Completing an online degree can save you significant time and money. While on-campus and online programs teach the same content and meet the same rigorous standards of quality, online programs offer greater flexibility to students. For instance, you can take classes while working full time or part time, raising a family, or fulfilling other obligations. Additionally, you can complete your assignments from wherever you are, eliminating the cost of traveling to or living on campus.
Online programs prepare graduates to advance their careers or qualify for exciting and lucrative new job opportunities. Colorado job-seekers benefit from low unemployment -- 2.7% as of September 2019 -- and above-average annual wages of $55,820. While the cost of living in urban areas such as Denver ranks above average, so do wages. Denver area workers earn $1,388 per week, compared to $1,184 nationwide. Additionally, college graduates in Colorado can qualify for in-demand jobs in government, business, education, healthcare, and hospitality that typically pay above-average wages.
Top 10 Online Colleges in Colorado
- Colorado State Global - Greenwood Village, CO
- Regis University - Denver, CO
- University of Denver - Denver, CO
- Colorado State University - Fort Collins, CO
- University of Colorado Boulder - Boulder, CO
- University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus - Denver, CO
- Metropolitan State University of Denver - Denver, CO
- Colorado Christian University - Lakewood, CO
- University of Northern Colorado - Greeley, CO
- Colorado Mesa University - Grand Junction, CO
Fields that require higher levels of education -- and that feature the highest growth rates in Colorado -- include healthcare, business, and computer systems. Software developers and registered nurses rank among the top 10 occupations as measured by job ads, while half of the top 10 employers placing job ads in the state are healthcare companies like UC Health.
While finding the right school can be a challenge, these rankings review some of the best online colleges in Colorado. Our guide outlines each accredited school’s campuses, online program offerings, and admissions criteria to help you find an online program that meets your budget, schedule, and career goals.
2020 Best Online Colleges in Colorado
Colorado State University-Global Campus
|Greenwood Village, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
Based in Aurora, Colorado State University Global launched in 2007 as an online state university. CSU Global now enrolls 18,000 students across general education courses, bachelor’s degree programs, and master’s degrees.
CSU Global offers online bachelor’s degrees in 13 areas, including business management, criminal justice, healthcare administration, and project management. Additionally, a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary professional studies focuses on soft skills for working students. The school also offers 13 online master’s degrees in fields such as data analytics, international management, and organizational leadership. To support online learning, CSU Global provides 24/7 access to an online library featuring scholarly databases, online help from a librarian, and writing tutorials.
GSU Global grants admission to first-year students with an ACT score of 18 or SAT score of 980, a minimum 2.8 GPA, and rigorous high school coursework. The school charges flat per-credit tuition rates for graduate and undergraduate courses. CSU Global holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
A Jesuit Catholic university founded in 1877, Regis University operates four campuses in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Thornton. The university’s five colleges serve more than 10,000 students and offer 184 degrees, including 22 online undergraduate programs and 36 online graduate degrees. Many Regis degrees feature accelerated options.
Undergraduate degrees offered at Regis include bachelor’s programs in business, computer science, education, and nursing. Business students may select from nine online program options, including marketing and finance. Unique graduate programs include online master’s degrees in development practice, enterprising systems engineering, health informatics, and neonatal nurse practitioner. Regis offers online doctoral programs in nursing and occupational therapy.
Regis applicants must submit official transcripts, a personal statement, and a resume. Online degree candidates may transfer up to 90 credits. Regis University holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Denver
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 75%||
Founded in 1864 as a Methodist seminary, the University of Denver is a private liberal arts school with approximately 12,000 undergraduate, graduate, and online students. The university’s 10 colleges include University College, home to the school’s online programs designed for working adults.
University College offers six online bachelor’s completion programs, including degrees in global commerce, healthcare administration, and leadership. These programs feature 10-week hybrid or asynchronous online courses on a quarter system. Learners can also choose master's degrees or graduate certificates in 13 graduate fields, including environmental policy and management, global community engagement, professional creative writing, and security management.
The university does not require University College applicants to submit test scores. The school charges flat per-credit rates for undergraduate and graduate online classes. The University of Denver holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Colorado State University-Fort Collins
|Fort Collins, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
A public research university located in Fort Collins, Colorado State University serves more than 33,000 students. CSU’s eight colleges offer degrees in agriculture, business, health and human services, engineering, liberal arts, veterinary medicine, natural and biomedical sciences, and natural resources. CSU Online -- or the Division of Continuing Education -- offers more than 40 degrees in addition to online courses, certificates, badges, and MOOCs.
CSU undergraduates may select from a dozen online bachelor’s degrees, including agricultural business, fire and emergency services management, horticulture, and natural resource tourism. Online master’s degree options include arts and music, business, computer science, education, engineering, and natural resources. Some programs require some on-campus attendance in the summer. CSU also offers online doctorates in higher education leadership and systems engineering.
