Pacific University (Oregon) Distance Learning

Where once was an orphanage, now stands Pacific University of Oregon. Chartered by the territorial government of Oregon (meaning that it wasn’t yet a state when the college was created), it was initially named Tualatin Academy and was, in 1849, the first chartered university in the west. What was then the Orphan Asylum, the school was created to teach those kids and to give “instruction [to] persons of both sexes in science and literature”.

Today, the first campus in Forest Grove still exists, as well as three more in Portland, Eugene, and Hillsboro, all offering a student body of equal parts undergrads and graduate students programs that span from health care (a common specialty of Oregon universities) to liberal arts. The 3200 or so students that attend Pacific U. are treated to 13 graduate level degree programs, an additional 40+ baccalaureate tracts, and 8 more pre-professional programs.

The most popular majors trend towards teaching and health care, as they were the first university in Oregon to offer graduate level training Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Psychology, Education, and Optometry. In fact, Pacific University’s School of Optometry is quite well known and was the first in the United States to offer a doctoral program.  Their undergrads are treated to a strong and recognized liberal arts base, also making it one of the select universities to combine health care graduate and professional programs with liberal arts undergrad work. With education and nursing popular among Bachelor seekers, Pacific University distinguishes itself with awards from Forbes (one of “America’s Best Colleges”) and US News and World Report (tier 1 “Best” National Unviersity).

A commitment to “collaborative scholarly and creative activities” has made a very close-knit and diverse community on campus, but has not led to many distance learning options outside of some online aspects to classes. Though there is a large online portion to their award-winning MFA in Writing residency program (combining a week of on campus work with writers and teachers twice a year, with assignment and correspondence online in-between), the major thrust of Pacific University’s Internet is on a larger scale. Google “Internet studies” and the Berglund Center for Internet Studies at Pacific University should be one of the first listed. Created to “facilitate both theoretical discussion and practical action relating to the impact of the Internet”, this resource combines streaming videos, non-credit learning, and employment opportunities relating to web-based topics/materials. The center even offers a Fellowship Award to students showing promise/interest in Internet related fields.

In addition, Pacific University maintains a network that offers everything from college email to Blackboard, with a mobile App filled with campus maps, phone numbers, and important information for incoming and current students. Rosetta Stone language software is available to all PU students, as well as iTunesU and a system allowing capture of live footage on screen that can be transported to any number of medium.

What it lacks in distance learning options, PU makes up for in its commitment to fine education that is of benefit to society at large. Study abroad options are available (there is a history of diversity at PU, one maintained over the years) and internships in major cities like Portland offer experiential learning at top facilities, especially in health care. From orphans to doctors, Pacific University offers a commitment to learners of all levels.

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