The University of Portland is a Catholic college, representing the Order of the Holy Cross – the same denomination as Notre Dame University. The focus here is on community service – Portland is the #1 school for service in the nation – and the school prides itself on providing a Catholic liberal arts education to the 3,300 undergraduates who call University of Portland home.
University of Portland class sizes are small. The average class size is 25; the largest lecture class could be up to 60, but it’s rare, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 13:1. U of P students learn to write well and solve problems, as individuals and in small groups. The majority graduate in four years. Students say that teacher interaction – professors generally know students’ names – and the hands-on education are what sets U of Portland apart from other schools. “You aren’t going to slip through the cracks here,” my tour guide said.
There are five undergraduate colleges, and students take can courses across the spectrum: Education, Business, Engineering, Arts & Sciences, and Nursing. The majors are listed here. The core curriculum requirements are listed here. Students are required to take three theology courses, but attendance at mass is not required. About half of the students are Catholic (my tour guide was Jewish).
Business majors are required to have internships, and with Nike and Adidas headquartered in Portland, many choose these large athletic companies. Education majors spend their entire senior year in the classroom with local elementary and middle school students, and begin working with students in the classroom their freshman year. Nursing students do their clinical work during their junior and senior year.
Portland has a strong sense of community and service to others. Freshman orientation offers students the “service plunge,” a chance to get to know their new colleagues while giving back to their new community. The atmosphere is buzzing with a social justice vibe, with gay and lesbian groups out and active on campus. Portland is known for its very strong women’s Division I soccer team.
My tour guide, Lauren, a senior education major from northern California, is Jewish, and told us that U of P connected her with several Jewish professors before she even arrived on campus, and she has had dinner at some of their homes during High Holy days. She says there is a Jewish population on campus, but it is not very large or active.
Apply early to the University of Portland, because they have rolling admissions, and they fill up their class early. They are a Common App school and will begin accepting applications as of September 1. The average GPA of incoming students is 3.7 and SAT scores are in the 600 range for both Critical Reading and Math sections. Over 60% of students receive some type of merit scholarships.