Published: March 15, 2024 By

Headshot of Robert McDonaldHigher education institutions across the country, including CU Boulder, are actively exploring and experimenting with online learning. New majority learners–students once considered “nontraditional”–represent a growing audience for higher education to serve with online courses and credentials that meet their unique needs.  

CU Boulder Online has made great strides to extend CU Boulder’s reach over the last three years, prioritizing the needs of these learners by offering career-relevant knowledge, flexibility, access and equity to help them achieve their personal and professional goals. 

Online education was identified as a priority for the Boulder campus through the Academic and Financial Futures Projects (2018-20). In 2022, President Todd Saliman led the pivotal shift to move online education from a centralized initiative housed at CU System (“CU Online”) to become campus-led, empowering CU Boulder to once again chart its own path. The result is CU Boulder Online–an initiative working to leverage the institution’s academic and administrative expertise to develop tailored strategies and the necessary infrastructure to support online learning initiatives effectively. Collaborative work continues behind the scenes, but we have already achieved some terrific milestones.    

Our Achievements

Since 2021, CU Boulder Online has collaborated with academic units to launch six new online degree programs spanning diverse topics, administrative models, and instruction modes on two Learning Management Systems, Canvas and Coursera:

Other programs in the CU Boulder Online portfolio include:

Several of these online programs have reaching noteworthy benchmarks: 

  • The MS in Organizational Leadership will celebrate its 500th graduate in May. 
  • The MS in Data Science currently has nearly 1,500 learners enrolled (plus 250 in the in-person version of the program).
  • MS in Computer Science students took over 1,000 credits in the spring 1 session this year.
  • The Applied Computer Science Post-Baccalaureate program has seen an 85% increase in active students since its transfer back to CU Boulder, surpassing growth expectations.

CU Boulder Online launched a new website ( in January 2024. The site employs a “learner first” approach, helping prospective learners navigate our diverse portfolio of programs based on their academic interests, career objectives, and learning preferences. We also provide guidance on how to access student services to help learners get the most out of their time at CU Boulder.

Looking Forward

CU Boulder Online remains committed to delivering innovative online offerings, enhancing student services, and streamlining administrative processes in partnership with colleges, schools, departments and colleagues across campus. 

Ongoing initiatives include: 

  • Collaborating with the College of Arts and Sciences as they develop an online strategic plan to help support the implementation of key initiatives related to student success, faculty and staff impact, and community engagement. 
  • Expanding CU Boulder student and staff access to the Google Career Certificates program, which has seen high demand since its launch in January 2024 with partners in Career Services and in Facilities Management
  • Establishing a Microcredential Taskforce, to support the strategic development and implementation of microcredentials at all levels, co-chaired by Kristi Wold-McCormick from the Office of the Registrar and me, and endorsed by the Buff Undergraduate Success Project (BUS).

I am excited to see CU Boulder Online evolve in the months to come, offering further opportunities for greater innovation from our faculty and our academic departments

If you are interested in discussing online programming and related topics with CU Boulder Online, I encourage you to connect with us.