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Best Community Colleges in Denver: Admission Requirements, Transfer Options, and Online Degrees

Raquel Santos - June 16, 2022

Denver has some great community colleges that offer good alternatives to standard four-year programs. The best community colleges in Denver allow students to get a high-quality education at affordable prices, preparing them to jump into their dream careers or transfer to universities to finish their bachelor’s degrees.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some great in-person programs, and even explore the best online community colleges in Denver. Apart from covering the top technical programs in this area, we’ll also take a look at the best community colleges for liberal arts and humanities in Denver.

How Many Community Colleges Are in Denver?

There are two community colleges in Denver itself. These colleges have campuses directly located in the city. However, there are 13 colleges in the Colorado Community College System, some of which are located close to the Denver area.

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What Is the Biggest Community College in Denver?

The biggest community college in Denver is the Community College of Aurora (CCOA). Although the number of enrolled students between this school and Community College of Denver is similar, CCOA is a bit bigger with 7,835 undergraduate students enrolled.

What Are the Best Community Colleges in Denver?

Ranking Community College Graduation Rate Student-to-Faculty Ratio
1 Aims Community College 40% 15:1
3 Community College of Aurora 31% 29:1
2 Arapahoe Community College 29% 23:1
4 Front Range Community College 26% 17:1
5 Community College of Denver 18% 19:1

The Best Community Colleges in Denver: Explained

In the following sections, we will be taking a closer look at the best community colleges in Denver. We’ll provide an overview for each school, as well as a comprehensive list of the best programs each of them has to offer.


Aims Community College

Grad Rate: 40%

Aims Community College is a public community college that was founded in 1967. It offers over 200 academic degree and certificate programs in healthcare, public service, liberal arts, agriculture, and more. Its diverse programs fit the availability of many students, as this school allows them to choose between day and night classes.

Aims Community College Overview

  • Tuition: $67/credit (in district); $106/credit (in state); $425/credit (out of state)
  • Student Population: 5,981
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 73%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: No minimum requirement

Best Aims Community College Programs

  • Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts. This associate degree allows students to pick one of several specializations including History, Psychology, English, Music, and more.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Accounting. The accounting program teaches students the fundamentals of accounting, like how to use the most basic tools and file taxes.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Nursing. Designed for those with great people skills, this program teaches the scientific and practical skills required to become a registered nurse.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Construction Management. The main subjects in this program include blueprint reading, soil mechanics, and construction project management.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Agriculture Business. This program teaches the principles required to succeed in the food, fiber, and related agriculture business industries.

Community College of Aurora

Grad Rate: 31%

Community College of Aurora was founded in 1983. It is a public community college accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. It offers in-person, online, and hybrid courses. Plus, there are also evening, weekend, and open entry classes that start every week.

Community College of Aurora Overview

  • Tuition: $247.35/credit hour (resident); $629.25/credit hour (non-resident)
  • Student Population: 7,835
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 67%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 29:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: No minimum requirement

Best Community College of Aurora Programs

  • Associate of Arts in Art History. This program is designed to replicate the first 2 years of a Bachelor’s Degree in Art or Art History. Students explore art history in interactive ways.
  • Associate of Science in Biology. This associate of science degree program teaches students about the biology, physics, and chemistry that drives and governs all living beings.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Computer Science. This degree gives students a strong background in mathematics and prepares them for a BS in Computer Science.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Paramedicine. The program requires the completion of 67 credits across courses like paramedic cardiology, human anatomy and physiology, and more.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Graphic and Web Design. This program gives students knowledge of the basics of design and practical experience with the best technical tools.

Arapahoe Community College

Grad Rate: 29%

Arapahoe Community College was founded in 1965 as the first community college in the Denver area. It is a public community college with over 100 academic degree programs to choose from. At least 70 of those programs are guaranteed to transfer to other four-year institutions in Colorado.

