Online Schools & Colleges
in Colorado

Key Info on Financial Aid, Accreditation and Colorado’s Top Online Universities

Colorado has 31 two- and four-year colleges, 103 private religious institutions/seminaries and 354 private occupational colleges. More than 85,000 students study in Colorado's private colleges, with 268,000 students enrolled in the state's public colleges. Numerous colleges in Colorado have added online and blended learning options to their programs, as well. But how can a student find the best online college in Colorado? It all starts with a close examination of cost, quality and the resources students need to turn their college degree into a successful career. Read on to get started.

Best Online Colleges in Colorado

2-Year Colleges

Many of Colorado’s colleges and universities offer a variety of benefits to help students succeed. Adams State University, for example, allows students to customize their own multidisciplinary degree program based on their specific career goals. The University of Colorado-Denver has a cutting-edge course management system that makes collaborating and sharing documents online seamless for students and staff. It’s these types of amenities that can make a university stand out, especially when combined with affordable cost structures, award-winning faculty and generous alumni networks. See who made the list of the Best Online Colleges in Colorado.

Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 Northeastern Junior College $4,107 51 31% 47% Yes No Yes
2 Lamar Community College $3,288 11 42% 66% Yes Yes Yes
3 Trinidad State Junior College $3,286 6 37% 50% Yes Yes Yes
4 Front Range Community College $3,288 21 20% 7% Yes Yes Yes
5 Colorado Northwestern Community College $3,286 5 26% 63% Yes No Yes
6 Aims Community College $2,538 10 27% 27% Yes No Yes
7 Arapahoe Community College $3,288 20 20% 18% Yes Yes Yes
8 Community College of Aurora $3,286 14 25% 1% Yes No Yes
9 Pikes Peak Community College $3,286 11 18% 2% Yes Yes Yes
10 Community College of Denver $3,285 6 13% 13% Yes Yes Yes
11 Morgan Community College $3,286 9 38% 27% Yes Yes Yes
Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 Colorado State University-Fort Collins $8,716 33 77% 67% 53% N/A N/A N/A

Colorado State University-Fort Collins calls the success of its graduates the"CSU Effect." It touts 3 out of 4 CSU graduates are employed in fields related to their majors and 84% of graduates found employment or continuing education within 6 months of graduation. This career-focused education is evident in its online and hybrid degree programs, which include bachelor's degrees in such subjects as agricultural business, human development and family studies, and journalism and media communications; master's degrees in areas including agricultural sciences, communications and natural resources and environment; doctoral degrees in higher education leadership, systems engineering and a program called Organizational Learning, Performance and Change; as well as various certificates. Transfer credits are accepted, but how many depends on the department.

2 University of Colorado Colorado Springs $6,624 14 92% 50% 46% N/A N/A N/A

University of Colorado Colorado Springs is 1 of the 4 University of Colorado System campuses with a diverse student body made up of people from all 50 states and 82 nations worldwide. Students wanting to transfer community college credits can apply up to 72 credit hours to their degrees and up to 90 from all schools combined. UCCS' online program is geared toward in-demand disciplines through its 7 online undergraduate degrees (e.g. business, criminal justice and nursing), 13 online graduate degrees (e.g. criminal justice, engineering and public administration) and online graduate certificates (e.g. business, education and nursing).

3 Colorado Christian University $22,360 18 - 41% 96% N/A N/A N/A

Colorado Christian University is Colorado's flagship Christian college that welcomes students of all faiths. Students may transfer up to 90 undergraduate credits and achieve credits for prior learning to go toward their online degrees through the College of Adult and Graduate Studies. An advantage of the CCU online program is the potential for accelerated degrees. Courses run from 5 to 10 weeks long depending on the program. CCU offers online associate degrees in subjects such as communication studies, human resource management and psychology; bachelor's degrees numerous subjects, including business administration, criminal justice and nursing; master's degrees in such fields as cyber security, organizational leadership and theological studies; post-baccalaureate educator licensing; undergraduate certificates; graduate certificates; and courses for non-degree-seeking students.

