The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment projects employment in the state to grow by an average of 1.69% each year from 2018-2028 -- more than double the annual rate of growth projected for the United States economy as a whole. Experts attribute much of this expansion to new positions in a handful of industries. For example, the field of healthcare and social assistance is expected to create more than 100,000 new jobs over the coming decade in Colorado alone.
High-growth occupations also tend to offer above-average salaries, though they may have stricter educational requirements. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the annual mean wage for all jobs in Colorado was $55,820 in 2018, training and development specialists earned an average salary of $72,210. In addition, information security analysts earned an average salary of $102,820. When hiring for these roles, most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree or higher.
A college education can help you take advantage of these opportunities, but it can be difficult to know which school will best meet your unique needs. Our ranking of the top colleges in Colorado provides ample information to help you make your decision, including details on admission requirements, courses of study, and financial aid programs. Additionally, all of the schools in this list are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Best Colleges in Colorado
- Colorado College - Colorado Springs, CO
- Colorado School of Mines - Golden, CO
- CSU Global - Greenwood Village, CO
- University of Colorado Boulder - Boulder, CO
- Colorado State University-Fort Collins - Fort Collins, CO
- University of Denver - Denver, CO
- University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus - Denver, CO
- Metropolitan State University of Denver - Denver, CO
- Regis University - Denver, CO
- University of Northern Colorado - Greeley, CO
- Colorado Mesa University - Grand Junction, CO
- University of Colorado Colorado Springs - Colorado Springs, CO
- Western State Colorado University - Gunnison, CO
- Colorado Christian University - Lakewood, CO
- Red Rocks Community College - Lakewood, CO
- Johnson & Wales University-Denver - Denver, CO
- Naropa University - Boulder, CO
- Colorado Mountain College - Glenwood Springs, CO
- Fort Lewis College - Durango, CO
- Colorado State University-Pueblo - Pueblo, CO
Ranking Accredited Colleges in Colorado
|Colorado Springs, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 88%||
With high-quality undergraduate programs in more than 40 fields of study, Colorado College tops our ranking of the best colleges in Colorado. In addition to bachelor's degree in areas like economics, history, and molecular biology, students at CC can also pursue a master's degree in teaching or literacy development.
The college's block schedule allows students to engage with a single subject for 3.5 weeks, meaning they do not need to juggle the demands of multiple classes and assignments at the same time. Undergraduate students complete 32 blocks over the course of four years; this unique schedule gives them more flexibility to participate in service and experiential learning opportunities offered by the college.
While all applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate, CC does not require prospective students to submit results from a standardized entrance exam. During the admissions process, students can also apply for a variety of forms of financial aid. For example, the college's Leadership Scholarship provides $5,000 in support each semester to students who excel academically and demonstrate a strong commitment to community service.
Colorado School of Mines
|Golden, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 78%||
The Colorado School of Mines prepares graduates to work as engineers and scientists. The college offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs in fields such as biochemistry, computer science, environmental engineering, and petroleum engineering. Fully online graduate programs in space resources are also available, with additional distance education programs currently pending accreditation.
Mines emphasizes the importance of applied research and hands-on learning experiences. The college partners with government agencies like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to give students the opportunity to put their classroom learning into practice.
To apply to Mines as an undergraduate student, you must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Applicants must also submit results from the ACT or SAT. Admission requirements for graduate programs vary, though you generally need to have a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.
|Greenwood Village, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
As an exclusively online university, CSU-Global offers numerous programs that students can complete on their own schedule. Asynchronous coursework allows students to watch lectures, participate in discussions, and complete assignments at their convenience. The university also offers monthly class start dates and accelerated course options.
Bachelor's degrees and undergraduate certificates are available in subjects like accounting, computer science, human resource management, and marketing. Students can also earn a master's or graduate certificate in areas such as healthcare administration, organizational leadership, and teaching and learning. Specializations and stackable credentials give students even more freedom to customize their educational experience.
Undergraduate applicants generally need a high school diploma or GED certificate and at least two years of professional experience, though the university provides conditional admission to recent graduates with a strong academic record. Master's applicants must have a bachelor's degree and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher.
University of Colorado Boulder
|Boulder, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
CU Boulder is the flagship institution of the University of Colorado System. Each year, the university issues more than 7,000 degrees across roughly 150 unique fields of study. Through Boulder Connect, students can also pursue fully online graduate degrees and certificates in areas like engineering management and philosophy.
