Standards to Attend Four-Year Public Colleges or Universities in Colorado

Colleges, particularly four-year and graduate schools, use many criteria when making admissions decisions. These criteria may include academic performance, test scores, recommendations, essays and extra-curricular activities or work experience. Different schools place different levels of importance on these criteria when making a decision to admit a student. You can review the relative importance schools place on these criteria, along with rating yourself on these criteria, on their College Admissions Tool.

If you are interested in attending any Colorado public four-year institution, you need to plan ahead and understand state-level admissions standards while working on your high school plan of study. These standards apply both to first-time freshmen and transfer students, and they represent minimum requirements for admission to a Colorado public four-year school. They do not apply to community colleges, which have open enrollment. Meeting these standards does not guarantee admission to any school.

The two standards discussed here include the Higher Education Admission Requirements (HEAR) and the Index. However, Colorado schools will be phasing out using the index over the next few years. Visit the College Application Tool to see what your dream Colorado school expects. Once you understand how standards work, be sure to review additional pointers about how college admission worksWord icon and use the worksheet to help you prepare for the admissions process,Word icon step-by-step.

All about HEAR (Higher Education Admissions Requirements)

All first-time freshman applicants and some transfer applicants who wish to attend a Colorado public four-year college should plan to meet the Higher Education Admission Requirements (HEAR). HEAR requires applicants that graduate from high school in 2010 and later to meet Phase Two requirements.

These coursework requirements are in place to ensure that admitted students are prepared to be successful at a four-year institution. For more information on the Higher Education Admission Requirements and what courses are required, either view the Admission Standards Policy,PDF icon the summary of requirementsNew window icon or the FAQNew window icon.

All About the Index

The standards for entering freshman into four-year schools are based on the calculation of an admissions "index." The index has two components: the student's high school grade point average (GPA) or class rank, and performance on the ACT or SAT standardized test.

To calculate your index score online, use:

To use the matrix, find your ACT or SAT score along the appropriate top horizontal row. Then find your GPA or class rank along the appropriate left vertical row. The intersection of your two scores is your index score.

While some exemptions apply and schools may accept a low percentage of students who don't meet the required index score, in general, each public four-year college in Colorado must apply the index standard as they make admissions decisions as follows:


Institution Freshman Index Score
Adams State University 80
Colorado Mesa University 92
Colorado School of Mines 110
Colorado State University 101
Colorado State University - Pueblo 86
Colorado State University - Global Campus 86
Fort Lewis College 92
Metropolitan State University of Denver 76
University of Colorado at Boulder 103
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs 92
University of Colorado at Denver & Health Sciences 93
University of Northern Colorado 94
Western State Colorado University 80


If you already have a baccalaureate degree, have a non-U.S. transcript or are seeking to enter a non-degree program or two-year program at one of these schools, the index requirement may be waived.

Be sure to talk with your counselor or the college's admissions officer and review the current standards at the Department of Higher Education WebsiteNew window icon.

One Final Very Important Note

If you plan to attend a two-year community or junior college and then transfer to a four-year school, be sure to ask admissions advisors at both the two-year and four-year schools about which credits will transfer to the four-year school. And, review transfer requirements at the Department of Higher Education WebsiteNew window icon.