4 Regis University $34,100 40 56% 60% 97% N/A N/A N/A

Regis University is a Jesuit Catholic university that welcomes students from all faiths. Its goals is to educate students to become critical thinkers, gain a global perspective and advocate for the voiceless. This mission and vision are reflected in the online coursework designed to help students balance family, work and school. Students can choose hybrid programs, take all their coursework online, choose an accelerated method or take occasional directed-study courses, which are flexible independent-study courses designed by the student in partnership with an adviser. Up to 90 undergrad credits can be transferred to Regis, and they never expire. Regis offers programs that can be taken at least partially online to achieve a bachelor's degree (e.g. applied science, business and criminal justice) or a master's degree (e.g. criminology, data science and education). Note that not all courses listed under the"online" category in the degree search on Regis' website are 100% online, so students should seek out more information by program.

5 Johnson & Wales University-Denver $30,396 3 85% 47% 97% N/A N/A N/A

Johnson & Wales University emphasizes the collaborations developed with industry-leading employers as an important aspect of its career-focused programs, which include student services such as personal advising, financial assistance and flexible credit transfer policies. JWU also emphasizes its support of servicemembers and veterans and the opportunities to gain professionally focused education that builds directly on military experience. The flexible credit transfer policies allow for undergraduates to complete their degree in more than 2 dozen program areas, ranging from business to hospitality management and psychology. Graduate program offerings are just as plentiful, including master's degrees in nonprofit management, criminal justice, data analytics and sport leadership, as well as doctoral degrees in business administration and occupational therapy.

6 University of Northern Colorado $6,906 16 90% 48% 67% N/A N/A N/A

The University of Northern Colorado has been offering quality distance education since 1902 and in the Internet-age became early adopters by offering online learning through the UNC Extended Campus more than 2 decades ago. Online courses are taught by the same faculty who teach on-campus classes, who are experts in their respective fields. Additionally, UNC is a transfer-student-friendly university, with 1 in 4 incoming students coming in as transfers. Its enthusiasm for distance learning is evident in its wealth of program offerings, which can be completed mostly or fully online, including master's degrees in biomedical sciences, sport administration and education; doctoral degrees in education and nursing; bachelor's completion programs in sociology, communication studies and psychology; and master's and undergraduate certificates, including a unique brewing laboratory science program for aspiring beer brewers over the age of 21.

7 University of Colorado Boulder $9,768 4 76% 71% 50% N/A N/A N/A

The University of Colorado Boulder prides itself on its reputation as a world-class research university and a world-class provider of distance education, which it primarily offers to graduate students. CU Boulder offers more than a dozen graduate-level (certificate, master's and doctoral) programs in such specialized areas such as aerospace engineering sciences, computer science, education, organizational leadership and even applied Shakespeare (a certificate program in which students explore acting, directing, interpreting and teaching Shakespeare). Prospective students should note that some programs offer all courses online, but others only offer a hybrid approach with only some available online courses.

8 Nazarene Bible College $10,800 6 - 50% - N/A N/A N/A

Nazarene Bible College offers a unique religious and liberal arts education completely online, and it has had experience doing so since 1998. NBC boasts a 94% completion rate for online classes, which could be attributed to its grounding in Good Practices for Electronically Delivered Courses, in which fostering a sense of community is essential to online teaching. Students can earn 4-year bachelor's degrees, 2-year associate degrees or a certificate in ministry preparation, all completely online. All courses are asynchronous, adding to convenience for students so they can complete their degrees from anywhere at anytime.