Arapahoe Community College Overview

  • Tuition: $247.35/credit hour (resident); $629.25/credit hour (non-resident)
  • Student Population: 12,001
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 41%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 23:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: No minimum requirement

Best Arapahoe Community College Programs

  • Associate of Arts in Psychology. Psychology courses teach students about growth and development, gender and sexuality, and more.
  • Associate of Arts in Public Health. This transfer degree prepares students to become successful public health workers by encouraging healthy lifestyles, researching diseases, and responding to emergency disease outbreaks.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Cyber Security. This program was designed to prepare students to secure entry-level cyber security jobs or continue their college education at a four-year institution.
  • Associate of Arts in History. Courses in this program prepare students to identify historical trends, recognize patterns of historic continuity and change, compose historical essays, and more.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Retail Management. This program gives students the background needed to interact with vendors, handle marketing planning, and manage staff.

Front Range Community College

Grad Rate: 26%

Front Range Community College is a public institution with several campuses in Colorado. It is the largest community college in the state, with origins that can be traced to 1967. It offers over 60 academic programs, online learning, apprenticeships, and more.

Front Range Community College Overview

  • Tuition: $247.35/credit hour (resident); $629.25/credit hour (non-resident)
  • Student Population: 18,703
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 56%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: No minimum requirement

Best Front Range Community College Programs

  • Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts, Communication & Design. This degree gives students broad knowledge in liberal arts, as well as social and behavioral sciences. Students must complete at least 60 credits.
  • Associate of Arts in Hospitality Management. This program introduces students to food service, nutrition, lodging, event planning, and business management.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology. Students become familiar with the science of health information management and learn how to analyze medical information.
  • Associate of Science in Math and Science. Students can tailor their programs for future transfers. They obtain both broad and in-depth knowledge in math and sciences.
  • Associate of Arts in Elementary Teacher Education. This program prepares students to transfer to a four-year institution in Colorado to become an elementary school teacher.

Community College of Denver

Grad Rate: 18%

Community College of Denver was originally established in 1967. This public community college offers many programs across all sorts of pathways including business, health sciences, and humanities. There are in-person, hybrid, and remote learning options.

Community College of Denver Overview

  • Tuition: $247.35/credit hour (resident); $629.25/credit hour (non-resident)
  • Student Population: 7,273
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 92%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: No minimum requirement

Best Community College of Denver Programs

  • Associate of Arts in Journalism. Students will learn about ethics, reporting news stories, writing PR press releases, video production, still photography, and more.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene. Prepares students to become oral health professionals who offer clinical and therapeutic services in the field.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice. This program teaches students about all parts of the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, the court system, and the correctional system.
  • Associate of Science in Environmental Science. Prepares students to work in conservation, research, and agricultural science. They can also become teachers, writers, or scientists in the field.
  • Associate of Arts in Anthropology. This AA degree program teaches students about human beings, their origin, and their evolution to the current state of civilization.

Best Online Community Colleges in Denver

  1. Community College of Denver Online. This college offers 100 percent online individual courses, degrees, and certificates. These online programs are extremely flexible and designed to fit students’ schedules.
  2. Arapahoe Community College Online. ACC offers over 200 online courses. Students are able to attend classes online and earn their associate degrees and certifications at their convenience.
  3. Community College of Aurora Online. CCA allows students to apply to fully online, self-paced programs. They can earn AS, AA, AGS, and AAS degrees, plus a wide variety of certifications across different pathways.

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Other Denver Community College Rankings

The following sections will take a look at the best Denver community colleges for transferring students. We’ll also cover the best community colleges for liberal arts and humanities in Denver.

Best Community Colleges in Denver for Transfer

  1. Aims Community College. This college provides dedicated transfer programs designed for students who wish to complete a four-year program at University of Northern Colorado or Colorado State University.
  2. Arapahoe Community College. This school offers the CCCS’s Bridge to Bachelor’s Degree Program. It ensures that first-time students attending  CCCS schools are guaranteed admission to a participating four-year college or university upon completing their associate degrees.
  3. Community College of Denver. This school has transfer agreements with Metropolitan State University and University of Colorado, Denver. It also partakes in the CCCS’s Bridge to Bachelor’s Degree Program.

