- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2015-16, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed March 2, 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2014-15, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, accessed March 2, 2016, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- School pages, accessed May 25, 2017: Colorado Mountain College, http://coloradomountaincollege.net/; Academic Programs, Colorado Mountain College, http://coloradomtn.edu/programs/; Online Bachelor's Degrees, Colorado State University, https://www.online.colostate.edu/degrees/undergraduate-degrees.dot; About MSU Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, http://www.msudenver.edu/about/; Online Programs, University of Northern Colorado, http://extended.unco.edu/search/locations/online.asp; About, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, http://www.uccs.edu/about.html; About, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, http://www.ucdenver.edu/anschutz/about/Pages/About.aspx; Degree Search, CU Online Degrees and Online Course, University of Colorado Denver, http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/CUOnline/OnlineDegrees/Pages/Degree-Search.aspx; Distance Education at CMU, Colorado Mesa University, http://www.coloradomesa.edu/distance-education/index.html; Distance Learning for Undergraduates, Adams State University, https://www.adams.edu/extended_studies/undergrad/; Western State Colorado University, http://www.western.edu/; Grants at Colorado State University, Colorado State University, http://sfs.colostate.edu/grants;
- Transfer Agreements with Other Colleges, Colorado Community College System, accessed May 15, 2017, https://www.cccs.edu/current-students/transfers-articulations/transfer-agreements-with-other-colleges/
- About the CU System, University of Colorado System, accessed May 25, 2017, https://www.cu.edu/about-cu-system
- Need-Based Aid, College In Colorado, State of Colorado, accessed May 15, 2017, https://secure.collegeincolorado.org/Financial_Aid_Planning/Financial_Aid_101/Need-based_aid.aspx
- Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
Choosing where to earn your bachelor's degree is an important decision. It can be a great help to have as much information about your options as possible - as well as potential outcomes once you've earned your degree.
Colorado has two public university systems — the University of Colorado and Colorado State University — and for our ranking of the best schools in the state we treated each campus of these schools as an individual institution, whether it was the flagship location or one of the smaller regional sites.
If you're attending a Colorado community college and plan to transfer to a university bachelor's program, don't forget to look into the Colorado Community College System's transfer agreements with four-year colleges. Your academic advisor may also have some institution-specific information on how to make the transfer go as smoothly as possible.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Colorado
To help you understand the higher education scene in the state we gathered a massive dataset and ran it through our proprietary 13-point methodology to discover the best traditional and online colleges in Colorado by the numbers.
This flagship campus of the Colorado State University system offers the largest array of bachelor's degree programs in the state, one factor that helped secure its No. 1 overall ranking. It also posted the top retention rate for first-year students of any school in our top ten, and its graduation rate came in at No. 2 among schools on our list.
CSU was also a top destination for students seeking an online bachelor's degree in Colorado. The state's largest selection of online degree plans can be found through the Fort Collins location, including eight undergraduate degree programs, and its percentage of students enrolled in at least some distance education ranked No. 4 among our top ten schools.
Metropolitan State University of Denver may fly under the radar of some prospective students in Colorado, but its combination of affordable tuition and the resource-rich environment of a large campus located in the state's capitol are hard to ignore. MSU Denver charged its students the second-lowest average tuition and fees cost in 2015-16, which likely helped it stand out on another, more precise measure of college affordability.
Average net price aims to estimate the out-of-pocket cost of college by tallying up the total expense of tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing, meals and other necessities and subtracting the expected amount of institutional grant and scholarship aid per student. MSU Denver took the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the state for the average net price it charged middle-income and low-income students, respectively.
The sizeable bachelor's degree catalog at the University of Northern Colorado contains over 100 degree programs for on-campus students — the fifth most in the state — and the university works hard to help its students afford their education. Only two other schools on our list provided a higher proportion of institutional grant aid to their students, and the average net price for middle-income student's ranked No. 4 statewide.
The student success scores at UNC also stood out. Students graduated from the Greeley school at our list's third-highest percentage, and the rate of first-year student retention came in at No. 3 among our top ten schools. UNC also took the No. 5 spot statewide for the selection of online degree programs available through its extended campus.
This outpost of the University of Colorado System was established in 1965, and it's grown into a formidable modern research university in the more than 50 years since its founding. Average tuition and fees at the Colorado Springs school ranked No. 5 in the state for affordability, and its graduation and retention rates came in at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, among schools that made our top ten.
UCCS was also one of the top online colleges for Colorado students in 2015-16, featuring an degree catalog that ranked No. 5 in the state for its number of available online degrees. Eight of the ten on-campus flexibility measures we looked for were present here, also, including remedial services for students returning to school after some time away and whole degrees that can be earned in evenings and on weekends.
These two University of Colorado System locations have so many internal links to one another and lie so close to each other geographically that only makes sense that they share the No. 5 ranking. Their combined degree catalog was fourth-largest in the state in 2015-16, and their No. 3-ranked selection of online degrees marked the Denver tandem as prime locations for an online bachelor's degree in Colorado.
The commitment to student access doesn't stop with online degrees at CU Denver/Anschutz. Weekend and evening degree programs are also available and career counseling and placement services for students and graduates can help you find the right path through college and into the working world.
