Colorado’s Best Colleges & Universities of 2021

Here are the best colleges and universities in Colorado, categorized into two lists – research universities and liberal arts colleges – to help you find the right kind of school for you.

Colorado’s Best Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Colorado

Fans of the outdoors will feel right at home in Colorado. With the Rocky Mountains, Colorado River, and even part of the Great Plains, you’re sure to find adventure in The Centennial State. Students looking to balance outdoor adventure with higher education can choose from over 40 colleges and universities offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees for an average in-state tuition of $10,800.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

Colorado’s 28 public institutes include junior colleges, universities, the United States Air Force Academy, and the Colorado School of Mines, a research university that specializes in science, technology, engineering, and math. Tuition for Colorado’s public schools ranges from $3,000 to $19,000, with many of the colleges and junior colleges starting at $4,000 and the universities at $8,000. With smaller class sizes and student populations, Colorado’s private institutions, which includes five religiously affiliated campuses, tend to be more expensive, ranging from $4,000 to $55,000 in tuition. The University of Colorado, Boulder, a notable research institute, is ranked as the number one school in the state and has a student population of just over 32,000. Students can earn degrees in computer science and physics and, once graduated, can share alumni status with influential people, such as Steve Wozniak and Robert Redford. Prospective art students can check out Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, and those desiring a career in the medical field can look into the Institute of Business and Medical Careers.

To learn more, check out the best degree programs and top career opportunities offered in Colorado.


What are Colorado’s Colleges & Universities?

Colorado’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

Colorado's Best Colleges and Universities 2021 badge
Download Badge

How do we determine Colorado's best colleges and universities?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Concentrated Influence”. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.


We’ve identified 24 colleges in Colorado. Our list of colleges below satisfies the following criteria:

  • It must be fully accredited.
  • It must be non-profit.
  • Its graduation rate must be above 40%.

10 Best Colleges & Universities in Colorado

  1. #1

    Colorado College

    #674 institution's historical influence
    #68 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    2K

    Colorado Springs, CO

    View profile

    What is Colorado College known for?

    Colorado College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Literature
    • Sociology
  2. #2

    United States Air Force Academy

    #580 institution's historical influence
    #57 overall school desirability

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1335/30

    USAF Academy, CO

    View profile

    What is United States Air Force Academy known for?

    United States Air Force Academy’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Law
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
  3. #3

    University of Denver

    #296 institution's historical influence
    #279 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1260/28

    Denver, CO

    View profile

    What is University of Denver known for?

    University of Denver’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • History
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    University of Colorado Denver

    #777 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/23

    Denver, CO

    View profile

    What is University of Colorado Denver known for?

    University of Colorado Denver’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
  5. #5

    University of Colorado Boulder

    #203 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    34K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/28

    Boulder, CO

    View profile

    What is University of Colorado Boulder known for?

    University of Colorado Boulder’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  6. #6

    Colorado School of Mines

    #810 institution's historical influence
    #595 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1310/30

    Golden, CO

    View profile

    What is Colorado School of Mines known for?

    Colorado School of Mines’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
  7. #7

    Colorado State University

    #399 institution's historical influence
    #783 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    29K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/26

    Fort Collins, CO

    View profile

    What is Colorado State University known for?

    Colorado State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Earth Sciences
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  8. #8

    Regis University

    #1838 institution's historical influence
    #491 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/24

    Denver, CO

    View profile

    What is Regis University known for?

    Regis University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • Religious Studies
    REQUEST INFO
  9. #9

    University of Northern Colorado

    #1253 institution's historical influence
    #556 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/22

    Greeley, CO

    View profile

    What is University of Northern Colorado known for?

    University of Northern Colorado’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Fort Lewis College

    #2764 institution's historical influence
    #576 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1090/20

    Durango, CO

    View profile

    What is Fort Lewis College known for?

    Fort Lewis College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Economics
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy

Find the Best Schools in Colorado for your Major

Resources for College-Bound Students

Photo By User:CW221, CC BY-SA 3.0