Online Degrees In Oregon (OR)
Oregonians are enjoying prosperous times. The unemployment rate has been at historic lows for over two years, the housing market is in-demand and jobs have grown significantly. But experts warn of a looming worker shortage, due in part to a lack of training among workers. The industries that are most in demand — including healthcare, construction, software development and advanced manufacturing — currently can’t find enough properly trained employees in Oregon to meet that need.
If you’re considering attending college or returning to complete a degree, now is a great time to explore online degree programs in Oregon. Not only does a college credential give you a leg up on some of the fastest-growing and highest-paying jobs in the state, but online education enables you to continue working or meeting your schedule demands while completing coursework at times convenient for you. Plus, many online degree programs offer accelerated sessions, so you could graduate and put your degree to work more quickly. Keep reading to learn more.
Why Earn an Online Degree in Oregon?
According to Worksystems, the workforce development board for Multnomah and Washington counties, Oregon is experiencing a skills shortage — workers either don’t possess enough training and experience to fill existing jobs, or they haven’t kept pace with their industries through continuous development.
The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) of Oregon predicts the state will add more than 120,000 jobs requiring postsecondary education by 2030, which means 300,000 more Oregonians must earn degrees or college credentials.
Earning online degrees in Oregon is beneficial because this training can be offered fully or even partially online, maximizing your convenience. Only eight of the state’s 81 postsecondary institutions are in rural areas, so for the roughly 16 percent of Oregonians living in rural areas, online degrees in Oregon eliminate the problem of physical proximity to their chosen programs.
Online programs often are accelerated, and many, such as Eastern Oregon University (EOU), offer credit for professional experience. Some programs can cost less than traditional ones because they don’t charge campus-related fees, and cost per credit usually is the same for both in- and out-of-state students.
Plus, research repeatedly shows that earning an education pays. Oregon State University (OSU) reports that people with bachelor’s degrees earn an average of 64 percent more per week than those with only high school diplomas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
10 Best Online Colleges in Oregon
Drawing on information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), such as tuition, number of online programs, and available student support resources, we’ve devised this list of the top 10 Oregon colleges that offer online degree programs. Whether you’re a recent high school grad or mid-career adult looking to return to school after a long absence, this list can help you select the right program for your needs.
|Average in-state tuition||$4,860|
|No. of online programs||0|
|% of students in distance education||50|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,116|
|Average in-state tuition||$30,508|
|No. of online programs||13|
|% of students in distance education||82|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$15,677|
|Average in-state tuition||$7,155|
|No. of online programs||21|
|% of students in distance education||67|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$6,203|
|Average in-state tuition||$4,104|
|No. of online programs||17|
|% of students in distance education||34|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,869|
|Average in-state tuition||$9,390|
|No. of online programs||47|
|% of students in distance education||44|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$7,596|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,996|
|No. of online programs||7|
|% of students in distance education||41|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,158|
|Average in-state tuition||$4,208|
|No. of online programs||26|
|% of students in distance education||55|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,364|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,783|
|No. of online programs||6|
|% of students in distance education||54|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,252|
|Average in-state tuition||$8,391|
|No. of online programs||4|
|% of students in distance education||27|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$6,429|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,708|
|No. of online programs||17|
|% of students in distance education||51|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,575|
Top Online Degree Programs in Oregon
The NCES provided valuable data about the number of available online programs at Oregon colleges, which we’ve used to develop this list of the top online degree programs in Oregon. Note that these online programs may be offered fully or only partially online.
Quality of Online Education in Oregon
If you’re interested in online degree programs in Oregon but you’re concerned about quality (and you should be!), your first step should be determining whether the program is accredited, which is assurance that an independent, third-party accrediting organization has verified that the school and program meet a baseline standard of quality. Not to mention that accreditation is essential for most financial aid and tuition assistance programs, and it assures employers that you have earned relevant, rigorous training in your area of study.
Thirty-one higher education institutions in the state are approved members of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, which means they participate in an agreement among member states that establishes comparable national standards for quality of online courses and programs across state lines.
Individually, Oregon colleges that offer online degree programs often take their own steps to assure students of quality. For example, OSU, and Portland Community College encourage and supports faculty who earn course certification and peer review through the Quality Matters (QM) program, which is a continuous improvement model for online course quality. And all online and hybrid courses at Columbia Gorge Community College must adhere to QM standards.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in Oregon
After you’ve determined that your desired program is accredited, there are other factors you should consider before enrolling. Every program is unique and may not always be suited to your needs.
