Top 15 Community Colleges in Oregon in 2024

January 26, 2024 | Admin

Community Colleges in Oregon
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If you are thinking about enrolling in a community college, that is a great idea and a smart option for many people. For those wanting to improve their current vocational status or for students looking to enter the job market sooner than later, two-year programs like community colleges are excellent options.

Fortunately, there are plenty of good community colleges in Oregon, so advancing your career or getting an early start in your chosen career path is as easy as picking the right school. To help you with that, we have compiled a list of the best community colleges in Oregon using important criteria like tuition costs and student to teacher ratios.

Top 5 Community Colleges in Oregon

Rank School Location
1Columbia Gorge Community CollegeDalles, Oregon
2Tillamook Bay Community CollegeTillamook, Oregon
3Oregon Coast Community CollegeLincoln City and Newport, Oregon
4Clackamas Community CollegeOregon City, Oregon
5Clatsop Community CollegeAstoria, Oregon

When students graduate from technical or trade schools and community college programs, employers typically expect students to be ready to hit the ground running. The student to teacher ratio generally translates into more individual and hands-on instruction, resulting in better-prepared employees once they leave school. That is why factors such as affordability and student to faculty ratios are so important. And now, our list of the top 17 community colleges in Oregon.

Oregon is a beautiful state that offers its residents a unique lifestyle and culture. Despite its relatively small population, the state of Oregon is home to some excellent schools. These colleges provide students with high-quality education and memorable student experiences.

There are over 100 colleges and universities in the state of Oregon. Those looking for an affordable and flexible education will be happy to learn that the state is also home to 17 community colleges.

While it is great to have options, the number of schools can make choosing the right one a little bit overwhelming for aspiring students, which is why we have created this useful guide. We will explain what a community college is and some of the many advantages of pursuing an education at one. From there, we will list some of the Oregon-based community colleges that offer students the best learning opportunities.

What is a Community College?

Community colleges differ from traditional colleges and universities in many ways. Where colleges and universities that offer four-year programs can be extremely time-consuming and expensive, community colleges provide students with the opportunity to further their education in a much more affordable and streamlined way.

Community colleges are sometimes referred to as junior colleges and there are over one thousand of them scattered across the United States. Due to their low tuition fees and less stringent admission requirements, countless Americans have benefited from a community college education.

Essentially, community colleges exist to offer people from a variety of backgrounds education opportunities in a wide range of fields. Some community college students enroll in a community college program, so they can later transfer to a more prestigious post-secondary institution. Others will choose an industry-specific field of study so they can enter the workforce, change professions, or advance their current career immediately after graduation.

In addition to their lower tuition costs, most community college programs are only two years rather than the four years standard at traditional colleges and universities. Not only does this shorter program time allow the student to enter the workforce faster, but it means the student can obtain an education without having to put their life on pause.

What Makes a Community College Education Unique?

In many ways, community colleges are designed to benefit the residents of the local community. They provide accessible and affordable education to people of all ages and financial backgrounds. Many community colleges will even offer non-accredited courses and classes for members of the community that would like to advance a particular skill by enrolling in a full program. The following are just some of the ways community colleges differ from traditional colleges and universities. 

The Length of Study:

As mentioned above, one of the main differences between a community college education and an education from a traditional college is the length of study. Students can expect to study for at least four years to earn a degree at other colleges and universities, but those enrolled at a community college will typically graduate from their program within two years.

When you study at most colleges and universities, you will often spend the first two years of your studies fulfilling mandatory course requirements across a wide range of topics. For example, undergraduate programs will require students to take a certain number of classes offered by the science faculties, even if the degree the particular student is pursuing has nothing to do with science. Traditional institutions of higher learning aim to give their students a more rounded foundation of knowledge and a more diverse education.

On the other hand, learning at a community college is more focused on the exact knowledge required to enter a specific field. Traditional colleges and universities need more time to make sure their students learn subjects across a wide variety of fields, but community colleges only concern themselves with giving the student a focused education.

