The Best Online Colleges in Colorado
| Melissa Sartore
Are you ready to discover your college program?
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||Colorado State University - Global Greenwood Village, CO|
|#3||Regis University Denver, CO|
|#4||University of Denver - University College Denver, CO|
|#5||University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, CO|
|#6||Colorado Christian University Lakewood, CO|
|#7||University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO|
|#8||University of Colorado - Colorado Springs Colorado Springs, CO|
|#9||Adams State University Alamosa, CO|
|#10||Colorado Mesa University Grand Junction, CO|
Featured Online Schools
The Best Online Colleges in Colorado
Colorado State University–Fort Collins is a land–grant university established in 1870. Nearly, 32,000 students attend the Colorado State University System’s flagship school. The school has more than 50 academic departments and over 150 degree programs. Colorado State University–Fort Collins offers this diverse array of programs through its eight colleges: Agricultural Sciences, Business, Health and Human Sciences, Liberal Arts, Natural Sciences, Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, and the Warner College of Natural Resources.
Colorado State University–Fort Collins has a strong selection of bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs available online. Online bachelor’s degree offerings include economics, anthropology, and psychology. Online master’s degrees at Colorado State University–Fort Collins include dietetics, engineering, and social work. Doctoral degree options include higher education leadership and organizational learning. The school offers a variety of online certificate programs.
Online students have access to an online library with a scholarly article database, a dissertation database, and an online writing center.
Colorado State University Global, (CSU Global) an online public university, went live in 2007. The university, a member of the Colorado State University System, teaches more than 11,000 students and offers a plethora of undergraduate and graduate degrees. CSU Global was the first non–profit, all–online state university in the US, starting with a class of 200 online students. CSU Global is made up of two schools through which its bachelor’s, master’s, certificate, and continuing education programs are offered: the School of Management and Innovation and the School of Professional Studies
Colorado State University Global has a wide variety of bachelor’s and master’s degrees available exclusively online. Online bachelor’s degree options include human resources, criminal justice, and information technology, while available master’s degrees include finance, education, and accounting. Online certificate options include business administration, computer programming, educational leadership, and project management.
Online student resources include an online library with a librarian available 24/7, a career services department with career coaches and online resume help, 24/7 technical support, and online tutoring.
Regis University is a private, Jesuit university. The Society of Jesus established the university in 1877. Regis University is a member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. The university has welcomed several Nobel Peace Prize recipients as guest speakers, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, David Trimble, Betty Williams, and Pope John Paul II. The university has five academic colleges and serves over 8,000 students.
Three of the academic colleges at Regis University offer a variety of online bachelor’s, master’s and certificate programs. The College of Computer and Information Sciences offers an online bachelor’s degree in computer science, the College for Professional Studies offers an online master’s degree in criminology, and the Rueckert–Hartman College for Health Professions offers several online certificates, including a program in health care informatics.
Online resources available to Regis University students include an extensive online library with a scholarly article database, financial aid, and academic advising.
The University of Denver, founded in 1864, is a private university with nearly 12,000 students. The university sits on a beautiful, nature–filled campus, with an arboretum housing 2,000+ trees. Presidential debates have been held at the University of Denver campus in years past. The university provides a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as professional programs. University of Denver consists of 10 schools and colleges: the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science, the Daniels College of Business, the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the Division of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, the Morgridge College of Education, the Graduate School of Professional Psychology, the Graduate School of Social Work, the Sturm College of Law, and the University College.
The University of Denver offers its online bachelor’s, master’s and certificate programs through its University College. The University College offers career–focused online and evening educational options, designed for busy students looking to advance academically and professionally. Available online bachelor’s degrees include environmental studies and information technology. Online master’s degree options include the arts and security management. Online certificate programs include human resource management and geographic information systems.
Online resources available to students include online library services, including an academic journal article database, as well as academic advising and 24/7 technical support.
Established in 1912, the University of Colorado–Denver, is a public research university, and part of the University of Colorado System. The university serves nearly 24,000 students and offers over 140 degree programs. The university is among the largest research institutions in Colorado and has one of the most prolific graduate schools in the state. University of Colorado–Denver has a sister campus, the Anschutz Medical Campus, that offers programs for students in the medical fields and houses state–of–the–art facilities, including two new hospitals.
The University of Colorado–Denver provides bachelor’s degrees online in subjects such as nursing and writing. Graduate students can choose from a variety of online master’s degrees including a Master of Arts in Information and Learning Technologies, a Master of Criminal Justice degree, and several online certificates. Certificate programs include health care informatics and nonprofit management.
Resources available to online students at University of Colorado–Denver include a library with a scholarly article database.
Colorado Christian University, a Christian liberal arts university founded in 1914, serves over 7,000 students. The university has two academic colleges: the College of Undergraduate Studies and the College of Adult and Graduate Studies. Both colleges offer numerous degree programs in a variety of fields. Each traditional student attending on–campus classes is required to sign a Lifestyle Covenant pledging that the student will commit to living by a biblical lifestyle.
