Best Community Colleges in Oregon

A guide to educational opportunities offered at the best community colleges in Oregon and career paths that await graduates.

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by Staff Writers

Published on January 21, 2022

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Oregon's community colleges offer more than just a basic two-year associate degree. The state's Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development focuses on higher education on many levels. That includes training in basic skills for "adulting," technical training, and affordable strategies for budget-conscious learners.

Whether a student is strained for time or money, the community colleges in Oregon offer options to fit anyone's schedule or budget. Not only will Oregon's best community colleges get you ready to pursue a job, they'll also help you find a career where you thrive.

Why Study in Oregon?

Educational Opportunities

The state of Oregon lays out 17 career clusters summarizing the top education options at the community or technical college level. Students can explore educational opportunities that prepare them for careers in areas like agriculture, food, and natural resources; arts, information, and communications; business and management; health sciences; human resources; and industrial or engineering systems.

Students can pursue one of these 17 clusters at one of the 17 community colleges in the state. The schools are located in major Oregon cities and smaller towns, including Portland, Bend, Astoria, Salem, Roseburg, Eugene, and Tillamook.

Economy

In a recent executive summary, the state of Oregon writes "the economic outlook is bright." People put more money aside during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the state received impactful federal funding.

The state projects 100,000 additional jobs by 2022, barring any hiring or staffing challenges. The state also says that as of September 2021 there are a record amount of jobs posted. Wages increased more than 10% in the last 18 months throughout Oregon.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Oregon varies greatly depending on where a person resides in Oregon. Overall, the state ranks among the more expensive states in which to live. If the nationwide index is 100, Oregon comes in at 127. Only five states have higher costs of living.

Housing is the most expensive cost. The state admits housing instability "continues to be a major challenge."

Cultural and Community Offerings

The Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon protects and encourages culture and arts statewide. Nine Native American tribes call Oregon home.

Oregon's major metropolitan area of Portland offers a range of cultural activities, cuisine options, and local breweries. The city is known for its rich music scene and has several historical theaters. Portland hosts a long-running H.P. Lovecraft film festival and is the setting for the popular sketch comedy show "Portlandia."

Climate

The Cascades divide the state, resulting in different climates for west and east of the mountain range. West of the Cascades receives more rainfall throughout the year. The Pacific Ocean helps keep temperatures mild.

In contrast, the Cascade mountains keep moisture at bay from the eastern part of the state, leading to a much drier climate. For those who don't like thunderstorms, Oregon might be a top destination to call home. The National Centers for Environmental Information says the state rarely gets storms.

Top Degree Programs in Oregon

Best Online Associate in Psychology Programs Best Online Associate in Computer Science Programs Best Online Associate in Education Programs Best Online Associate in Web Development Programs Best Online Associate in Human Resources Program Best Online Associate in Finance Programs

Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Oregon Employment Outlook

The state of Oregon expects to regain all the jobs lost during the pandemic by the summer of 2022. In an executive summary offered in September 2021, the state recognized that increased consumer spending is needed for this forecast to hold true. The state repeatedly says that household income is strong, even higher than before the pandemic.

The state says all industries are expected to see increased job openings, with leisure and hospitality getting a big boost after being hit hard by the pandemic.

5 In Demand Oregon Jobs


Preschool Teachers

To become a preschool teacher in Oregon, you typically will not need a bachelor's degree; an associate degree is sufficient. You will also need to fulfill state licensing requirements. Preschool professionals can get a job in Head Start programs, private organizations, and daycares.


Construction Managers

This position oversees construction projects related to buildings, homes, and roads. These professionals need to be trained in all the phases of a construction project. Job candidates will need a license. A construction training partnership program between Central Oregon Community College, Facebook, and Fortis Construction gives students hands-on training to build two new Facebook data centers.


Graphic Designers

Graphic designers create visual concepts by hand, computer, or other technologies. One in five graphic designers chose to be self-employed. Associate degrees in graphic design can be obtained at several of Oregon's community colleges. Major brands in the state requiring graphic artist work include Nike, Harry & David, Dutch Bros. Coffee, and Columbia Sportswear.


Paralegals/Legal Assistants

Paralegals assist lawyers throughout trials and during pre-trial preparations. These professionals may need to handle tight legal deadlines. Applicants will need an associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies. Portland Community College offers a certificate and degree approved by the American Bar Association.


Electrical Engineering Technicians

Students in this field learn how to maintain equipment that runs on electricity. Generally, these technicians work with electrical engineers in a team setting on projects. Candidates will also need to get licensed by the state. Associate degrees in this field are available at several community colleges in Oregon.


Best Accredited Community Colleges in Oregon

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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Best Community Colleges in Oregon

  1. Mt Hood Community College
    Location

    Gresham, OR

    Tuition

    $6419

    Based just outside of Portland, MHCC ranks among the largest community colleges in Oregon, with an enrollment of more than 33,000 students. The college boasts more than 130 academic and professional programs, including cybersecurity and networking, English and creative writing, and integrated media broadcasting. MHCC also offers several apprenticeship programs that enable students to learn a trade (such as carpentry or ironworking) while earning an associate degree and a journey-level experience card.

