States

Colleges in Colorado

Why go to College in Colorado?

Colorado is home to a diverse student body, and its residents are notoriously fanatic about the outdoors. Coloradans enjoy the state’s abundant natural resources year-round: skiing, hiking, sightseeing, or cycling are all popular activities that make this rugged state’s quality of life one of the best in the U.S. In addition to its topography, Colorado offers some of the best higher education in the United States, with exceptional degree programs in mechanical engineering, software design, health sciences, public policy, and aerospace.

Population
Colorado is the 21st most populous state in the U.S., with an estimated total population of 5.5 million. Denver and Colorado Springs are the largest cities in the state, with populations of 693,000 and 457,000, respectively.
Climate
Colorado features a diverse climate, with a complex network of high plains, mountains, foothills, and desert. The state’s temperate overall climate is punctuated by extreme weather conditions largely dependent on elevation. Colorado’s average temperature ranges from 95 °F in the summer to -10 °F in the winter.
Number of Higher Learning Institutions
The state hosts over 120 institutions of higher learning, including two-year and four-year public institutions, as well as private four-year universities. Online schools in Colorado are offered within existing university networks and provide a wealth of online and hybrid attendance options.
Sporting Events
Colorado residents love the outdoors; skiing and hiking are extremely popular in in the mountains. The state is also home to several major professional and college teams, and hosts events by the PGA and NASCAR.
Nightlife
Colorado is home to a wide variety of cultural institutions: international film festivals like the Boulder International Film Festival run annually, and top-tier breweries thrive statewide. The state also launched the careers of legendary musicians like Earth, Wind, and Fire and John Denver.

What Options are Available for Colleges in Colorado?

On-Campus

Attending college is a major milestone. Students should consider working with a counselor to assess their goals and abilities in order to match them with the best available program. Traditional on-campus programs in Colorado are available through public and private institutions, and generally appeal to students who are willing and able to relocate. The benefits of on-campus education include more access to instruction from academic specialists, potential work-study positions, and the amenities of collegiate life: libraries, student centers, student organizations, and a more diverse cultural context.

Online Programs

In order to provide more students with access to higher education, many schools in Colorado now offer online degree programs. Interactive learning platforms such as Blackboard -- along with technological advances in video streaming -- lets online colleges in Colorado be fully competitive with their on-campus options. Generally, online schools in Colorado conduct courses asynchronously, providing students increased flexibility with assignments.

Many programs use third-party proctor services to conduct any testing that may be required. Collaborative projects and internships are sometime available through local proxy organizations, though this level of integration may be less common in smaller institutions. Online colleges in Colorado are perfect for both traditional and nontraditional students, as they can pursue their degrees at a pace that matches their circumstances.

Hybrid Programs

For some students, a hybrid of on-campus and online instruction may be the best option. In contrast to an entirely online education, a hybrid option features a combination of in-person instruction with additional courses taken online. This option is often the best of both worlds: the ability of a university to use technology to manage its student body translates to a higher level of institutional efficiency, which in turn keeps tuition down by minimizing overhead costs. Online courses also allow for a more efficient use of time and energy, giving working professionals and nontraditional distance learners the ability to better manage their participation.

Popular Degree Programs in Colorado

Colorado is home to a number of leading technology research and manufacturing groups, with a robust economy driven by a competitive business environment. Two of the most popular degrees conferred to students, listed below, can be considered a reflection of the significant presence of these industries throughout the state.

  • Geological and Geophysical Engineering

    Geophysical engineering concerns the technology and processes involved in the extraction of ore, minerals, water, and gases from the earth. Colorado’s oil and gas industries form a major part of the economic activity of the entire region. The state’s mountainous landscape lends itself to the research and study of geological processes.

  • Business Management and Administration

    Business management and administration is one of the most popular majors in the U.S. Colorado’s booming economy requires a robust workforce with comprehensive training in the highest standards of business administration. The general applicability of the degree is attractive to growing industries within the state.

What Are the Best Online Colleges in Colorado?

This section presents the best online colleges and universities that Colorado has to offer. The online colleges in Colorado are renowned for their high academic standards, and offer state-of-the-art facilities and instruction in the fields of technology, engineering, and health care. In addition, Colorado is home to some of the most prestigious and selective liberal arts research universities in the United States. With such a wealth of information available about the state’s educational possibilities, consulting a trusted ranked profile of schools is a valuable way to discover the right degree program.

