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2023 Best Online Colleges in Colorado

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 7/3/2023
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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. Online universities in Colorado provide prospective online students with the flexibility and resources necessary to obtain an online bachelor’s degree and pursue their future careers. Many online Colorado colleges offer a variety of online bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, certificate, and minor programs that students can finish 100% online. These online degree programs are designed for busy students and professionals who may have other commitments that make on-campus learning difficult. With distance learning programs, online students can complete coursework asynchronously, synchronously, or a combination of both formats in order to receive the resources needed to complete their bachelor’s degree program successfully. 

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2023 Best Online Colleges in Colorado

RankSchool Salary Score Online Enrollment
# 1 #1 Colorado State University Global 78 12,670
# 2 #2 University of Colorado Boulder 68 1,319
# 3 #3 Metropolitan State University of Denver 65 1,693
# 4 #4 Colorado State University - Fort Collins 60 3,745
# 5 #5 University of Colorado Denver 59 2,574
# 6 #6 University of Denver 50 2,551
# 7 #7 University of Northern Colorado 50 1,808
# 8 #8 Colorado Christian University 50 3,877
# 9 #9 Regis University 49 2,001
# 10 #10 Colorado Mesa University 43 499

#1 Colorado State University Global

  • Salary Score: 78
  • Online Enrollment: 12,670
  • Locations: Greenwood Village
  • Accreditation: HLC

Colorado State University Global (CSU Global) is a public institution delivering online curricula that help students advance toward their career goals. CSU Global offers flexible and affordable online bachelor’s degree programs. From Criminal Justice to Education, prospective students can pursue a variety of online majors.

At CSU Global, online students complete coursework asynchronously — meaning at the student's own pace — through the learning management system (LMS) called Canvas. Some of CSU Global’s online bachelor’s degree programs include Computer Science, Human Resource Management, Marketing, Project Management, Organizational Leadership, Information Technology, and more. Online students at CSU Global can access virtual tutoring and career coaching.

#2 University of Colorado Boulder

  • Salary Score: 68
  • Online Enrollment: 1,319
  • Locations: Boulder
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Colorado Boulder (UC Boulder) is a public institution that's a campus of the state's university system. It offers online master's degrees in areas such as Corporate communication, teacher leadership, electrical engineering, and data science. About 23% of UC Boulder's graduate students participate in online-only education. Full-time students can earn their master's degrees in as few as 19 months.

UC Boulder delivers its online curriculum to distance learners via Canvas. Classes have an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio in order to foster engagement and participation. UC Boulder is known for supporting the whole student academically and personally. Therefore, it offers virtual counseling and psychiatric services to students who may feel stressed and anxious. It also provides LGBTQ+ services, including counseling and workshops.

#3 Metropolitan State University of Denver

  • Salary Score: 65
  • Online Enrollment: 1,693
  • Locations: Denver
  • Accreditation: HLC

At Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver), a public institution, students can pursue online bachelor’s degrees, minors, and certificate programs. Starting in 2023, new online students at MSU Denver are also eligible for scholarships. In addition, a scholarship is available to returning MSU Denver students looking to obtain an online degree.

MSU Denver online students complete coursework in asynchronous and synchronous formats through D2L Brightspace, a popular LMS. Some of the online bachelor's degrees offered at MSU Denver are Anthropology, Banking, Marketing, Human Development and Family Studies, Social Work, and Political Science. Online students can access tutoring, academic advising, disability services, and counseling.

#4 Colorado State University - Fort Collins

  • Salary Score: 60
  • Online Enrollment: 3,745
  • Locations: Fort Collins
  • Accreditation: HLC

At Colorado State University - Fort Collins (CSU), a public institution, prospective students can pursue several online degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. An online bachelor’s degree helps students obtain the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve their career goals. CSU’s distance learning programs have several specializations, like business and communications, government studies, and natural resources management and tourism.

