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
While there are plenty of good community college options in the state, if you want a bachelor's degree or graduate degree, you'll need to look to Colorado universities instead. Based on a methodology that considered student success measures, costs and program prominence, here are the best colleges in Colorado for a four-year or graduate degree. For more insight into education in the state, be sure to read about the best community colleges in Colorado, too.
As the flagship campus of the Colorado State University System, this school says there is always something happening in Fort Collins. From athletics to extracurricular activities, the 30,000 students enrolled in CSU have plenty to keep them busy when they're not working on their degree programs.
Colorado State University-Fort Collins was founded in 1870, and today offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees through its nine colleges. The accredited school also has one of the largest selection of fully online degrees in the state.
As one of the best universities in Colorado, CSU not only attracts students from across the country but also retains them and helps them graduate on time. It notes its graduates are employed at a rate 10 percent higher than the national average.
The best universities in Colorado include private institutions with distinguished histories. One of those is the University of Denver.
DU is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the region, having been founded in 1864 as the Colorado Seminary. At that time, Denver was a new city and the Colorado Territory had yet to become a state. Since its founding, the University of Denver has led the way with a number of firsts, including one of the first business schools in the country and one of the first schools of social work west of the Mississippi.
Today, DU offers more than 300 degree programs across its 10 colleges and schools. Its 12,000 students have access to hands-on learning experiences, research opportunities and study abroad options.
Founded in 1865, the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado System is its flagship and largest university. UC Boulder is home to an extensive catalog of thousands of courses that cover approximately 150 fields of study. That incredibly rich offering makes it easier for the school's more than 31,000 students to find the course of study they want.
The University of Colorado Boulder has nine schools and colleges that cover both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Those looking for online colleges in Colorado will find the university has a number of graduate degrees designed for distance learners.
It isn't just the number of academic programs that makes UC Boulder one of the best schools in Colorado. It also has small class sizes, a strong graduation rate and a record of graduate satisfaction.
Regis University says it's where learners become leaders. The private institution follows the Jesuit Catholic tradition and is named for St. John Francis Regis, a Frenchman dedicated to supporting and educating the poor. The school's main campus is in Denver.
Founded in 1877, Regis University has long been an innovator in the field of education. In 1977, it began offering accelerated undergraduate degrees for adults, and today, it is considered one of the top online colleges in Colorado. It offers dozens of online degrees across its five colleges.
Nearly 11,500 students are enrolled at Regis. They benefit from small classes and a campus environment that encourages service and learning. Regis University notes 89 percent of its graduates are employed within six months of earning their degree.
Affordable tuition and diverse degree programs are two of the hallmarks of the University of Northern Colorado. With a campus in Greeley, UNC has a tradition of research and hands-on learning. The school enrolls more than 12,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Founded in 1890, the university was originally a teacher's college. Education continues to be a popular major today, but the University of Northern Colorado has expanded to offer degrees across a variety of popular fields including business, psychology and nursing. Students who can't make it to Greeley can take online courses or study at one of three extended campus locations.
As one of the best schools in Colorado, UNC ranks solidly for retaining its first year students and also offering a variety of student support services.
Known to many simply as Mines, the Colorado School of Mines specializes in educating students in technical fields such as engineering and earth sciences. Through partnerships with government agencies like the U.S. Geological Survey the school offers the opportunity to assist with research or otherwise gain hands-on experience prior to graduation.
Mines was founded by the Episcopal Church in 1873 but became a state institution a few years later. The school originally served miners and settlers in the area but now attracts students from across the country. The Colorado School of Mines has a rich history that has resulted in unique traditions such as the award of silver diplomas.
More than 6,000 students are enrolled at this highly selective school. Its campus is in Golden, CO.
As the city campus of the University of Colorado System, UC Denver offers a dynamic learning environment in the state's capital. The University of Colorado Denver offers students a range of diverse degree options while the Anschutz Medical Campus in nearby Aurora is focused on preparing the next generation of health care professionals and researchers.
These two University of Colorado System locations have a combined degree catalog that is among the largest in the state. There are also a wide selection of online degrees available as well as weekend and evening programs for adult learners.
UC Anschutz was founded in 1883 while UC Denver can trace its roots to 1912. In 2004, the two campuses were consolidated into a single institution. Together, they enroll more than 18,000 students in their undergraduate, graduate and professional programs.
Formed in 1965, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs has grown into a formidable modern research university. It can boast of affordable tuition and strong retention and graduation rates. As one of the best Colorado schools, it also offers flexible learning options and numerous student support services.