Oregon State suggests that students consider the following during the decision-making process:
- How are classes delivered? Is the program fully or partially online? If partially, will you be able to meet the face-to-face requirements, such is classes, labs or proctored exams?
- Do you have previous college credits, and will they transfer to your desired school? Does the prospective program offer credit for prior learning, and is that important to your progress?
- Does your computer meet the minimum requirements for online courses?
- What resources are available to help you succeed? Many schools offer such support as online tutoring, 24/7 tech support, online writing or math centers, mentors/coaches, career advisement or even counseling. Find the right mix that suits your needs.
- Can you afford it? Look at the school’s per-credit tuition and any other fees; note that some schools charge e-learning fees. Speak with a financial aid counselor at the school to determine what you might qualify for or to receive help in filling out applications for aid.
Top Occupations in Oregon
The BLS reports that the following jobs are most in demand in Oregon. This information may be important in helping you decide what area of study to pursue.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||247,470||$41,650|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||188,460||$29,290|
|Sales and Related Occupations||177,040||$43,000|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||159,820||$39,150|
|Educational Instruction and Library Occupations||109,520||$60,990|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||100,720||$96,510|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||99,080||$73,570|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||87,280||$56,930|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||76,340||$35,720|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||67,990||$50,610|
|Fast Food and Counter Workers||58,640||$26,640|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||55,200||$32,850|
|Computer and Mathematical Occupations||54,320||$88,490|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||49,910||$33,060|
|Architecture and Engineering Occupations||43,180||$83,250|
|Community and Social Service Occupations||38,390||$52,710|
Top Metropolitan Areas in Oregon
Worksystems says that the skill needed most in Oregon — appearing in 19 percent of all job postings — is software development.
Additionally, healthcare employs 10 percent of Oregon’s workforce and comprises 11 percent of new jobs created between 2018 and 2019. In particular, the need for nurses and home health aides is acute.
Six percent of Oregonians work in construction, and between summer 2018 and summer 2019, 7,000 new construction jobs were added across the state. This growth is fueled by population and economic growth, with low residential and commercial vacancy rates. The State of Oregon Employment Department (SOED) says construction jobs should grow by 17 percent through 2027.
Here’s a look at the labor needs in Oregon’s major metropolitan areas:
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro: According to the SOED, Portland’s construction, transportation and high-tech industries will drive most of the job growth between now and 2027. Located along the Columbia and Willamette River on Interstate 5, Portland is a hub for commercial trade and is one of only 14 U.S. metros with a dedicated focus on trade and investment. Its transportation, warehousing and utilities sector should grow by 23 percent. Other employers adding high numbers of jobs through 2027 are software publishers (27 percent), computer systems design and related services (29 percent), management of companies and enterprises (26 percent) construction businesses (17 percent) and healthcare and social assistance (20 percent).
Eugene-Springfield: Whereas the population of Lane County is growing slower than in Portland, with low concentrations of finance and high-tech jobs, Eugene-Springfield is home to the University of Oregon and a burgeoning brewery/beverage manufacturing sector. It also is the site of a large timber industry. The SOED projects an impressive 33 percent employment growth in the transportation equipment manufacturing, 25 percent in construction and 20 percent in healthcare.
Salem: The state capital saw employment growth outpacing the nation in 2019. The occupations employing the largest numbers of people being office and administrative support, sales, food preparation and serving, transportation and material moving and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Oregon
Affordability plays a major role in your decision to enroll in online degree programs in Oregon and persist until graduation. The HECC suggests that your first step when you’re considering enrolling in a program is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA) as early as October 1 to be considered for federal and/or state financial aid, including grants or loans.
The state Office of Student Access and Completion, a division of the HECC, awards more than $118 million in grant aid to thousands of Oregon students. These grants include:
Oregon Opportunity Grant: This is the state’s largest state-funded, need-based program for students attending Oregon colleges. About 40,000 students receive these grants each year. Based on need as determined by the FAFSA, the grant award depends on level of need, with a maximum award of $2,700 at Oregon community colleges and $3,300 at Oregon public universities or private nonprofit colleges.
Oregon Promise Grant: This state grant helps residents attending Oregon community colleges to cover their tuition costs. Students must submit a special application as well as the FAFSA or ORSAA, be recent Oregon high school graduates and have cumulative GPAs of at least 2.5, and they should plan to attend college at least half time.
