Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Oregon 2022

Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Oregon 2022

Liberal arts colleges are a great option for students seeking a well-rounded education in an intimate campus setting. The best liberal arts colleges in Oregon offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

Colleges and Universities in Oregon

Oregon is home to over 40 higher education institutions, including Oregon State University, the largest in the state. More than 30,000 students are enrolled at this public research institution in Corvallis, and with a tuition of $11,000, the school comes in slightly above the national average. Students attending the next largest, the University of Oregon, will join in on a friendly intrastate rivalry against Oregon State. Though the tuition is higher at $12,000, the school boasts a student–faculty ratio of 16:1.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

Of the 21 private institutions, 10 are religiously based. Concordia University has the largest student population at just under 5,000 and a tuition of $31,000. Students who attend this private Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod university can study fields such as chemistry, psychology, and history. Oregon’s community colleges range in tuition from $4,000 to $6,000. The least expensive four-year institution in the state, Portland State University (PSU), comes in at $8,000. Students attending PSU can study a range of fields, including environmental engineering, film, and international business, right in the heart of the city.

Gaze at the Pacific Ocean from the Oregon Coast Highway, which travels along the entire coastal edge of the state. Taste Pacific Northwest wines from the Willamette Valley, or take a bike ride through the streets of Portland. Students looking to earn their associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in The Beaver State can enjoy a great higher education experience set against a stunning natural backdrop.

Discover what Oregon has to offer, and find a college that fits your career interests as well as your budget.


What are Oregon’s Colleges & Universities?

Oregon’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

Oregon's Best Liberal Arts Colleges Badge
Download Badge

How do we determine Oregon's best liberal arts colleges?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great! If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence in their fields of study.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is freer from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

To rank the influence of schools, we first determine the influence of scholars and professionals based on the number of citations and publications they have had over the past 10 years. In addition to publications and citations, we consider the web links to and from these sources, and the page views of those sources. We then match the influential people to their alma maters and institutions of employment, so that their influence is attributed to those schools. Our machine-learning Influence Ranking algorithm produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data. If you are interested in exploring how and why we rank by influence, explore our methodology in more depth.

A liberal arts college is a school that puts a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree. We’ve identified 12 liberal arts colleges in Oregon. To be ranked among the best liberal arts colleges in Oregon, schools must fully accredited institutions.

Back to Top

Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Oregon 2022

  1. #1

    Reed College

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1422/32

    What is Reed College known for?

    Reed College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Willamette University

    Salem , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Willamette University known for?

    Willamette University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Economics
    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Anthropology
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #4

    Lewis & Clark College

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1310/29

    What is Lewis & Clark College known for?

    Lewis & Clark College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • Law
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Communications
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #5

    Southern Oregon University

    Ashland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1090/21

    What is Southern Oregon University known for?

    Southern Oregon University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Communications
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Anthropology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #6

    Western Oregon University

    Monmouth , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/20

    What is Western Oregon University known for?

    Western Oregon University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Earth Sciences
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #7

    Eastern Oregon University

    La Grande , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    28%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1037/20

    What is Eastern Oregon University known for?

    Eastern Oregon University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Sociology
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #8

    Oregon Institute of Technology

    Klamath Falls , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/23

    What is Oregon Institute of Technology known for?

    Oregon Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Mathematics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #9

    Linfield University

    McMinnville , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/23

    What is Linfield University known for?

    Linfield University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • History
    • Literature
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Law
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #10

    Corban University

    Salem , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/22

    What is Corban University known for?

    Corban University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #11

    Bushnell University

    Eugene , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1081/19

    What is Bushnell University known for?

    Bushnell University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #12

    Warner Pacific University

    Portland , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    100%

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Warner Pacific University known for?

    Warner Pacific University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Physics
    • History
    • Communications
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

Back to Top

Oregon’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Your Area of Interest

Frequently Asked Questions About Research Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Online Colleges

In pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to choose between three kinds of schools: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and online colleges.

Research universities are colleges and universities whose faculty are active in research and publishing. These schools offer a wide array of doctoral programs, especially in the sciences. They tend to be big, with tens of thousands of students.

