Best Public Colleges in Colorado 2022

Public colleges and universities account for almost 75 percent of all undergraduate students in the U.S. The best public colleges in Colorado provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

Best Public Colleges in Colorado 2022

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

What is the difference between public and private colleges?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models. Public colleges and universities are owned by the state and receive both state and federal funding to operate. Private colleges and universities are private companies with private funding. If you’re looking at the pros and cons of private vs. public colleges, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a bachelor’s degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. Attending a college in-state is usually the cheapest option. Private universities and colleges can be very competitive with their funding opportunities, so do not simply believe that private colleges are always going to be more expensive. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually. But in the end, the cost of college comes down to each student’s academic and financial situation.

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This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees. We’ve identified 17 public universities in Colorado. To be included in our list of the best public colleges in Colorado, shcools must receive direct funding from the state, be fully accredited, and offer a broad range of bachelor’s degress.

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

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great! 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 in their fields of study.

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

To rank the influence of schools, we first determine the influence of scholars and professionals based on the number of citations and publications they have had over the past 10 years. In addition to publications and citations, we consider the web links to and from these sources, and the page views of those sources. We then match the influential people to their alma maters and institutions of employment, so that their influence is attributed to those schools. Our machine-learning Influence Ranking algorithm produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data. If you are interested in exploring how and why we rank by influence, explore our methodology in more depth.

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Best Public Colleges in Colorado 2022

  1. Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    34K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/28

    What is University of Colorado Boulder known for?

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

    • Earth Sciences
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    Colorado State University

    Fort Collins , CO
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    29K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/26

    What is Colorado State University known for?

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

    • Earth Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #4

    Colorado School of Mines

    Golden , CO
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1310/30

    What is Colorado School of Mines known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/23

    What is University of Colorado Denver known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Economics
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/22

    What is University of Northern Colorado known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • History
    • Business
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1000/20

    What is Metropolitan State University of Denver known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Earth Sciences
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Anthropology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #8

    University of Colorado Colorado Springs

    Colorado Springs , CO

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/23

    What is University of Colorado Colorado Springs known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Anthropology
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #9

    Colorado Mesa University

    Grand Junction , CO

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/21

    What is Colorado Mesa University known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Earth Sciences
    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #10

    Fort Lewis College

    Durango , CO

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1090/20

    What is Fort Lewis College known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Anthropology
    • Economics
    • Engineering
    • Earth Sciences
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. #11

    Community College of Denver

    Denver , CO

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Graduation

    18%

    Student body

    5K

    What is Community College of Denver known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Medical
  11. #12

    Western Colorado University

    Gunnison , CO

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/23

    What is Western Colorado University known for?

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

    • Sociology
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Earth Sciences
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #13

    Adams State University

    Alamosa , CO

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    100%

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    990/19

    What is Adams State University known for?

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

    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #14

    Colorado Mountain College

    Glenwood Springs , CO

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Graduation

    25%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Colorado Mountain College known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
  14. Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/21

    What is Colorado State University Pueblo known for?

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

    • Communications
    • Social Work
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #16

    Red Rocks Community College

    Lakewood , CO

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    24%

    Student body

    5K

    What is Red Rocks Community College known for?

    Red Rocks Community College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #17

    Pueblo Community College

    Pueblo , CO

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Graduation

    21%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Pueblo Community College known for?

    Pueblo Community College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Computer Science
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Colorado’s Best Public College in Your Area of Interest

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. United States Air Force Academy
  2. University of Colorado Denver
  3. University of Colorado Boulder
  4. Colorado School of Mines
  5. Colorado State University
  6. University of Northern Colorado
  7. Fort Lewis College
  8. University of Colorado Colorado Springs
  9. Colorado Mountain College
  10. Western Colorado University

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