Other grants exist for special populations: children of deceased or disabled public safety officers, students who are parents and current or former foster youth.
Tests You May Need to Take
Any school offering online degrees in Oregon can have its own admissions requirements, and for many, they can include scores from either the SAT or ACT. OSU, Southern Oregon University and University of Oregon, for example, require at least one of these as part of their admissions packages. Others, such as Central Oregon Community College, don’t require test scores at all to apply. Check with your individual school for details on what’s required for admission.
To be included in our ranking of the best colleges for online degree programs, all colleges had to meet the following five criteria:
- Be an accredited U.S. institution
- Offer either 2- or 4-year degree programs
- Have at least 1 percent of students taking at least some of their classes via distance education
- Be active in the 2015-16 school year
- Report data for all 15 specific ranking variables included in our methodology
We then ranked the remaining 2,169 colleges and universities and scored each on a 100-point scale on these specific. Our data points include:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The average amount of federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Full-time Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Open admissions policy for all or most entering first-time undergraduate-level students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Offers credit for military training
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- “Oregon,” Rural Health Information Hub, accessed July 26, 2019, https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/states/oregon
- Oregon Postsecondary Education and Training Goals, State Higher Education Goals, Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC), Oregon.gov, accessed July 26, 2019, https://www.oregon.gov/highered/about/Pages/state-goals.aspx
- Approved Distance Education Opportunities in Oregon, HECC, accessed July 26, 2019, https://www.oregon.gov/highered/institutions-programs/private/Pages/distance-education.aspx
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- Liza Morehead, “These industries showing skill shortages in Oregon,” Portland Business Journal, June 28, 2019, https://www.bizjournals.com/portland/news/2019/06/28/these-industries-showing-skill-shortages-in-oregon/
- “Oregon’s Current Workforce Gaps,” State of Oregon Employment Department, May 2019, https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=2ahUKEwj7mPHrhNPjAhUCHqwKHYtPDTQQFjACegQIBBAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.qualityinfo.org%2Fdocuments%2F10182%2F13336%2FOregon%2527s%2BCurrent%2BWorkforce%2BGaps&usg=AOvVaw1ZE5GO77L09O1MHOf6AVDm
- Mike Rogoway, “The 6 most in-demand jobs in Oregon,” The Oregonian’s OregonLive.com, July 1, 2018, https://expo.oregonlive.com/news/erry-2018/07/555c283ac21217/the_6_most_indemand_jobs_in_or/
- Online Education, University of Oregon, accessed July 26, 2019, https://online.uoregon.edu/
- Our online and hybrid programs, Oregon State University, accessed July 26, 2019, https://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/online-degrees/
- EOU Online, Eastern Oregon University, accessed July 26, 2019, https://www.eou.edu/online/
- Overview of Online Courses at SOU, Southern Oregon University, accessed July 26, 2019, https://inside.sou.edu/distanceeducation/students/distance-ed/#is-online-for-you
- “CGCC Faculty Receiving National Quality Matters Recognition for Distance Learning,” Columbia Gorge Community College, June 13, 2018, https://www.cgcc.edu/news/cgcc-faculty-receiving-national-quality-matters-recognition-distance-learning
- Gail Krumenauer, “Oregon’s Future Workforce Needs: Job Growth to 2027 by Industry,” State of Oregon Employment Department, June 26, 2018, https://www.qualityinfo.org/-/oregon-s-future-workforce-needs-job-growth-to-2027-by-industry
- Local Areas, State of Oregon Employment Department, accessed July 26, 2019, https://www.qualityinfo.org/
- May 2018 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2019, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcma.htm
- Global Trade and Investment, Greater Portland, Inc., accessed July 26, 2019, https://greaterportlandinc.com/global/
- Josh Lehner, “Eugene-Springfield Economic and Housing Outlook,” Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, June 4, 2019, https://oregoneconomicanalysis.com/2019/06/04/eugene-springfield-economic-and-housing-outlook/
- Grants, Office of Student Access and Completion, HECC, accessed July 26, 2019, https://oregonstudentaid.gov/grants.aspx
- Patrick O’Conner, “Employment in Salem MSA (Marion and Polk Counties): April 2019,” State of Oregon Employment Department, May 21, 2019, https://www.qualityinfo.org/documents/10182/73818/Employment+in+Salem?version=1.68