Oregon State University continues to strengthen its online education offerings

By Tiffany Camhi (OPB)
Feb. 19, 2024 2 p.m.

Since 2001, OSU has adopted new remote learning technologies and built up a strong resume for online learning beyond the Beaver State.

OSU’s Ecampus is again ranked in the top 10 for the nation’s best online education programs. The school beat out more than 340 online programs from other schools. The ranking from U.S. News & World Report measures the strength of a school’s academic foundations, graduation rates, instructor credentials, as well as its career and financial aid support for students.

Students walk across Oregon State University's Corvallis campus in this Oct. 27, 2017, file photo.

Students walk across Oregon State University's Corvallis campus in this Oct. 27, 2017, file photo. For the last 10 years, OSU has been considered one of the best institutions in the country for how it teaches students who aren't on campus, but are learning from the school online.

Bryan M. Vance / OPB


OSU has more than two decades of experience with online education, beginning to offer bachelor’s degrees in 2001.

“Access is a part of our mission,” said Lisa Templeton, vice provost of OSU’s Division of Educational Ventures. “We thought ‘let’s create online quality programs for learners around the state’ and then it took off.”

OSU’s Ecampus students now represent a sizable portion of the entire student population of the university. Last fall, the school clocked in more than 11,000 Ecampus students — over 30% of the OSU’s student body. It’s not just Oregonians learning online. Students enroll in OSU’s Ecampus from every state in the U.S. and close to 60 countries.

Related: Oregon State University’s new president interested in online program growth

Over the years, OSU has adopted new remote learning technologies and built up a strong resume for online learning. Templeton chalks up the school’s success to three things: OSU’s vast knowledge and experience with online learning, a growing number of adult learners who are looking to complete degree programs they may have started earlier in life, and the general flexibility that online education provides.

That flexibility is what helped OSU Ecampus graduate Joann Malumaleumu finish her degree last year. Malumaleuma already had some credits accumulated from community college and OSU in Corvallis. But she never finished because she had to become a full-time caregiver to an aging parent. Years later, living in Pendleton, Malumaleuma has her own family to take care of and a full-time job. Still, earning a bachelor’s degree was important to her.

“It was easier for me to be able to take the Ecampus classes and still work full-time,” said Malumaleumu of juggling her personal life with school. “It was a crazy schedule, but it’s definitely doable.”


Related: OSU hits another enrollment record, topping 36,000 for fall

Malumaleumu also appreciated how easy it was to reach out to the Ecampus community. Teachers offer office hours and give students the flexibility to call, text or schedule a video chat to talk about classes.

“There were just so many nontraditional ways to communicate, not only with the teachers, but with fellow students as well,” said Malumaleumu. “There were actually a lot of students that had full-time jobs and we’d actually connect and do a study group at midnight.”

Ecampus classes ‘aren’t like a Zoom university’

Online learning has garnered a negative connotation in the aftermath of the pandemic after schools shifted to remote learning to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Early studies have shown that the move to remote education at K-12 schools across the country and, in Oregon, stunted student achievement. But according to Templeton, the type of online classes OSU provides is unlike that of the COVID-era livestream lecture classes.

“Our classes aren’t like a Zoom university,” said Templeton. “If you watched your kids during the pandemic, just staring at a screen listening to a teacher — that’s not what we do in Ecampus.”

Related: Oregon’s assessment scores plummet in first round of testing since COVID-19 disrupted schools

Templeton said online learning at OSU is interactive and engaging. Students can communicate with teachers, and connect with other students around the content of the lessons.

OSU’s Ecampus offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs geared towards adult learners, with computer science and business programs among the most popular.

Even though Malumaleumu was an online OSU student, she still attended an in-person graduation ceremony for OSU’s College of Health in Corvallis in 2023, walking away with a bachelor’s degree in human development and family sciences.

Malumaleumu said choosing to continue her education has helped her further her career as a social worker with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

“I was making that investment in myself,” said Malumaleumu. “The degree has helped me, not only professionally, but on a personal level as well.”