1

Front Range Community College Westminster, CO

GRADUATION RATE 20% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 17% RETENTION RATE 56% DEFAULT RATE 18%

With campuses in Westminster, Brighton, Fort Collins, and Longmont, Front Range Community College offers some of the most diverse degrees among online community colleges in Colorado. At FRCC, you can choose from more than two dozen associate degrees and several certifications, all of which are available fully online. With course materials delivered through Desire2Learn, degree options include business, computer information systems, criminal justice, education, languages, and the sciences. Additional online courses are offered by FRCC through CCCOnline, part of the Colorado Community College System.

Admission to FRCC is not based on GPA or test scores. However, those scores will help determine whether you can place out of certain classes or if remedial classes may be necessary to prepare you for more advanced work.

2

Lamar Community College Lamar, CO

GRADUATION RATE 42% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 6% RETENTION RATE 59% DEFAULT RATE 28%

Lamar Community College offers several distance-learning courses through CCCOnline, but notably, the school does not offer completely online degrees. Instead, online courses at LCC are associated with hybrid programs. Some individual classes have a hybrid approach as well, mixing online and in-person elements.

Tuition costs at Lamar Community College are based on Colorado residency, and courses taken online cost more per credit than in-person courses. However, LCC does offer a scholarship specifically for students who are enrolled in 12 or more online credits during a semester. Online students at LCC may take advantage of the library's digital resources and those at the Lamar Public Library.

3

Community College of Aurora Aurora, CO

GRADUATION RATE 25% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 12% RETENTION RATE 56% DEFAULT RATE 21%

With campuses in both Aurora and Denver, the Community College of Aurora offers more than a dozen associate degrees online, as well as several certifications. Some courses from CCCOnline, a statewide education resource for online community colleges in Colorado, are offered through CCA for the same tuition cost. Credits from the college's associate degrees -- including anthropology, biology, business, criminal justice, economics, elementary education, English, history, and psychology -- are guaranteed to transfer to most other public colleges or universities in Colorado.

CCA offers three types of classes online: fully online (taken entirely online), hybrid (combines online elements with in-person classroom time), and self-paced (taken mostly online, with work done at the student's pace and completed by the end of the semester). Tuition rates are determined by whether or not the student is a Colorado resident.

4

Aims Community College Greeley, CO

GRADUATION RATE 27% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 6% RETENTION RATE 64% DEFAULT RATE 22%

Among online community colleges in Colorado, Aims Community College has fewer degree options available for distance learners. The only program offered entirely online is an associate degree in liberal arts. However, a variety of other courses are available online, so a hybrid program is an option if you want the convenience of online attendance but still can attend other classes in person.

Tuition for online and face-to-face courses at Aims are the same, and rates vary depending on whether the student lives in district or in state, and whether s/he is eligible for the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program. Aims offers online tutoring services for writing, science, and math. Academic advising for online students may be conducted via phone or email.

5

Pueblo Community College Pueblo, CO

GRADUATION RATE 23% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 14% RETENTION RATE 52% DEFAULT RATE 29%

With campuses in Pueblo, Canon City, Mancos, and Durango, Pueblo Community College offers fewer online courses than other online community colleges in Colorado. Most of these courses function as part of a hybrid degree program. However, PCC offers fully online associate degrees in health information technology and library technology, as well as a degree completion program for a bachelor's in applied sciences in dental hygiene.

Online courses at PCC cost more per credit than traditional courses. As well, the rate depends on the type of course and whether the student is a Colorado resident. The online tuition cost for students eligible under the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program is the same as that for any other out-of-state student.

6

Community College of Denver Denver, CO

GRADUATION RATE 13% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 11% RETENTION RATE 49% DEFAULT RATE 25%

One of three schools located on the Auraria Campus, Community College of Denver has satellite locations for specialties such as health sciences, early education for high school students, and trade programs. For distance learners, CCD offers one of the broadest selections of programs among online community colleges in Colorado. These include a degree completion program for a bachelor's in dental hygiene, more than a dozen associate degrees, and several professional certifications.

Some courses are provided at CCD through CCCOnline, and other hybrid programs are available for students who wish to combine online courses with on-campus attendance. CCD participates in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) and is authorized to offer online courses to students in every U.S. state. Once admitted, students must take math and English assessments. Online tutoring is available, and online students have access to extensive collections of material through the Auraria Library.

What Are the Best Online Community Colleges in Colorado?

