University of Oregon Duck mascot, Puddles, and the Oregon State University Beaver mascot, Benny Beaver, shown in a fistfight. University of Oregon and Oregon State University are two of the largest universities in Oregon.
Illustration by Alyson Sutherland. 

Since many Franklin students are native Oregonians, the battle between the University of Oregon Ducks (UO) and the Oregon State University Beavers (OSU) is intense. While our relationship with either school blossomed from our families’ love of sports, or just common knowledge of the colleges around, it has now become a possible future for a lot of us as we enter college in the fall. 

Both schools are excellent universities, but which school is actually better? Through numerous interviews with admissions counselors and students at each university, I have broken down which school is better based on academics, living conditions, and social opportunities to hopefully aid fellow seniors and future graduates in their decision on which school to attend. 


The biggest let down that comes to UO relating to their academics is their lack of engineering programs. Despite being a Tier 1 research institute, meaning they have large budgets for research grants, selective criteria, and high-quality faculty, UO does not have a college of engineering. On the other hand, their counterpart, OSU, has 17 different engineering programs, thus making engineering one of their biggest majors. 

Due to this, a common stereotype is that OSU is a STEM school, and UO is a humanities and business school. According to Cori Kimmel, the Regional Admissions Advisor for OSU in the Portland Metro Area, “Something that sets us apart from schools nationally … is that we are one of three schools across the nation that have all four federal research grants—land, sea, space, and sun. This means we receive a lot of funding for research that our undergraduates and graduates have access to.” 

Despite the lack of some programs, UO is also still a Tier 1 research university. According to Caleb Roher, the UO Regional Admissions Advisor for the Portland Metro Area, “We’re connected with Nike and Phil Knight … being able to have their resources in terms of building our Phil Knight STEM campus is awesome.” Despite the lack of engineering programs, Roher further pushes that there are amazing biology, math, chemistry, and physics programs—and a new neuroscience program! Roher further flaunts, “You’re working with Pulitzer Prize winners, Nobel Prize winners … you have opportunities to work with faculty from around the world that are in the top of their field.” 

If you’re looking for a wide variety of exploration opportunities when it comes to STEM research opportunities, I would look into OSU. But if you have a specific interest you already plan to research during your time in university, UO seems like the better option in terms of networking availability and funding. 

From the student perspective, academic workload is very specific to your major.  Franklin class of 2022 alum, Max Bruin, who is currently majoring in engineering at OSU says, “I have had a couple days this term where I have been out of my dorm from 10am to 9pm, but I also know some finance majors that just mess around in dining centers all day.” The overall consensus is that there is less time spent in a classroom setting, but more time spent independently doing homework. Your academics are going to be what you put into it. Another Franklin class of 2022 alum, Ike Hutchinson, who is currently majoring in business at UO, states that, “Everyone who attends class wants to learn and keep up … the UO has great resources [and] if you use them, you will find a lot more success over the years.”

Living Conditions

Both Eugene and Corvallis are quintessential college towns. Eugene being more urban, and Corvallis being a more small, farming town. Most opportunities outside of campus are still going to be focused on the school, so expect that. There is an immense amount of pride at each school. According to Kimmel, “Everyone truly enjoys being [at OSU] and is proud of the institution. There is orange and black everywhere. You can always get a “Go Beavs” back wherever you are!” 

“Eugene is like Portland if it were [like] a beach town. It’s a medium-sized town, and there’s a lot of things to do like go out to eat or go explore nature, but a lot of things like department stores are far out,”  Franklin class of 2022 alum and UO humanities major Shala Santa Cruz Krigbaum states. Both Eugene and Corvallis are nuzzled close to a lot of different natural opportunities that allow easy access to the mountains, beaches, and hiking trails. Most first year students do not have cars on campus, so there is a train that can shuttle you around, but also specific groups that come together to go on nature adventures together. 

When it comes to dorming, both universities require students to live on campus for their first year. The quality of dorms at each institution varies depending on price, but the overall consensus is that the UO has a better double standard of dorms compared to OSU. Another Franklin class of 2022 alum, Annabella Mesecher, who is majoring in natural resources at OSU, asserts that, “None of the dorms are that great, unless you’re paying insane amounts of money.” However, there’s nothing that a Pinterest mood board and lots of online decoration shopping can’t resolve, even when it comes to an ugly dorm room. 

Additionally, both universities have residential communities that help students to live near others with the same interests. Some residential communities are based on academic interest, like Honors College or STEM, but others are based on personal identity, like LGBTQIA+ or Sober Living. Santa Cruz Krigbaum says, “The overall experience being at UO has been amazing! I feel like there is always something to do around campus, and with being a part of an LGBTQ+ residential community, it has been easy to feel at home.” You can also dorm without a residential community, which will be randomized after answering a series of questions the school has provided regarding your living habits including sleep schedule, studying, and tidiness. 

Social Life

As both universities have large student populations and campuses, social life is a very individualized experience. Greek life is prevalent within both schools, and does play an effect on the opportunities available. According to Hutchinson, “If you are a dude and interested in going to parties at UO, you basically have to join a fraternity.” With the culture of Greek life, most female students are let in to parties without question, but in order to keep the men to women “ratio” skewed to have more women than men, most male students unrelated to the fraternity are not let in. This is exclusionary of house parties, but that can also be challenging for freshmen to be invited to due to them living in dorms. Unless you befriend upperclassmen, or join or befriend people within a fraternity, large parties seem to be rather unlikely, but that does not define a successful social life. “I’m not a part of Greek life … and it hasn’t really affected my social life,” Santa Cruz Krigbaum adds. Again, your social opportunities are dependent on your personal desires. If big gatherings aren’t your jam, joining clubs or attending other events are an easy way to make friends and host small gatherings in your dorm. College can also be a naturally isolating experience, so having challenges with new social gatherings either way isn’t unlikely. According to Mesecher, “College can be very lonely, especially on a campus as big as OSU, so putting yourself out there is a massive part of it, and if you’re an introvert, that can be really difficult.” 

No matter where you go, you are bound to face certain hardships and challenges with your college experience. Neither of these schools is explicitly better than the other, it just depends on what you desire. If you are looking for a quintessential college experience, with an emphasis on sports and other student based activities, both schools will provide that for you. If you seek to have a more humanities, arts, or business academic track, the UO seems to be a better fit, but you won’t be let down when it comes to STEM. If you are looking for a more STEM and business oriented academic pathway, OSU seems to be more aligned with that. College is an incredibly personal experience, so good luck to all of my fellow seniors who are getting ready to commit to a school! 

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