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 Introduction to Graduate Study at Oregon State University

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Exciting and diverse educational opportunities are offered through the graduate programs of Oregon State University’s 11 colleges which encompass 73 major disciplines and 19 different graduate degree types. A land, sea, space, and sun grant university, OSU enrolls more than 4,400 graduate students, representing more than 70 countries and every state in the nation.

At OSU, maximum opportunity is provided for the integration of graduate instruction and research. The graduate faculty (1,800 members) is selected on the basis of training, experience, research, and evidence of the ability to successfully direct and supervise graduate students.

All study beyond the bachelor’s degree at Oregon State University is conducted through the Graduate School. The establishment of departmental graduate programs and the formulation and direction of individual student programs are responsibilities of the departments, under the general rules and requirements of the Graduate School.


Oregon State University has a global reputation for excellence in teaching, research, and engagement.

Oregon State is one of only two land, sea, space and sun grant universities in the nation and is the only university in Oregon to have the Carnegie Classifications for both Very High Research Activity and Community Engagement. OSU is comprised of 11 academic colleges with strengths in natural resources, earth dynamics and sustainability, life sciences, innovation and entrepreneurship, and the arts and sciences. OSU has facilities and/or programs in every county in the state, including 11 regional experiment stations, 35 county extension offices, a branch campus in Bend, a major marine science center in Newport, and a range of programs and facilities in Portland. OSU is Oregon’s largest public research university, conducting more than 60 percent of the research funded throughout the state’s university system.

A dedicated and highly regarded graduate faculty, a well-equipped library, comprehensive special collections, and exceptional research facilities keep Oregon State at the leading edge of graduate education. Linus Pauling, an Oregon State alumnus and the only person to win individual Nobel prizes in two different categories, selected OSU as the repository for his papers.

Research and teaching assistantships are available to allow you the opportunity to work with people who are leaders in their fields while furthering your education. In addition to being outstanding teachers, many OSU faculty members are internationally renowned for their research. In fiscal year 2012, Oregon State University received more than $81 million in external support for research and scholarship.

With these strengths in research and teaching, Oregon State produces degree holders who can compete successfully with the best in their fields.

But life isn’t all study and research, and when you’re ready to take a break, you’ll find that Oregon State is the ideal location for that as well. Whether you want to be active or relax, attend a sports event or a lecture, go to a concert or a play, or do just about anything else, you’re likely to find what you want at Oregon State or just a short distance away.

OSU is located in Corvallis, a community of 54,670 people situated in the Willamette Valley between Portland and Eugene. Ocean beaches, lakes, rivers, forests, high desert, the rugged Cascade and Coast Ranges, and the urban amenities of the Portland metropolitan area are all within a 100 mile drive of Corvallis. More than 24,500 undergraduate, 590 first professional, and 4,400 graduate students are enrolled at OSU, including more than 7,200 students of color and 3,500 international students.

The stunning, park-like setting of the OSU campus is comprised of 400 acres of stately buildings, seasonal landscaping and green, open spaces. Housing for many OSU undergraduate and graduate students is provided by residence halls on campus, and cooperatives, sororities, fraternities, and family student housing just off the central campus.

In addition to the main campus, the state owns and leases many acres of forest and farmland that are used by the university for instruction and research. OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center at Newport serves as the main coastal facility for Sea Grant, oceanography, and fisheries programs. For many graduate students, study and research through these off-campus facilities means a direct look at the natural resources and characteristics of the Pacific Northwest.

The institution that is now OSU opened in 1858 as Corvallis College, a small academy. College-level study began about 1865, and the first three baccalaureate degrees were awarded in 1870. Graduate programs began a short time later. In 1868, Corvallis College was designated by the Oregon Legislature as the "agricultural college of the state of Oregon." From 1868 until 1885, the college continued under the direction of the Methodist Episcopal Church but was partly state supported. In 1885, the state of Oregon assumed full control of the institution.

Oregon State granted its first advanced degree (A.M.) in 1876. Residence requirements for the master's degree were announced in 1897.

Responsibility for graduate study at OSU has changed a number of times over the years. In 1910 it was placed under a standing committee of the faculty. In 1933 all graduate work in the State System of Higher Education was placed in an interinstitutional graduate division. At Oregon State, an associate dean and an institutional graduate council were put in immediate charge of graduate study. The first doctor of philosophy degrees were conferred by Oregon State in 1935. In October 1946, the State Board of Higher Education again gave the institutions direct responsibility for their graduate programs and assigned graduate work at Oregon State to the Graduate School.

The primary aims of the Oregon State University Graduate School are to prepare students to create new knowledge and to assist students in acquiring specialized knowledge in one or more disciplines(s). At the same time, graduate programs may provide the student with the opportunity to acquire an educational background broader than his or her specialty. The Graduate School and graduate programs provide additional opportunities to learn and practice vital professional and leadership skills.

The graduate educational process is designed to help the student attain a high level of scholarship. The student is assisted in developing the skills of assimilation, interpretation, organization, evaluation, and application of knowledge. Such scholarship increases the student's breadth of learning and prepares him or her for roles of leadership and participation in the broader areas of culture and society. The ideal graduate program permits the student to specialize, but at the same time develop a broad educational base.

