The Best Online Colleges in Colorado

TBS Staff Writers
Updated October 10, 2023
Get started with your search for top-ranked schools in Colorado. Discover which colleges offer programs that fit your needs.

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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.

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The Best Online Colleges in Colorado

#1 The Best Online Colleges in Colorado

Colorado State University

  • Location-markerFort Collins, CO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,426
  • Out-of-state$28,147
  • Retention Rate84%
  • Acceptance Rate81%
  • Students Enrolled33,426
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment26%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Best Online Colleges in Colorado

University of Northern Colorado

  • Location-markerGreeley, CO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,596
  • Out-of-state$19,854
  • Retention Rate72%
  • Acceptance Rate91%
  • Students Enrolled12,930
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment32%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 The Best Online Colleges in Colorado

University of Colorado Denver

  • Location-markerDenver, CO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,920
  • Out-of-state$24,408
  • Retention Rate70%
  • Acceptance Rate67%
  • Students Enrolled24,910
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment31%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 The Best Online Colleges in Colorado

Colorado Mesa University

  • Location-markerGrand Junction, CO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,787
  • Out-of-state$20,720
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate78%
  • Students Enrolled9,373
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment35%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 The Best Online Colleges in Colorado

Metropolitan State University of Denver

  • Location-markerDenver, CO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,432
  • Out-of-state$20,009
  • Retention Rate67%
  • Acceptance Rate61%
  • Students Enrolled20,080
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment41%
  • AccreditationYes

Best Online Colleges



The Best Schools

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.

Highest Paying Careers
CareerAnnual Mean Salary (2020)Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)Education Required
Airline Pilots$200,0405%Bachelor’s
Architectural and Engineering Managers$178,1203%Bachelor’s
Computer and Information Systems Managers$118,22010%Bachelor’s
Marketing Managers$172,1406%Bachelor’s
Sales Managers$170,5004%Bachelor’s
Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics

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.

Most Common Careers in Colorado
CareerAnnual Mean Salary (2020)Projected Job Growth (2020-2030)Education Required
General and Operations Managers$144,3904%Bachelor’s
Software Developers$112,70022%Bachelor’s
Construction Managers$107,0008%Bachelor’s
Management Analysts$102,84011%Bachelor’s
Civil Engineers$98,5202%Bachelor’s
Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics

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.

Portrait of Melissa Sartore

Melissa Sartore

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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