Western Awards, Honors and Designations

Year after year, Western is recognized for offering high-quality education at an incredible value. Below are some examples of recent awards and accolades from prestigious organizations:

Forbes Top 100 Colleges in the West

Forbes Top Colleges - Western State Colorado University - 2016

Western landed a spot in the magazine’s Top 100 Colleges in the West category for the fourth year in a row, and earned spots in the public colleges and liberal arts colleges lists as well. Forbes aims to give their rankings and awards based on what a student is getting out of their college experience.






Colleges of Distinction Awards

Colleges of Distinction are nationally recognized by both professionals and graduate institution as excellent schools, and are focused strongly on undergraduate teaching, innovative learning practices, and personal growth and development. Western was named a College of Distinction for Colorado, for Public institutions, and overall for the second year.

Colorado Colleges of Distinction Award Winner
Colleges of Distinction Honor - 2016-17 - Public Schools
Colleges of Distinction 2016-17








U.S. News & World Report 

U.S. New & World Report ranked Western #36 in Top Public Schools and #92 in Regional Universities in the West. Regional Universities are those that have a focus on undergraduate and masters level degrees instead of PhD programs.


LendEdu Top 50 Colleges for Study Abroad


LendEdu analyzed the study abroad programs of over 250 institutions based on the length and size of their programs, the institution and faculty's involvement with them and the unique value offered in comparison with other institutions. According to LendEdu, Western's study abroad programs stand out though our numerous links with affiliate study abroad providers and the ease with which students can continue their degree progress and transfer credits. Not to mention our close affiliation with Harlaxton College, ranked as the number one study abroad program!



Student Loan Report

Student Loan Report analyzed over 1,000 colleges and universities and narrowed them to the top 250 most affordable schools. They determined the ranking by multiplying the percent of freshman with financial need by the average amount given to needy freshmen. And they concluded that "Western State Colorado University is one of the best in the country at helping its new students financially.” 




Best Colleges' Best Colleges in Colorado

Western State Colorado University was named one of the best colleges in Colorado by bestcolleges.com. Best Colleges performs its ranking based on both academic excellence and affordability.



Princeton Review's Top Green Colleges

For the second year in a row, Western was named one of the 361 colleges with an overall commitment to sustainability, out of a review of over 2,000 colleges.

Yellow Ribbon Program

Yellow Ribbon Program, Military Friendly School, Affordable College in Colorado


The Yellow Ribbon Program is a Post-9/11 GI Bill program where participating institutions agree to make additional funds available for tuition and fees and work with a VA to choose the amounts that will be contributed. Western State Colorado University is a proud participant of the program.




Arbor Day Foundation's Tree Campus USA

Tree Campus USA is a national program launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation. To obtain this distinction, Western met the five core standards for effective campus forest management: a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project. 



College Factual's Most Focused Majors

Western was given nine awards for most focused programs, including an award for top 10% most focused in Biology, top 15% in Mathematics, top 5% in Parks, Recreation, Leisure & Fitness Studies, top 5% in Geological & Earth Sciences, top 5% in Sociology, and top 10% in Fine & Studio Arts.

National Collegiate Fitness Index Report

Western ranked #3 for all Small Public Colleges and Universities that participated in the National Collegiate Fitness Index Report. This report aimed to recognize the quality and amount of physical opportunities for students as well as staff and faculty. Schools at the top of the rankings, like Western, had numerous strengths that supported active living.


Denver Channel 7 News Top 10 Colleges in Colorado

Western was chosen as one of Denver Channel 7 News' top ten schools in Colorado, among what it describes as nationally renowned Colorado schools. It is also the only school not in the front range that can claim a place in this ranking. 

Great Value Colleges:  

Most Beautiful Campuses in Rural Areas

Top 100 Most Affordable Small Colleges in America 


Western picked up two rankings from Great Value Colleges. It was named both one of the most beautiful rural campuses and one of the most affordable schools in the West. The first ranking looked at schools in rural areas with excellent academics that were also surrounded by beauty, while the second aimed to find schools with the ideal blend of high quality education and lower costs.


#1 Study Abroad Program for American Students

Western partners with the University of Evansville to give Western students the opportunity to study abroad at Harlaxton College for a semester, for a 10-day trip, or as part of a Tour of Europe summer study abroad. Harlaxton College, which includes an elaborate Victorian manor, is ranked as the #1 study abroad program for American Students.



Elevate Outdoors Magazine’s Top Adventure College in the Rocky Mountains

Top Adventure College


Western took the top slot in a bracket of 32 colleges and universities in the Rockies and Southwest. Elevate Outdoors Magazine wanted to find the school that provided the best opportunities not only to enjoy nature, but to create a career as an athlete, adventurer and conservationist. Western’s combination of faculty and staff who teach and preach love of nature and conservationism and its amazingly beautiful location won it the #1 spot as Top Adventure College.




Best Value Schools Top 100 Most Affordable Small Colleges in America

2015 Top Affordable Colleges in America


Best Value Schools identified 700 accredited schools with 4,000 students or fewer, and ranked these colleges based on their net price—the average amount of the total cost of attendance once grants and scholarship aid is taken into account. Western earned a place in the top 100 schools in that list.