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9 Best Colleges in Colorado 

What’s Covered:

 

The Colorado lifestyle is appealing to many college-bound students. From sunny days to big mountains to seemingly endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, there’s a lot to love about the Centennial State. Another appealing aspect of Colorado is its Rocky Mountain higher education. The state is home to a variety of excellent colleges and universities, ranging from massive public universities like UC Boulder to small liberal arts colleges like Colorado College. 

 

Our Ranking Methodology

 

Our list of the 10 best colleges in Colorado was constructed with a focus on school quality, outcomes, and return on investment (ROI). It also considers a host of other factors such as retention rate, selectivity, endowment per student, student-faculty ratio, median earnings, and cost of attendance. You can find CollegeVine’s rankings in their entirety here.

 

9 Best Colleges in Colorado 

 

1. University of Denver

 

Location: Denver, CO  

Acceptance Rate: 60%   

Middle 50% SAT: 1180-1350

Middle 50% ACT: 26-31

Undergrad Enrollment: 5,699

 

The University of Denver was established in 1864—just six years after the founding of Denver itself—and is the oldest independent institution of higher education in the Rocky Mountain region. The University of Denver puts the “high” in higher education: University Halls, the oldest building on campus, sits at exactly 5,280 feet (or a mile) above sea level. The university is well known for study abroad, with more than three-quarters of undergraduates choosing to go abroad sometime during their four years. 

 

Learn more about the University of Denver and what it takes to get accepted.

 

2. Colorado School of Mines | Mines

 

Location: Golden, CO   

Acceptance Rate: 55%   

Middle 50% SAT: 1280-1430

Middle 50% ACT: 28-33

Undergrad Enrollment:  5,216

 

The Colorado School of Mines is a highly regarded public research institution focused on science and engineering. Mines is extremely proud of its outcomes—95% of students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree are employed (largely in industry or government), serving in the military, or continuing their education. Mines graduates also rank among the highest-paid in the nation. Payscale ranks the school 19th in the country on its list of colleges with the highest-paid graduates and the 7th best value college in the U.S. 

 

Learn more about the Colorado School of Mines and what it takes to get accepted.

 

3. University of Colorado Boulder | CU Boulder

 

Location: Boulder, CO   

Acceptance Rate: 84%   

Middle 50% SAT: 1140-1340

Middle 50% ACT: 24-31

Undergrad Enrollment: 30,300

 

Located in one of the U.S.’s best places to live, it’s no wonder so many students dream of attending the University of Colorado Boulder. Most people associate CU Boulder with the outdoors, thanks to its abundance of opportunities for outdoor recreation including parks, bike paths, and scrambling in the Flatirons; however, the university provides ample opportunities inside the classroom as well. CU Boulder offers more than 4,000 courses across 150 fields of study and is one of just 36 public research institutions in the Association of American Universities (AAU), a group of institutions recognized as the leading research universities in the country.

 

Learn more about the University of Colorado Boulder and what it takes to get accepted.

 

4. Colorado State University | CSU

 

Location: Fort Collins, CO

Acceptance Rate: 83%   

Middle 50% SAT: 1080-1270

Middle 50% ACT: 23-29

Undergrad Enrollment: 25,186

 

Located on the northern end of Colorado’s Front Range, Fort Collins—home to Colorado State University—is where the outdoors, industry, and academics converge. The college is within an hour of both Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park; major employers like Hewlett-Packard, New Belgium Brewing, and Otterbox call the city home; and CSU continues to climb in esteem. In addition to its top-ranked academics, CSU earns accolades for its sustainability—it ranks tenth on the Sierra Club’s list of Cool Schools, a list of schools committed to protecting the natural world and encouraging environmental responsibility.  

 

Learn more about Colorado State University and what it takes to get accepted.

 

5. University of Colorado Denver | CU Denver

 

Location: Denver, CO   

Acceptance Rate: 6%   

Middle 50% SAT: 1510-1560

Middle 50% ACT: 34-35

Undergrad Enrollment: 6,989

 

Originally founded in 1912 as an extension of CU Boulder, the University of Colorado Denver has operated independently since the early 1970s. One of the best colleges in Colorado, CU Denver is Colorado’s only urban public research institution and offers more than 130 areas of study through its seven schools:

 

  • Business School
  • College of Architecture & Planning
  • College of Arts & Media
  • College of Engineering, Design, & Computing
  • College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • School of Education & Human Development
  • School of Public Affairs

 

Nearly half (49%) of CU Boulder students are first-generation and 42% of students identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

 

Learn more about the University of Colorado Denver and what it takes to get accepted.

