Best Online Colleges in Colorado

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 12/21/2021
2020 Best Online Colleges in Colorado Badge

Colorado is one of the most educated states in the country, with 38% of its population holding a bachelor’s degree and 14% holding a graduate or professional degree. Many enroll in online bachelor's programs — such as science, information technology, education, and healthcare — to enter Colorado's diverse job market. We've compiled a list of the best online colleges in Colorado to earn undergraduate degrees, including the top-ranked University of Colorado Boulder , which has an annual tuition of $10,728 and the highest median salary at $96,500.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 University of Colorado Boulder $10,728 $96,500
# 2 #2 University of Denver $30,060 $90,000
# 3 #3 Colorado State University - Fort Collins $14,280 $85,700
# 4 #4 University of Colorado Denver $12,720 $84,700
# 5 #5 University of Colorado Colorado Springs $10,462 $82,100
# 6 #6 Metropolitan State University of Denver $10,056 $74,400
# 7 #7 Colorado Christian University $14,070 $74,200
# 8 #8 Colorado Mesa University $10,206 $72,800
# 9 #9 Nazarene Bible College $11,840 $44,000
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

Online Colleges in Colorado Ranking Details

For each school, we conducted manual research to provide prospective students with more details about the schools' online programs. Explore online degrees offered and accreditation information below.

#1 University of Colorado Boulder

  • Annual Tuition: $10,728
  • Median Salary: $96,500
  • Locations: Boulder
  • Accreditation: HLC

Founded five months before Colorado was granted statehood in 1876, the University of Colorado Boulder is the flagship university of the University of Colorado system. It comprises nine colleges and schools and enrolls about 17,000 students. The university’s online learning catalog includes several degree programs—including bachelor's and master’s degrees—in such subjects as aerospace engineering, business, electrical engineering, speech-language pathology, computer science, and organizational leadership. CU Boulder’s online and hybrid programs are ideal for working professionals who need a flexible and convenient educational format in order to complete their degrees. Distance learners receive the same resources as their on-campus peers.

#2 University of Denver

  • Annual Tuition: $30,060
  • Median Salary: $90,000
  • Locations: Denver
  • Accreditation: HLC

Founded in 1864, the University of Denver is the oldest independent private university in the Rocky Mountain Region of the United States. Every graduate program and bachelor’s completion program can be completed 100 percent online. A total of six bachelor’s completion degrees and over 40 master’s degrees are offered in such areas as communication, management, organizational leadership, professional creative writing, global studies, and information technology. Programs are also offered in a hybrid and HyFlex format, which allows students to go to campus or log on from home at specific class times. The university uses the Canvas online learning management system to deliver coursework.

#3 Colorado State University - Fort Collins

  • Annual Tuition: $14,280
  • Median Salary: $85,700
  • Locations: Fort Collins
  • Accreditation: HLC

Established in 1870 and located in Fort Collins, Colorado State University is a public research institution and the flagship university of the Colorado State University System. Over 40 online programs are offered, including more than 11 bachelor’s degrees, 30 graduate degrees, and two doctoral degrees. A number of online certificates are also available. Popular subjects include engineering, agricultural sciences, business, communication, computer science, education, statistics, anthropology, horticulture, journalism, and psychology. Coursework is delivered via the Canvas online learning management system; course material is provided in audio, video, and text formats, and there are assessments, projects, and discussion forums. A few courses require students to attend on-campus classes.

#4 University of Colorado Denver

  • Annual Tuition: $12,720
  • Median Salary: $84,700
  • Locations: Denver
  • Accreditation: HLC

With a physical enrollment of more than 18,000 students, the University of Colorado Denver is the largest research institution in Colorado and grants more graduate degrees than any other institution in the state. More than 30 online programs are offered, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Students can choose from such subjects as communication, criminal justice, English writing, psychology, public service, sociology, nursing, finance and risk management, and education. A number of online certificate programs are also offered. All programs are available 100 percent online, and learning is asynchronous. Coursework is delivered via the Canvas online learning management system, through which students can access course material, assignments, lectures, and quizzes from almost any location.

#5 University of Colorado Colorado Springs

  • Annual Tuition: $10,462
  • Median Salary: $82,100
  • Locations: Colorado Springs
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs is one of four campuses that comprise the University of Colorado system. The institution offers over 20 online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Popular areas of study include business, communication, criminal justice, education, nursing, and public administration. Most programs are fully online, but some courses are not available via distance learning. Several online certificates are also available. Coursework is delivered via the Canvas online learning management system. Course material is provided in audio, video, and text formats, and there are assessments, projects, and discussion forums. An online orientation is required for distance learners to help them acclimate to the online learning environment.

