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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
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.
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 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.
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.
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
In-State Tuition, Private Colleges & Universities: $22,332
Change from 2015 $729
Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
*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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.