The university places a premium on affordability, and the CU Boulder Guarantee ensures that undergraduate students pay the same tuition rate during all four years of their undergraduate program. In addition, all applicants receive automatic consideration for a variety of institutional scholarships. For example, the Regent Scholarship provides $1,000 in aid to Colorado high school graduates, while the Boulder Chancellor's Achievement Scholarship offers $25,000 in total to out-of-state students with a high school GPA of 3.85 and above.
First-year applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate and submit results from the ACT or SAT. Prospective graduate students typically need to have a bachelor's degree and a sufficiently high score on an entrance exam, such as the GRE or GMAT.
Colorado State University-Fort Collins
|Fort Collins, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
Based in Fort Collins, Colorado State University prepares graduates for careers and continuing education in areas such as agricultural business, data science, natural resource management, and psychology. In addition to degrees and certificates, online students at the university can also earn digital badges, developing new skills and demonstrating proficiency in organizational innovation, 3D printing, and landscape design.
CSU's career center offers students personalized feedback on their resumes, career and aptitude assessments, internship and job opportunities, and the opportunity to connect with alumni mentors. Roughly 85% of CSU graduates find jobs in their chosen field and earn an average starting salary of $46,000.
First-year applicants must submit official copies of their high school or GED transcripts, results from the ACT or SAT, a personal essay, and one letter of recommendation. Requirements for graduate students vary by department, but most require a bachelor's degree and GRE scores.
University of Denver
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 75%||
Through partnerships with various organizations across metropolitan Denver, the University of Denver creates hands-on learning opportunities for its students. For example, law students from the university work at community legal clinics, while social work students advocate for the welfare and education of Native American children living in Colorado. Education students hone skills in local classrooms, and environmental students help conserve the state's parks and green spaces.
DU offers degrees for many career paths. Undergraduate programs cover subjects such as applied computing, religious studies, construction project management, and strategic communication. Graduate students explore topics such as developmental psychology, international security, and supply chain management. The university also offers an online bachelor's completion program and two master's degrees through its College of Business.
Undergraduate applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate, and DU encourages prospective students to take the ACT or SAT. To enroll in a graduate program, you must have a bachelor's degree. In recent years, students at the university have received more than $170 million in financial aid each year.
University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
CU Denver awards more master's and doctoral degrees than any other public institution in the state. In addition to its campus in downtown Denver, the university operates a medical school in nearby Aurora and an additional satellite campus in suburban Parker. Students can also earn a degree entirely at a distance through CU Online.
Courses of study available at the university include civil engineering, international business, public health, and women and gender studies. The Anschutz medical campus offers additional degrees in areas like health administration, nursing, pharmacy, and dental medicine.
Admission requirements vary considerably depending on the type of program, but undergraduate applicants generally must have a high school diploma or the equivalent, and graduate applicants need a bachelor's degree. Schools and colleges at the university also offer numerous scholarships to incoming students. For example, the Engineering Learning Community Scholarship provides up to $20,000 in aid to first-year engineering students.
Metropolitan State University of Denver
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
MSU Denver charges less than other large colleges and universities in the state, and it is also one of the state's most diverse institutions; more than 8,600 students of color make up nearly 45% of the overall student body. The university is also ranked as one of Colorado's best schools for veterans and currently educates approximately 1,000 former members of the military.
Students can pursue bachelor's, master's, and graduate degrees and certificates in subjects such as addiction studies, geospatial sciences, cybersecurity, and public affairs and administration. MSU Denver also offers hundreds of online and hybrid courses, making it an attractive option for students who cannot attend classes during the day or regularly commute to campus.
Undergraduate applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate and submit results from a standardized entrance exam. The average admitted student had a high school GPA between 2.61 and 3.41, along with an ACT score between 18 and 23.
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
While it is firmly rooted in the Jesuit institution, Regis University welcomes students from all faith backgrounds and prepares learners for careers in fields like biomedical science, criminal justice, elementary education, and physical therapy. In addition to the university's expansive online offerings, students in many programs can also follow accelerated tracks, earning their degree as soon as they demonstrate mastery of core competencies and skills.
Regardless of how they study, learners at Regis benefit from a variety of support services. For example, online and on-campus students can work one-on-one with tutors to review lessons, complete assignments, and prepare for exams. A free online writing center provides personalized feedback on essays and research papers, while academic success workshops help students develop skills related to time management, organization, and test taking.
To apply to Regis as an undergraduate student, you must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. The university also requires applicants to share results from the ACT or SAT.
