Is CU Boulder a Good School?

The University of Colorado Boulder (also referred to as CU Boulder or CU) is a public research university with 37,956 students attending it, around 82% of which are undergrads.

Founded in 1876 and located in Boulder, Colorado, CU is given these college rankings by US News: #97 in National Universities and #42 in Top Public Schools.

Undergraduate students at the University of Colorado Boulder can choose from 90 majors.

Every year, CU receives more than 54,000 applications, around 80% of which get acceptance letters in the mail.

The average GPA of successful candidates is 3.7, and their composite SAT and ACT scores, meanwhile, range from 1170 to 1390 and 25 to 31.

Still got the University of Colorado Boulder in your mind? Read on to see whether or not it’s indeed the right school for you.

But first, here are some quick facts about this flagship school that every aspirant needs to know:

  • Location: Boulder, Colorado
  • Founding date: 1876
  • Motto: Let your light shine
  • Campus size: 313 acres (Main Campus), 201 acres (East Campus) and 66 acres (Williams Village)
  • Campus type: City
  • School type: Liberal public research university
  • Reputation: Party school
  • Selectivity level: Moderately selective
  • Number of majors: 90
  • Popular majors: Social Sciences, Business, Biology, Psychology, Communication, English, Journalism, Architecture
  • Student body: 36,956 (as per Common Data Set 2020 to 2021)
  • Students per class: 10 to 19 in most classes
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 16.9:1
  • Retention rate: 85%
  • Graduation rate: 71%
  • Athletic affiliation: NCAA Division I
  • Color: Gold, black and silver
  • Mascot: Chip the Buffalo
  • Number of varsity teams: 17
  • Sports: Basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, skiing, soccer, tennis, track and field, volleyball
College campus of the University of Colorado Boulder
College campus of the University of Colorado Boulder

University of Colorado Boulder Rankings

The University of Colorado Boulder is #42 in Top Public Schools and #99 in National Universities by US News.

Meanwhile, it is #2 in both Top Public Universities in Colorado and Most Liberal Colleges in Colorado by Niche.

CU Boulder is #251 in QS World University Rankings by

Among the various colleges and universities found in the Centennial State and US, too, the University of Colorado is one of the most high-ranking academic institutions, which isn’t surprising as it’s a flagship school.

Besides being the crown jewel of the University of Colorado System, CU Boulder is also known as a party school with a great Greek life.

As a matter of fact, it’s #1 in Top Party Schools in Colorado and #24 in Top Party Schools in America, both by Niche.

The school is also #1 in Colleges With the Best Student Life in Colorado by the same college ranker.

When it comes to athletics, it has a total of 24 NCAA Division I titles as of this writing — 17 in skiing, six in cross country (men’s and women’s) and one in football.

The following are some of the other college rankings of the University of Colorado Boulder:

  • #3 in Best Colleges in Colorado (College Simply)
  • #4 in Colleges With the Best Professors in Colorado (Niche)
  • #30 in the West (Forbes)
  • #34 in Best College Campuses in America (Niche)
  • #46 in Best Public Colleges in the US (College Simply)
  • #58 in Best Colleges for Veterans (US News)
  • #58 in Public Colleges (Forbes)
  • #90 in Research Universities (Forbes)
  • #106 in Most Liberal Colleges in America (Niche)
  • #169 in Best Value Schools (US News)

Related Article: 14 US News Rankings Alternatives

Boulder Colorado Acceptance Rate

The acceptance rate at the University of Colorado Boulder is 78%. With a vast majority of applicants being accepted, the academic institution has a moderate selectivity level.

Still, it’s in the top 20 colleges and universities in Colorado, public and private alike, with the lowest acceptance rates.

Some college-bound high school students become wary of adding the University of Colorado Boulder to their college list as soon as they hear or read the fact that it is a flagship school.

But fret not because CU Boulder is not as selective as most applicants assume.

With almost eight out of 10 hopefuls receiving an acceptance letter from the school’s admissions office, it’s plain to see that getting accepted into the University of Colorado Boulder is not that difficult.

Still, you will need to have an impressive application.

This is especially true since it doesn’t have an open admissions policy like many public schools.

On the fence about whether or not your chances of ending up attending CU Boulder are high based on the acceptance rate alone?