#6 Metropolitan State University of Denver

  • Annual Tuition: $10,056
  • Median Salary: $74,400
  • Locations: Denver
  • Accreditation: HLC

Established in 1965, the Metropolitan State University of Denver is a public institution located on the same campus as the University of Colorado Denver and the Community College of Denver. Online bachelor’s degrees are offered in human development and family studies, accounting, nursing, social work, and computer information systems. An online master of social work is also available at MSUD. Coursework is delivered via the Blackboard online learning management system, and a mobile app is available so students can access course material from a smartphone or tablet. Self-paced learning is available, which encompasses a wide variety of required and elective classes for bachelor’s degrees. Busy students can study at their own pace, with 21 weeks to complete their coursework for the fall and spring semesters.

#7 Colorado Christian University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,070
  • Median Salary: $74,200
  • Locations: Lakewood
  • Accreditation: HLC

Located in Lakewood, Colorado Christian University was founded in 1914 as the Denver Bible Institute. It is a private, interdenominational Christian liberal arts university. The institution offers many online programs, including associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, one doctoral degree, and several undergraduate and graduate certificate programs. Coursework is delivered via the Blackboard online learning management system, and a mobile app is available so students can access course material from a smartphone or tablet. Learning is asynchronous, but students are expected to meet assignment deadlines each week. Some courses are also offered in a hybrid format.

#8 Colorado Mesa University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,206
  • Median Salary: $72,800
  • Locations: Grand Junction
  • Accreditation: HLC

Established as Mesa State College in 1925, Colorado Mesa University is a public university located in Grand Junction. The institution offers online programs including certificates, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Fields of study include radiologic sciences, social science, sport management, and business administration. Certificate programs are also offered online. Coursework is delivered via the Brightspace online learning management system; the university’s website contains a short video so students can learn how to navigate the Brightspace environment. Course materials include assignments, chat, class lists, class progress, content, course news, discussions, grades, and quizzes. Additionally, via the university’s website, students can access an online readiness questionnaire to determine if online learning is a good fit for them.

#9 Nazarene Bible College

  • Annual Tuition: $11,840
  • Median Salary: $44,000
  • Locations: Colorado Springs
  • Accreditation: HLC

Founded in 1964, Nazarene Bible College is a private institution located in Colorado Springs. It is affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene. Several online Associate and Bachelor of Arts degrees are offered including church ministries, pastoral ministries, leadership and ethics, Christian school education, Hispanic pastoral ministries, and Bible and theology. An online certificate program is also offered in ministry preparation. All online learning is asynchronous, so students can study when and where it is convenient for them. Students are able to store and retrieve course material, so it is not always necessary to have an Internet connection to study or review coursework. Classes are highly interactive and include regular communication with both instructors and peers. The college has maintained a consistent 94 percent completion rate average since 1998.


Online Higher Education in Colorado

Colorado is home to 134 public and private universities that annually award over 71,000 certificates and degrees of all levels through two- and four-year education programs. More than 370,000 students enroll in these programs, and the majority are women at the undergraduate level.

Many Colorado students earn their certificates and degrees through online courses, which may be an appealing way to earn a degree due to the benefits of remote learning. For example, schools may charge online students in-state tuition, making it a more affordable option. Other schools may even waive on-campus student fees. Online higher education may also be alluring due to its flexibility. Since online courses are often asynchronous, students can participate when their schedule allows. As a result, online colleges in Colorado can prepare working adults for new careers while they simultaneously manage the demands of work, family, or other responsibilities.

Colorado has the highest per capita concentration of engineering, research, and federal science facilities in the U.S., making it a huge draw for STEM students. CO-LABS — a Colorado organization with a mission to support scientific research — notes that over 30 government-funded scientific research labs are located throughout the state employing some of the country's top scientists. CO-LABS serves as a liaison between science labs and Colorado universities to build relationships, transfer technology, and create job opportunities. Obtaining an online bachelor's degree in Colorado can be a step toward starting a new STEM career.



Colorado has the highest per capita concentration of engineering, research, and federal science facilities in the U.S.

The Importance of Accreditation

Accreditation signifies that a school is consistently meeting a high academic standard, and students receive a quality education. This allows a school to receive federal funding and students to use federal financial aid. Accreditation is also essential for college students to transfer credits between institutions.

Nineteen national organizations award accreditation and receive recognition for this from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education. Regional accreditation is the preferred type of accreditation because it's prestigious and well-established. There are seven accreditation boards in the U.S. that accredit schools in their region. The Higher Learning Commission accredits Colorado among several other schools. Visit Ed.gov to check an online school's accreditation status.

Tuition for Online Degree Programs in Colorado

Tuition and fees are an average of $7,493 annually for full-time state residents enrolled in Colorado's public universities, which is less than the national average of $9,212. There may be no distinction between the tuition rates for distance education and in-person learning at some universities because institutions may still prefer to charge students based on their residency status. So, it's important to keep in mind that tuition and fees are approximately $20,056 for out-of-state students in Colorado.