University of Northern Colorado
|Greeley, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
Founded in 1889, the University of Northern Colorado offers more than 100 undergraduate programs and 120 graduate programs to roughly 13,500 students. Alongside classes at its four campus locations, UNC offers dozens of fully online bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in areas like business administration, educational psychology, and nursing.
Undergraduate applicants must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Roughly 25% of UNC students transfer from another school, and the university waives its ACT or SAT requirement for prospective students who have more than 24 transferable credits. To enroll in a graduate program, you typically must have a bachelor's degree and take an entrance exam like the GRE.
UNC offers substantial financial support to its students, largely on the basis of academic merit, community service, and/or area of study. For example, military veterans pursuing a master's in chemistry can apply for a scholarship valued at $10,000, and the Amy Smart Memorial Scholarship provides $2,000 in aid each year to undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional leadership potential.
Colorado Mesa University
|Grand Junction, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
While most students at Colorado Mesa University study full time on campus, the university offers evening and online classes to support the needs of working professionals and other nontraditional learners. Fully online undergraduate programs are available in elementary education, radiologic sciences, and sport management. Graduate students can also earn online degrees in business administration and nursing.
CMU is also committed to lifelong learning. Through the university's Community Education Center, students can take noncredit courses in subjects like beekeeping, financial planning, and graphic design. The Golden Scholars program ensures that students over the age of 60 receive significant tuition discounts for personal enrichment courses.
While lifelong learning programs at CMU have open-door admission policies, you must have at least a high school diploma or GED certificate to seek an undergraduate degree at the university. CMU also requires undergraduate applicants to submit results from the ACT or SAT. Prospective graduate students generally must have a bachelor's degree and take the GRE.
University of Colorado Colorado Springs
|Colorado Springs, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
The University of Colorado Colorado Springs creates high-quality educational opportunities for many financially disadvantaged students and members of the armed forces. For example, roughly one-third of the student population at the university comes from low-income families, and another 20% of students have either served in the military or are in a military family.
The university offers more than 70 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in fields of study like communication, economics, mechanical engineering, and the performing arts. Students also have the option to pursue fully online degrees in areas such as criminal justice, education, and healthcare sciences.
The undergraduate application process requires a high school diploma or the equivalent and ACT or SAT scores. While UCCS does not set strict requirements for admission, most successful applicants have a high school GPA of at least 3.0 and an ACT score of 20 or higher. Consideration is given to special circumstances, as explained in the candidate's admission essay and letters of recommendation.
Western State Colorado University
|Gunnison, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Western State Colorado University serves just over 3,000 learners. Its comparatively small size allows the university to provide more personalized attention and more responsive services to its students. For example, through Western's peer academic leaders program, juniors and seniors help new students navigate the enrollment process, access a variety of institutional resources, and choose a major.
Students at the university can choose from more than 100 majors in subjects like art history, data analytics, marketing, and photography. In addition, accelerated programs at Western allow students to earn both a bachelor's and master's degree in areas such as environmental management and sport science in five years.
Undergraduate applicants must submit official high school or GED transcripts and scores from the ACT or SAT. Most admitted students have a high school GPA of 2.95 or higher. All prospective students receive automatic consideration for the university's Merit Scholarship -- an annual award that provides up to $4,500 to in-state students and $10,000 to out-of-state students.
Colorado Christian University
|Lakewood, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
In addition to its faith-based programs in biblical studies and youth ministry, Colorado Christian University offers roughly 100 degrees in subjects like computer information systems, international business, music education, and theater. The university also offers online associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.
Undergraduate applicants must have a high school GPA of 2.8 or higher. CCU also requires applicants to score above 20 on the ACT (or a comparable score on the SAT). Prospective students must also submit a spiritual recommendation from a pastor or church leader who can attest to their Christian testimony and potential for spiritual growth.
CCU provides several merit-based scholarships. For instance, the university's World Changers Scholarship covers all tuition for select undergraduate students who hold a high school GPA of 3.8 or above. The President's Scholarship, valued at $15,000 per year, supports students with a GPA of 3.6 or higher.
Red Rocks Community College
|Lakewood, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
While Red Rocks Community College does not offer bachelor's degrees, the college holds transfer agreements with all public colleges and universities in Colorado. Students who earn select associate degrees and maintain a GPA of 2.0 or better receive guaranteed admission and junior status at any of these four-year schools.
Transfer-eligible associate programs allow students to explore subjects like anthropology, elementary teacher education, political science, and geology. A fully online general education associate degree is also specifically designed for graduates who plan to transfer their credits into a bachelor's program.
