Portland State University

Portland State University Rating: 4.3/5 (132 votes)

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Portland State University is a public university in Portland, Oregon. It was first founded as an extension center in 1946. Now a member of the Oregon University System, it officially adopted the current name in 1969. Today the university awards a wide range bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. It is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The densely built campus is located in downtown Portland, therefore affording students a virtually limitless menu of choice for cultural and recreational activities within walking distance or through public transportation.


The university defines its mission as “to enhance the intellectual, social, cultural and economic qualities of urban life by providing access throughout the life span to quality Liberal Education for undergraduates and an appropriate array of professional and graduate programs especially relevant to metropolitan areas.”


The university is composed of seven schools and colleges:

  • The School of Business Administration
  • The Graduate School of Education
  • The College of Engineering & Computer Science
  • The College of Fine & Performing Arts
  • The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • The Graduate School of Social Work
  • and the College of Urban & Public Affairs.

Bachelor’s degrees are awarded in more than 120 different disciplines, including such diverse options as accounting, African studies, art, child and family studies, computer engineering, European studies, health studies, information systems, Japanese, mechanical engineering, political science, sculpture, speech and hearing science, and theatre arts. Minors are offered in many of these fields and also available in several others, such as Arabic, classical studies, computer applications, environmental engineering, international economics, Native American studies, and professional writing.

Additionally, there is an undergraduate Honors College intended for students who plan to attend graduate or professional school. Students in the honors program do not need to meet the general university requirements and instead work within the Honors College and their departmental majors.

Master’s degrees are awarded in the liberal arts and sciences, education, business administration (MBA and MRED), studio arts, engineering, computer science, social work, and the programs in the College of Urban & Public Affairs, among others.

The school awards seventeen doctoral degrees,in the following fields: applied physics, biology, chemistry, civil and environmental engineering, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, environmental sciences and resources, mathematical sciences, mathematics education, mechanical engineering, applied psychology, public affairs and policy, social work and social research, sociology and social inequality, systems science, technology management, and urban studies. A doctorate in systems science may focus on business administration, civil and environmental engineering, general systems science, mathematics, mechanical engineering, psychology, or sociology. .

Library Resources

The library system offers a wide range of electronic catalogs and on-line databases, in additional to physical volumes stored on site or available through interlibrary loan. The library is home to the university archives.

Most Popular Fields of Study

Unique Programs

PSU is home to an innovative peer-education program, called Chiron. Students teach the courses offered through Chiron, manage the program, and make administrative decisions. Many report that their peer-led classes are some of the most stimulating and challenging that they take during their time on campus.


Undergraduate Admissions

Undergraduate admissions are moderately competitive. Minimum admission requirements include a high school graduation with a 3.0 GPA and fourteen units of college preparatory coursework: four years of English, three years of math, three years of social science, two years of science, and two years of a foreign language. A minimum test score on the SAT or ACT is only required for students who do not meet the 3.0 GPA requirement.

Applications to the undergraduate programs are accepted on a rolling basis with a priority deadline of June 1 for the fall semester. Applications can be submitted online through the university’s official website.

Graduate Admissions

Graduate students must provide the following for admissions to the graduate school: application and fee, transcripts, and a departmental application form, as well as any additional documents required by the department such as letters of recommendation, test scores, or personal statement.

Financial Aid

In addition to the wide variety of financial aid options open to any college or university student in Oregon, the financial aid department offers several of their own need- and merit-based scholarships. All students should begin their financial aid process by submitting the FAFSA. Counselors are on hand in the financial aid department to assist current and prospective students.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 4194th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in Oregon.


The campus offers more than a hundred student organizations, including a wide variety of Greek groups and student political groups. The Student Activities and Leadership Program (SALP) offers students with different interests the opportunity to start their own student group if one does not currently exist to fit their needs.

Student Life also sponsors a rich assortment of activities for the whole student body on campus. The more traditional events include movie nights, lectures, and music recitals. Some of the less traditional events include Family Week, community forums, a feminism conference, and culturally-oriented dinners.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


The athletics department is known as the Vikings. The Vikings compete in NCAA Division I and the Big Sky Conference. Men’s intercollegiate athletics include basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, softball, wrestling, and track. Women’s intercollegiate athletics include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, track, and volleyball.

The Outdoor Program gives students the opportunity to enjoy the natural resources of the surrounding environment by rock climbing, kayaking, and hiking. A sailing club is also available to students interested in boating. The university’s athletic facilities are located in the center of campus and are available to all students.

Local Community

Portland is the heart of America’s northwest region, and it is surrounded by some of the nation’s most beautiful rivers, lakes, forests, and skies. Outdoor leisure opportunities abound. The city is Oregon’s major metropolitan area, and offers an art museum, a performing arts complex, an NBA team, minor-league baseball, a zoo, public gardens, and urban hiking and biking trails. A large number of affordably priced ethnic cafes, coffee shops, and unique food trucks dot the city and attract many students.The Portland Art Museum, Oregon Historical Society, and a performing arts facility are all within walking distance of campus.

