Wondering what college life is like in Bend, Oregon? If you’re seeking a study spot that includes a cool town, sunny days, tons of trails (including a beer trail), a ski resort, and every other outdoor sport you can think of right outside your dorm room door, then you might want to consider heading to Bend for a college degree.

Thousands of students are currently earning their college degrees for undergraduate and master degree programs in Central Oregon, so here’s a roundup of some of the higher ed opportunities available right here in the high desert.


OSU-Cascades, the only Oregon State University branch campus in the state, is roughly 130 miles away from the main campus in Corvallis, Oregon. The Corvallis campus is vastly different from its little sister campus in Bend, separated not only by a mountain pass, but also by a completely different climate for learning and living. Sure, Bend lacks the thrill of having the Oregon State University football team on campus, but it more than makes up for it with its world famous outdoor-lifestyle-meets-an-urban-town vibe.

Marketed as “Oregon State With An Edge” because of its access to year-round recreation, Bend’s only four-year university at OSU-Cascades offers 20 majors and 30 minors, plus a variety of signature programs. OSU-Cascades is the first and only branch campus in Oregon, and the only baccalaureate and graduate degree-granting institution based in Central Oregon. OSU-Cascades expanded to a four-year university when it welcomed its first freshman class in fall 2015.


As the longest standing community college in all of Oregon, Central Oregon Community College (COCC) has been educating students since 1962. The 140-acre main campus sits on top of Awbrey Butte surrounded by towering pine trees, a smattering of sagebrush with sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains. Several satellite campuses are scattered around Central Oregon in the cities of Redmond, Madras, and Prineville.

Over 17,000 students attend COCC to earn their associate’s degree (AAS), technical education certifications, and transfer degrees to public universities within Oregon. COCC opened a state-of-the-art Health Careers and Science Center on the Bend campus in 2012, which includes a span of programs ranging from vet techs to chemistry to nursing.

Ambitious high school students can get a jump start on their college education by attending classes on and off campus. COCC also offers GED programs and opportunities for earning high school credits.


If a food degree is in your future, the Cascade Culinary Institute (CCI) offers degree programs in the Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry Arts, and certifications in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition and Dietary Management. The small class size, caliber of chefs, and an education on par with private culinary schools at a fraction of the price attracts students from around the country. The Jungers Culinary Center on campus is a cutting edge facility featuring multiple kitchens, a demonstration theater and a student-operated restaurant called Elevation, where the public can enjoy a seasonal lunch and dinner menu as well as special farm-to-table dining events. Elevation won OpenTable’s Diners Choice award in 2015. Check their hours before you head over since the restaurant is only open select days to the public and reservations are a must because it’s that good!


In addition to formal degree programs, COCC offers continuing education and professional development for individuals and small business with affordable classes on everything from Spanish to social media. The Small Business Development Center offers hands-on coaching and workshops for aspiring business owners just starting out, or current business owners with as few as one employee.