In terms of amenities, the differences between a university and a community college may not be significant enough to influence a given student’s decision to attend. Community colleges tend to offer similar kinds of programming as a bigger college or university, but offer a more generalized curriculum geared towards local, trade-oriented, and pre-professional students. Some courses offered by community colleges also allow students to attain core credits that are then transferable to the degree paths of larger schools, often at a fraction of the cost. The following ranked profile is a valuable resource to help students sort through the many options available, and find the right fit for their educational needs.

1

Front Range Community College Westminster, CO

GRADUATION RATE 20% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 17% RETENTION RATE 56% DEFAULT RATE 18%

With campuses in Westminster, Brighton, Fort Collins, and Longmont, Front Range Community College offers some of the most diverse degrees among online community colleges in Colorado. At FRCC, you can choose from more than two dozen associate degrees and several certifications, all of which are available fully online. With course materials delivered through Desire2Learn, degree options include business, computer information systems, criminal justice, education, languages, and the sciences. Additional online courses are offered by FRCC through CCCOnline, part of the Colorado Community College System.

Admission to FRCC is not based on GPA or test scores. However, those scores will help determine whether you can place out of certain classes or if remedial classes may be necessary to prepare you for more advanced work.

2

Lamar Community College Lamar, CO

GRADUATION RATE 42% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 6% RETENTION RATE 59% DEFAULT RATE 28%

Lamar Community College offers several distance-learning courses through CCCOnline, but notably, the school does not offer completely online degrees. Instead, online courses at LCC are associated with hybrid programs. Some individual classes have a hybrid approach as well, mixing online and in-person elements.

Tuition costs at Lamar Community College are based on Colorado residency, and courses taken online cost more per credit than in-person courses. However, LCC does offer a scholarship specifically for students who are enrolled in 12 or more online credits during a semester. Online students at LCC may take advantage of the library's digital resources and those at the Lamar Public Library.

3

Community College of Aurora Aurora, CO

GRADUATION RATE 25% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 12% RETENTION RATE 56% DEFAULT RATE 21%

With campuses in both Aurora and Denver, the Community College of Aurora offers more than a dozen associate degrees online, as well as several certifications. Some courses from CCCOnline, a statewide education resource for online community colleges in Colorado, are offered through CCA for the same tuition cost. Credits from the college's associate degrees -- including anthropology, biology, business, criminal justice, economics, elementary education, English, history, and psychology -- are guaranteed to transfer to most other public colleges or universities in Colorado.

CCA offers three types of classes online: fully online (taken entirely online), hybrid (combines online elements with in-person classroom time), and self-paced (taken mostly online, with work done at the student's pace and completed by the end of the semester). Tuition rates are determined by whether or not the student is a Colorado resident.

4

Aims Community College Greeley, CO

GRADUATION RATE 27% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 6% RETENTION RATE 64% DEFAULT RATE 22%

Among online community colleges in Colorado, Aims Community College has fewer degree options available for distance learners. The only program offered entirely online is an associate degree in liberal arts. However, a variety of other courses are available online, so a hybrid program is an option if you want the convenience of online attendance but still can attend other classes in person.

Tuition for online and face-to-face courses at Aims are the same, and rates vary depending on whether the student lives in district or in state, and whether s/he is eligible for the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program. Aims offers online tutoring services for writing, science, and math. Academic advising for online students may be conducted via phone or email.

5

Pueblo Community College Pueblo, CO

GRADUATION RATE 23% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 14% RETENTION RATE 52% DEFAULT RATE 29%

With campuses in Pueblo, Canon City, Mancos, and Durango, Pueblo Community College offers fewer online courses than other online community colleges in Colorado. Most of these courses function as part of a hybrid degree program. However, PCC offers fully online associate degrees in health information technology and library technology, as well as a degree completion program for a bachelor's in applied sciences in dental hygiene.

Online courses at PCC cost more per credit than traditional courses. As well, the rate depends on the type of course and whether the student is a Colorado resident. The online tuition cost for students eligible under the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program is the same as that for any other out-of-state student.

6

Community College of Denver Denver, CO

GRADUATION RATE 13% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 11% RETENTION RATE 49% DEFAULT RATE 25%

One of three schools located on the Auraria Campus, Community College of Denver has satellite locations for specialties such as health sciences, early education for high school students, and trade programs. For distance learners, CCD offers one of the broadest selections of programs among online community colleges in Colorado. These include a degree completion program for a bachelor's in dental hygiene, more than a dozen associate degrees, and several professional certifications.

