Accredited Degree Programs, Scholarships and Resources for Top Schools
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
- Adult Education in Colorado
- How Much More Do College Grads in Colorado Make?
- Paying for Online College in Colorado: Tuition and Financial Aid
- Scholarships and Financial Aid
- School Accreditation in Colorado
- Adult Education in Colorado
- Resources for Colorado Students
Best Online Colleges in Colorado 2021
Many online schools and colleges in Colorado provide affordable and flexible alternatives to on-campus learning. A college degree makes candidates more competitive in Colorado's job market. Data from the Colorado Skills for Jobs Report projects that 74% of all jobs in the state will require a postsecondary degree or postsecondary training by 2020.
This guide provides information about choosing the best online college for your needs. The following sections explore financial aid and tuition options, accreditation information, and resources for prospective and current students.
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Top Online Programs
Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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How Can I Find Which Online Colleges Offer the Degree I'm Looking for in Colorado?
Students considering online schools and colleges in Colorado have plenty of options. Learners should research prospective institutions to find the best choice for their needs. The Colorado Department of Higher Education provides a list of all colleges in the state. The link below also provides information about online learning options in Colorado.
How Much More Do College Grads in Colorado Make?
According to a study by the American Institutes for Research, many postsecondary degrees below a bachelor's degree can lead to middle-class earnings in Colorado.
The chart below shows the national medians for full-time annual salaries by degree level. Higher education levels typically correlate with higher salaries, in Colorado and throughout the United States. However, specific earning potential depends on factors including field and position.
|LESS THAN A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA||HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA||ASSOCIATE DEGREE|
|BACHELOR'S DEGREE||MASTER'S DEGREE||DOCTORAL DEGREE|
Paying for Online College in Colorado: Tuition and Financial Aid
When calculating the overall cost of a degree, prospective students should consider tuition, fees, and related expenses. In-state tuition rates are typically significantly lower than out-of-state rates. Learners can fund their education through financial aid, student loans, scholarships, and grants.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the average in-state tuition and fees at ranked public schools rose by 4% for the 2019-2020 school year.
The tables below list the average in-state, out-of-state, and national costs of tuition and fees at public and private four-year institutions.
|IN-STATE TUITION||OUT-OF-STATE TUITION||NATIONAL AVERAGE|
|$7,924||$20,061||$9,037 (In-State)$25,657 (Out-of-State)|
|IN-STATE TUITION||OUT-OF-STATE TUITION||NATIONAL AVERAGE|
Cost Considerations for Online Students in Colorado
The tables above do not reflect some fees and expenses, such as housing and transportation costs. Below are some considerations prospective students should take into account when budgeting for college.
- Residency Requirements: Some programs include on-campus requirements for distance learners. These components may require students to incur housing or travel expenses.
- Technology Fees: Many online schools charge technology fees to cover online resources and technical support. These may be one-time or annual fees.
- Summer, Evening, and Weekend Tuition: Universities often vary tuition rates according to each student's class schedule. Learners should research fees associated with summer, evening, and weekend courses.
- Textbooks and Materials: Online courses may require physical or digital textbooks, along with online learning resources.
- Required Travel: Some distance education programs require internships or practicums that involve travel.
Qualifying for In-State Tuition in Colorado
Some Colorado schools offer in-state tuition rates to all online learners, regardless of residency status. This can save out-of-state students thousands of dollars in tuition. The Colorado Department of Higher Education website lists the residency requirements for the state.
Students can also research reciprocity agreements and exchange programs. Colorado recognizes several exchange groups, including the Western Undergraduate Exchange, the Western Regional Graduate Program Exchange, and the Professional Student Exchange Program.
Learners can find information about tuition rates and residency requirements on their prospective school's website.
Paying for College in Colorado: Scholarships and Financial Aid
Students attending online schools and colleges in Colorado can apply for a variety of financial aid options. Scholarships and grants are ideal forms of funding; unlike loans, these awards do not require repayment.
Scholarships for Colorado College Students
Grants for Colorado College Students
The Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Colorado
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) sets standards for postsecondary institutions. Colleges must meet these standards to receive accreditation, which serves as a mark of quality. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) also monitors accrediting boards. The following sections provide information about the different types of accreditation.
Regional and National Accreditation
Public universities and state schools typically receive regional accreditation. National accreditation typically applies to private colleges, trade schools, and vocational institutions. Regional accreditation is older and is generally considered to be more prestigious.
The Higher Learning Commission awards regional accreditation to Colorado institutions. The ED and CHEA oversee both regional and national accrediting agencies.
Subject-specific accreditation agencies evaluate individual programs. Professionals and experts in the field oversee specialized accrediting agencies. Students can find these organizations and accredited programs in the CHEA database and the ED database.
How to Know if Your School or Program is Accredited
Most accredited schools showcase their institutional and programmatic accreditation on their website. Prospective students can determine a Colorado institution's regional accreditation status through the Higher Learning Commission's website. Learners should search the ED and CHEA databases to learn whether a program holds accreditation.
Online College and Adult Education in Colorado
Government funding of online and adult education programs can help reduce the financial burden on students. The sections below include statistics about adult education in Colorado and links to state-funded initiatives.
By the Numbers: Adult Education in Colorado
- Adults with a bachelor's degree have a 2.1% unemployment rate in Colorado.
- Adults with a bachelor's degree earn a median salary of $48,818 in Colorado.
- The Department of Education projects that about 74% of all jobs in Colorado will require a postsecondary degree or training by 2020.
Source: Colorado Department of Education
Adult Education Programs for Colorado Students
- Colorado High School Equivalency Program: The Colorado Department of Education approves three tests for students to receive a high school equivalency diploma: the GED credential, the High School Equivalency Test, and the Test Assessing Secondary Completion.
- Integrated Education and Training: The IET initiative offers classes in basic skills and English language to help learners obtain occupational and college certificates. Students can earn a high school equivalency certificate and a college certificate simultaneously.
- English Language Acquisition: This program helps individuals whose native language is not English. Students learn speaking, writing, and reading skills that they can use in college courses and their professional lives.
Online College Resources for Colorado Students
Before applying to online schools and colleges in Colorado, students should research the accessibility and affordability of their options. Online resources can help learners determine their goals, next steps, and desired outcomes. Below are five websites that provide tools and information for Colorado students.
- CollegeInColorado.org: This website allows students to enter their high school GPA, test scores, and class schedule to learn whether they meet the admission standards of Colorado institutions.
- COTrainingProviders.org: Students can search this database by career to find suitable training programs and courses. This website lays out pathways of study for each career, with variations for unique specializations and goals.
- Federal Student Aid: The federal government provides many different types of financial aid for college students. This website explains each type of financial aid and helps students determine which kind is right for them.
- Colorado Department of Higher Education: Partnered with the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, this organization provides information on college applications, residency requirements, affordability, and financial aid. This website also explains transfer policies, exchange programs, and extended study options.
- My Colorado Journey: This website curates various resources for college students. Students enter their goals to learn about the steps they must take to reach their desired outcome.