To identify the Best Colleges in Colorado for 2017-2018 we averaged the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems with thousands of real student review scores from around the web to produce a unique College Consensus rating for each school. You won’t find a more comprehensive ranking of the top colleges and universities in Colorado anywhere. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.
Colleges & Universities in Colorado
The Colorado economy was built on natural resources, from mining to oil to uranium, and today Colorado colleges and universities continue to be dominant in research and teaching in areas like Petroleum Engineering, Forestry, Sustainability, and Alternative Energy. Agriculture, especially livestock, was a mainstay from the earliest settlers, and students still come to Colorado’s research universities for study in Veterinary Science, Agricultural Science, and related fields.
As a centrally-located state, Colorado was also a major thoroughfare for trade and transportation, leading to the growth of major industry and business and turning Denver from a hardscrabble mining colony to a major metropolitan city. Plus, since the turn of the 21st century, Colorado has been the center of a tech boom that has turned Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and other cities into a Rocky Mountain Silicon Valley and given Colorado a whole new cool cache – not to mention a lucrative tech job market.
A small, highly selective liberal arts college in Colorado Springs, Colorado College is one of the most highly respected institutions in the nation. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 25 liberal arts colleges nationally, and #2 most innovative, Colorado College has built on nearly a century and a half of excellence to take on the 2000s. The groundbreaking Block Plan – an unconventional schedule of intensive three and a half week courses – provides students with opportunity for deep immersion and hands-on learning.
Colorado College’s experiments have paid off – CC students have been recognized as some of the happiest in the nation, while Newsweek has named it one of the most desirable urban schools in the nation. CC’s status as a “Hidden Ivy” (or “Little Ivy”) gives a name to what students and alumni know, which is that Colorado College pays off. Ranked a Best Value by Kiplinger’s, Colorado College’s reputation all but guarantees graduates a leg up on the job market and success in whatever career they enter.
University of Colorado Boulder
Colorado’s globally-recognized flagship institution, the University of Colorado Boulder was a major force in leading the frontier of Colorado into the modern industrialized 20th century, and today in the 21st century CU Boulder is still paving the way. Ranked as one of the top public institutions in the nation, CU Boulder is a national leader in STEM, business, and law, particularly in environmental and sustainability studies in all of those fields – appropriate for a university in the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains.
Students flock to CU Boulder for many reasons, including the top-notch activities and entertainment; Boulder is one of the best spots in the US for outdoor sports, and the CU Hiking Club dates back to 1919. But perhaps more importantly, Boulder has emerged as a leader in technology and entrepreneurship, a status reflected in the nearly 100 companies built on technologies developed at CU in the last two decades. Graduates can be sure a degree from CU Boulder will be noticed and appreciated in a wide range of professions and industries.
University of Denver
The oldest private educational institution in the Rocky Mountains, the University of Denver dates back to 1864, when the Colorado Seminary formed to bring religion and learning to the rough-and-tumble frontier town. Clearly, UD had a significant impact, as Denver stands today as one of the most prosperous and influential cities in the west. As an urban university, UD’s strongest programs tend to be in the areas most critical to city life and development, including highly ranked business, law, social work, and media.
As a small, but highly productive, research institution, the University of Denver provides students with ample opportunity to take part in the research process and learn first-hand from experienced faculty. This kind of mentorship and experiential learning prepares students well for their careers, while UD’s exceptional reputation in Colorado, and the Western region in general, starts graduates off on the right foot in their career paths. From community-based service learning to a well-connected network of alumni, UD offers students a top-tier education.
Colorado School of Mines
One of the most prestigious STEM institutions in the West, the Colorado School of Mines began its life, as its name implies, as a school designated to train miners for what was then (1859) Colorado’s main industry. Growth over the next 150 years saw Mines develop into a top-tier public research university focused on engineering and applied science. USA Today and U.S. News & World Report recognize CSM as one of the top public institutions, with its many engineering programs ranked in the top 5, top 10, and top 20 nationally. Kiplinger’s ranks Mines as a best value as well, thanks to a stunning ROI for graduates.
That impressive record of career success, as well as the chance to learn first-hand from some of the most respected faculty in the field, is the reason prospective engineers and scientists turn to CSM. That includes the largest Society of Women Engineers group in the nation. A small, highly selective public school, Mines accepts only the best applicants, and gives them the learning, skills, and tools they will need to make their way in technology and engineering professions.