Not only is a shorter education more affordable, but it also helps those that want to get their career started as quickly as possible. 

The Size of the Campus:

Community colleges are almost always smaller than traditional colleges and universities. Not only do they have much lower enrollment numbers, smaller classroom sizes, and offer fewer programs than full-sized post-secondary institutions, they almost always have smaller physical campuses.

The majority of American colleges and universities will have tens of thousands of full-time students enrolled at them at any given time. On the other hand, a standard community college can usually measure its entire student body anywhere from 300 students to a few thousand

Having a much smaller student body means that campuses at community colleges can be much smaller, which can mean fewer on-campus extracurricular activities, but it also means that the student experiences less of the distractions that usually accompany a college education. 

On top of that, the smaller campuses and reduced class sizes you get with a community college mean that students have a much more intimate learning experience. They have more one-on-one time with instructors and can ask questions in a far less intimidating environment. Many students prefer the smaller setting, as some of the country’s larger colleges can be overwhelming, especially for those that live off-campus.

For students that prefer an easy-to-navigate campus and would like the opportunity to get to know their instructors personally, the smaller campuses of community colleges can offer the perfect learning environment. 

Housing Options for Community College Students:

One of the most expensive parts of obtaining a four-year education at a traditional college is paying for room and board. Since most students move away from home to attend a traditional college or university, they often live in an on-campus residence hall or dormitory. These cramped living quarters come with expensive fees and are part of the reason why so many students take out high-interest student loans to pay for their education.

On the other hand, few community colleges offer their student housing because so few of their students need it. As the name suggests, community colleges are located within actual communities. Since residents live close enough to commute, many students will commute from home or learn online.

Even international and out of state students will find their off-campus housing solutions. Since the schools are much smaller and are located in communities, rather than on campuses that are far away from where non-student residents live, the demand for student housing is much lower, which means rent is also much more reasonable than you find in the areas surrounding larger colleges.

While you can attend any community college that you would like, many students take advantage of the fact that schools are dotted throughout the state, so you should keep a lookout for a local community college that offers a program that works for you. 

Financing a Community College Education:

Since community college programs are much shorter than traditional college programs, they are much less expensive. More often than not, community college students can avoid hefty student debt that afflicts many traditional college and university graduates.

Many community college students can cover their education costs by working part-time as they study or with a combination of savings, small loans, scholarships, and grants.

Best 15 Community Colleges in Oregon


Columbia Gorge Community College

  • Dalles, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 27%
  • Points: 92

As the Columbia Gorge Community College touts on its linked in page, this is a school that offers “An excellent education at an affordable price.” The CGCC is also an institution committed to education, and in addition to offering a variety of courses and programs, they offer certificate programs (e.g., nursing) and community education services.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $4572 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 13 to 1
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Tillamook Bay Community College

  • Tillamook, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 14%
  • Points: 91

At the top spot on our list of best community colleges, the Tillamook Bay Community College, in Tillamook, leads the way in large part due to an impressive tuition rate that most students can handle. Also woven into the school’s mission statement is their dedication to becoming a bridge of opportunity for students seeking employment and career opportunities.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $3996 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 9 to 1
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Oregon Coast Community College

  • Lincoln City and Newport, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 21%
  • Points: 90

The Oregon Coast Community Colleges (Lincoln City and Newport) strive to provide education and programs that equip students with the tools they need while shaping and molding the kind of employees and people the community and businesses want. As the Oregon Coast motto says, they are “shaping the future through learning,” and shaping the future of students too.