CSU charges online students a flat per-credit rate, regardless of residency. The university holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Colorado Boulder
|Boulder, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
The largest of the four campuses in the University of Colorado system, the University of Colorado Boulder is a public institution with more than 34,000 students. Set in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, CU Boulder offers 236 degree programs in 119 areas of study. The university boasts an emphasis on research.
Students at CU Boulder can pursue an online bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies designed to accommodate transfer credits and student interests. At the graduate level, the university features courses, certificates, and master’s degrees in online and hybrid formats. Areas of study include engineering, education, computer science, and telecommunications. In engineering, CU offers online master’s degrees in aerospace, electrical, and water engineering, as well as engineering management.
Graduate school applicants must possess a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 -- or 3.0 for engineering. CU Boulder holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
The University of Colorado Denver serves nearly 20,000 students. The school also features an academic health center located in Aurora -- the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus -- that boasts health professional schools, health science centers and institutes, and two nationally ranked hospitals. CU provides online programs for both CU Denver and the medical campus through CU Online.
CU Online offers 12 online bachelor’s degrees in subjects such as ethnic studies, psychology, sociology, nursing, criminal justice, and accounting. Students can also choose from 22 online master’s degrees, including education, clinical pharmacy, nursing, and media forensics. Doctoral candidates may pursue online degrees in pharmacy, educational equity, and nursing. CU also offers a variety of graduate certificates online.
Online tuition rates vary by program and remain higher for out-of-state residents, especially those not from Western states. CU Denver holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Metropolitan State University of Denver
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
Metropolitan State University of Denver opened in 1965 as a public institution. MSU Denver’s four colleges offer more than 100 bachelor's programs in business, liberal arts and sciences, professional studies, and education, as well as eight graduate programs and 34 certificates.
MSU Denver offers online bachelor’s degrees in anthropology, family studies, nursing, and technical communication taught by the same instructors as on-campus programs. Students can also pursue online minors in human development, psychology, and political science, and an online master’s degree in social work. MSU’s online courses never require students to visit campus, although they may require proctored exams taken locally.
When evaluating first-time applicants, MSU considers academic records, courses taken, and ACT or SAT scores. Admissions staff may ask those on the low end of admissions criteria to submit additional items. MSU Denver holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Colorado Christian University
|Lakewood, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
An interdenominational Christian school founded in 1914, Colorado Christian University offers more than 50 undergraduate degrees and 80 graduate degrees taught from a Christian perspective. Located in Lakewood, CCU serves approximately 8,500 students, more than 5,600 of whom are adult undergraduates.
CCU’s College of Adult and Graduate Studies offers degree programs specifically designed for adult learners. CCU makes most courses available online every five weeks and offers accelerated degree completion options. The school also freezes tuition rates for up to six years for adults completing at least one course per year. Areas of study include applied psychology, business, education, and management.
Adult applicants must provide a copy of a state-issued driver’s license and submit documentation of high school completion. Out-of-state residents should check the school’s state exclusions to see if they can enroll in a CCU online program. CCU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Northern Colorado
|Greeley, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
Set between the Rocky Mountains and high plains in Greely, the University of Northern Colorado provides public education to 13,000 students. UNC’s five colleges offer more than 100 undergraduate programs and 120 graduate programs.
UNC offers online and mostly online degrees through its extended campus program. Online bachelor’s programs include American Sign Language (ASL), counseling, dietetics, and nursing. Some programs, such as those in ASL or nursing, combine online learning with hybrid summer courses or practicums. UNC also offers a variety of certificates, endorsements, and master’s degrees online, including licensure and degree programs in education leadership, an online MBA, and a Chinese teaching endorsement program.
UNC charges a flat per-credit tuition rate for all online students, regardless of residency. Online courses typically follow an asynchronous format with weekly assignments and deadlines. Freshmen may complete the school’s Bear Application or the Common Application. UNC holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Colorado Mesa University
|Grand Junction, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
Founded in 1925, Colorado Mesa University began as a small junior college. Today, CMU serves more than 11,000 students and offers over 70 undergraduate programs, including open-enrollment associate degrees and technical certificates through its Western Colorado Community College division. From its main campus in Grand Junction, CMU offers six undergraduate degrees and four graduate degrees.
In addition to an associate degree with a social science emphasis, CMU offers fully online bachelor’s degrees in elementary education, nursing, radiology, sports management, and business. Nurses may continue their education online through master’s and doctoral degree options. CMU also offers online master’s degrees in sport management and business.
CMU operates a rolling admissions process with no application deadline. The school considers first-time students with a higher education index of 92 for bachelor’s programs. First-time applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores and high school transcripts. CMU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.