The communication of new knowledge to both technical and non-technical audiences is an important part of the educational process. Creating, interpreting, and communicating knowledge are related processes at OSU. The Graduate School provides opportunities for students to develop these skills. Graduate students have the opportunity to distinguish themselves from their peers by taking advantage of a broad range of additional educational offerings. These include professional and leadership skills vital for student success in their future employment.

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Mission, Goals, and Values



Oregon State University is a comprehensive, public, research-intensive university and a member of the Oregon University System serving as the state's land, sea, space and sun grant institution—one of only two universities with such designation in the country. OSU programs and faculty are located in every county of the state and are dedicated to investigating the state's greatest challenges. OSU considers the state of Oregon its campus and works in partnership with the P–12 school system, Oregon community colleges and other OUS institutions to provide access to high quality educational programs. Strong collaborations with industry and state and federal agencies drive OSU's research enterprise.


As a land grant institution committed to teaching, research, and outreach and engagement, Oregon State University promotes economic, social, cultural and environmental progress for the people of Oregon, the nation and the world. This mission is achieved by producing graduates competitive in the global economy, supporting a continuous search for new knowledge and solutions, and maintaining a rigorous focus on academic excellence, particularly in the three Signature Areas: Advancing the Science of Sustainable Earth Ecosystems; Improving Human Health and Wellness; and Promoting Economic Growth and Social Progress. 


To best serve the people of Oregon, Oregon State University will be among the Top 10 land grant institutions in America.


  1. Provide outstanding academic programs that further strengthen our performance and pre-eminence in three Signature Areas of Distinction: Advancing the Science of Sustainable Earth Ecosystems; Improving Human Health and Wellness; and Promoting Economic Growth and Social Progress.
  2. Provide an excellent teaching and learning environment and achieve student access, persistence, and success through graduation and beyond that matches the best land grant universities in the country.
  3. Substantially increase revenues from private fundraising, partnerships, research grants, and technology transfers while strengthening our ability to more effectively invest and allocate resources to achieve success.

OSU Strategic Plan: 

Core Values

Accountability. We are committed stewards of the loyalty and good will of our alumni and friends of the human, fiscal, and physical resources entrusted to us.

Diversity. We recognize that diversity and excellence go hand-in-hand, enhancing our teaching, scholarship, and service as well as our ability to welcome, respect, and interact with other people.

Integrity. We practice honesty, freedom, truth, and integrity in all that we do.

Respect. We treat each other with civility, dignity, and respect.

Social responsibility. We contribute to society's intellectual, cultural, spiritual, and economic progress and well-being to the maximum possible extent.

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Graduate School

Graduate work at Oregon State University is administered by the Graduate School. The regulations, policies, and procedures governing graduate education are implemented by the dean of the Graduate School. The dean coordinates graduate programs, courses, admission standards, and certificate and degree requirements; enforces current regulations; recommends changes in graduate policy to the Graduate Council; acts on petitions to deviate from existing regulations; and is responsible for the efficient and effective operation of the Graduate School. The Graduate School office is in room A300 of OSU's Kerr Administration Building (relocating to Heckart Lodge in fall 2017). The telephone number is 541-737-4881, and the FAX number is 541-737-3313. The email address is, and the Web address is


The Graduate School contributes to OSU's goal of achieving top ten land grant status by providing leadership in all aspects of graduate education, through advocacy for the critical importance of the graduate enterprise to the university's mission, and by providing core centralized services to the graduate community. In partnership with the graduate faculty, the Graduate School plays a leadership and advocacy role to ensure that OSU attracts the best graduate students and delivers a compelling and high-quality graduate experience that prepares them to create new ideas and knowledge, to educate others, to make positive impacts on society, and to lead innovation.

Graduate Council

The Graduate Council formulates the basic policy, procedures, and requirements for all graduate work at OSU, within the general authority granted by the State Board of Higher Education. The council establishes admission standards, basic degree requirements, and general policies; approves all graduate faculty members, new programs, and courses; and periodically reviews all existing graduate programs. Graduate Council members are appointed by the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, with each academic college having one representative. Major actions of the Graduate Council are referred to the Faculty Senate for review and approval.

Graduate Faculty

Graduate faculty members are chosen from the university faculty based on their academic training, experience, demonstrated potential for scholarship, and evidence of their ability and competency to direct and supervise graduate students in the pursuit of advanced knowledge.

Each graduate faculty member is authorized to perform specific activities within a particular graduate program. The head and academic dean of each unit are responsible for nominating faculty members for these activities, subject to review and approval by the Graduate Council.

Academic Units

An academic unit is the administrative unit responsible for directing and managing a graduate major or minor field of study. An academic unit may be an academic program, department, school, or college, or composite of these. The chief administrative officer of the academic unit is responsible for managing the graduate programs in that unit and is responsible to the dean of the Graduate School for all graduate work performed by the unit.

Academic units have a major role in the success of graduate education. Within the general rules of the Graduate School, the academic units establish and teach courses, maintain a graduate faculty to teach and supervise research, establish their own admission standards and specific graduate certificate and degree requirements, make graduate student appointments, and provide advice and supervision for their graduate students.

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