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