrees/
Fastest Growing Careers, Oregon, CareerOneStop, http://www.careerinfonet.org/oview1.asp?next=oview1&Level=edu3&optstatus=&jobfam=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=41&ShowAll=
May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Oregon, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_or.htm
Oregon's Growth Industries, Business Oregon, http://www.oregon4biz.com/Oregon-Business/Industries/
Oregon Economic Summary, 2014, Oregon.gov, http://www.oregon.gov/DAS/OEA/docs/economic/oregon.pdf
State and County QuickFacts, Eugene, U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/41/4123850.html
State and County QuickFacts, Portland, U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/41/4159000.html
State and County QuickFacts, Salem, U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/41/4164900.html
Tuition and Fees by Sector and State Over Time, College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-time