9 University of Denver $45,288 19 53% 77% 84% N/A N/A N/A

University of Denver University College's mission is to provide access to a University of Denver education with the added advantage of flexibility. DU University College takes educational adaptability a step further than many programs. In addition to its 100% online and hybrid programs, it also offers a new breed of courses called HyFlex, in which students meet both online and in person synchronously, or at appointed times, so a student can choose class-by-class what delivery method they'd prefer. Upper-level bachelor's completion programs are available in communication, global commerce and transportation, global studies, information technology and leadership and organization studies. A huge variety of master's degree programs (taking at least 18 months) and certificate programs (taking 4-6 months) are available, in subjects such as communication management, environmental policy and management, global community engagement and security management.

10 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus $7,536 28 60% 45% 45% N/A N/A N/A

With over 450 online courses available, the University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus holds many opportunities for students to earn their undergraduate or graduate degrees either completely online or in combinations with on-campus courses. Either way, CU Denver students can receive the same quality degrees, regardless of delivery method. Bachelor's degrees (120 credits) can be earned completely online in subjects such as communication, criminal justice, sociology or nursing. Master's degrees can be earned in 30-36 credits, in fields such as early childhood education, business administration or public health leadership. Doctoral degrees in nursing also are available.

11 Metropolitan State University of Denver $5,693 7 63% 31% 18% N/A N/A N/A
12 Adams State University $5,736 17 98% 26% 71% N/A N/A N/A
13 Colorado Mesa University $7,067 3 82% 36% 41% N/A N/A N/A
14 Colorado State University-Pueblo $7,269 3 96% 34% 73% N/A N/A N/A
15 Colorado State University-Global Campus $8,400 28 - - - N/A N/A N/A
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How can I find which online colleges offer the degree I'm looking for in Colorado?

Online universities in Colorado provide numerous degree options. To find the right college for you, start with the Colorado Department of Higher Education, which allows you to browse through a listing of the state's public and private schools. Of course, program availability changes each year, so getting in touch with a college fast can help you obtain the most up-to-date information on courses and majors.

Institutions such as Colorado Christian University list online programs on their websites. Colorado Mesa University, with its wide range of training choices for professional certificates, associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and doctoral degrees, has a full list on its website, as well. Particularly at the undergraduate level, this can benefit students who may be uncertain about their future career path.

Which online schools in Colorado will accept my transfer credits or work/life experience?

Each Colorado school has its own policy regarding transfer credits. For example, Colorado College requires a "C" grade or higher for a course to transfer, although grades earned in those courses don’t count toward a student’s GPA. At the University of Colorado at Butler, individual programs determine how many credit hours transfer from other institutions and correspondence courses. However, the institution as a whole does not take transfer credits older than 10 years.

To learn more about a school’s policy on credit for work/life experience (including for military service), contact its admissions office directly.

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How Much More Do College Grads in Colorado Make?

Students often hear that going to college prepares them to earn higher salaries over the course of their careers. This holds true in the state of Colorado-take a look at the average wages in Colorado based on minimum degree requirements for careers across the state.

No Formal
High School
$34,540 $44,909 $59,315 $82,284 $77,374 $113,972

Higher Education & Job Prospects in Colorado

Career trends in Colorado resemble those in a number of states across the country. For students picking majors with career growth in mind, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts faster-than-average creation of new jobs in health care, computer science and information technology. They also note the fastest-growing jobs in Colorado today include medical and health service managers, software developers and geoscientists—typically all of which are careers with college education requirements.

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The Impact of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Colorado

More demanding work schedules and family commitments have made online learning a necessity for many. Depending on the program, students can take as few or as many courses as they can handle, submit coursework from home and collaborate with classmates when and where they see fit. When vetting online colleges in Colorado, however, ensuring a school has the right accreditation is a must. It’s a stamp of approval on the school and its programs, signifying quality education, a strong vision and a commitment to continuous improvement. Here are the two main accreditation levels online students need to look out for.

Regional Accreditation

Regional accreditation is the gold standard in the United States. The Department of Education currently recognizes twelve regional accrediting bodies across the country. A top online college in Colorado, the University of Colorado-Boulder holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Subject-Specific Accreditation

In addition to regional accreditation, top schools pursue and earn subject-specific accreditation. For instance, the University of Denver offers a social work degree online that holds accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education.

