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Schools and Programs at the University of Colorado Boulder

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Madeline Harvey in a CollegeVine Livestream. You can watch the full Livestream for more info.


What’s Covered:




The University of Colorado Boulder — known simply as CU or CU Boulder — is the flagship university in the CU system. Founded in 1876, five months before Colorado became a state, the school has grown into a thriving research university and a destination for scholars across disciplines.


The Eight Undergraduate Colleges, Schools, and Programs


There are eight colleges, schools, and programs open to undergraduates at CU:


  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • College of Engineering and Applied Science
  • School of Business
  • School of Education
  • College of Media, Communication and Information
  • College of Music
  • Program in Environmental Design
  • Program in Exploratory Studies


CU Boulder also has a school dedicated to Continuing Education and Professional Studies.


Each of these schools and programs has distinct offerings and personalities.


Traditional Paths


The College of Arts & Sciences


Arts & Sciences are the “heart and soul” of CU Boulder, home to about 50% of the student body. It contains dozens of top tier programs and is particularly interdisciplinary in nature, with plenty of research activity.


The College of Engineering and Applied Science


Meanwhile, Engineering and Applied Science is one of the most renowned schools on campus. It is very project-based and collaborative. Students enjoy working together — there is little in the way of competition.


The School of Business


The School of Business offers an impressive curriculum. A top-tier public business school, it offers plenty of first-year global experiences, enabling students to travel the world and study how to address global business issues. These trips include a 7–10 trip to specific countries with professors to explore these issues. 


The School also offers one of the most robust undergraduate mentorship programs of any business school in the country. 


The School of Education


The School of Education prepares students to earn their elementary and secondary teaching licensure. It also offers a community leadership major, with a strong focus on diversity, equity, and social justice.


The College of Media, Communication and Information


The College of Media, Communication and Information, or CMCI, allows students to learn about the ethics that surround media and information studies these days. It’s also home to CU’s journalism degree. The programs are interdisciplinary, and there is an option called CU in DC where you can go and stay in a historic town home in the district while completing a media internship.


The College of Music


The College of Music is the smallest — but loudest — college. It has an 8-1 student-faculty ratio, offering a small conservatory feel. It trains students in both classical and jazz performance. 


The Program in Environmental Design


The Program in Environmental Design is the no. 1 most popular environmental design program in the U.S. It’s very collaborative and gives students the opportunity to jump into real-world projects right away in a variety of majors, such as architecture and urban planning. 


The Program in Exploratory Studies


One in four of CU’s first-year students spend their freshman year in the Program in Exploratory Studies. It’s ideal for the student who doesn’t know what they want to study or has so many ideas across a lot of different academic fields.


CU has an expert team of academic coaches and advisors that will help them choose the courses that will enable them to dabble in their various interests. This is toward the goal of settling on a focus and transferring to another school in their second year. 


This is also an option for students who weren’t admitted directly into more selective programs — it prepares them for a successful transfer by their sophomore year or find alternative interests or paths to explore, something adjacent to their previous focus or a different area of interest entirely.