UCCS has seven schools and colleges on its Colorado Springs campus. These cover fields such as engineering, education, business and public affairs in addition to the arts and sciences. Of the nearly 12,500 students enrolled in the accredited university, the school notes approximately 5,000 are pursuing online degree programs, taking online courses or participating in one of UCCS's outreach initiatives.
The University of Colorado Colorado Springs has a strong record of supporting the education of military members and veterans. Its alumni include award winners, executives and entrepreneurs.
Established in 1914, Colorado Christian University says it is the flagship institution of Christian learning in the Rocky Mountain region. It also has worked to establish itself as one of the best online colleges in Colorado with a number of fully online degree programs.
The university was formed as the Denver Bible Institute, and eight heritage institutions were part of it evolving into the current Colorado Christian University. In addition to providing Christ-centered education through its undergraduate and graduate programs, CCU is also home to the Centennial Institute, a public policy think tank.
More than 8,000 students from all 50 states attend Colorado Christian University. As an indicator of its success, the school typically retains more than 90 percent of its freshman class each year.
While there are many quality Colorado universities, don't overlook the state's colleges as an option for four-year degrees as well. Colorado College is one such institution that has proven itself to be among the top schools in the state.
CC uses an innovative learning system called The Block Plan. Rather than take multiple courses at once, students take one class - or block - at a time. Courses run for three and a half weeks with students meeting three hours a day, five days a week. Introduced in 1970, it's one of the features that distinguishes CC as one of the best colleges in Colorado.
Colorado College was founded in 1874. It is a private institution and enrolls approximately 2,000 students on its Colorado Springs campus.
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|
|Wind Turbine Service Technicians||73.7%||290||$62,270|
|Interpreters and Translators||53.5%||1,430||$61,810|
|Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers||52.9%||580||$46,860|
|Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters||49.7%||530||$40,640|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||47.8%||35,790||$28,020|
|Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians||47.3%||670||$69,560|
|Brickmasons and Blockmasons||47%||1,010||$55,280|
|Insulation Workers, Mechanical||46.7%||1,090||$45,150|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||45.6%||1,260||$83,920|
|Physical Therapist Aides||44.7%||510||$33,290|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||43.4%||1,500||$53,770|
|Operations Research Analysts||42.4%||780||$92,640|
|Web Developers and Digital Interface Designers||42%||3,430||$77,600|
|Cartographers and Photogrammetrists||41.3%||1,130||$74,770|
|Occupational Therapy Aides||38.9%||60||$34,700|
|Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers||38.3%||7,610||$54,920|
|Orthotists and Prosthetists||38.3%||100||$58,840|
|Law Teachers, Postsecondary||38.2%||-||$118,420|
|Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary||37.9%||330||$73,950|
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.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient has a minimum 2.5 GPA, 12 or more credit hours per term, and no failing grades.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.0 GPA.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable for one year.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
- 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
To get our list of the best colleges, we ranked 1,383 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the following data points and the weights specified. In order to be included in the ranking, schools had to report data for each of the following data points:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- The average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduate students as a percentage of in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered on campus, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Programs of study that can be completed entirely on weekends or in the evening
- Remedial services
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Guaranteed tuition plan
- Tuition payment plan
- Any other alternative tuition plan
Note:Tuition prices are based on data for the 2016-17 academic year reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.
All of the National Center for Education Statistics data came from IPEDS:
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2015-16, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- About CSU, Colorado State University, Accessed April 2018, http://catalog.colostate.edu/general-catalog/about-csu/
- About the System, Colorado State University System, Accessed April 2018, http://www.csusystem.edu/about
- About DU, University of Denver, Accessed April 2018, https://www.du.edu/about/index.html
- About, University of Colorado Boulder, Accessed April 2018, https://www.colorado.edu/about
- Regis University Facts, Regis University, Accessed April 2018, https://www.regis.edu/About-Regis-University/University-Facts.aspx
- About UNC, University of Northern Colorado, Accessed April 2018, http://www.unco.edu/about/academics/
- About Mines, Colorado School of Mines, Accessed April 2018, https://www.mines.edu/about/
- About the University, University of Colorado Denver, Accessed April 2018, http://www.ucdenver.edu/about-us/Pages/default.aspx
- About, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Accessed April 2018, https://www.uccs.edu/about.html
- About the CU System, University of Colorado System, Accessed April 2018, https://www.cu.edu/about-cu-system
- CCU Facts and Stats, Colorado Christian University, Accessed April 2018, https://www.ccu.edu/about/factsandstats/
- The Block Plan, Colorado College, Accessed April 2018, https://www.coloradocollege.edu/basics/blockplan/
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- 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