Eastern Oregon University: Oregon’s Rural University

Eastern Oregon UniversityEastern Oregon University (EOU) is a public university in La Grande, Oregon. EOU is known for its mountainous location and its academic programs related to nature and the outdoors. These include Outdoor Recreation and Leadership, Fish and Wildlife, Ecological Biology, Environmental Chemistry, and Sustainable Rural Systems.

EOU has military science, agricultural science, and nursing offered on campus by other Oregon universities. EOU also offers business and elementary education programs at a satellite campus in Gresham, Oregon. In addition, many degrees are available online.

Eastern Oregon University is consistently rated as a top-value university. Its tuition is thousands of dollars less than other public and private institutions. Residents living in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho are eligible for in-state tuition. EOU also accepts more transfer credits than most other universities.


EOU opened its doors in 1929 as the Eastern Oregon Normal School for teacher training. In 1939, the Oregon Legislature changed the name to Eastern Oregon College of Education. By 1956 its academic programs grew to include secretarial sciences and business, so the phrase “of Education” was dropped from the college name. In 1973, the name was changed to Eastern Oregon State College. In 1997, Eastern Oregon State College became Eastern Oregon University.


The following colleges are part of Eastern Oregon University:

  • College of Education
  • College of Business
  • College of Arts & Social Sciences
  • College of STM & Health Sciences

EOU offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in traditional fields of the Arts, Sciences, Social Sciences, Education, and Business. A Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) degree in vocational fields such as Fire Services Administration and Global Foods and Agribusiness target regional employment needs. EOU also offers certificates and an associate’s degree in Education.

The most popular degrees are undergraduate B.S. degrees (Bachelor of Science). The most popular majors at EOU are Education, Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, Business/Management/Marketing, Parks/Recreation/Leisure/Fitness, and Psychology. The last we heard, EOU’s Psychology department was one of the only university programs left that still used live animals in behavioral studies.

Student Life

Eastern Oregon University has a total undergraduate enrollment of over 3,000 students, including those attending on campus and through online education programs, with a gender distribution of 40% male students and 60% female students.

The student-faculty ratio at EOU is 17:1, and the university has 66.4% of its classes with fewer than 20 students. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 70%. There are more than 400 student events each year, and over 50 student clubs.

The Eastern Oregon campus contains 26 buildings, including three living facilities – Alikut Hall, North Hall, and Daugherty Hall – all of which are co-ed. However, only 6% of the students live in college-owned, -operated or -affiliated housing while 94% of students live off campus.

Sports and Recreation

EOU’s mascot is the Mountaineer. The Mountaineers are a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Cascade Collegiate Conference in the following sports:

  • Men’s football
  • Men’s and women’s soccer
  • Men’s and women’s cross country
  • Women’s volleyball
  • Men’s and women’s basketball
  • Women’s softball
  • Men’s and women’s track & field
  • Men’s and women’s wrestling

The La Grande High School football team also plays their home games at the Community Stadium located on campus.

In addition to organized sports, EOU has an Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP). The outdoor program began in the Fall of 1973 when non-credit backpacking classes were offered and the first equipment was purchased. Today, the OAP oversees a rental program that provides a wide range of outdoor adventure equipment for students, faculty/staff, and community members. The OAP also offers courses, clinics, guided trips, an indoor climbing wall, and an extensive outdoor adventure resource library.


EOU’s location in La Grande is in the heart of the Blue Mountain range between Portland, Oregon and Boise, Idaho just off Interstate 84. Driving to La Grande takes approximately four hours from Portland, two and half from Boise, five from Seattle, and four from Spokane. Stop at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Park near La Grande to see traces of the Old Emigrant Road, where historic wagon ruts are still visible.

Incorporated in 1885, La Grande is the economic, educational, recreational, and cultural hub for Eastern Oregon. Surrounded by natural beauty, with a family oriented, small-town character, it’s a thriving community for the arts, outdoor recreation, and local eateries. For sightseeing and adventuring in Eastern Oregon, there’s no better base camp than La Grande.

As part of LaGrande’s revitalized downtown in support of hometown industry, the Market Underground is a nearly 20,000 square feet climate-controlled subterranean shopping experience. This unique showcase for local artisans and business owners also offers students a business curriculum incorporating a practicum through which they can gain real life experience.

The rural communities of Eastern Oregon tend to be more conservative than the liberal Portland metro area. However, when we were there we did see prominent BLM signs on the roads near campus as is typical in college towns.

Second Language Requirements

Completion of a foreign language is not a requirement for admission to EOU; however, it is a requirement to receive a degree from EOU. To satisfy this requirement, incoming freshmen must either have completed two years of the same high school-level second language at a grade of C- or above, or complete two terms of the same college-level language with a grade of C- or above, or meet satisfactory performance on an approved assessment of second language knowledge and/or proficiency. Despite the language requirement, Spanish is the only one currently offered at EOU due to budget cuts. Even though they have eliminated all majors in foreign languages, a Spanish minor still exists.

Non-Accredited and Home Schooled Students

Oregon has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the U.S., so EOU has rules in place to make sure incoming students are ready for college work. Students who did not graduate from a standard or accredited high school and home schooled students must qualify for admission by meeting the following standards:

  • A minimum composite score of 1070* on the new SAT Reasoning or 1470* on the old SAT Reasoning, or 21 on the ACT Enhanced AND
  • An average 470 or above (1410 total) on three College Board SAT-Subject Tests (English/Literature, Mathematics Level 1 or 2, and a third test of the student’s choice) OR
  • Earn a General Education Development (GED) and meet the score requirements.

For Non-Accredited and Home Schooled Students to be eligible to receive Federal Financial Aid at Eastern Oregon University, they must earn the GED or have completed 72 college credits.

If you earned a GED after December 2013, you must have a total score of 680 or higher with a minimum standard score on each of the four examinations of at least 150. Please go to the GED Testing Service site to request an official transcript.

Students who do not meet EOU’s minimum admission requirements but can demonstrate strong potential to be successful in college-level coursework and progress toward a degree may be provisionally admitted to the university by petitioning for an Individual Admissions Review.

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