Best Colleges in Colorado

Explore the best colleges in Colorado for innovative online options, world-renowned academics, outdoor extracurriculars, and inspiring scenery.
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Updated on April 19, 2024
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Colleges in Colorado offer hundreds of graduate and undergraduate degrees against a scenic backdrop with unmatched outdoor recreation activities.

Colorado is home to the largest number of college-educated residents in the U.S., with 63% holding a certificate or degree. Colorado offers many online and traditional programs, spanning nearly 50 public and private universities and community colleges.

Popular Colleges in Colorado

These colleges in Colorado are among the most popular and prestigious options in the Centennial State.

The following school data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and is updated for 2022.

1. Colorado School of Mines

  • Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $21,186 (in-state), $44,376 (out-of-state)
  • Acceptance Rate: 58%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 7,403

Colorado School of Mines offers nationally renowned applied science and engineering programs in fields like biochemistry, computer science, and environmental engineering.

Students can choose from bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. programs, including several online courses, certificates, and advanced degrees.

Mines emphasizes experiential learning through partnerships with government agencies in the technology and energy sectors. The R1-level research university boasts a positive outcome rate of 92% or above for graduates.

2. University of Colorado Boulder

  • Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $16,430 (in-state), $41,943 (out-of-state)
  • Acceptance Rate: 81%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 39,585

The flagship of the University of Colorado system, CU Boulder offers thousands of certificates and graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 150 major areas of study. Additionally, CU Boulder Online features degrees, certificates, and professional education programs.

CU Boulder features a four-year fixed tuition guarantee for undergraduate students. According to the school, nearly 90% of CU Boulder students were employed or enrolled in the military or graduate school within six months of graduating in 2022.

3. Colorado State University

  • Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $12,896 (in-state), $33,751 (out-of-state)
  • Acceptance Rate: 91%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 33,403

CSU offers over 300 graduate and undergraduate programs through its Fort Collins campus and CSU Online.

Popular majors include business administration, psychology, and biological science. Online students can also earn digital badges in skills including organizational innovation, 3D printing, and landscape design.

CSU offers diverse financial aid such as merit scholarships for Colorado residents and non-residents, and aid opportunities during the summer break and for online students. In 2022, 88% of undergraduate and 94% of graduate alumni of CSU reported their employment was related to their career plans.

4. University of Denver

  • Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $59,340
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 13,734

DU offers more than 300 graduate and undergraduate programs online and at its scenic campus at the intersection of the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. DU incorporates a unique "4D" learning experience focusing on holistic personal and professional development.

More than 70% of DU students participate in internships and study abroad programs while earning a degree. According to DU, the school awards nearly $150 million in aid annually, with 93% of undergraduate students receiving some form of financial aid.

5. University of Colorado Denver

  • Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $10,017 (in-state), $28,209 (out-of-state)
  • Acceptance Rate: 75%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 23,744

CU Denver offers more than 100 graduate and undergraduate degrees at its downtown Denver campus and through CU Online. The university also operates the Anschutz Medical Campus in nearby Aurora and an additional satellite location in the Parker suburb.

Academics at CU Denver span fields including architecture, arts and media, business, education, engineering, liberal arts and sciences, and public affairs. CU Denver alumni report an 84% employment rate within one year of graduation.

Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

List of All Colleges in Colorado

We've created a complete list of all four-year nonprofit universities in Colorado. You can use the table below to compare data on student population, average net cost, acceptance rate, and number of applicants.

The following school data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). All data is from 2022. Schools with fewer than 500 undergraduates were not included in this list.