Some courses are provided at CCD through CCCOnline, and other hybrid programs are available for students who wish to combine online courses with on-campus attendance. CCD participates in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) and is authorized to offer online courses to students in every U.S. state. Once admitted, students must take math and English assessments. Online tutoring is available, and online students have access to extensive collections of material through the Auraria Library.

How We Ranked the Schools

To determine the best programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online master's in management information systems programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.

Education Trends in Colorado

In general, the cost of education in Colorado tends to be slightly higher than the national average. A portion of this cost can be attributed to the fact that Colorado’s tax structure allocates less than the national average to subsidize the cost of education. The state is also among the most competitive and highly educated of any in the U.S., with residents over the age of 25 holding bachelor’s and graduate degrees at a higher percentage than that of the national average.

  Colorado United States
Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census
Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student $8,083 $6,954
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education 3% 5.8%
Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree 8.3% 8.1%
Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor's degree 24.1% 18.5%
Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher 14% 11.2%

Paying for College in Colorado

The price of a college or university’s degree program can be a significant factor when deciding where to attend. Scholarships and grants can reduce tuition costs, but for many students, the overall expense of a program is still prohibitive. Loan services, both private and public, help to further mitigate some of these expenses. Note that Colorado’s cost of living and education costs are slightly above the national average.

Tuition Prices

The following table shows how the price of education in Colorado differs from the national average. Be sure to note that the numbers presented here reflect the tuition price alone, and do not factor in the overall cost of living and other expenses, such as transportation and textbooks.

Financial Aid

In order to afford the cost of online college in Colorado -- and graduate in a timely manner -- students need to consider all available financial aid options. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should be any student’s first step, as it determines one’s eligibility for any federal student loans or scholarships. In general, scholarships are the most valuable part of a total financial aid package; unlike loans, scholarship money does not need to be repaid. Scholarships can be awarded in one of two ways: either directly through the university, or through a private organization. Institutional scholarships are often merit-based, while private scholarships tend to have a more varied and diverse application.

Cost for Online Programs in Colorado

While on-campus and online colleges in Colorado may have significant differences, the options for financial aid are nearly identical. Federal loans and scholarship awards can be used for any degree path offered by an accredited institution, though private issuing bodies may have special considerations or restrictions that should be considered. Many students also find that online programs save them a significant amount of money, largely by minimizing expenses related to relocation and child care. In addition, many online schools in Colorado now offer textbooks at a much lower cost than printed textbooks.

Cost of Living by Region

Students should remember that with greater complexity and density in urban areas comes a higher cost of living. For many students, the “where” is a major aspect of their decision to attend school. Higher expenses often go hand-in-hand with a higher cost of education, but for many students establishing relationships in an urban academic community is a great way to network and pursue the kinds of professional opportunities that lead to viable career paths.

Scholarships for Colorado College Students

Mark J. Smith Scholarship
$2,500; must be a COCPA student member or have submitted application, must be at least a half-time student and intend to practice accounting professionally.

View Scholarship

Boettcher Scholarship
Full tuition at select universities within Colorado, additional $3,000 project grant also available; applicants must be a graduating Colorado high school senior and have lived in Colorado for a minimum of two years. The scholarship is open to legal citizens as well as DACA recipients.

View Scholarship

Sachs Foundation Undergraduate Grant
$5,000; must have been a full-time Colorado resident for a minimum of five years and also have African-American heritage.

View Scholarship

Daniels Scholarship Program
Award varies, total pool of $12,800,000; ACT/SAT scores required, with a minimum ACT score of 17 and a minimum SAT score of 830.

View Scholarship

Greenhouse Scholars Program
Minimum: $4,000, maximum: $20,000; applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.5, with a household income not exceeding $70,000.

View Scholarship

Peters Foundation Scholarship Program
Minimum: $2,500, maximum: $5,000; designed for students pursuing education in environmental sciences. All applicants must submit ACT/SAT scores and a writing sample.

View Scholarship

SocialSEO Digital Marketing and SEO Scholarship
$1,000; students must be pursuing a degree in marketing, business, or communications. The scholarship is open to graduating high school seniors, currently enrolled undergraduates, and graduate students pursuing an MBA or master’s degree.

View Scholarship

Stephen T. Kugle Scholarship
$3,000; must be a student member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

View Scholarship

Zinda Law Group Scholarship
$1,000; applicant must be pursuing either an associate or bachelor’s degree in law, law enforcement, political science, homeland security, or similar.

View Scholarship

Latin American Educational Scholarship
Minimum: $750, maximum: $2,000; must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be Hispanic American. All recipients must fulfill ten hours of community service.