Check out this list of some of the most selective schools in Colorado:

United States Air Force AcademyUSAFA11%
Platt College – AuroraAurora13%
Bel Rea Institute of Animal TechnologyDenver14%
Colorado CollegeColorado Springs14%
Colorado School of MinesGolden53%
University of DenverDenver59%
Metropolitan State College of DenverDenver61%
University of Colorado DenverDenver67%
Regis UniversityDenver71%
DeVry University – ColoradoWestminster75%
University of Colorado BoulderBoulder78%
Colorado Mesa UniversityGrand Junction78%
Remington College – Colorado Springs CampusColorado Springs80%
Colorado State University – Fort CollinsFort Collins81%
Western State Colorado UniversityGunnison84%
University of Colorado Colorado SpringsColorado Springs87%
Johnson & Wales University – DenverDenver88%
Fort Lewis CollegeDurango91%
University of Northern ColoradoGreeley91%
Colorado State University – PuebloPueblo93%
Adams State CollegeAlamosa99%
Naropa UniversityBoulder99%

Institutions for higher education in Colorado not on the list above have 100% acceptance rates.

Colorado Boulder is a beautiful campus filled with teachers and students that have a passion for making the world a better place. It can be expensive, especially when trying to find housing near or on campus.

How Hard Is It to Get Into University of Colorado Boulder

The University of Colorado Boulder does not offer Early Decision.

However, applicants who consider CU Boulder as their top-choice school may apply for Early Action.

Like Early Decision at some colleges, the deadline is November 15. Unlike Early Decision, Early Action is a non-binding admission plan.

A couple of reasons exist why it’s a great idea to apply Early Action to CU Boulder.

First, the deadline for Early Action is November 15 — Early Action deadline at most other colleges and universities is November 1.

This means you have a couple of weeks to gather all the required materials and solidify your application.

But keep in mind that all requirements should be submitted on or before the deadline, too.

Second, Early Action is non-binding.

This means that you are not obligated to attend the University of Colorado Boulder if accepted into it.

Also, you can still apply to other schools via different early admission plans.

Don’t forget these important admissions dates all CU Boulder aspirants should know:

Early Action15-Nov1-Feb
Regular Decision15-Jan1-Apr

The University of Colorado accepts the Common App only.

So, needless to say, you cannot apply to the school using the Coalition App.

Transfer students, on the other hand, can apply through the CU Boulder Transfer Application.

Related Article: Early Decision Strategy for Getting Admitted to Best College

CU Boulder Average GPA

There is no published minimum GPA requirement for applicants to the University of Colorado Boulder.

However, its admissions office confirms that one’s high school grades play the most important role in the admissions process.

The average GPA of first-year students admitted into CU Boulder is 3.67.

While it is easier to gain admission into the University of Colorado Boulder than most other schools because of its 78% acceptance rate, it’s still a must that your GPA is high enough to impress its admissions officers.

The following table shows the percentage of admits at CU Boulder and the range of their high school GPAs:

3.75 to 3.9919%
3.50 to 3.7418%
3.25 to 3.4915%
3.00 to 3.249%
2.50 to 2.995%
2.0 to 2.49<1%
1.0 to 1.990%
Below 1.00%

Earlier, we mentioned the fact that 3.67 is the average GPA of students accepted into the University of Colorado Boulder (as per Common Data Set).

Consider sending an application to the school even if your high school GPA is nowhere near the average. That’s because CU Boulder has a holistic admissions policy.

This means that it’s not just GPAs and test scores that its admissions officers check out when evaluating applications but also various parts, from the recommendation letter to the talent.

Here are the various academic admissions factors considered and the relative importance of each one:

  • Academic rigor – very important
  • GPA – very important
  • Standardized test scores – very important
  • Admissions essay – important
  • Recommendation letter – important
  • Class rank – considered

Meanwhile, the following are the different non-academic factors taken into account and their relative importance:

  • Extracurricular activities – important
  • Talent or ability – important
  • Personal qualities – important
  • First-generation – important
  • Geographical residence – considered
  • State residency – considered
  • Race or ethnicity – considered
  • Volunteer work – considered
  • Work experience – considered

There are non-academic factors CU Boulder’s admissions officers do not care about that those from some other colleges and universities do.

They are interviews, alumni member relations, religious affiliation and demonstrated interest.

By the way, when applying to the University of Colorado Boulder, you will have to submit the completed Common App, $50 application fee (or an approved waiver fee), high school transcripts (official or unofficial), Common App essay, two short answer responses and one letter of recommendation.

I should have gone to my hometown school of UCLA, but I thought Boulder was cool and different. Turns out, it’s a transplant of Orange country in the CO foothills.

How Much Does It Cost to Attend the University of Colorado Boulder?

The cost of attending the University of Colorado Boulder for a year is $29,372 for in-state students.

For out-of-state students, meanwhile, it amounts to $55,190.

Tuition at CU Boulder costs $10,728 for Colorado residents and $36,546 for non-Colorado residents.

According to the latest data, tuition at four-year academic institutions in the US averages $37,200.

This makes attending CU Boulder so much easier on the pocket. Well, at least for Colorado-residing, degree-seeking students.