All Colleges in Colorado
School Total Student Enrollment Avg. Annual Net Price Acceptance Rate Number of Applicants
Adams State University 2,854 $13,224 99% 1,580
Colorado Christian University 8,964 $23,313 100% N/A
Colorado College 2,203 $33,178 16% 7,846
Colorado Mesa University 8,905 $15,085 82% 9,810
Colorado School of Mines 7,403 $29,425 58% 10,886
Colorado State University Global 9,565 $14,826 97% 128
Colorado State University-Pueblo 6,617 $13,033 99% 1,572
Colorado State University-Fort Collins 33,403 $16,926 91% 33,122
Fort Lewis College 3,400 $15,685 91% 4,942
Metropolitan State University of Denver 16,995 $14,805 98% 10,163
Regis University 4,668 $26,377 76% 5,549
United States Air Force Academy 4,085 NA 16% 8,353
University of Colorado Boulder 39,585 $21,836 81% 53,781
University of Colorado Colorado Springs 11,431 $16,990 85% 14,751
University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus 23,744 $16,079 75% 15,631
University of Denver 13,734 $42,423 78% 19,342
University of Northern Colorado 9,380 $18,310 79% 10,107
Western Colorado University 3,548 $16,672 92% 3,116
Source: NCES

Cost of College in Colorado

Attending college in Colorado costs similar to or above the national average. In-state students at public universities paid the least tuition for 2021-2022, averaging around $9,570, while out-of-state students paid about $31,700. At the same time, the average tuition at private universities in Colorado is about $26,800.

Most colleges in Colorado offer a variety of financial aid programs based on your FAFSA eligibility. Some schools may also fix undergraduate tuition costs through four-year tuition guarantees, while others maintain lower tuition rates for full-time in-state or online students.

Cost of College in Colorado in 2021-2022
Institution Type Average Tuition & Required Fees
Public Four-Year (In-State) $9,573
Public Four-Year (Out-of-State) $31,699
Private Four-Year $26,784
Public Two-Year (In-State) $3,329
Public Two-Year (Out-of-State) $9,530
Source: NCES

Why Study in Colorado?

Attending college in Colorado is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. Locals can hike the Rocky Mountains, ski in Aspen, or attend a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Colorado's big cities are home to industries like healthcare, medical technology and sales, finance, energy, aerospace, and agriculture.

While the cost of living in Colorado is higher than the national average, the job market offers lucrative options for graduates of STEM and aerospace programs, and entrepreneurs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in Colorado

What is the #1 college in Colorado?

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Colorado School of Mines often tops the list of the best colleges in Colorado, renowned for its academic offerings and idyllic campus location. Colorado School of Mines is the only institution worldwide to offer doctorates in all five earth science categories. The school also attracts high-achieving engineering, physics, and computer science majors. Mines' campus is in the mountain town of Golden and offers a scenic setting for a top-notch education and outdoorsy college experience.

Is CU Boulder or CU Denver better?

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CU Boulder outranks CU Denver on most lists, though both schools highlight different aspects of the University of Colorado system.

CU Boulder's "small town" setting enrolls more students and offers thousands of program options in diverse majors. In comparison, CU Denver's metropolitan campus focuses on providing a holistic education in the liberal arts. CU Boulder also boasts higher acceptance and employment rates within one year of graduation.

What is the oldest college in Colorado?

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Founded in 1864, the University of Denver is the oldest college in Colorado. Originally named Colorado Seminary, DU offers hundreds of academic programs on concurrent character development and holistic learning styles. Students today can still attend DU's picturesque campus, where the Great Plains and the Rockies meet or choose to complete their degree through DU Online.

What colleges in Colorado are online?

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All the schools on our list offer online courses, degrees, and certificates. Most colleges in Colorado offer some type of distance learning component.

The multiple campuses under the University of Colorado system, Colorado State University, and the University of Denver are among Colorado's largest and most comprehensive online colleges.

What is the best college town in Colorado?

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Determining the best college town in Colorado requires considering several factors, such as your field of study, whether you live on or off campus, and your interest in recreation options.

Colleges in Colorado tend to attract students who love the outdoors, so their proximity to outdoor adventuring opportunities is a benefit. Students may prefer the small mountain town feel of Golden, the college town energy of Fort Collins, or the global culture and nightlife of an urban center like Denver.