CSU facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning via the LMS Canvas. Some of CSU’s online bachelor’s degree programs include Psychology, Environmental and Natural Resources Economics, Political Science, Journalism and Media Communication, Horticulture, and Agricultural Business. Online student resources at CSU include academic advising, library services, tutoring, and a writing center.

#5 University of Colorado Denver

  • Salary Score: 59
  • Online Enrollment: 2,574
  • Locations: Denver
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) is a public institution that offers several online bachelor’s degree programs students can choose from. In addition, prospective can pursue online master’s degrees and certificate programs if they want to further their education after obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

At CU Denver, remote students complete coursework, either asynchronously or synchronously, on Canvas. A few of CU Denver’s online bachelor’s degree programs are Anthropology, Communication, Economics, Film Studies, Geography, and Public Policy. Online student support at CU Denver includes advising, disability services, tutoring, and a writing center.

#6 University of Denver

  • Salary Score: 50
  • Online Enrollment: 2,551
  • Locations: Denver
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Denver (UD) is a private, nonprofit institution offering 76 online degrees at the master's level, one online bachelor's completion program, and 100 non-degree-granting certificates to help build job-readiness skills. While less than 5% of undergraduates participate in distance-only education at UD, 39% of graduate students are distance learners. Popular online majors are in the fields of education, health, the environment, and law. It can take a full-time graduate student as few as 18 months to finish a 32 semester credits toward an online master's degree. UD has a 64% acceptance rate and a 75% graduation rate.

UD delivers online coursework and instruction asynchronously via Canvas to distance learners in small classes that have an average 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Synchronous coursework is completed over Zoom, and in general, UD is known for its research. In recent years, it has advanced Alzheimer's treatment, developed biomedical tech, and printed 3-D modeling of ancient artifacts.

#7 University of Northern Colorado

  • Salary Score: 50
  • Online Enrollment: 1,808
  • Locations: Greeley
  • Accreditation: HLC

Located in Greely, the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) is a public institution offering online degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Popular majors include communication and media, English, and sociology. While only 6% of undergrads enroll in these online-only degree programs, almost half of graduate students participate in online degree programs. Remote undergraduate and graduate programs are of standard length, taking full-time students about four years to finish most bachelor's degrees and two years for most graduate degrees. UNC has a 91% acceptance rate and a 55% graduation rate.

UNC delivers its online curriculum to distance learners via Canvas. Small 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio classes enable educators to tailor some of their instruction to suit individual student needs. Students are encouraged to apply for federal financial aid while applying to help offset higher education's high cost. UNC is known for publishing the Undergraduate Research Journal (URJ) as a 100% open-access journal. This journal allows undergraduate students to conduct unique research and publish their findings.

#8 Colorado Christian University

  • Salary Score: 50
  • Online Enrollment: 3,877
  • Locations: Lakewood
  • Accreditation: HLC

Colorado Christian University (CCU Online) is a private, nonprofit, and Christian institution offering a range of online bachelor’s degree programs. CCU Online allows students to complete coursework on their own time, as curricula is designed for busy or working adults. Aside from bachelor’s degree programs, CCU Online also has online associate, master’s, and doctoral programs, as well as certifications.

CCU Online students complete coursework asynchronously and synchronously through the LMS Blackboard. Biblical Studies, Creative Writing, Data Analytics, Healthcare Administration, and Nonprofit Management are a few of the bachelor’s degrees that CCU Online offers. Some of CCU Online’s bachelor’s degree programs are not offered to online students in every state, so prospective students should visit their website to confirm if their desired program is available from their location. Online students can also access academic advising, a writing center, tutoring, and disability services.

