Colorado’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities of 2021

Liberal arts colleges are a great option for students seeking a well-rounded education in an intimate campus setting. The best liberal arts colleges in Colorado offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

Colorado’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges and 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.

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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

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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.

5 Best Liberal Arts Colleges & Universities in Colorado

A liberal arts college is a school that puts a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree. We’ve identified 15 liberal arts universities in Colorado; and 5 of those schools satisfy the following three conditions:

  • It must be a non-profit institution.
  • It must be fully accredited.
  • It must have a graduation rate above 40%.

  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

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    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

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    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

    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

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    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
  4. #4

    Western Colorado University

    #4768 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/23

    Gunnison, CO

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    What is Western Colorado University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Literature
    • History
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Colorado Christian University

    #3913 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $25K

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    6K

    Lakewood, CO

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    What is Colorado Christian University known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

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