Like the Lincoln City branch, the Oregon Coast Community College in Newport equips, prepares, and educates students today for the jobs of tomorrow. Also, like its sister branch, the Oregon Coast Community College does so with competitive tuition rates and impressive student-to-faculty ratios.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $4716 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 10 to 1
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Clackamas Community College

  • Oregon City, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 30%
  • Points: 88

When defining a community college, the Clackamas Community College is a shining example of what being a 2-year school is supposed to be. From assisting students seeking to move on and pursue 4-year degrees to helping students begin a new career or people change vocations or start new chapters in their lives, Clackamas Community College can. With more than 80 technical and career programs and good tuition rates, Clackamas Community College is one of the best community colleges in Oregon.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $5079 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 17 to 1
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Clatsop Community College

  • Astoria, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 11%
  • Points: 88

An excellent student to teacher ratio and a full range of educational and training services, from liberal arts and science degrees to technical and professional training programs, earn Clatsop Community College a lofty place on our list.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $4230 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 9 to 1
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Umpqua Community College

  • Roseburg, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 27%
  • Points: 87

Established in 1964, Umpqua Community College on the North Umpqua River is a post-secondary institution that continues to grow and change to meet the diverse needs of students, employers, and the community. Approximately 15,000 students attend on a part-time basis (at least one class per week) and, with a competitive tuition rate, Umpqua finds itself on our list among the best community colleges in Oregon.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $5101 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 16 to 1
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Southwestern Oregon Community College

  • Coos Bay, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 37%
  • Points: 85

The Coos Bay campus of Southwestern Oregon Community College has been educating students since 1961 and has gained some acclaim as the host and home of the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute. Like its sister campus, SOCC – Coos Bay provides leading facilities from educational and recreational to state-of-the-art fitness centers and joins Port Orford on the list of the best community colleges in Oregon.

Like its Coos Bay partner campus, Southwestern Oregon Community College in Port Orford was established in 1961 and touts being the 2nd oldest community college in the state. With more than 70 degree programs, a great student-to-teacher ratio, and a manageable tuition SOCC – Port Orford is worthy of a place on the list of the best community colleges in Oregon.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $6161 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 13 to 1
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Lane Community College

  • Eugene, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 18%
  • Points: 83

Boasting more than 50 academic subjects to pursue and over 40 certificates and professional degrees, Lane Community College is home to more than 30,000 students. Flexible scheduling, along with excellent facilities and programs, helps offset a higher student/teacher ratio, while strong tuition rates help Lane Community College earn a spot on the list of the best community colleges in Oregon.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $4956 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 18 to 1
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Portland Community College

  • Portland, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 15%
  • Points: 83

This 2-year educational institution is one of the largest community colleges in the country and is the largest post-secondary institution in the great state of Oregon. While that size also is a likely culprit for some higher student/teacher ratios, it also provides many benefits such as the ability to support more than a few workforce education and training centers.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $4558 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 21 to 1
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Chemeketa Community College

  • Salem, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 31%
  • Points: 81

Chemeketa Community College finds itself on the list of our top 17 in part to a competitive tuition rate and is a 2-year program committed to changing student’s lives via exceptional learning experiences. With multiple campuses and a regional training facility, Chemeketa is a great place to begin.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $5175 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 22 to 1
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Blue Mountain Community College

  • Pendleton, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 24%
  • Points: 79

It is a higher than average tuition and median class sizes that prevent Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC) from ranking higher, but this comprehensive program is no less deserving of a spot on the list of the best community colleges in Oregon. With programs like professional and technical degrees and certificates, transfer degrees, and even college preparatory classes, BMCC has earned its place.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $6223 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 16 to 1
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Mt. Hood Community College (86 points)

  • Gresham, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 20%
  • Points: 79

Touting over 80 associate degrees and certificate program opportunities, Mt. Hood Community College helps students embark on careers in fields such as nursing, automotive tech, cosmetology, and adult basic skills, among many others. A strong tuition rate helps offset a nineteen to one student to teacher ratio and also earns this school a spot on our list of the top community colleges in Oregon.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $5159 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 19 to 1
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Linn-Benton Community College

  • Albany, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 11%
  • Points: 76