RRCC operates an open-door admission policy and admits anyone above the age of 17. Although you do not need a high school diploma or GED certificate to start taking classes, RRCC does require prospective students to take a placement exam in order to assess their readiness to study at the college level. Students who receive a low score on this exam may need to take developmental coursework before enrolling in an associate program.
Johnson & Wales University-Denver
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
In addition to the university's facilities in Charlotte, Miami, and Providence, JWU operates a campus in Denver that serves students throughout Colorado and other states in the West. The university's College of Online Education also enables students to pursue a bachelor's or master's degree from any location with an internet connection.
On-campus programs in Denver provide instruction in subjects like addiction counseling, food and beverage industry management, hotel and resort management, and organizational psychology. JWU also offers a 3+3 law program that allows students to earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a juris doctorate while saving a full year's worth of tuition.
JWU emphasizes the importance of work-placed learning and requires all of its undergraduate students to participate in an internship. While internship coordinators maintain relationships with businesses throughout the greater Denver area, online students may need to find a suitable partner in their own community.
To apply to an undergraduate program, you must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. However, JWU does not require applicants to submit entrance exam scores.
|Boulder, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 31%||
Teaching and learning at Naropa University combines Eastern wisdom with traditional Western scholarship. In addition to programs in elementary education and environmental studies, the university offers bachelor's and master's degrees in fields such as contemplative art therapy, yoga studies, and clinical mental health counseling. Low-residency programs in ecopsychology and creative writing also allow students to complete the majority of their coursework online.
Naropa prides itself on offering contemplative educational opportunities. The three core tenets of contemplative education are rigorous academics, meditation and mindfulness, and experiential learning. Online and on-campus students are strongly encouraged to gain insight and skills through volunteerism and internships.
Undergraduate applicants with a high school GPA of 3.0 or better do not need to submit test scores. Prospective students with a lower GPA may still qualify for provisional admission based on a personal essay and a consultation with the admissions department. All graduate applicants must take the GRE.
Colorado Mountain College
|Glenwood Springs, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
Colorado Mountain College creates an affordable higher education experience for its students. Learners at the college take out $8,000 less in student loans than the average four-year student in Colorado, and CMC charges 76% less in fees than the average public school in the state. The college also offers special tuition rates to certain groups, like a 25% discount to veterans, military personnel, and their families.
Students can pursue technical certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees in subjects like avalanche science, leadership and management, and sustainability studies. The college's virtual campus also allows learners to take dozens of courses online. Additionally, all students at CMC participate in an internship, applying their learning in a practical setting and growing their professional network.
To apply, you must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. If you have not taken the ACT or SAT, you must schedule a time to sit for the ACCUPLACER placement exam.
Fort Lewis College
|Durango, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
Fort Lewis College provides more degrees to Native American students than any other four-year college or university in the nation, and the college provides a full tuition waiver to members of qualifying Native American and Alaskan Native tribes. FLC also offers steep tuition discounts to students from states that participate in the Western Undergraduate Exchange, along with a host of merit- and need-based scholarships.
Academic programs at FLC cover subjects like adventure education, entrepreneurship and small business administration, journalism, and sociology. While the college does not currently administer any fully online programs, individual classes are available online and in a hybrid format. Students can also enroll in an accelerated post-baccalaureate program to quickly qualify for a Colorado state teaching license.
Undergraduate applicants must have a high school diploma or the equivalent and submit results from the ACT or SAT. While the minimum high school GPA required for admission is 2.0, most admitted students have a GPA of 3.0 or above.
Colorado State University-Pueblo
|Pueblo, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
CSU-Pueblo is one of the most diverse higher education institutions in the state, with a student body that contains nearly 50% minority students. Learners at the university also benefit from small class sizes, with 80% of classes made up of 30 or fewer learners.
At the Pueblo campus, students can choose from nearly 40 undergraduate and graduate degrees in areas like automotive industry management, exercise science, industrial engineering, and nonprofit administration. The university also hosts fully online programs in construction management and sociology.
Applicants must have at least a 2.0 high school GPA, though most admitted students have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. CSU-Pueblo also requires prospective students to submit ACT or SAT results and recommends that applicants score at least 14 on all subsections of the ACT or at least 380 on all subsections of the SAT.
All applicants receive automatic consideration for merit-based scholarships. For example, the university's Presidential Scholarship provides $8,000 in annual aid to students who graduated in the top 2% of their high school class or scored higher than 30 on the ACT.