Information Summary

Ranks 14th in Oregon and 888th overall
See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list

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Campus Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 Students
Aggravated assault 2 0.01
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Rape 9 0.03
Robbery 2 0.01
Arson 1 0.00
Burglary 41 0.14
Larceny N/A N/A
Vehicle theft 19 0.07
Arrest 65 0.23

Local Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 People
Aggravated assault 1,842 0.31
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter 20 0.00
Forcible Rape 258 0.04
Robbery 917 0.16
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 4,303 0.73
Larceny 22,494 3.81
Vehicle theft 3,225 0.55

Demographics – Main Campus and Surrounding Areas

Reported area around or near Portland, OR 97201
Surrounding communityLarge city (inside urban area, pop. over 250,000)
Total Population24,960 (24,960 urban / N/A rural)
Households13,695 (1.77 people per house)
Median Household Income$42,569
Families4,986 (2.57 people per family)

Carnegie Foundation Classification

Research Universities (high research activity)
UndergraduateBalanced arts & sciences/professions, high graduate coexistence
GraduateSTEM dominant
Undergraduate PopulationMedium full-time four-year, selective, higher transfer-in
EnrollmentHigh undergraduate
Size & SettingLarge four-year, primarily nonresidential

General Characteristics

Title IV EligibilityParticipates in Title IV federal financial aid programs
Highest offeringDoctoral degree
Calendar SystemQuarter
Years of college work requiredN/A
Variable Tuition
Religious AffiliationN/A
Congressional District4103

Special Learning Opportunities

Distance LearningN/A
ROTC — Army / Navy / Air Force  —   /   / 
Study Abroad
Weekend College
Teacher Certification

Student Tuition Costs and Fees

Ranks 703rd for total cost of attendance
  In District In State Out of State
Effective as of 2014-09-19
FT Undergraduate Tuition $6,615 $6,615 $21,825
FT Undergraduate Required Fees $1,263 $1,263 $1,263
PT Undergraduate per Credit Hour $147 $147 $485
FT Graduate Tuition $12,276 $12,276 $19,188
FT Graduate Required Fees $1,263 $1,263 $1,263
PT Graduate per Credit Hour $218 $218 $521
Total Cost of Attendance — On-Campus $23,528 $23,528 $38,738
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus w/out Family $25,578 $25,578 $40,788
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus with Family $13,978 $13,978 $29,188

Student Tuition Cost History and Trends

Prior year cost comparison
  In District In State Out of State
Published Tuition & Fees $7,764 $7,653 $7,764 $7,653 $22,983 $22,863
  Cost (regardless of residency)
Effective as of 2014-09-19
Books & Supplies $1,920 $2,000
On-Campus – Room & Board $9,801 $9,950
On-Campus – Other Expenses $3,000 $3,200
Off-Campus w/out Family – Room & Board $11,700 $12,000
Off-Campus w/out Family – Other Expenses $3,100 $3,300
Off-Campus with Family – Room & Board $3,200 $3,500

Admission Details

Effective as of 2014-09-19
Application Fee RequiredN/A
Undergraduate Application Fee$50
Graduate Application Fee$50
First Professional Application FeeN/A
Applicants 5,751 (2,484 male / 3,267 female)
Admitted 3,518 (1,517 male / 2,001 female)
Admission rate 61%
First-time Enrollment 1,465 (688 male / 777 female)
FT Enrollment 1,346 (628 male / 718 female)
PT Enrollment 119 (60 male / 59 female)
Total Enrollment28,260

Admission Criteria

 = Required,   = Recommended,   = Neither required nor recommended
Open Admissions
Secondary School GPA / Rank / Record  /  N/A / 
College Prep. Completion
Formal competency demo
Admission test scores
Other testsN/A

Admission Credits Accepted

Dual Credit
Life Experience
Advanced Placement (AP)

Athletics - Association Memberships

Sports / Athletic Conference Memberships NCAA
NCAA Football Conference Big Sky Conference
NCAA Basketball Conference Big Sky Conference
NCAA Baseball Conference Big Sky Conference
NCAA Track & Field Conference Big Sky Conference

SAT Test Admission

551st for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting SAT results 59%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 460 / 590
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 460 / 580
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 920 / 1170

Student Services

Remedial Services
Academic / Career Counseling
PT Cost-defraying Employment
Career Placement
On-Campus Day Care
Library Facility

Student Living

First-time Room / Board Required
Dorm Capacity2,047
Meals per Week21
Room Fee$5,800
Board Fee$4,200

Faculty Compensation / Salaries

Ranks 930th for the average full-time faculty salary.
Effective as of 2014-09-20
Tenure system N/A
Average FT Salary $76,061 ($83,006 male / $62,767 female)
Number of FT Faculty 737 (394 male / 343 female)
Number of PT Faculty 1,557
FT Faculty Ratio 0.5 : 1
Total Benefits $42,731,591

Elisabeth Bailey+

Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

724 SW Harrison
Portland, OR 97201
p. 503-725-3511
w. www.pdx.edu

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