CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s fall 2021 enrollment again has reached record levels, with strong demand for in-person and online classes, a continued rise in students of color and surging interest in an OSU education from out-of-state students.
With 34,108 students enrolled this fall, up 748 students and 2.2% over last year, OSU is the largest university in the state for the eighth consecutive year.
The enrollment includes students learning at OSU locations in Corvallis, Bend, Portland, Newport, LaGrande and through the university’s nationally ranked online Ecampus program, which saw enrollment jump 14%, to 10,082 students.
Enrollment on OSU’s main campus includes 3,974 first-time students entering from high school, an increase of 13.5% from last fall.
“Oregon State University is fully energized and enjoying significant momentum with students back on our campuses in Corvallis and Bend, and engaged in learning across the world in our top-ranked online degree programs,” said Becky Johnson, OSU’s interim president. “As Oregon’s statewide university, I am very pleased that we are serving even more underrepresented students, first-generation students and transfer students, and providing a college education for all qualified Oregonians who apply."
OSU increasingly is a destination for higher education for students from all 50 states and 106 countries. This fall non-resident freshman enrollment increased nearly 37%, to 1,564 students.
“It’s clear that students across the nation increasingly are enrolling in OSU as their university of choice,” Johnson said. “Great faculty and excellent academic programs abound within Oregon State and are leading students to seek a valued OSU degree.
“OSU students engage in high quality learning, internships and research with globally recognized faculty in areas addressing some of the world’s most pressing and complex issues.”
Fall enrollment in Corvallis includes 9,381 students of color, an increase of 466 students, or 5.2%, over last year. Enrollment of students of color have almost doubled from 10 years ago and now make up more than 28% of OSU’s overall enrollment.
“Programs like the Dr. Lawrence Griggs Office of Black & Indigenous Student Success, our Ecampus Tribal Communities Initiative, seven student cultural resource centers on the Corvallis campus and a planned student success center in Bend, underscore OSU’s commitment to advancing diversity and supporting student success for all,” Johnson said.
Oregon State’s enrollment counters national trends of enrollment declines at many U.S. colleges and universities nationally since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. National undergraduate and graduate student enrollment combined declined by 2.3% this year, for a total two-year decline of 4.6%, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Oregon State continues to be a school of choice among Oregon residents with 18,824 students from all of Oregon’s 36 counties. Oregonians make up 70.5% of OSU’s Corvallis degree-seeking undergraduate enrollment and 81.8% of OSU-Cascades’ overall enrollment.
Alejandro Paniagua, a Salem resident, said he selected OSU because its Corvallis campus felt most like home to him. A first-year public health major, Paniagua said attending class in-person makes him more motivated and engaged.
“I stepped out of my comfort zone a lot as a first-year student and a first-generation college student,” Paniagua said. “Coming to Oregon State has been a transition, but it has made me grow so much. I feel so much more confident in social environments, and it is because of how open people are to just meet one another.”
A total of 12,926 domestic non-Oregon students are enrolled on OSU’s main campus. California ranks first in sending 4,023 students to OSU. Washington (1,985), Texas (626), Hawaii (452) and Colorado (437) round out the top five states from where OSU’s main campus draws students. At OSU-Cascades, 215 domestic non-Oregon students are enrolled with California, Washington and Colorado sending the most students to the Bend campus.
Stella Doehring, a freshman engineering major and Honors College student from Bozeman, Montana, said she picked OSU's Corvallis campus because of its engineering program and because she felt she could grow, thrive and succeed on campus.
“In-person classroom time has been a crucial part of my first year of college,” she said. “Being in-person, especially for the first year, is extremely valuable for forming new relationships, and I find being in an interactive environment adds interest back to the overall learning experience.”
Matthew Proper of Greensboro, North Carolina, is another new student. He chose to attend OSU through Ecampus, whose 14% enrollment growth this fall comes on top of an 18% increase last year. Ecampus delivers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate programs and draws students from all 50 states and 52 countries.
That flexibility of Ecampus appealed to Proper, who enrolled in the applied computer science program. He said he chose an online program because he is partially paralyzed and independently unable to navigate a college campus.
He said Ecampus was a good fit for him for several reasons: its consistent top-10 U.S. News & World Report ranking; competitive tuition; and having a degree he sought from a well-known university that he can trust.
Proper, who earned an associate’s degree online in North Carolina, said his experience with Ecampus has been rewarding. He spoke about a high level of interaction during a group project in an engineering class and regular meetings with an Ecampus student success coach.
“There is definitely more of a human connection, and I really like that,” he said. “There is a lot of support here.”