    For learners interested in pursuing a baccalaureate education, MHCC maintains relationships with several four-year colleges, including Eastern Oregon University, the Oregon Institute of Technology, and Oregon State University. Learners can select from 31 associate programs that award transferable degrees, allowing them to complete the first two years of a BA or BS degree at MHCC. Subject areas include anthropology, business, music, and veterinary medicine.

    The college offers numerous scholarships, awarding more than $400,000 in institutional financial assistance each year.

  2. Tillamook Bay Community College
    Location

    Tillamook, OR

    Tuition

    $4887

    TBCC offers courses at two campus locations in Tillamook and one in Cloverdale. The school hosts a wide variety of academic and professional programs, including options in agriculture and natural resources, criminal justice and public safety, business administration, forestry, and animal science. TBCC also partners with several community colleges in Oregon to offer specialized healthcare programs, including diagnostic imaging, medical laboratory technology, and occupational therapy assisting.

    The college maintains partnership programs with several public and private colleges and universities, allowing learners to complete the first two years of a four-year degree at TBCC. In addition, the school offers pre-college, lifelong learning, and continuing education opportunities.

    TBCC supports students in both a professional and academic capacity, providing career counseling, transfer support, and other academic advice. Advisors work with students to determine the most effective course of study, potential transfer schools, and prerequisite class equivalencies. Advisors also connect students to additional resources and help them identify internship and employment opportunities before and after graduation.

  3. Columbia Gorge Community College
    Location

    The Dalles, OR

    Tuition

    $7970

    One of the smaller community colleges in Oregon, CGCC serves around 800 students annually from its campus in The Dalles. The college hosts classroom, online, and hybrid courses, offering associate degrees and certificates in several fields, such as business and entrepreneurship, computer applications and web technology, early childhood education, engineering and manufacturing, and nursing and healthcare. Students can also choose from several transfer degree pathways, including business, computer science, and education.

    In addition to academic advising and enrollment counseling, the college provides free tutoring services in math and writing -- available both on campus and online. Operating Monday through Thursday, the college's online writing desk enables students to submit writing assignments and receive in-depth feedback from experienced tutors within 24 hours.

    High school students can earn college-level credit through a dual-enrollment program, often at no cost. CGCC also provides an array of grants and scholarship opportunities. CGCC Foundation scholarships, for example, cover the cost of tuition, fees, and books for either a single semester or a full academic year.

  4. Clackamas Community College
    Location

    Oregon City, OR

    Tuition

    $5295

    Serving more than 25,000 students annually, CCC ranks among the largest community colleges in Oregon, with campuses in Oregon City, Clackamas, and Wilsonville. The school offers many professional and academic programs, including associate of science and associate of applied science degrees, certificates, and career pathway certificates. Students can choose from dozens of program options, including auto body collision repair, computer-aided manufacturing, horticulture, renewable energy technology, and wildland fire forestry.

    CCC also provides several transfer degree options that enable students to seamlessly transfer into most four-year Oregon colleges with junior status. Learners can select from biology, computer science, music, English, and business degree options. The school also offers an associate of general studies that enables students to design their own curriculum, with a focus on earning transferable credits.

    In addition to its academic programs, CCC houses a small business development center and a full schedule of arts and cultural opportunities on campus.

  5. Southwestern Oregon Community College
    Location

    Coos Bay, OR

    Tuition

    $9373

    Founded in 1961 in Coos Bay, SWOCC is one of the oldest community colleges in Oregon. Today, the school serves a student body of more than 10,000 learners, offering degrees and professional certificates in many popular fields, such as healthcare, culinary arts, public safety, social sciences, and education. Many courses are available through distance education, and the college boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 13-to-1.

    Students can also pursue transfer degrees in more than a dozen subject areas, including childhood education, fire science, forestry, marine biology, and nursing, as well as generalized programs in the arts or sciences.

    SWOCC maintains several resources for community members interested in preparing for college study. GED preparation and English language acquisition training help all students meet the school's open-door admission requirements. SWOCC also provides adult basic skills courses that reinforce knowledge in math, writing, reading, and computer literacy.

  6. Klamath Community College
    Location

    Klamath Falls, OR

    Tuition

    $5133

    Based in the southern Oregon city of Klamath Falls, KCC primarily serves residents of Klamath and Lake counties, enrolling around 1,400 students annually. The school offers degrees and certificates grouped into five major categories: arts, humanities, communication, and design; business, hospitality management, and technology; human resources; sciences and health services; and transportation, industry, engineering, and agriculture.

    KCC offers several fully online programs, including psychology, education, and business technology. Students wishing to earn a four-year degree can choose to follow the Oregon Transfer Module -- a 45-credit pathway that can be transferred to other colleges and universities in the state system.

    Prospective students who need to build foundational skills can access development education courses in both math and writing. KCC also offers tutoring services, including in-person sessions at the school's learning resource center, online tutoring through the Western eTutoring Consortium, and TRiO student support services.

    In addition to administering grants and a work-study program, KCC provides institutional scholarships through its foundation.

