On this page

Back to top

Top PhD Programs in Colorado – Online & Campus

Discover the best colleges in Colorado to earn your PhD or professional doctorate, learn about the different types of doctoral programs available, and find financial aid opportunities.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Written By

Maggie Twaroski

Last updated

Jan 31, 2024

Perhaps you’ve recently earned your master’s and are looking to advance into the next phase of academia, or maybe you’re established in your career and are ready to take on a more advanced role. Whatever the case, earning a PhD or professional doctorate is an excellent way to level up in your career and gain specialized skills. 

Colorado boasts some of the best PhD and doctoral programs in the country, with many flexible learning options including on-campus, online, and hybrid. Learn about some of the best PhD programs in Colorado, along with different types of doctoral degrees to consider, popular careers, financial aid services, and earning projections. 

Top-Ranked PhD and Doctoral Programs in Colorado for 2024

Choosing a PhD or professional doctoral program can be challenging with so many options. Below, you’ll find some of the best PhD programs in Colorado across a wide variety of subjects and flexible study options. While everyone’s definition of what’s best is different, these schools will provide a quality barometer when conducting your doctoral program search.

Colorado State University-Fort Collins

Colorado State offers over 60 PhD programs across the sciences and liberal arts. Students can choose from a variety of general and specialized programs in on-campus, online and hybrid formats. In addition to an impressive faculty, the university is known for its rich research opportunities. Some of its interdisciplinary programs include specialties for students wanting to pursue highly specific areas of study. For example, CSU’s cell & molecular biology graduate program offers a cancer biology specialization for those interested in researching cancer immunology, therapeutics, and models and mechanism of cancer. Students also have the opportunity to apply for employment positions during their course of study, including teaching assistants, research assistants, and graduate service assistants.

University of Northern Colorado

The University of Northern Colorado is an ideal place for students interested in diverse professional doctorate degrees. Students can earn a PhD, DA, EdD , AuD, or DNP, depending on their chosen program. All programs are geared towards providing flexible options for students, both in terms of the curriculum they choose and the format of their study, whetheronline or on campus. Since some programs offer different tracks, students can choose which curriculum aligns best with their interests, skills, and goals. All courses provide focused research and training opportunities designed to give students marketable skills to apply to their current or future careers. Students can also take advantage of numerous internship and research opportunities during their studies. The PhD in biological education, for example, not only allows students to do research alongside faculty members, it also enables them to get hands-on training through developing and teaching a college biology course.

University of Colorado Boulder

Graduate students at the University of Colorado Boulder may choose from numerous arts and sciences programs, including engineering, computer science, chemistry, business administration, and more. Along with these popular study areas, the university offers more specialized areas of study in linguistics, media, robotics, and classics. While all graduate programs are notable, CSU is particularly known for its top-ranking aerospace and anthropology departments. In addition to its comprehensive financial aid offerings, CSU enables graduate students to apply for employment positions during their studies to provide benefits like dental and health insurance and help cover tuition costs.

Examining the Types of Doctoral Programs Available in Colorado

There’s more than just one way to earn your doctoral degree from one of the PhD programs in Colorado. In fact, there are several types of PhD and doctoral programs that may factor into which school you attend. You’ll want to choose a program that aligns with your scheduling capabilities, funding needs, and GRE and dissertation preferences. Most doctoral programs in Colorado have specific requirements, so we’ve included examples with each program to make it easier for you to decide which one is right for you. 

Full-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs in Colorado

Pursuing full-time PhD programs in Colorado is ideal for students who want to earn their degree in the fastest time possible. Since many PhD students work at least part time, earning a full-time degree isn’t feasible for everyone. If your current job situation allows you to maintain a full-time academic schedule, you’ll be in a great spot to complete your degree efficiently, which can set you up for further success that much sooner. The University of Denver offers numerous full-time doctoral programs across a wide range of fields, as does Colorado School of Mines.

Part-Time PhD/Doctoral Programs in Colorado

A part-time PhD or doctoral program is the preferred choice for many students, since it allows them to maintain their current obligations outside the classroom. Most part-time PhD programs in Colorado can be completed either asynchronously or in the evenings and within a flexible time frame that works best for each student. For example, students at the University of Colorado Denver can earn their PhD in as little as three years, and students at Regis University can complete their studies in as little as two.

Fully-Funded PhD/Doctoral Programs in Colorado

Some doctoral and PhD programs in Colorado and throughout the U.S. are funded by the school as a way to support students in their academic journey. Precise funding amounts vary according to each institution and doctoral program, but many will include full tuition coverage and additional benefits like student fees and insurance assistance. For example, University of Colorado Boulder’s education, psychology, and philosophy program offers funding packages that include tuition coverage, a graduate research or teaching assistantship, insurance, and a stipend for up to five years of full-time study, depending on the program. Similarly, the University of Colorado Denver’s philosophy and psychology programs fund tuition and fees for up to five years.

No-GRE PhD/Doctoral Programs in Colorado

Historically, most PhD and doctoral programs have required an applicant to present their GRE scores when applying for programs. However, a growing number of institutions no longer view GRE scores as an accurate representation of a student’s knowledge and skills in a particular field. Therefore, some schools have chosen to waive their GRE requirements. For instance, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs allows applicants to request a GRE waiver in certain circumstances. Regis University also makes it optional for applicants to submit GRE scores with their application.

Accelerated PhD/Doctoral Programs in Colorado

An accelerated PhD or doctoral program in Colorado is ideal for students looking for a more advanced and rigorous form of study. Typically, students who have recently earned their master’s or completed comprehensive field training may find an accelerated program to be a valuable and efficient way to earn their PhD or professional doctorate. For example, dental students may consider the University of Colorado Anschutz’ advanced-standing accelerated program in the School of Dental Medicine. Art history students may benefit from the University of Colorado Boulder’s accelerated art history PhD program.