Colorado Christian University offers online associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs through the College of Adult and Graduate Studies. Online associate degrees include psychology and criminal justice. Online bachelor’s degrees include accounting and business administration. Online master’s degree options include counseling and nursing. Online certificate programs include ethics and online teaching and learning.
The library at Colorado Christian University offers a variety of online services, including live chat with a librarian, an online eBook library, a scholarly article database, and an online music library.
Founded in 1889 as State Normal School to train qualified teachers for Colorado’s public schools, the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) began with four instructors and 96 students. Today the public, non–profit university serves around 13,000 students and offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. In 1970, the name of the university was changed to its current title, University of Northern Colorado, to better represent its educational offerings, including, a strong education department. With five main colleges—Education and Behavioral Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, the Monfort College of Business, Natural and Health Sciences, and Performing and Visual Arts—students at University of Northern California have a wide range of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral pathways to choose from.
Through University of Northern Colorado’s Extended Campus department, students can earn UNC degrees in a convenient, accessible online format. Online bachelor’s programs offered by UNC Online include specialties in American Sign Language and interpreting, communication studies, psychology, and nursing. Online master’s degrees at University of Northern Colorado include several education programs, as well as sports administration, nursing, dietetics, and more. Students can also pursue several doctoral degrees in education through UNC Online.
Online students at Northern Colorado University receive a variety of services and support, including library access and career services.
Established in 1965, University of Colorado–Colorado Springs serves more than 12,000 students. It has six academic colleges: the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences; the Beth–El College of Nursing and Health Sciences; the College of Business and Administration; the College of Education; the School of Public Affairs; and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The University of Colorado–Colorado Springs offers many online bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and certificate programs. Online bachelor’s degrees include criminal justice and sociology. Online master’s degree options include nursing and education. Online doctoral degrees include nursing, while online certificates include instructional technology and nonprofit management.
Resources available to the online students at University of Colorado–Colorado Springs include an online library with scholarly article databases.
Adams State University, established in 1921, was originally a teacher training school to provide rural areas with qualified teachers. Since its inception, Adams State University has obtained a reputation of serving people who would otherwise remain underrepresented. It was the first university to be designated by the federal government as a Hispanic Serving Institution. Around 25% of its 3,000+ students are Hispanic.
Adams State University offers several distance programs, including mail correspondence programs for the incarcerated. Adams State University offers several online associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Available online associate degrees include business and emergency management. Online bachelor’s degrees include history and criminology. Online students at Adams State University can also pursue master’s degree programs in education.
Online student resources at Adams State University include an online library with streaming video and a scholarly article database.
Colorado Mesa University (CMU) is a public, non–profit university, founded in 1925. CMU serves a diverse population of students, with liberal arts, professional, and technical programs at the certificate, associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels. Colorado Mesa University serves nearly 10,000 students through 13 academic departments: Art and Design; Biological Sciences; Business; Computer Science, Mathematics, and Statistics; Engineering; Health Sciences; Kinesiology; Languages, Literature, and Mass Communication; Music; Physical and Environmental Sciences; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Teacher Education; and Theatre Arts.
Colorado Mesa University offers several 100% online degree programs, all focused on offering accessible education to students who need to balance work, family, and personal commitments, in addition to pursuing a degree. Colorado Mesa University offers online associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs. Online degree programs include specialties in nursing, sport management, radiology, education, and social science.
Colorado Mesa University offers several supports and resources for students enrolled in online degree programs. This includes library, advising, and financial aid services.
Founded in 1876, University of Colorado–Boulder is the flagship institution of the University of Colorado System. Today, University of Colorado–Boulder serves nearly 34,000 students. University of Colorado–Boulder is one of 34 universities to belong to the prestigious Association of American Universities, and the only member from the Rocky Mountain region to belong to this research–focused organization. The school has nine colleges—the College of Arts and Sciences, the Leeds School of Business, the School of Education, the College of Engineering and Applied Science, the Graduate School, Continuing Education and Professional Studies, the University of Colorado Law School, the College of Media, Communication, and Information, and the School of Music—and offers 90+ academic degree programs.
In addition to a variety of on–campus degree programs, University of Colorado–Boulder offers online post–baccalaureate, master’s, and certificate programs. Most of the online offerings from University of Colorado–Boulder are master’s degree programs. Options for master’s students include degrees in business administration, education, and engineering.
Students in online programs at University of Colorado–Boulder receive support from the university, same as students enrolled in traditional, on–campus programs. Resources include financial aid, academic advising, and library services.
Founded in 1901, Western State Colorado University offers a variety of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Western State Colorado University is an open, welcoming institution, holding core values of diversity, inclusivity, scientific inquiry, and creative expression. The school serves nearly 3,000 students, and its most popular undergraduate programs include business administration, biology, and exercise and sport science, while its most popular graduate programs are education, environmental management, and creative writing.
While most degree programs at Western State Colorado University are traditional, on–campus programs, the school has several strong online offerings. Online degrees include a Masters of Arts in Education with numerous options for certification and specialization. This all–online master’s degree can be completed in as little as two years. Western State Colorado University also offers several online career development and certificate programs.
Students in online programs at Western State Colorado University receive substantial support from the university. Resources include library access, academic advising, and financial aid.
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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