View Scholarship

Moody's Mega Math M3 Challenge
Minimum: $1,000, maximum: $20,000; teams of up to five high school students must submit a solution to a given modeling problem in the form of a paper.

View Scholarship

Education First Scholarship
$4,000; preference is given to first generation college students who have overcome significant life obstacles.

View Scholarship

CollegeInvest Opportunity Scholarship
$1000; applicant must be undergraduate students currently attending a university in Colorado. The award is distributed through a lottery system.

View Scholarship

University of Colorado Boulder First Generation Grant
$8,000; must be a Colorado resident working towards a bachelor’s degree and must verify that neither parent attended college.

View Scholarship

Infinitus Dream Scholarship Fund
$3,000; must be permanent resident of Colorado and have undertaken at least 24 credits of college coursework.

View Scholarship

Can All Scholarships Be Used for Online Programs?

A scholarship award may be applied to any online college in Colorado, as long as that program is accredited. It does not matter if it is online, on-campus, or a hybrid of the two. Students should be advised, however, that certain scholarships require fulfilling additional requirements or considerations to qualify. It is very important to ensure that a given scholarship is applicable to your intended school/program before pursuing it.

Employment Outlook in Colorado

As a state with a long history of environmental activism, technological innovation, and tourism, Colorado presents an especially high level of opportunities for working professionals. Its growing economy boasts an unemployment rate almost half the national average, with an annual mean wage $3,000 higher than the rest of the United States. Established technology companies like Lockheed Martin, IBM, and AT&T all call Colorado home, along with popular outdoor brands like Osprey and Big Agnes. In addition, the windswept plains of the state enjoy roughly 300 days of sun each year, making for an important research center for solar and wind energy.

  Colorado United States
Source: BLS and BLS
Unemployment Rate, May 2017 2.4% 4.3%
Annual Mean Wage, May 2016 $52,710 $49,630

Top Employers and Industries in Colorado

Top Industries in Colorado

  • Energy: Colorado features some of the most progressive renewable energy policies in the United States, with a robust solar and wind industry. With more than 300 sunny days on average, the state is a driver of the renewable energy industry.
  • Tourism: With over 31 million visitors in 2016 alone, urban centers like Denver have been breaking records for tourism for over a decade. The abundant natural resources in the state are a priceless asset that hold wide appeal.
  • Technology: This other BLS-described supersector is service-providing and encompasses all professional, technical, business, management, and administrative jobs and careers. Examples include legal, accounting, IT, scientific research, and advertising positions.

BLS

Top Employers in Colorado

  • Denver International Airport: 35,000 employees
  • University of Colorado-Boulder: 13,300 employees
  • Lockheed Martin Space Systems: 10,000 employees

Source: careerinfonet.org

Accreditation for Colleges in Colorado

A school’s accreditation is perhaps one of the most important factors to consider in one’s decision process. Accrediting bodies certify that a school or program has met a rigorous standard of criteria, ensuring a quality, reputable education. Regional accreditation generally considered more prestigious, and is granted by one of seven regional accrediting bodies throughout the country. National accreditation is usually reserved for trade or for-profit institutions. It is important to note that schools must be accredited -- nationally or regionally -- for students to receive any federal scholarships or other financial aid. There is generally no difference in accreditation standards between online and on-campus programs.

Regional accreditation generally considered more prestigious, and is granted by one of seven regional accrediting bodies throughout the country

When considering online degree programs, regional and national accreditation agencies are an important feature of a university’s total package. Seven organizations make up the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions, but Colorado falls under the jurisdiction of the Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. In addition, the CHEA maintains national educational standards for colleges and schools within the United States.

Resources for Students in Colorado

  • Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative Directory: A joint effort of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative, this databases exists as a resource to help link students and their families with support programs.
  • College In Colorado: The College in Colorado organization helps Coloradans from less-privileged backgrounds overcome challenges they may face in pursuing higher education, as well as counsel for work placement.
  • United We Dream: United We Dream is the biggest immigrant youth organization in the United States, actively organizing and advocating around issues relating to the successful integration of immigrant communities. They also help maintain a scholarship database for undocumented students.
  • Together Colorado: Together Colorado is a community group dedicated to economic justice, health care, education, and public safety. The organization was founded in 1978 as an activism and outreach initiative of a non-partisan, multi-faith community.
  • Financial Aid Guide: The Department of Education of Colorado has compiled some of their recommended financial resources, including links to FAFSA information, key details about important deadlines for applications, and directories for scholarships.
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