Best Community Colleges for Liberal Arts and Humanities in Denver

  1. Front Range Community College. This school offers several Associate degrees and certifications in Liberal Arts, Communication and Design. Students can learn about art, art history, communication, and more.
  2. Community College of Denver. The CCD offers a pathway of studies dedicated to arts, humanities, and design. By choosing this pathway, students can learn about graphic design, journalism, music, philosophy, and more.
  3. Aims Community College. This school offers an AA and AS in Liberal Arts and allows students to choose one of many focus areas including history, anthropology, English, sociology, elementary education, and many more.

Best Denver Community Colleges That Offer Bachelor’s Degrees

  1. Arapahoe Community College. This school offers BS in Computer Information Systems, Business Administration, and Nursing programs. It also has BAS programs in Emergency Service Administration and Advanced Paramedic Practitioner.
  2. Front Range Community College. This school offers an accredited Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing to registered nurses. This RN to BSN program is fully online.

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Best Community College Programs in Denver

Rows of empty seats in a community college lecture hall
Nursing is a major to consider in a community college.

We’re now going to take a closer look at different program topics you can study at the best community colleges in Denver. These include English, Nursing, Anthropology, History, and Accounting.


English programs are designed to give students great literature and writing expertise. Students are exposed to different world views, get to know many different authors through their writing, and learn to improve their own style.


These programs are all about preparing students to provide safe, quality, and patient-focused nursing care in a variety of healthcare settings. Professionals with an AAS degree in Nursing are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become registered nurses.


In anthropology programs, students explore cultural and biological aspects of human life. Not only do they learn about our past, but they also try to understand how our future may develop. Degree holders may work in museums, on diversity projects, and even in archaeology field studies.


History programs combine the theoretical teachings of important people, dates, and events, with hands-on experience in research and writing, communication, digital collections, source material analysis, and evidence presentation.


Accounting degrees teach students how to analyze financial ratios, prepare written communications, and hone accounting software skills. Students who want to directly join the workforce might do so under the watch of accounting supervisors.

Denver Community College Admission Requirements

The admission requirements to attend a community college in Denver include being at least 17 years old and having a high school diploma or its equivalent. Denver community colleges don’t typically have GPA requirements. However, there are some requirements when it comes to filing as a resident.

Denver Community College GPA Requirements

Denver community colleges don’t have any GPA requirements. They have “open-access” admission policies, which means that admissions aren’t based on academic achievement or test scores. However, ACT or SAT scores are recommended in applications, as they’re used for advising and placement. They help the school determine which classes best suit your abilities.

Residency Requirements for Community Colleges in Denver

Being eligible for in-state tuition requires proving your residency status. Your admission application will determine if you’re an in-state or out-of-state student. If the school determines that you’re a non-resident student, this status will remain until you provide proper documentation. Community College of Denver, for example, defines in-state students as those who’ve lived in Colorado for one year or more continuously prior to the first day of class.

Denver Community College Age Requirements

Denver community college applicants must be 17 years or older to be admitted. Younger students may still apply, although they must submit a Request for Waiver of Admission Requirements form.

Denver Community College Admission Requirements: A Summary

  • Be at least 17 years old
  • Complete an online application
  • Have a high-school diploma or equivalent
  • Prove Colorado residency for in-state tuition

Why Study in Denver?

You should study in Denver because it is considered one of the best cities to live in the US. It is also a cultural hub for every interest and offers several means of transportation, making it easy to navigate the city and surrounding areas.

Among the Best Places to Live

According to US News & World Report, Denver is one of the best places to live in the United States. It ranked 55 out of 150 metro areas and is also considered the fourth best place to live in Colorado.

Cultural Hub

Denver offers cultural experiences for every interest. Music lovers can visit one of Colfax Avenue’s music venues, and sports fans can hang out at one of the many stadiums in the city. Outdoor lovers can explore the many walking and hiking trails, bike paths, parks, waterways, and outdoor gear stores.

Public Transportation

Denver has a light rail train system, Regional Transportation District buses, and the Bustang, an intercity bus service. Students are able to obtain the Student RTD Pass, which offers them convenient transportation to school and work, plus many other perks.

Denver Employment Outlook for Community College Students

Denver’s employment outlook for community college students is extremely positive. Employment rates in Denver have gone up consistently for the last 10 years, with currently over 1.6 million people employed in the area.