#9 Regis University

  • Salary Score: 49
  • Online Enrollment: 2,001
  • Locations: Denver
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Roman Catholic school, Regis University (RU) in Denver, is a private and nonprofit institution offering dozens of online degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, along with online nondegree-granting graduate certificates. Approximately 22% of undergraduates and 33% of graduate students participate in distance-only education at RU. While most programs are in the traditional, semester-based format, RU offers accelerated bachelor's degrees in majors such as accounting, business administration, computer science, and healthcare administration — taking less than four years to complete the required 120 credits. RU has an 81% acceptance rate and a 58% graduation rate.

RU delivers its asynchronous online program curriculum via the WorldClass learning management system. Students attend small 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio classes, which helps students get to know their instructors and peers. While RU doesn't offer scholarships to online students, they may use financial aid to help pay for college. RU is known for its FastForward program. FastForward is a dual degree program allowing students to earn their bachelor's and master's degrees together, saving time and money.

#10 Colorado Mesa University

  • Salary Score: 43
  • Online Enrollment: 499
  • Locations: Grand Junction
  • Accreditation: HLC

Colorado Mesa University (CMU) in Grand Junction is a public institution offering a limited selection of online degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. About 7% of undergrads and 55% of graduate students participate in online-only education at CMU. Online undergraduate majors include nursing (RN to BSN) and sport management, while online graduate programs include business management, nursing (MSN), and criminal justice. Earning an online bachelor's degree requires completing 120 credits, which takes approximately four years of full-time study. It takes about two years to complete a 30-credit master's degree. CMU accepts 82% of applicants, and 39% graduate with degrees.

CMU's distance learners use Brightspace to access online program content and log into classes. All first-year applicants are automatically considered for available merit scholarships, which can help pay for tuition and fees. CMU is known for its small classes. It has an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio, so instructors get to know their students.

#11 University of Colorado Colorado Springs

  • Salary Score: 43
  • Online Enrollment: 1,433
  • Locations: Colorado Springs
  • Accreditation: HLC

As one campus in the state's university system, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) is a public institution with a limited selection of online degrees, including three online bachelor's, two online master's, and one online doctoral degree. Notable majors include philosophy and sociology. At UCCS, 8% of undergrads and 40% of graduate students participate in online-only education. It accepts 85% of applicants, and 49% of students graduate on average.

Distance learners at UCCS participate in classes and receive instruction through Canvas. Class sizes are small at a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio. In addition to financial aid, first-year online students may be eligible to receive scholarships to help pay for tuition and related expenses. UCCS prides itself on its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and creating equitable opportunity and access for all university students.

#12 Adams State University

  • Salary Score: 35
  • Online Enrollment: 1,424
  • Locations: Alamosa
  • Accreditation: HLC

Alamosa's Adams State University (ASU) is a Hispanic-serving public institution offering a select curriculum of online degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Approximately 21% of undergrads and a little over half of graduate students participate in online-only education at ASU. Popular online programs include bachelor's degrees in business administration and teacher education and master's degrees in higher education, kinesiology, and public administration. Programs are traditional in length and the number of credits needed to graduate, with online bachelor's degrees taking around four years and master's typically taking two years. ASU accepts all applicants, and 35% of students graduate with degrees.

ASU distance learners use Blackboard to receive instruction and participate in small 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio classes. Students may be eligible for financial aid and scholarships, especially merit-based scholarships for first-year students. Consideration is automatically given as part of the application review process. ASU is known for being the most publicly diverse university in the state. A little over a third of students are Hispanic, 9% are black, and less than 40% are White.

#13 Aspen University

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 6,769
  • Locations: Denver
  • Accreditation: DEAC

Aspen University (AU) is a private, for-profit institution offering dozens of online degrees at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Popular majors at these different levels include fields such as nursing, psychology and addiction studies, business administration, education, and information systems. Most AU students participate in online-only education, which include 65% of undergrads and all graduate students. Courses start every two weeks, and AU's open admission policy means that the school accepts all applicants. Despite a 100% acceptance rate, almost half of its students — 46% — reach graduation.