Affordability for students is a high priority at Colorado Mesa University. Tuition and fee costs at the Grand Junction institution were third-lowest in the state in 2015-16, and the average amount that students paid for books and supplies tied for the No. 2 most affordable spot among schools on our list. The average net price paid by middle-income students placed at No. 6 statewide.
The number of online bachelor's degrees available at CMU was fairly small, but students did tend to take advantage of individual courses available in the virtual classroom. More than 25 percent of students enrolled at CMU took at least some portion of their coursework via distance education in 2015.
Founded in 1865, the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado System is its flagship and largest university. UC Boulder is home to the system's largest degree catalog of nearly 200 undergraduate programs. That incredibly rich offering makes it easier for the school's more than 33,000 students to find the course of study they want - something that's likely to be connected to UC Boulder's No. 1 placements for graduation and1 retention rate among the schools that made our top ten .
UC Boulder also made an impression with its dedication to helping students afford the basic costs of attendance. The raw cost of tuition and fees at the Boulder campus were the highest among schools that made our list, but only one other school in the top ten furnished students with a greater percentage of its tuition as institutional grant aid.
Adams State University is a state-supported liberal arts institution with a strong distance education program, both online and in the classic campus-based classroom. Its catalog of distance education degree plans, which includes business administration, sociology and interdisciplinary studies, ranked No. 6 in the state in 2015-16, and the nearly 45 percent of students taking at least some of their courses at a distance earned the Alamosa school a spot among the best online colleges for Colorado students.
Student debt was less of an issue for alumni of Adams State than it may be for those at other Colorado schools. ASU graduates left school with the state's second-lowest amount of debt in 2015 — a median of $16,255. Students also had access to eight of ten campus-based flexibility initiatives, tying it for first among schools on our list in that category.
With fewer than 3,000 students on its rolls, Western State Colorado University claims to offer a private college experience at a public university cost, and the statistics suggest that it succeeds. Its raw cost of tuition and fees was low enough to rank No. 7 statewide for affordability, ahead of a few public universities, and it awarded the fourth-highest proportion of institutional grant aid in the state.
Average net price for low- and middle-income students placed respectively at No. 8 and No. 9 statewide, and a fair percentage of graduates were able to handle their student debt with little difficulty. Nearly 75 percent of recent Western alumni reported being able to pay off their loans within three years.
Students looking for a great school at a great price will find what they're looking for at the Pueblo campus of Colorado State University. This school comes in at No. 1 on our list for the average price paid by both middle- and low-income students. These lower prices are likely to be the reason CSU-Pueblo comes in at No. 3 for the median debt of its graduates.
Those looking for a diverse student body at a smaller and primarily campus-based school can find it at CSU-Pueblo. Students at the school can receive credit for life experiences, and they can take advantage of the flexible schedule opportunities. Attending classes on the weekends or in the evening might be a good fit for students who are balancing school and work or family commitments.
CSU-Pueblo offers over 35 different degree programs. Additionally, students interested in mass communication and media have the opportunity to learn in a Center for New media that offers students a hands-on experience in broadcasting and journalism.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Colorado
It can help you better understand your state's educational landscape to have a general sense of the different academic approaches being taken by your fellow students. Check out this list of Colorado's most popular degree programs.
In-Demand Careers in Colorado
There's no degree at any school that can effectively guarantee you a job after graduation, but aiming your education toward a gap in the career market can help ease some of the strain that post-college job seekers usually face. Here's a list of the hottest jobs statewide.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters||70.7%||490||$36,380|
|Interpreters and Translators||67.7%||1,530||$67,510|
|Brickmasons and Blockmasons||64.2%||1,480||$46,920|
|Orthotists and Prosthetists||63.7%||100||$57,720|
|Personal Care Aides||62%||23,640||$23,840|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||60.8%||880||$81,830|
|Home Health Aides||58.1%||13,230||$27,080|
|Information Security Analysts||53.1%||2,250||$102,280|
|Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers||52.7%||5,330||$40,280|
|Helpers--Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters||52.2%||310||$33,030|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||51%||5,510||$131,620|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||50.2%||1,490||$61,730|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic||49.7%||180||$58,090|
|Elevator Installers and Repairers||49.6%||390||$73,770|
|Insulation Workers, Floor, Ceiling, and Wall||49.5%||680||$33,740|
|Occupational Therapy Aides||47.7%||70||$31,510|
|Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers||46.4%||340||$46,070|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||46.3%||14,740||$73,300|
|Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians||46.3%||550||$68,520|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||46%||1,160||$53,220|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||45.1%||570||$58,860|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Colorado
Funding the college experience can be the most stressful part of college, but luckily there are federal loans and grants as well as private scholarships to assist. In addition, the College Opportunity Fund provides a stipend to undergraduate students, and the Colorado Student grant offers awards to students in need.
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.0 GPA and completion of at least 45 credit hours.
November 15 (Early Action admissions deadline)
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.25 GPA and full-time status.
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.6 GPA.
- Colorado State University System
- University of Colorado System
- Colorado Department of Higher Education
- College in Colorado
- CollegeInvest Savings Plan
- College Residency Guide
- The College Opportunity Fund
- Colorado Community College System