The study guide

Ask any Portland State student where the closest Starbucks or McDonald’s is and they can point it out for you. Even for those students new to the university, it’s not difficult to find these conveniences.

However, finding a good study space on campus other than the Millar Library is an acquired skill—after getting blisters on your feet searching from building to building for the perfect spot.

Unlike Starbucks, a good study space on campus is a student’s best-kept secret—so much so that people are often reluctant to divulge the information for fear that their favorite space will become crowded.

Below is a review of some of the best places to study on campus, where they are located and a score on a scale of one through five, with five being the highest.

Dirce Moroni Toulan Library

Location: College of Urban and Public Affairs, Urban Center Building, room 770
Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tech friendliness: Four computers, one printer
Amenities: View of the city, sofa seats, tables
Rating: 5/5

This tiny library is perhaps the gem of all campus study spaces. It scores points for attractiveness with details like the bronze metal door.

While Jodie MacLean, office coordinator for the college, stresses that it is primarily for CUPA students, if you keep to yourself and study quietly, there will be no problem.

Most of the time, the library is under-used, making it a perfect quiet space.

You also get a great view of the city below, thanks to the ceiling-high windows. With little to no foot traffic, comfy seats and a serene view, students will most likely fall asleep halfway through—good thing there is the noise from the MAX train right below to wake you.

Skills Enhancement and Tutoring Center
Location: Smith Memorial Student Union, room 439
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Amenities: Cubicles, sofa seats, knowledgeable tutors, view of the Park Blocks
Rating: 3.5/5

The SETC is a great place to go if you are looking for help in foreign language, math or science. It’s also a great place to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations.

The center has 25 tutors ready to assist you, though you should be familiar with their schedule of availability, which is posted to the SETC website at

According to Alex Hosford, receptionist for SETC, when not occupied by a tutor, students can use the cubicles to study in private.

One setback for this area is that, because of its popularity, there is a high amount of foot traffic and noise, including from the Park Blocks, especially around noon. Also, since it is right below the campus bell, expect a friendly ring from time to time.

School of Business Administration study area
Location: SBA, fourth floor
Amenities: Tables and chairs, cubicles, laptop outlets, view of the floor below
Rating: 4/5

This area is a strict quiet zone, which means no talking or group study.

It’s great place to go if you really want to get that ten-page paper done, as there are no distractions whatsoever. It’s a bad place if you are a people person and do not like to watch paint dry.

Students can take a break by observing the floor below through a large window. Due to its obscure location, one can feel like a Peeping Tom as the people below do not seem to be aware that they are being watched.

Cramer Hall new study lounges
Location: Cramer Hall, first floor
Amenities:  New couches, ample lighting, laptop outlets
Rating: 3/5

Recently opened, these seating areas look straight out of an IKEA showroom. The space scores points simply for being brand new and for the mellow color scheme that can put any stressed out student at ease.

Since it is located right in the middle of the main hallway, where it receives a considerable amount of foot traffic, it’s only good to sit down with a laptop for a short time.

With the pastel-colored wall as a backdrop and the bright fluorescent lighting above, the area unintentionally becomes a great place to Skype. It’s also a great place if you like other people to see how hard you study.

Multicultural Center
Location: Smith Memorial Student Union, room 228
Amenities: Four computers, privacy
Rating: 4.5/5

This space has almost everything you need to set up shop all day, except for a printer. A negative is that the space is sometimes used to host events and meetings, so you may not get all the privacy you want.

During normal weekdays, however, the Multicultural Center receives little foot traffic. You can also relax afterward by playing a tune on their grand piano.

Political Science Department study room
Location: Urban Center, sixth floor
Amenities: Political science books, extra privacy
Tech friendliness: Two computers and one printer
Ratings: 5/5

Another designated space, this one for political science students. It’s great if you fit the profile, as you can show your professor (whose office is next door) that you indeed studied hard for that test.

You can still fake it if you are not a poli-sci major, however—just make sure to remember a few court cases to throw out at random if needed. Once you’re in, then you have total privacy to study whatever your heart desires. Hello, Spanish!