Students access their classes and related coursework via Desire2Learn, a popular digital learning platform. Online classes are small, with a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Scholarships are limited, but a Black Education Matters Scholarship for students accepted into the BSN program is available to help cover the cost of tuition. AU is known for making college affordable, with monthly payment plans starting at $250 to help students avoid costly student debt.

#14 Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 851
  • Locations: Lakewood
  • Accreditation: HLC

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) in suburban Lakewood is a private, for-profit institution offering online degrees at the bachelor's level in fields such as animation, fashion design, game art, and music production. Approximately 68% of RMCAD's undergraduates participate in online-only education. RMCAD has an open admission policy and accepts all applicants, while 27% graduate with degrees.

RMCAD's distance learners access the school's learning management system 24/7 to participate in class and complete coursework. However, it's unknown which online learning platform RMCAD currently uses. Class sizes are small, with a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio. RMCAD awards scholarships and grants that first-year distance learners may be eligible for, but the school is generally known for its curriculum based around the art and design industry to allow students to flex their creative muscles.

#15 Pueblo Community College

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 849
  • Locations: Pueblo (and 3 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Pueblo Community College (PCC) is a public institution in Pueblo, CO. There are many options for online programs at PCC, including associate and bachelor's degrees. However, some of these degree options may feature in-person courses. The fully online program offerings for PCC students include an Associate of Applied Science in Behavioral Health, Associate of Arts in Media and Visual Communications, and Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Technology Maintenance. There are many more individual online classes in subjects ranging from psychology to communications. PCC also offers students three free credits if they are Colorado residents and meet other criteria. MyCourses delivers the school's coursework for remote students. There's an online tutoring service that remote students can take advantage of that provides study prep for quizzes and tests.

#16 Nazarene Bible College

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 696
  • Locations: Colorado Springs
  • Accreditation: HLC

Nazarene Bible College (NBC) in Colorado Springs is a private, faith-based, and online-only institution offering a handful of online undergraduate degrees. NBC's online bachelor's degree curriculum is based in theological and ministerial studies. Majors include bible and theology, leadership and ethics, and counseling for Christian ministries. Classes start every seven weeks so that students can enroll at any time. NBC has an open admission policy accepting all applicants. However, only 20% of students graduate with their degrees.

NBC grants distance learners access to its proprietary dCourseWeb learning management system to participate in asynchronous instruction in small classes with an average 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio. When potential students apply, their applications are automatically reviewed for merit scholarship eligibility. As a faith-based institution of higher learning, NBC is known for weaving Church of the Nazarene beliefs and values throughout its curriculum.

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Higher Education in Colorado

Home to approximately 5.8 million residents, Colorado is perhaps best known for its majestic mountains and scenic beauty. However, the Centennial State is also a major contributor to the U.S. economy. Its top industries include manufacturing, bioscience, electronics, natural resources, technology, and financial services. Organizations in both the public and private sectors create numerous employment opportunities for college graduates.

Those who'd like to attend college in Colorado have a wide array of educational options. College campuses are located across the state, and most of them offer online degrees. Prospective students may be interested in the following possibilities:

Colorado boasts a number of well-respected public universities, including the University of Colorado with campuses in Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs; Colorado State University with campuses in Fort Collins and Pueblo; the fully online Colorado State University Global; Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction; and Fort Lewis College in Durango.

The Colorado Community College System is made up of 13 community and technical colleges spread across more than 30 campuses and learning centers. Locations include Denver, Loveland, Steamboat Springs, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, and many more. 

Private universities of all sizes abound in Colorado. Examples of larger schools include Colorado Technical University in Aurora and Colorado Springs, the University of Denver, and Regis University in Denver. Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs, and the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design in Denver are among the smaller colleges.

You can find more online programs in other states by reviewing our list of online colleges by state.