Just 2 years ago, The Wall Street Journal named Denver the nation’s third-best job market for cities with more than a million people. The city was recognized for its 4.8 percent wage growth and an unemployment rate of three percent, which is just below the national average of 3.6 percent .

5 In-Demand Denver Jobs

The top five in-demand Denver jobs include museum technician, registered nurse, and elementary school teacher. Accountants and anthropologists are also highly sought after in this area.


Museum Technician

Average Salary: $52,030

Museum technicians prepare and maintain different objects and collections for storage, research, or exhibit. They work with fossils, plants, artifacts, art, and even books and documents.

  • Average Salary in Denver: $55,380
  • Employment in Denver: 100
  • Overall Job Growth: 19%
  • Best Denver Community College Program: Associate of Arts in History from Arapahoe Community College.

Registered Nurse

Average Salary: $82,750

Registered nurses tend to patients’ health needs like illnesses, injuries, or disabilities. They implement nursing plans, maintain medical records, and educate patients and their families about health conditions.

  • Average Salary in Denver: $82,860
  • Employment in Denver: 27,860
  • Overall Job Growth: 9%
  • Best Denver Community College Program: Associate of Applied Science in Nursing from Aims Community College


Average Salary: $83,980

Accountants analyze and interpret financial records to identify areas of potential opportunity and risk, prepare financial statements, and advise businesses and clients. They’re also knowledgeable about financial and budgetary systems.

  • Average Salary in Denver: $88,240
  • Employment in Denver: 24,080
  • Overall Job Growth: 7%
  • Best Denver Community College Program: Associate of Applied Science in Accounting from Aims Community College


Average Salary: $66,800

Anthropologists and archeologists study the origin, development, and behavior of humans. They examine the cultures, languages, archeological remains, and physical characteristics of people in various parts of the world.

  • Average Salary in Denver: $66,490
  • Employment in Denver: 90
  • Overall Job Growth: 7%
  • Best Denver Community College Program: Associate of Arts in Anthropology from the Community College of Denver

Elementary School Teacher

Average Salary: $67,080

Elementary school teachers teach basic subjects to students at the elementary level. Subjects include math and reading, and they aim to prepare young students for middle school. Other responsibilities include lesson planning, creating worksheets and exams, and grading.

  • Average Salary in Denver: $64,110
  • Employment in Denver: 11,510
  • Overall Job Growth: 7%
  • Best Denver Community College Program: Associate of Arts in Elementary Education from Fort Range Community College

What Community Colleges in Denver Have Dorms?

No community colleges in Denver have dorms. Students are required to find housing options off campus. However, Community College of Denver offers assistance to low-income families in need of housing through the CCD Housing Scholarship.

What Community Colleges Offer Winter Intersession in Denver?

No community colleges in Denver offer winter intersession. This type of academic session occurs between the Fall and Spring semesters when students can complete up to four semester units in 15 days.

What Community Colleges in Denver Have Summer Classes?

Aims Community College, Front Range Community College, and Community College of Denver have summer classes. A summer semester is an optional term that students use to catch up on their studies or to ease up their workload during the spring or fall semesters.

Denver Community Colleges With Summer Classes

  1. Aims Community College
  2. Community College of Denver
  3. Front Range Community College

How to Apply to Community Colleges in Denver

You can apply to community colleges in Denver by submitting an online application. Then, you must provide official transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and meet with an advisor to help you pick the right classes. You should also apply for financial aid.

Denver Community College Application Steps

  1. Submit your online application
  2. Apply for financial aid (FAFSA, grants, scholarships, college loans)
  3. Provide high school transcripts or equivalent
  4. Submit ACT/SAT scores
  5. Meet with an academic advisor

Cost of Community Colleges in Denver

On average, community colleges in Colorado cost $3,355 per year . In Denver, tuition costs vary between $67 and $247.35 per credit. These values differ depending on student residency, private or public school status, and the specific institution.

Are Community Colleges Ever Free in Denver?

For now, no community colleges are free in Denver. This reality might change in 2023, as a special proposal is being discussed in Congress that would enable all students to enroll in community college for free , which some other states have already adopted. Aside from this, financial aid can fully cover the cost of community college tuition for qualifying students.

