Best Colleges in Colorado

portrait of Staff Writers
Staff Writers
Read Full Bio


The staff writers for BestColleges collaborate to deliver unique, student-driven content on topics such as career development, college life, and college planning....
Updated on July 6, 2023
Learn more about our editorial process

As colleges and universities navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we're continuing our efforts to provide you with useful student resources and the latest online program information. Check our coronavirus resources page to learn more.

Colorado features one of the most educated populations in the nation, with WalletHub recently ranking the state second in terms of higher education attainment. Colorado is home to 14 four-year and 17 two-year public postsecondary institutions offering hundreds of undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Each year, thousands of students from across the country and around the world move to the state to attend high-quality colleges in Colorado and enjoy the state's beautiful scenery and outdoor recreation opportunities. In total, public and private universities and colleges in Colorado enroll more than 370,000 students each year.

Read about the best colleges in Colorado to find the school that best fits your educational needs and professional goals.

Top 10 Colleges in Colorado

Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.

#1 Colorado College Colorado Springs, CO
#2 Colorado School of Mines Golden, CO
#3 CSU Global Greenwood Village, CO
#4 University of Colorado Boulder Boulder, CO
#5 Colorado State University-Fort Collins Fort Collins, CO
#6 University of Denver Denver, CO
#7 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, CO
#8 Metropolitan State University of Denver Denver, CO
#9 Regis University Denver, CO
#10 University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO

How We Rank Schools

Chevron Down

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

Best Accredited Colleges in Colorado

Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.

Best Colleges in Colorado

  1. Colorado College

    Colorado Springs, CO



    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.

  2. Colorado School of Mines

    Golden, CO



    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.

  3. CSU Global

    Greenwood Village, CO



    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.

  4. University of Colorado Boulder

    Boulder, CO



    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.

  5. Colorado State University-Fort Collins

    Fort Collins, CO



    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.

  6. University of Denver

    Denver, CO



    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.

  7. University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus

    Denver, CO



    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.

  8. Metropolitan State University of Denver

    Denver, CO



    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.

  9. Regis University

    Denver, CO



    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.

  10. University of Northern Colorado

    Greeley, CO



    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.

Top Degree Programs in Colorado