As a two-year public college, Linn-Benton Community College works to engage students in the type of educational pursuits that enable them to participate in the economic and cultural richness of Oregon. The Linn-Benton Community College proudly states that its mission is guided by the core values of opportunity, excellence, inclusiveness, and learning. A competitive tuition rate helps to counterbalance larger student to teacher ratios and to earn Linn-Benton a spot on our list of the best community colleges in Oregon.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $5105 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 18 to 1
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Central Oregon Community College

  • Bend, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 12%
  • Points: 74

This proud two-year post-secondary institution lays claim to being the oldest community college in Oregon. A comprehensive community college of a 10,000-square-mile community and district, COCC offers associate degree and certificate programs across many fields, preparing students for careers in an array of industries.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $5841 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 17 to 1
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Treasure Valley Community College (85 points)

  • Ontario, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 8%
  • Points: 73

Founded in 1962 Treasure Valley Community College has led, grown, and helped students to pursue rewarding and successful careers. From its start with those first nursing graduates to a campus that now houses thirteen major buildings, this two-year program makes the list of our top 17 community colleges in Oregon.

School Overview

In-state Tuition: $5625 per year
Student/Teacher ratio: 17 to 1
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How We Ranked the Schools

The method used to rank the list of the top community colleges in Oregon was established by a point system using three variables: graduation rate, yearly tuition, and student-to-faculty ratio. The variables were equally weighed and the total points resulted in the school’s score and rank. In the case of a tie, the higher rank was given to the school with the higher graduation rate.

Our goal is to provide accurate and helpful information, but variables such as tuition rates are only approximations as these numbers are in a constant state of flux. If you noticed information or data that is either incorrect or outdated, please let us know, and thank you in advance for your support and help.

Types of Degrees You Can Earn at an Oregon Community College

As mentioned earlier, most students only need two years to earn a degree at a community college. During this time, they can work towards one of four types of associate degrees. Each type of degree will help the student prepare for further education in a particular academic field or a career in a particular type of occupation.

While some community college degrees are specifically designed to help the student transfer to a four-year program, some are career-specific and help the student prepare for an immediate start in their chosen field of work. The four types of community college degrees are as follows:

  1. Associate of Arts Degree (A.A.)

Associate of Arts degrees focus on general education, often in the liberal arts. They typically cover fields of study like English, history, economics, music, and the social sciences. Most students will pursue an A.A. degree so they can transfer to a four-year program after they finish at community college. They allow the student to build a basic foundation in many of the subjects they will encounter once they enroll in a traditional college or university program.

  1. Associate of Applied Arts Degree (A.A.A.)

An Associate of Applied Arts degree has similar entry requirements to an A.A. degree, but the program will focus on beginning a career in a particular industry. The electives taken in the pursuit of an A.A.A. degree are often career-specific and allow the student to learn about the occupation they are aiming for.

  1. Associate of Science Degree (A.S.)

Like an Associate of Arts degree, an Associate of Science degree is usually obtained to transfer to a four-year program at a college or university. Students will study fields, such as medicine, engineering, computer science, and business, with the hopes of using that foundation of knowledge to continue their studies.

  1. Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.)

An Associate of Applied Science degree is a career-focused education that is intended to prepare students for a career in a technical industry. A.A.S. degrees are more commonly pursued at the technical community colleges, and they can prepare students for a career in a wide variety of fields.

Other Options at Community Colleges:

As you could probably tell from our Oregon colleges guide, students can also earn professional certification at many community colleges.

Professional certification programs usually take less time to complete than associate degree programs, but that does not mean they are less useful. Professional certificates are designed to offer students the opportunity to advance the skills required for a particular profession

Many community colleges will also allow students the opportunity to earn a GED through them, which then allows the student to pursue more advanced education.

Find the program that’s right for you

Whether you’re trying to start your career or make a big change, we can help you find the perfect school to help you reach your goals.

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