OSU’s enrollment also includes 1,169 transfer students, a 1.3% increase over last year, enrolling at OSU from community colleges and other colleges. This comes at a time when community colleges nationwide have experienced a 14.1% total enrollment decline since fall 2019, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Total transfer enrollment at OSU totals 8,668. Total transfer enrollment has increased by more than 3,000 during the past decade.
For Michelle Wambui, 21, completing her first two years at a community college before transferring to OSU had always been the plan, ever since her uncle raved about the university. She came to OSU from Portland Community College as a junior this fall.
“I’ve always known that OSU is really good in science majors and research opportunities, and for me that was the basis of why I wanted to come here,” she said. “I’m a pre-med major, but I’m still also interested in a lot of research, something to do with microbiology or genetics. I’ve been able to meet up with a mentor here.”
At OSU-Cascades, the number of students pursuing degrees increased 2% over the previous year. In total, 1,247 students are enrolled. Undergraduate enrollment at the Bend campus is 1,043 students. Graduate student enrollment totals 204 and this year does not include 152 K-12 teachers who were enrolled part-time a year ago in a remote teaching skills course offered by OSU-Cascades for Central Oregon teachers.
There are 252 students of color at OSU-Cascades, or 20.2% of the student body, and 256 first-generation undergraduate students, or 24.5% of enrollment. For more information about enrollment at OSU Cascades visit: https://beav.es/U8m.
Hayley Halvorsen, who uses they/them pronouns, came to OSU-Cascades from their home in Arroyo Grande, California after earning an associate’s degree in hospitality management. Their original plan was to become a pastry chef, but in the years after graduating they realized baking was a hobby and their professional interests lay elsewhere.
Halvorsen is enrolled in OSU-Cascades’ art, media and technology degree program and taking upper-level courses.
“Up until now I taught myself about design and how to use complicated creative software,” they said. “YouTube was my mentor. It’s great to learn about art history and creative software from faculty who really know it.”
A total 5,629 graduate students are enrolled in OSU, a slight decline from last fall. Of those, 2,030, or 36%, are Oregon residents.
“Graduate students are an essential part of Oregon State’s research, teaching and engagement mission in Oregon and globally,” said Edward Feser, executive vice president and provost. “They serve as teaching and research assistants and contribute their own groundbreaking scholarship under the guidance of OSU’s world-renowned faculty.”
Fulbright scholar Rossana Macedo, 27, is an OSU graduate student who moved to Corvallis this fall from Paraguay to begin a master’s program in environmental science in the College of Forestry.
“It’s a welcoming environment in a community with a lot of people who speak my native language and share some of my experiences,” said Macedo, whose graduate program involves tracking forest change via remote sensing and estimating its effect on biodiversity.
Ecampus is the main contributor to OSU growing by 8,535 students over the past decade, and OSU-Cascades has also been a factor. Ten years ago, OSU enrolled 22,564 students on its Corvallis campus. Today Corvallis enrollment stands at 23,366, up 103 students over a year ago.
Oregon State’s fall 2021 enrollment also includes:
Oregon State continues to attract top students. The average GPA of new students coming to OSU from high school is 3.64. Additionally, 487 students entered the university’s Honors College this fall. The Honors College enrolls 5.6% of all undergraduates, or 1,549 students – a 3.7% increase over 2020.
Of OSU’s entering freshmen, eight are National Merit award winners, and 50 are Presidential Scholars, Oregon State’s most prestigious scholarship award.
Engineering remains the most popular area of study at Oregon State. The College of Engineering has 9,807 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled this fall. The next largest colleges are Liberal Arts, 4,563 students; Business, 4,185; Science, 4,014; Agricultural Sciences, 2,990; and Public Health and Human Sciences, 2,371.
Enrollments in other colleges and programs are College of Forestry, 1,285; College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, 1,109; University Exploratory Studies, 899; College of Education, 448; College of Pharmacy, 341; College of Veterinary Medicine, 297; and interdisciplinary graduate programs, 837.
The most popular undergraduate majors at Oregon State are computer science, followed by business administration, mechanical engineering, psychology and general engineering. General engineering is a program for entering undergraduates in the College of Engineering who will later select a specific engineering major.
About Oregon State University: As one of only three land, sea, space and sun grant universities in the nation, Oregon State serves Oregon and the world by working on today’s most pressing issues. Our more than 34,000 students come from across the globe, and our programs operate in every Oregon county. Oregon State receives more research funding than all of the state’s comprehensive public universities combined. At our campuses in Corvallis and Bend, marine research center in Newport and award-winning Ecampus, we excel at shaping today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.