That’s because its in-state tuition more than triples for applicants from outside the Centennial State.

That is so much higher, too, than the national average in-state tuition ($27,437).

Related Article: 425 Colleges Charging In-State Tuition for Out-of-State Applicants

But the good news is that the flagship school has what’s called the CU Boulder Guarantee.

Simply put, it’s an assurance that the tuition of all undergraduate students will remain the same from the date of initial enrollment to the completion of the program.

As a result of this, students and their families can accurately predict the total cost of college.

What’s more, the CU Boulder Guarantee applies to in-state, out-of-state and international students.

Still planning to attend the University of Colorado Boulder despite the figures mentioned above?

Then here’s the estimated breakdown of the cost of attending it for a year:

Room and board$15,676$15,676
Books and supplies$1,200$1,200
University of Colorado cost of attendance

According to the Office of Financial Aid of the University of Colorado Boulder, around 19,500 undergraduate students at the school received more than $333 million in financial aid.

Of the said amount, nearly $175 million came in the form of grants, scholarships and work-study programs.

Bronze bison sculpture at Colorado University
A bronze bison sculpture at Colorado University at Boulder

How Much Do the University of Colorado Boulder Graduates Make?

The average starting yearly salary of the University of Colorado Boulder graduates amounts to $39,800.

Alumni members make around $56,900 annually 10 years after enrolling from the institution.

The degree, industry, work experience, location are some factors that affect annual salaries.

Being employed for 10 years after stepping foot on the campus of CU Boulder, you could make up to 66% more money than what’s considered as the national median annual salary, which equals $34,300.

Earning a graduate degree from the public school could increase your yearly earnings.

Here are the average first-year earnings of the University of Colorado Boulder bachelor’s degree holders by major:

Computer Science$70,100
Aeronautical Engineering$67,400
Computer Engineering$67,200
Electrical Engineering$63,800
Communications Engineering$62,100
Architectural Engineering$61,400
Mechanical Engineering$59,100
Biochemical Engineering$56,800
Civil Engineering$55,600
Business Administration$48,200
Political Science$37,100
Communication and Media Studies$35,900
English Language and Literature$25,000

Please note that the table above does not include all majors CU Boulder offers.

Famous People Who Went to the University of Colorado Boulder

Being a flagship school, having a degree that employers won’t respect should be the least of your concerns.

Paired with hard work during and after college, your CU Boulder diploma could help you reap success.

Just check out some of the most well-known former students of the University of Colorado Boulder:

  • Dick Cheney – Served as the 46th US Vice President
  • Ralph Carr – Served as the 29th Governor of Colorado
  • Gordon Allott – Served as the 33rd Lieutenant Governor of Colorado and former US Senator
  • Hank Brown – Former US Senator
  • Benjamin Bailar – Served as the US Postmaster General (1975 to 1978)
  • David Bolen – First African-American to serve as US Ambassador to a nation behind the Iron Curtain
  • Vicki Huddleston – Former US Ambassador to Mali and Madagascar
  • Lynne Cheney – Married to the 46th US Vice President, Dick Cheney
  • W. Edwards Deming – Considered the leading management thinker in the field of quality
  • Stephen Bechtel, Jr. – Billionaire businessman who co-owns the Bechtel Corporation
  • Tim Gill – First openly gay people on the Forbes 400 list of America’s richest people
  • Jeanne Jackson – Former CEO of Banana Republic, Gap and
  • Jimmie Heuga – First two American men to win an Olympic medal in Alpine skiing
  • Dick Anderson – Former professional football player for the AFL and NFL
  • Carol Callan – First female President of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Americas
  • Jim Gray – Sportscaster who worked at ESPN, NBC Sports and CBS Sports
  • Dalton Trumbo – Award-winning author and screenwriter
  • Josephine Antoine – Opera singer who sang at the Metropolitan Opera in over 70 appearances
  • Patricia Elliot – Tony Award-winning Broadway actress and soap opera star
  • Larry Linville – Popular for portraying Major Frank Burns on the TV series M*A*S*H

So, Is Boulder a Good School?

Students who want a degree employers will respect and have a great social life while earning it will find the University of Colorado Boulder a good fit.

It’s also a great school for most as it has a high acceptance rate, holistic admissions policy and tuition that’s lower than the national average.

High acceptance rate, nearly 100 majors, a party school, a flagship university — there is practically no reason to keep the University of Colorado Boulder from ending up on your college list.

Students from low-income backgrounds will love the fact that its tuition is so much lower than what’s considered average for all colleges and universities in the US.

Unfortunately, out-of-state students will have to pay more than three times the tuition for in-state students.

Read Next: Is the University of Alabama a Good School for You?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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