No Dissertation PhD/Doctoral Programs in Colorado

While dissertations have been a long-held tradition for a PhD or doctoral student’s final years of study, some schools have chosen to waive formal dissertations and replace them with more hands-on field experience or research projects. The University of Colorado Denver’s education department requires students to complete a dissertation-in-practice, in which students work with faculty, organizations, and higher education leaders to conduct research with real-world data.


Psychology is a rewarding field of social science that can equip students to work with people in a variety of ways, whether as a counselor, clinical psychologist, forensic psychologist, neuropsychologist, and more. Since many high-level psychology positions require a minimum of a master’s degree, having a PhD or doctoral degree can make you eligible for more career opportunities in the field. Both the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University have renowned psychology departments and offer several specialties for students to choose from based on their career aspirations and interests.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs


PhD programs in Colorado for nursing are an ideal opportunity for students and professionals looking to take on innovative healthcare research and policymaking or wanting to apply advanced skills to their nursing career. Reports show a growing preference for nurses with advanced degrees, with demand far outweighing supply, which means earning a PhD in nursing can give you a competitive edge in a nursing career.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Quality Examples of Hybrid/Online Programs


Whether you’re looking to branch into academic teaching or research or you want to become more skilled in your current business career, a PhD in business can equip you with the practical tools and insights to accomplish your goals and make a major impact on the way businesses are run in the future. By learning evidence-based solutions and conducting specialized research, students who earn their PhD in business often go on to become professors, consultants, and company executives, to name a few.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

English Literature

A PhD in English literature is an optimal way to level up in numerous careers, especially teaching. Students who earn their PhD can expect to explore advanced literary theory and conduct research projects. In addition to theory-based learning, students can dive into hands-on work in writing workshops, tutorials and other 1:1 methods of learning. Aside from teaching, many students who earn a PhD in English literature go on to pursue careers in writing, advertising, public relations, and communications.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Social Work

A PhD in social work can open up gratifying careers in research and policymaking in a variety of specialized careers, including medical social work, welfare policy, and field research. Students can expect to explore topics surrounding advanced research methods, social issues, and policies within the field of social work, all with the goal of focusing their knowledge into a compelling dissertation.

Quality Examples of On-Campus Programs

Earning Your PhD or Professional Doctorate Online in Colorado

Earning your PhD or doctorate in Colorado online is an achievable goal, since many universities offer a selection of online and hybrid programs. For working professionals or those seeking a flexible schedule, online PhD programs in Colorado are an ideal solution. Most online classes are offered asynchronously, which allows students to access course materials anytime. However, some classes require synchronous online learning, which is typically conducted in the evenings to avoid interfering with students’ employment or other daytime obligations. Some PhD programs are 100% online, while others may be partially online, with a few on-campus requirements, such as an on-campus presentation at the end of the semester. Colorado State University and University of Northern Colorado are among the top institutions in the state that offer fully online and hybrid learning, so students can choose which program and learning format is the right fit for them.

Financial Aid Options for Your Doctoral Degree in Colorado

Funding your PhD or doctoral degree may seem like a big undertaking, but it’s much more achievable with financial aid services. After completing your FAFSA, you’ll be eligible to apply for school-level and national scholarships, grants, fellowships, work-study programs, and research or teaching assistantships. In addition to need-based scholarships offered by your school, you can apply for merit-based scholarships focused on a particular area of study or a specific student group such aswomen and minority groups. Colorado State University offers many scholarships for graduate students and at least one specifically for online students. Other schools, such as the University of Colorado Boulder, extend fellowship opportunities to graduate students working on their dissertations, which may provide full tuition coverage and benefits.

Salary and Job Prospects for Doctorate Holders in Colorado

Earning a doctorate from one of the PhD programs in Colorado can set you up for higher earnings in the workforce compared to a master’s or bachelor’s degree. At the national level, PhD graduates earn 21% more than those with a bachelor’s degree. At the state level, Colorado doctoral graduates maintain highly competitive earnings across most industries and careers, even compared to those at a master’s level. For example, while a master’s graduate employed in behavioral science can expect to earn an annual income of $52,478 in their first postgraduate year, those with a doctoral degree earn an average of $83,119 in the same year. To learn more about potential earnings for popular doctoral careers, explore the table below.

Job TitleRelated Doctoral Degree(s)Median Earnings90th Percentile Earnings
Chief ExecutivesDoctor of Business Administration (DBA) / Online PhD in Business$171,990$239,200+
Clinical and Counseling PsychologistsDoctor of Psychology (PsyD) / PhD in Psychology$80,270$142,650
Computer and Information Research ScientistsPhD in Computer Science$112,220$159,810
EconomistsPhD in Economics$102,070$139,320
Education Administrators, PostsecondaryDoctor of Education (EdD)$99,280$171,110
Education Teachers, PostsecondaryPhD in Education / PhD in Special Education$65,250$107,120
Electrical EngineersDoctorate in Engineering (DEng/PhD)$104,680$162,910
EpidemiologistsDoctor of Public Health (DrPH)$64,700$87,380
Financial ManagersFinance Doctorate (PhD/DBA)$168,400$239,200+
Instructional CoordinatorsDoctor of Education (EdD)$76,580$101,580
Nurse PractitionersDoctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)$118,590$143,280
PharmacistsDoctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)$136,100$171,250
Physical TherapistsDoctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)$96,920$126,980

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021