Scholarships for Community Colleges in Denver

Students can apply for several scholarships for community colleges in Denver. All schools provide their own scholarship opportunities, in addition to a wide variety of outside scholarships. Below are the steps you’ll need to take to get a scholarship for community colleges in Denver.

How to Get a Scholarship for Community Colleges in Denver

  1. Complete scholarship application
  2. Write a personal essay
  3. Demonstrate financial need or academic excellence
  4. Enroll in the required number of credits
  5. Maintain satisfactory academic progress

Denver Community College Scholarships List

  • CCD Community Scholarship | Amount: $1,000. This scholarship is meant to help under-represented students from diverse backgrounds enrolled in Community College of Denver. Qualifications include the demonstration of financial need by submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
  • Advancement from Concurrent Enrollment (ACE) Scholarship | Amount: $3,000. This scholarship was created for students enrolled at Community College of Aurora. Students must be attending college for the first time and maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in CCA courses.
  • Point Community College Scholarship | Amount: $8,000. Created with members of the LGBTQ community in mind, this scholarship covers students’ full tuition plus a coaching program that helps the student prepare for the transition into a four-year institution.

Other Denver Community College Financial Aid Options

Apart from scholarships, there are other financial aid options to help pay for Denver community college. These include federal grants, the Colorado State grant, student loans, and part-time work-study programs.

Federal Grants

Grants are a type of financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. Community colleges in Denver have access to the Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG). Both are need-based and awarded to students seeking their first undergraduate degree.

Colorado Grants

Colorado offers the Colorado State Grant to resident undergraduate students with a documented Expected Family Contribution within 150 percent of Pell Grant eligibility. Funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Student Loans

Student loans are considered borrowed money that students repay with interest and should be considered as a last resource to pay for education. Some loan programs for community colleges in Denver include the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program and the PLUS loan.

Work Study

Many Denver community colleges participate in the Federal Work-Study and the Colorado Work-Study programs. These allow students to work part-time doing community service work and work related to the student’s course of study to help pay for their tuition.

The Best Financial Aid for Your Situation

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What Are the Financial Aid Requirements for Community Colleges in Denver?

The financial aid requirements for community colleges in Denver include demonstrating financial needs through the FAFSA submission and enrolling in a minimum number of credits required by the financial aid program.

Denver Financial Aid Requirements: Overview

  • Submit the FAFSA form
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Enroll in the minimum number of credits required

Should You Attend Community College in Denver?

Yes, you should attend community college in Denver. You will acquire all the skills required to transfer to a four-year degree program or successfully join the workforce. If you’re particularly interested in coding, Denver also offers incredible coding bootcamps for those who want more intensive training in the field.

Denver Community College Rankings: Methodology

Our ranking of Denver community colleges is based mainly on the graduation rate. If graduation rate statistics were not available, we used data on student-to-faculty ratios to rank the remaining schools. These figures, sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), best reflect a student’s chances of getting the education and help they need to succeed.

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Best Denver Community Colleges FAQ

How are Denver community colleges funded?

Denver community colleges are funded through tuition and fees, federal and state funding, local grants, the College Opportunity Fund, and Amendment 50 funding. Every community college in the Colorado Community College System receives these types of funding.

Is community college better than a coding bootcamp?

Community college might be better than a coding bootcamp , depending on your preferences. Community colleges and bootcamps cost roughly the same, although the former is usually geared to help students continue their education, while the latter focus on getting people into the workforce.

What is a technical college?

A technical college is a type of institution that aims to prepare students for specific professions. Students attending these schools usually know what they want to do professionally and want to start working immediately.

What’s the difference between credit and non-credit classes?

The difference between credit and non-credit classes is the possibility of applying credits toward degrees. Credit classes provide you with credits that can be applied toward your degree. Non-credit classes, sometimes called continuing education, can’t be applied toward a degree, although they sometimes can be used to get a certification.

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Raquel Santos

About the author: Raquel is a content writer with extensive experience in writing, education, and tech. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and a Master’s Degree in Forensic Genetics, both from Porto University. She also has a certificate in Writing in Science from Stanford University and Coursera.

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