  7. Chemeketa Community College
    Location

    Salem, OR

    Tuition

    $4570

    With a name meaning "gathering place" in the Native American Kalapuya language, Chemeketa operates campuses in Salem, McMinnville, Brooks, Dallas, Euola, and Woodburn. As one of the largest community colleges in Oregon, Chemeketa educates more than 30,000 students across three counties.

    Students can select from professional certificates, transfer degrees, and professional degrees, covering subjects such as building inspection, Chicano/Latino studies, fire prevention, and human services. Chemeketa also offers a dual-enrollment program that enables students to take courses through four partner schools, including the Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland State University, and Western Oregon University. This program offers seamless transition into many four-year programs.

    High school students can earn college credit through the College Credit Now and dual-credit options. Chemeketa also offers a high school equivalency program for seasonal workers, and GED preparation and basic skills courses for all learners.

  8. Blue Mountain Community College
    Location

    Pendleton, OR

    Tuition

    $10820

    Founded in 1962 as a vocational school, BMCC serves the residents of Baker, Morrow, and Umatilla counties, enrolling around 2,700 students annually. The school offers several associate degrees and certificates, including transfer programs in the arts, sciences, business, and computer science.

    The college recognizes the academic value of past experience, and students can earn credit based on prior learning, such as professional certificates, military training, AP exams, and other specialized training. Students can take tests to demonstrate knowledge or submit a portfolio of relevant experiences for evaluation.

    BMCC offers several degree partnership programs with two-year and four-year colleges in Oregon, enabling students to complete degrees through partner institutions while taking classes on BMCC's campus. Candidates can pursue professional programs to prepare for roles like pharmacy technician, diagnostic imager, occupational therapist, and medical laboratory technician. Most of these programs enable students to complete prerequisite courses on BMCC's campus before completing remaining courses through distance education.

  9. Portland Community College
    Location

    Portland, OR

    Tuition

    $8541

    Serving a student population of more than 89,000 learners across a five-county area, PCC ranks as the largest community college in Oregon. Operating four main campuses around the Portland metropolitan area, the college offers degrees and certificates in dozens of academic and professional disciplines, including addiction counseling, building construction, creative writing, exercise science, and machine manufacturing.

    PCC ranks as one of the top community colleges in Oregon for media arts, offering specialized programs in computer applications, graphic design, multimedia, and music/sonic arts. These associate and certificate programs combine professional skills, technology tools, and artistic practice, preparing students for work in creative, technical, educational, and entrepreneurial fields. Many programs can transition into bachelor's tracks at Portland State University, enabling students to move seamlessly into four-year music and art programs.

    PCC also operates the CLIMB Center, which hosts a small business development center and continuing education opportunities for healthcare workers and other professionals. The college also has one of the largest noncredit community education programs in the state.

  10. Central Oregon Community College
    Location

    Bend, OR

    Tuition

    $9389

    Founded in 1949 to meet the needs of Crooke, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties, COCC is the oldest community college in Oregon. The school serves approximately 8,700 students by offering degrees and certificates in fields such as addiction studies, professional aviation, fire service administration, liberal studies, and outdoor leadership. Learners can also design their own course of study by earning an associate of general studies degree -- typically in preparation for transfer to a four-year college.

    In addition to career counseling and academic advising support, COCC offers free in-person tutoring services on campus in Bend, Madras, Pineville, and Redmond. Students can also access online tutoring through the Western eTutoring Consortium.

    The school's career services center helps students achieve their professional goals through counseling, internship connections, job search strategies, and a small business development center. COCC also offers classes in over 20 continuing education categories.

Best Online Colleges in Oregon

Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Oregon

Are community colleges worth it? true

Community colleges offer lower tuition than traditional four-year schools while still preparing students for in-demand jobs. Attending a community college is often worth it if you are pursuing a career that only requires an associate degree or a professional certification, or if you plan on transferring from community college to a four-year degree program to save money.

Does Oregon have good community colleges? true

Yes, Oregon has good accredited and affordable community colleges. Oregon's community colleges are built around preparing students for either higher education or to fill a job in demand. They also cater to adults looking for a career change.

Is community college free in Oregon? true

Students can apply for an Oregon Promise grant if they have lived in Oregon a year prior and have a 2.5 high school GPA or a 145 on the GED test. Students may be able to find scholarships, grants, or other financial aid opportunities online or through their local community college.

How many community colleges are there in Oregon? true

Oregon is home to 17 community colleges. These colleges can be found across the state in cities and smaller towns alike.

What is the cheapest college in Oregon? true

Tuition costs at community colleges in Oregon range from a low of $105 per credit at Clatsop Community College to $130 at Chemeketa Community College. Some schools offer 50% discounts for people over the age of 65.

Feature Image: David Papazian / The Image Bank / Getty Images

A complete guide to trade schools and why they could be a great and cheap alternative to college. Learn how you can build skills quickly in this post. Many community college students plan to transfer to a four-year college, but few succeed. Closing the transfer gap is critical to closing opportunity gaps. Many believe community college is less academically rigorous, but attending a two-year institution can benefit you both intellectually and financially.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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