Paying for Online College in Colorado: Tuition & Financial Aid

Students in Colorado might feel unsettled about the rising cost of a college education in the state. After all, to get into some of Colorado’s most in-demand careers, students need to earn a degree. Let’s take a look at tuition increases in Colorado between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.

In-State Tuition, Public Colleges & Universities: $9,128

Change from 2015 $406

National Average:$8,778

In-State Tuition, Private Colleges & Universities: $22,332

Change from 2015 $729

National Average:$27,951

*These figures include in-state tuition plus all required fees. They do not include room and board, or any information related to out-of-state tuition.

Online Education Costs in Colorado

Tuition and fees for online colleges and universities in Colorado can vary. While some hold to their residency rules for online programs and courses, others allow students to pay in-state tuition rates for all fully online programs and courses. The University of Colorado at Denver, for example, provides discounted tuition rates for non-residents who complete all courses online. An out-of-state student taking coursework fully online pays half the tuition of non-resident students.

In addition, students may choose to complete some of their coursework on campus and the rest online. Those who choose this hybrid approach can tap into Colorado's partnership with other states that belong to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Students who reside in a partner state, such as California or Arizona, pay 150% of the in-state tuition rate in Colorado.

What are Colorado's requirements to qualify for in-state university tuition?

In Colorado, students must prove their residency in the state for a total of 12 consecutive months prior to the first day of class every semester. Note, however, that you cannot establish residency in Colorado just for the purposes of tuition discounts. In addition, you cannot start your 12-month period until you are 22 years old or older, or are a graduate student, an emancipated minor or married.

Are online credits more affordable in Colorado than other places?

Public institution costs remain relatively low at Colorado's Metropolitan State University of Denver — more than $7,300 and more than $20,000 tuition/fees for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively. The Colorado School of Mines costs more at $18,000 and $37,000 for tuition/fees. The lower-end tuition costs in Colorado remain much less expensive than the average U.S. public college total tuition of more than $16,700.

Comparing online college costs at Colorado’s public colleges and universities with other nearby state schools reveals the cost of online learning in Colorado falls in the middle of the pack. Here are some of these undergraduate cost per online credit comparisons for 2018-2019:

$476 per Online Credit

$520-$728 per Online Credit

$264-$322 per Online Credit

How can I get help paying for online college in Colorado?

For Colorado students who need help with tuition, a number of options exist. The most popular include federal loans (via FAFSA) and scholarships. The following list includes some scholarships/grants available to students studying at online schools in Colorado.

  • Boundless Opportunity Scholarship: This scholarship benefits non-traditional students highly motivated to create better lives for themselves and their loved ones. Students attending two- or four-year colleges in Colorado may apply.

  • Celebrate the West Scholarship: This scholarship aids college-bound high school students and consists of an art competition, awarding $1,200 to the recipient.

  • Education First Scholarship: This scholarship benefits low-income students in Colorado, with preference given to any first-generation college student. The award covers books and tuition at a community college or university.

Find more scholarship and financial information at the Financial Aid page.

Online Education & Adult Education in Colorado

Between July 2016 and June 2017, a total of 8,960 people across Colorado participated in adult education programs. These programs generally form a cooperative that makes it possible for students throughout the U.S. to take advantage of the benefits of higher education.

In Colorado, adult education programs help almost twice as many women as men, serving mostly people between the ages of 25 and 44. Programs include:

  • High School Equivalency – Students in Colorado who want to go to college but have not earned their high school diploma can choose to complete the GED, HiSET or TASC through adult education.

  • College Readiness – Colorado has a designated Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Office that can help aspiring students learn additional skills needed to be successful in college, academically, professionally and personally.

  • English Language and Civics Programs – English as a Second Language and English Literacy and Civics Education are both options for Colorado students who are also English language learners.

To find out more about adult education options near you, the Colorado Department of Education provides a map directory of testing and program centers.

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