Do you prefer a larger university setting, such as largest public university in your state? Research universities are typically big, offering degrees in many different disciplines. Is a big high-powered research environment the thing for you. If not, you should think about a liberal arts college. In deciding on an undergraduate institution, ask yourself what sort of environment will best help you to be happy and excel.

  • Consider whether you are self motivated enough to be a face in the crowd for some classes and largely unknown on campus at a large university. Of course you can find clubs and friends at a large university, but often liberal arts colleges have a more personal quality to them. If you want the community feel, a research university may not fit you well.
  • Are you interested in STEM fields? Research universities have that name for a reason – real research is happening there. This can create an exciting atmosphere for students interested in STEM. Attending a research university can give you a better chance of getting into better programs for graduate degrees, although a lot of that depends on your performance.
Back to Top

Often referred to as “teaching colleges” liberal arts colleges put a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree.

  • Do you want your professors to know you? Liberal arts colleges strive to cultivate campus cultures that encourage tight bonds between professors and students. Professors at these schools will typically conduct original research. Yet the best of these schools offer their faculty reduced teaching loads so that they can both be productive researchers and still have plenty of time for students (both in and outside the classroom).
  • Do you want to feel like you know everybody? One of the most enticing features of a liberal arts college is that in very little time, you can feel like you know who’s who, which can create strong friendships, but also more pleasurable walks across campus. While your sports teams may never be on ESPN, it’s more likely that you’ll know the athletes as your peers. Beyond student and faculty relationships, it’s not unusual for the school president and other administrators to learn who you are. When faced with problems with your student account or the need to switch classes, this can be comforting during a stressful moment.
Back to Top

Online colleges are typically the same colleges and universities you could attend in-person, but for certain degree programs the college or unviersity has made the degree programs available to be completed online. For over 5 million students, online degree programs allow students to earn their degrees in the most flexible format available. Online degrees are as respected as the on-campus degress you could earn from the same schools. There’s usually no disctinction between the two degrees, and your degree and transcript will not say that the degree was earned online. Online degree programs are offered by a vast majority of colleges and universities, and the number of offering continues to grow. Whehter you are searching for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, there’s a good chance you can earn your degree online from a respectable online college.

  • Are you a self-driven student? Perhaps the hardest aspect of obtaining an online degree is whether you will be disciplined enough to manage your time and course demands. Many online students report that online college made them more disciplined in all areas of their lives, but the flexible, self-paced learning that makes online colleges attractive can often be the same qualities that make it difficult. If you tend to be a procrastinator, you need to be honest with yourself. You can change your habits and propensities, or you can throw money down the drain.
  • Do you need the flexibility of an online degree program? Most online students study online because of time demands balancing work and life, or becuase the online colleges afford them the chance to attend a better school without moving. If you are serious about earning your degree for career advancement, online colleges make it possible. The most flexible options among online degrees are those that are aynchronous, meaning you don’t have scheduled times to meet with your class online. However, many students seek synchronous online degree programs so that they have some structure – set meeting times, scheduled exams, etc.
  • The good news is that attending an online college doesn’t mean you will miss out on getting to know your professors and classmates. In fact, many online students who have experienced both online and on-campus courses report having easier access to their professors. Since most communication with your professor is expected to be in text – via email or your class learning management system – it makes asking your questions easier. The same students also report that they got to better know the thoughts of their classmates. While in-person course conversations can be dominated by a few extroverts, online courses that require online discussions make it so that you see all of your classmates’ thoughts and questions.

If you interested in an online bachelor’s degree, check out what the best online colleges offer, or search our online degrees for the exact program that interests you. In either case, you will find well respected colleges and universities that offer online degrees.

Back to Top

Resources for College-Bound Students

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. Reed College
  2. Lewis & Clark College
  3. Willamette University
  4. Linfield University
  5. University of Portland
  6. Southern Oregon University
  7. Eastern Oregon University
  8. Oregon Institute of Technology
  9. Warner Pacific University
  10. Corban University
  11. Western Oregon University
  12. Bushnell University