 

6. Regis University

 

Location: Denver, CO   

Acceptance Rate: 78%   

Middle 50% SAT: 1010-1200

Middle 50% ACT: 21-28

Undergrad Enrollment:  3,197

 

Founded in 1877, Regis University is the Jesuit university in the Rocky Mountain West. Like other Jesuit schools, the idea of magis is a founding principle of a Regis education—that is the belief in doing more to better yourself, your community, and the world. Regis University has strong ties with the Veteran community. The university commonly ranks among the most military-friendly colleges in the country, and Regis’s Center for the Study of War Experience is committed to preserving stories from war and using them to gain a fuller understanding of the political, social, economic, and cultural costs of war. 

 

Learn more about Regis University and what it takes to get accepted.

 

7. University of Northern Colorado | UNC

 

Location: Greeley, CO  

Acceptance Rate: 90%   

Middle 50% SAT: 980-1190

Middle 50% ACT: 19-26

Undergrad Enrollment: 9,810

 

Founded in 1889 as the State Normal School of Colorado, today the University of Northern Colorado continues the tradition of training teachers. Education remains one of the most popular majors among the university’s 100+ undergraduate programs. Another program of note is UNC’s School of Theatre Arts and Dance, which was named a Colorado Program of Excellence by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. About a quarter (24%) of UNC students identify as Latinx/Hispanic and the school is committed to becoming a Hispanic-serving institution. 

 

Learn more about the University of Northern Colorado and what it takes to get accepted.

 

8. University of Colorado Colorado Springs | UCCS

 

Location: Colorado Springs, CO   

Acceptance Rate: 89%   

Middle 50% SAT: 1010-1200

Middle 50% ACT: 20-27

Undergrad Enrollment: 10,119

 

Outdoor enthusiasts of all backgrounds will love the University of Colorado Colorado Springs—it receives more than 300 days of sunshine annually and is within a few hours of ski resorts like Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin, Monarch Copper, and Winter Park. Also helping make UCCS one of the best colleges in Colorado is its academics; UCCS offers 53 majors through its six colleges:

 

  • Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • College of Business
  • College of Education
  • College of Engineering and Applied Science
  • College of Letters, Arts & Sciences
  • School of Public Affairs

 

Included in UCCS’s offerings are some unique programs, such as PGA Golf Management, one of only eight programs in the world to boast both PGA and AACSB accreditation. 

 

Learn more about the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and what it takes to get accepted.

 

9. Colorado Christian University

 

Location: Lakewood, CO   

Acceptance Rate: 6%   

Middle 50% SAT: 1080-1260

Middle 50% ACT: 21-27

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,508

 

With humble beginnings in a one-room schoolhouse, Colorado Christian University has grown to over 9,000 students—with over 5,000 adult undergraduate students. Colorado Christian University is the only evangelical Christian institution of higher education in the Rocky Mountain region. Non-Christian students are welcome at Colorado Christian University, however, all students, regardless of their faith are required to sign a lifestyle covenant and pledge to practice a lifestyle that is pleasing to Christ. Colorado Christian University’s lifestyle covenant prohibits:

 

  • Sexual relationships outside of marriage
  • Viewing or possessing pornography
  • The use of alcohol, tobacco, or non-medical drugs

 

Colorado Christian University makes Campus Pride’s list of the absolute worst campuses for LGBTQ Youth

 

Learn more about Colorado Christian University and what it takes to get accepted.

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

If any of these colleges seem like the one for you, CollegeVine can help you discover your odds of admission. Our free chancing engine uses numerous factors—including grades, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities—to predict your odds of acceptance at schools both in Colorado and across the country.

 

Our chancing engine can also help you build a balanced school list. By providing you with your odds of acceptance, you can strategically assign safety, target, and reach schools and put yourself in the ideal position to get into a great-fit school. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.