As a U.S. News & World Report best regional institution for the West, Regis University has a top-tier reputation. Founded by Jesuits in 1877, Regis is a small, private Catholic university that takes pride in its Jesuit heritage of academic integrity, service to humanity, and spiritual development. Regis’ programs are known for their quality in professional and career development, including top-tier healthcare, business, and computer technology degrees, all infused with Regis’ commitment to social benefit.
Regis’ students are immersed in that same dedication, through a number of initiatives. The Center for Service Learning is a deeply integrated part of Regis’ curriculum, with student community service projects highlighted, while the Institute on the Common Good studies and advocates for community engagement. With job market reputability and only the best instruction in the classical liberal arts tradition, Regis’ graduates get a fully-rounded, rewarding experience.
Colorado State University-Fort Collins
As Colorado’s land-grant institution, Colorado State University began, like other land-grant colleges, as a center for agriculture and applied science learning and research, helping spearhead development of engineering in the 19th century. Today, CSU is one of the leading engineering institutions in the West, while its business, agriculture, veterinary, and biomedical programs are also highly ranked. CSU is also a major research center for forestry and ecology, with the pace-setting Warner College of Natural Resources.
CSU has been named one of the nation’s most entrepreneurial universities by Forbes, a designation that goes a long way to explaining alumni devotion to Colorado State. Students see the commitment to student support and success in CSU’s 18:1 student/teacher ratio, and through an 84% rate of graduates finding work or further schooling after graduation. Colorado State’s graduates see recruitment from around the world in fields as diverse as engineering and veterinary medicine, making the investment in a CSU degree a safe and sensible choice.
University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Part of the University of Colorado system, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs is widely acknowledged as one of the top STEM institutions in the nation, and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top 10 public regional university. UCCS’s engineering programs are regularly ranked at the very top of public institutions, while other schools – including the Beth-El College of Nursing & Health Sciences, as well as the colleges of business, education, and public affairs – have become key parts of Colorado’s culture and industry.
Organized in 1965 as a commuter campus of the University of Colorado, UCCS is the fastest-growing member of the CU system, with students coming in droves to earn their degrees from an institution dedicated to meeting career needs. A highly diverse student body, including many low-income and first-generation students, plus a qualified, dedicated faculty, equal excellent student satisfaction – as much as 96% of graduates surveyed were satisfied with their experience.
University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus
When the University of Colorado began medical and nursing education in the late 1800s, they chose Denver for their campus, the larger population offering more opportunity for service and learning than Boulder. Eventually, bringing together US’s extension education and health sciences center, UC formed the University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus, Colorado’s largest, most prestigious urban research institution.
Not surprisingly, UC Denver is the leading choice for prospective doctors and nurses in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region, and that excellence has earned the university’s medical school and nursing school top rankings in U.S. News & World Report. The UC Denver reputation, and its deep connections to the economy of Denver, give students a strong advantage on the job market, helping graduates get a foot in the door in just about any field.
Western State Colorado University
A small, public liberal arts institution in rural Gunnison, CO, Western State Colorado University has its roots in a normal school (teacher’s college), founded in 1901 to prepare qualified teachers for the schools in the Rocky Mountains. Western’s curriculum is rooted in the values of liberal arts education, including critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and transferrable skills that provide a grounding for professional careers in a wide variety of settings and fields.
With its location in a picturesque valley of the Rocky Mountains, Western provides the close-knit, supportive atmosphere students look for in a liberal arts college, as well as some of the best outdoor activities and attractions any college in its class can offer. As a regional public institution, Western puts a high priority on diversity and accessibility, declaring support for DACA students and offering opportunity to students from all backgrounds.
University of Northern Colorado
Founded in 1889 as Colorado’s state teacher’s college, the University of Northern Colorado is a mid-sized public institution noted for the excellence of their teacher’s education, psychology, and online education, with online programs ranked in the top 10 nationally. UNC’s graduates make up more of Colorado’s teachers than any other school, and more than a third of the state’s teacher of the year award winners come from UNC.
With a diverse student body, with more than a third consisting of first-generation college students, the University of Northern Colorado has emerged as an important force for social mobility and development in the region. From education and psychology to nursing and business, UNC’s graduates take on some of the most important jobs in the state, and the college’s commitment to student support and graduate success ensures that UNC graduates will have a lot to appreciate in their alma mater.