Online Colleges in Colorado

Distance education has become more and more popular over the last 20 years, which is why many colleges in the Centennial State now offer a wealth of online courses and online degree programs at all levels. Our list of the best online colleges in Colorado is based on bachelor's degrees. Online learners, however, can also earn associate degrees, master's degrees, doctoral degrees, and certificates. 

You'll find degree programs for all of the most common fields of study, such as computer science, business administration, human resources, and health sciences, available through accredited Colorado online colleges.

The undergraduate admissions process is fairly similar across all colleges and universities, whether you're applying for online programs or on-campus programs. Along with your application, you may be asked to submit official high school transcripts, college entrance exam scores, a personal essay, letters of recommendation, and a list of extracurricular activities. Admission into one of the more competitive colleges with low acceptance rates may require a high school GPA of 2.8 or higher as well as participation in extracurricular activities, such as sports, clubs, and volunteerism. 

Like their traditional counterparts, online bachelor's degree programs usually require the completion of 120-126 credit hours. Full-time students often need four to five years to finish an undergraduate program, while part-time students may need as many as six years. The number of credit hours needed to complete an online master's degree vary widely, so students may need one to three years of full-time study or three to four years of part-time study to complete a master's program. 

In addition to cost and available programs, an important consideration when choosing an online college is accreditation. Enrollment in an accredited online Colorado college may be required for several key college and career milestones: to qualify for financial aid, transfer credits from one school to another, be accepted into a graduate program, or receive a state-issued license or credential to practice a specific profession. All of the Colorado online colleges that appear on our rankings list are accredited by approved agencies, such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) or the Distance Education Accreditation Commission (DEAC). 

Online course format is another essential factor in selecting an online program. Many online courses are asynchronous, allowing students to log in at their convenience and complete assignments according to the deadlines. However, some online courses may be synchronous, requiring students to log in on specific days and times. Although synchronous courses are a little less flexible, students can listen to live lectures, interact with instructors, and participate in virtual learning activities with peers. 

Want to find specific online programs available in Colorado? Explore our lists of online nursing programs in Colorado, online MSW programs in Colorado, and online MBA programs in Colorado

FAQs About Online Colleges in Colorado

Is Colorado Community College Online?

Yes, you can attend Colorado community colleges online. All 13 community and technical colleges in the state offer online courses and fully online degree programs through their online system. Using the D2L distance learning platform, you can take general courses, such as computer literacy and basic study skills, as well as general education and major-specific courses in psychology, criminal justice, business, physical sciences, foreign languages, and many more subjects.

How Many Colleges Are in Colorado?

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator reports that there are 94 postsecondary educational institutions in Colorado. About one-third of these are operated by the state and the other two-thirds are privately run.

How Much Is College in Colorado?

According to current data provided by the NCES, college tuition and fees for two-year and four-year schools in Colorado are generally on par with national averages. If you're concerned about the total cost of your college degree, you might consider some of the following cost-saving options:

  • Enroll in a Colorado online degree program. Some colleges charge lower tuition rates for their online programs than for their in-person programs. 
  • Complete some of your preliminary coursework by attending one of Colorado's community colleges online. At these less expensive schools, you can earn an associate degree or simply take general education courses and then transfer those credit hours to a four-year university, where you can earn a bachelor's degree. 
  • Apply for government funding for college students by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Through this one form, you'll apply for federal aid as well as state-funded programs, such as Colorado's Back to Work, Finish What You Started, and Path4Ward programs. Depending on your field of study, you may also qualify for other state financial aid programs for students pursuing degrees in behavioral health, early childhood education, and more.
  • Explore Colorado's reciprocity agreements with colleges in New Mexico, Nebraska, and other western states. You may be able to attend a lower-priced school — through an on-campus or online degree program — while retaining your residency in Colorado.

What Are the Best Colleges in Colorado?

Colorado is home to many highly regarded public and private institutions of higher education. Considered to be among the best colleges in Colorado are the publicly run University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Denver, and Colorado State University. Top ranking private universities include the University of Denver and Regis University.

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