If you are not a Colorado resident, you can work toward residency by establishing a home base in Colorado. This act shows that you intend on becoming a permanent resident. Once your residency is declared, you can start paying in-state tuition rates that are more affordable. Another way to avoid paying out-of-state tuition is to attend a Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) member school. Over 160 schools in 16 states and territories — including Colorado — participate in WUE to save students from acquiring hefty student loans. In this program, you'll pay in-state tuition plus an extra 50%, which still saves you from paying the out-of-state tuition rate. Search participating WUE schools and programs to find the one that helps you meet your educational goals.

For college options in other locations, view OnlineU's best online college rankings by state or best online colleges by degree level.

Funding an Online Degree in Colorado

The first step to funding an undergraduate degree is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You may be eligible for federal grants and scholarships that don't have to be repaid, federal student loans with low interest rates, or federal work-study programs. Once you determine your eligibility via the FAFSA, you can check with your school's financial aid office to see if they offer any grants, fellowships, or scholarships. Some Colorado schools automatically review your eligibility for various scholarships when you apply.

There are several other ways to help pay for your undergraduate degree:

  • Your employer may help you pay for college through an employer-paid tuition program if you meet specific criteria. For example, they may require that you have worked enough years with the company or completed job-related courses.
  • Military service members and veterans can take advantage of GI Bill benefits to make their online education more affordable.
  • You may decide to rely on private loans to help pay for college. However, carefully consider loans from private lenders because they tend to come with high interest rates and strict repayment guidelines.

Many private scholarships are available to help reduce student debt for online learners as long as they meet the requirements, such as having a certain GPA or being enrolled in a specific degree program.

The Colorado Mountain College President's Scholarship offers $1,000 scholarships for high school or GED graduates living within the Colorado Mountain College district who will be enrolling there for the first time. Recipients may apply for this scholarship again in their second year at school if funds remain available and they maintain their eligibility.

Colorado State University Green and Gold Scholarships for Residents are valued at $1,500 per semester with the potential of receiving $12,000 over the course of four years. First-year students with a 3.8 GPA or higher who are in the top 25% of their high school graduating class are automatically awarded scholarships when applying at CSU.

Partner Colorado Foundation Scholarship awards a minimum of $1,000 scholarships, but the amount may be higher depending on fundraising success. Applicants must be between 17-40 years old, have at least nine credit hours, and reside in Colorado while attending school.

The Toyota/TELACU Scholarship Program Toyota funds $5,000 scholarships for college students pursuing bachelor's degrees in business or STEM programs. College juniors and seniors at the bachelor’s level can apply.

University of Colorado Boulder's First Generation Scholarship is a $4,000 award for Colorado residents, while $8,000 is gifted to nonresidents. Incoming first-year students and transfer students whose parents don't have bachelor's degrees are eligible to apply. Recipients will be required to enroll in the First Generation Scholars program.

Careers in Colorado with an Online Bachelor's Degree

Colorado’s median household income is 16.2% above the national average, which prospective students may find appealing; however, they should also note that the state's unemployment rate is 5.4% as of October 2021, which is higher than the 4.6% national average. Students should also be aware of the potentially high cost of living that awaits in areas of Colorado: In Denver's metro area, the cost of living is 29% higher than the national average, while Boulder's metro area is 67% higher.

Colorado is home to 14 major industries, including advanced manufacturing, environmental engineering, financial services, technology, healthcare, and creative services. The annual mean wage is $60,840 across the state. As the job market rebounds, CareerOneStop notes the following top in-demand occupations in Colorado requiring a bachelor's degree:

Actuaries
Median Annual Salary: $111,030
Job Growth Rate: 24%

Actuaries compile statistical data and perform analysis using math and financial theory. For example, they estimate the economic impact of illness, injury, and national disaster. Actuaries also design and test insurance policies and investment plans to minimize financial risk and maximize profit.

Information security analysts
Median Annual Salary: $103,590
Job Growth Rate: 33%

Information security analysts monitor and protect an organization's computer systems and networks. They stay updated on the latest security trends and best practices for keeping both company and client information secure. Information security analysts also develop and implement an organization's security standards.

Medical and health services managers
Median Annual Salary: $104,280
Job Growth Rate: 32%

Medical and health services managers plan and direct healthcare services in an administrative capacity. Their responsibilities include managing medical facilities, recruiting and coordinating staff, and ensuring their organization is legally compliant.

Registered nurses
Median salary: $75,330
Job Growth Rate: 9%

Registered nurses (RNs) earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing to work with doctors and other healthcare professionals to provide medical care. They assess a patient's condition and symptoms, administer medicine, and discuss patient treatment plans. RNs also perform diagnostic testing and review the results.

Special education teachers
Median salary: $61,500
Job Growth Rate: 8%

Special education teachers are elementary educators who work with students who have learning, developmental, and mental disabilities. They adapt learning plans to meet individual student needs and teach basic skills to the severely disabled.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.

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