The Best Online Colleges in Colorado 2021
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Studying online in Colorado can simultaneously open up prospects in your career and in the great outdoors.
Online colleges in Colorado offer undergraduate and graduate degrees on a flexible, convenient schedule. Students may also find an online degree more affordable than on-campus options.
Online students can study through one of the four campuses within the University of Colorado (CU) System or through Colorado State University (CSU), which offers online programs through CSU-Global. CSU-Global is as the first independent, fully online public university in the United States. Online students can also attend technical and two-year institutions.
Online colleges in Colorado provide educational programs in disciplines that align with the state's employment needs and opportunities. Manufacturing, health and wellness, and outdoor recreation are all big employers in the state, so many online programs in Colorado cater to those sectors.
The rankings below offer insight into what the best online colleges in Colorado are and how they can work for you.
|#1||Colorado State University-Fort Collins Fort Collins, CO|
|#2||University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO|
|#3||University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, CO|
|#4||Colorado Mesa University Grand Junction, CO|
|#5||Metropolitan State University of Denver Denver, CO|
Featured Online Schools
The Best Online Colleges in Colorado
Founded in 1870, CSU Online offers several undergraduate and graduate programs, including two online doctoral degrees. Students can also choose from hybrid programs with a few residency requirements.
Bachelor's and master's options include programs in technology and computer science, education, communications, and engineering. The school also boasts several unique degree tracks in conservation-related fields such as natural resource stewardship.
Undergraduate applicants need a high school diploma, and transfer students need a minimum GPA of 2.0 to qualify for admission. Graduate applicants should follow individual department guidelines.
A public university founded in 1889, UNC Online offers several graduate and undergraduate programs, as well as certificates and licensure tracks.
Notable programs include options in communications, education, nursing, and leadership. Students complete most degrees solely online with only a few programs, such as options in nursing and education, requiring in-person residencies at approved locations.
Applicants need a high school diploma for most undergraduate programs, and graduate students must adhere to the individual requirements of their chosen program. Students applying to degree completion programs must possess an associate degree or equivalent credit.
Founded in 1912, CU Online offers a collection of graduate and undergraduate programs.
Students can earn an undergraduate or graduate nursing degree fully online with minimal residency requirements. Learners can also explore programs in fields such as education, engineering, business, and computer science.
Nursing applicants must follow licensure requirements, testing requirements, and GPA preferences for each nursing program. Other applicants should follow individual department requirements.
Founded in 1925 and serving over 10,000 students, CMU Online offers several online graduate and undergraduate degree choices, as well as three certificates.
Students can choose from nine bachelor's degrees, four master's degrees, and one doctoral program. Notable options include nursing choices, such as an RN-to-BSN program, a master of nursing, and a doctor of nursing practice. Other programs include a master of sport management or athletic training and a master of business administration.
Applicants need a high school diploma for most bachelor's programs. Nursing students should follow individual program requirements, including checking state reciprocity.
A public university founded in 1965, MSU Denver Online offers several graduate and undergraduate programs and certificate options. The school also offers a selection of undergraduate minors to supplement undergraduate choices.
Notable undergraduate programs include a bachelor of science in banking, a bachelor of arts in English, and a bachelor of science in healthcare management. A collection of undergraduate minors such as film and media studies or anthropology provide extra learning opportunities. Graduate degrees and certificates include programs in fields such as cybersecurity and social work.
Applicants should follow the individual requirements of their chosen department, including any standardized test and GPA requirements.
Online Colleges in Colorado Ranking Guidelines
We selected the online schools in Colorado based on the quality of their programs, types of courses and degrees offered, and faculty strengths, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation, including a strong reputation for online degree programs.
Employment in Colorado
With 14 major industrial sectors, Colorado offers employment opportunities across academic disciplines. Half of the top industries in Colorado incorporate an aspect of STEM, while recreation and tourism careers are also popular. Colorado ranked in the top five of states for start-up activity in 2015, and it is the top employer in the private aerospace sector in the United States.
While the cost of living index in Colorado is above the national average, health, grocery, and utility costs are comparable with those found throughout the United States. Housing remains the top expense for individuals living in Colorado — a cost that varies by region.
In Colorado, unemployment remained relatively consistent through 2020, topping out at 7% in August. In January 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported unemployment was down to 6.6%.
Below are a few of the highest paying roles employing more than 2,500 individuals in Colorado. Salary information applies specifically to Colorado, while job growth data pertains to the United States as a whole.
|Career||Annual Mean Salary (2020)||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)||Education Required|
|Architectural and Engineering Managers||$178,120||3%||Bachelor's|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$118,220||10%||Bachelor's|
The following data reflects the highest paying roles employing more than 10,000 professionals in Colorado. Salary figures apply specifically to Colorado, while job growth data refers to the United States as a whole.
|Career||Annual Mean Salary (2020)||Projected Job Growth (2020-2030)||Education Required|
|General and Operations Managers||$144,390||4%||Bachelor's|
Online Associate and Graduate Degrees
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many colleges and universities have expanded online education options for students. This holds true for undergraduate and graduate learners alike. Online colleges in Colorado offer programs that mirror on-campus degrees. Some online programs incorporate hybrid components to supplement online coursework or include both asynchronous and synchronous learning options.
Common online associate degrees in Colorado include business administration, management, accounting, and health administration services. The foundational knowledge and skills built through an online associate degree can prepare graduates for entry-level careers, like accounting assistant and office manager. Colorado students can earn statewide guaranteed transfer degrees in areas such as biology, economics, and English — ideal for individuals who plan to transfer to a bachelor's program.
Online graduate programs in Colorado tend to correspond with the top industries in the state. This meets the needs of working professionals, traditional students, and employers in the state. For example, CSU-Global offers online master's degrees in 10 areas, including agricultural sciences, communication, business, and engineering.
Similarly, students at CU Online can earn online master's degrees in areas like business analytics, nursing, and information systems. Master's degrees in management and organization, financial and risk management, and supply chain management prepare individuals for top-paying and in-demand roles, like construction manager and management analyst.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best colleges in Colorado include public schools, like the CU and CSU systems, and private institutions, like the University of Denver.
Colorado is home to good two- and four-year colleges. Specialized technical institutions include the Colorado School of Mines and the United States Air Force Academy.
Online programs in Colorado typically hold accreditation through their host institutions' regional or national accreditation status. Learners should also check to see if individual programs have specialized accreditation.
Melissa Sartore holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her BA and MA in history are from Western Illinois University. A medievalist by training, she has published on outlawry in medieval England with additional publications on outlaws in popular culture and across geographic and historical boundaries.
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