Overview of Colorado Mesa University


The founding of Grand Junction Junior College in 1925, with 39 students enrolled in seven classes, marked the beginning of post-secondary education on Colorado’s Western Slope. As Mesa Junior College, the number of students grew to 270 by fall 1937; headcount increased to 1,300 by 1963. Over that period, the range of community college programs expanded, and an area vocational school was added in 1967. By 1974, the college had evolved into a baccalaureate-granting institution, leading enrollment to triple in 16 years and reach 3,891 in fall 1979. In 1988, the College was renamed Mesa State College and in 1994 the Colorado legislature authorized Mesa State College to offer selected graduate degrees in response to regional needs.

With the addition of graduate programs, Mesa State College became the only four-year institution in Colorado to offer a full-range of undergraduate programming that spans technical certificates, associate degrees (both academic and vocational), and baccalaureate degrees to graduate certificates and degrees.

In 2003, Mesa State College was statutorily assigned the responsibility of meeting the educational needs for 14 Western Slope counties: Delta, Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Mesa, Moffat, Montrose, Ouray, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, Routt, San Miguel and Summit.

In 2005, Mesa State College formally created a two-year, open admission division: Western Colorado Community College.

The role and mission of the institution was reenacted in 2010 by the Colorado General Assembly (Colorado Revised Statutes 23-53-101) and amended in 2011 when Mesa State College was renamed Colorado Mesa University. After a 2012 amendment, the role & mission is:

There is hereby established a university at Grand Junction, to be known as Colorado Mesa University, which shall be a general baccalaureate and graduate institution with selective admission standards. Colorado Mesa University shall offer liberal arts and sciences, professional, and technical degree programs and a limited number of graduate programs. Colorado Mesa University shall also maintain a community college role and mission, including career and technical education programs. Colorado Mesa University shall receive resident credit for two-year course offerings in its commission-approved service area. Colorado Mesa University shall also serve as a regional education provider.

Mission, Vision and Values

Institutional Mission Statement

Committed to a personal approach, Colorado Mesa University is a dynamic learning environment that offers abundant opportunities for students and the larger community to grow intellectually, professionally, and personally. By celebrating exceptional teaching, academic excellence, scholarly and creative activities, and by encouraging diversity, critical thinking, and social responsibility, CMU advances the common good of Colorado and beyond.

Institutional Vision and Values

Colorado Mesa University is an institution of higher education that successfully prepares students from diverse backgrounds for lives of career and service anywhere in the world. Colorado Mesa University seeks to be the first-choice institution for students, faculty, and staff.

To achieve this vision Colorado Mesa University leverages:

  • An adaptable, flexible approach to learning that allows students to choose from multiple and potentially integrated pathways to achieve certificate, associate, bachelor, and graduate degrees.
  • A highly qualified faculty that excels in teaching and interacting with students.
  • A curriculum, often bridging liberal education and professional programs, that successfully prepares students for the 21st century in the areas of personal and social responsibility, civic engagement, ethics, and intercultural/ global learning.
  • Continued investment in facilities and technology that expand, expedite, and enhance learning for every student.
  • Community support from businesses, industries, alumni, and residents of the region.
  • A wide array of academic programs that are improved on an on-going, continuous basis for quality and relevance to Western Colorado’s needs in the context of an ever-changing world.
  • An administration that uses human and natural resources wisely, embraces excellence, is committed to shared governance, and is focused on the future.

The Colorado Mesa University learning community embraces diversity of students, faculty, staff, ideas, and degree levels, while maintaining a quality educational environment that focuses on serving its many constituents. CMU is its region's primary intellectual and cultural center, promoting the exchange of ideas that are of regional, national, and international importance.

Colorado Mesa University values:

  • high quality education in a student-centered environment;
  • small class sizes and a high level of student/faculty interaction;
  • a learning environment that develops and promotes the skills of inquiry, reflection, critical thinking, problem-solving, innovation, teamwork, and communication in students;
  • student choice in academic programming that prepares future leaders to function as productive and responsible members of a global society;
  • opportunities that engage students in applied learning;
  • a faculty recognized for their professional expertise and quality of instruction;
  • a staff committed to the highest quality of service to the College community;
  • an attainable, accessible post-secondary experience for students in and outside of Western Colorado that emphasizes continuous improvement;
  • a vibrant and varied campus setting that values diversity and diverse activities, and encourages involvement and interaction outside the classroom;
  • a culture committed to integrity and academic and intellectual freedom;
  • a community and region that supports the College in multiple ways;
  • state-of-the-art facilities and technologies that enhance the learning environment; and
  • a diversity of students, faculty, staff that promotes a balanced exchange of ideas.


Colorado Mesa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org), a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

The following programs at Colorado Mesa University are accredited and/or approved by external professional accreditation bodies specific to that discipline:

For questions regarding the accreditation status or process, please contact us or the CAATE.

  • Athletic Training:  CMU is currently seeking accreditation for their new professional Athletic Training program; however, CMU is not currently accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). The institution will be submitting a self-study to begin the accreditation process on July 1, 2020. Submission of the self-study and completion of a site visit does not guarantee that the program will become accredited. Students that graduate from the program prior to accreditation will not be eligible to sit for the credentialing examination for athletic trainers and will not be eligible for licensure in most states.
    • CMU will submit the self-study for accreditation by July 1, 2020.
    • CMU anticipates an on-campus site-visit by February 15, 2021.
    • CMU anticipates notification of accreditation decision during late spring 2021.
    • Students are not eligible for the BOC, Inc. examination until the program receives official notification of positive accreditation action.
  • Strength and Conditioning/Personal Training Program: The Department of Kinesiology has met established educational program criteria to be designated as a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Education Recognition Program (ERP). 
  • Landman Energy Management Program:  American Association of Professional Landman.
  • Mechanical Engineering Technology: Students completing the Colorado Mesa University Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology.  The Bachelor of Science MET Program is accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org.
  • Medical Laboratory Technician: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).
  • Music:  Accredited Member of the National Association of Schools of Music. 11250 Roger Bacon Drive, Suite 21 | Reston VA 20190-5248 | 703.437.0700 | info@arts-accredit.org.
  • Nursing:  The baccalaureate degree programs, master's degree programs, and Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Colorado Mesa University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.  http://www.ccneaccreditation.org.  
  • NursingThe Practical Nursing Program at Colorado Mesa University located in Grand Junction, Colorado is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) | 3390 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 1400, Atlanta GA 30326 | (404) 975-5000
  • Nursing: The Associate Nursing Program at Colorado Mesa University, located at the Montrose, Colorado campus, is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) | 3390 Peachtree Road NE Suite 1400 | Atlanta, GA 30326 | (404) 975-5000
  • Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST): Approved by the Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training Board.
  • Radiologic Technology: The Baccalaureate of Science in Radiologic Sciences (BSRS) Program is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).
  • Social Work:  Council on Social Work Education.
  • Surgical Technology: The Surgical Technologist program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Committee on Surgical Technology/Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA) under the auspices of Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
  • Teacher Education: Approved by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the Colorado Department of Education to prepare teachers for licensure application.
  • Transportation Services: Certified by the Automotive Society of Engineers (ASE) Education Foundation.

Note: Students completing the University of Colorado Boulder/Colorado Mesa University Mechanical Engineering Partnership Program will receive a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Degree from the University of Colorado Boulder. The ME Partnership Program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org.

The University is designated as balanced arts and sciences/professions with some graduate coexistence as part of the Carnegie classification of higher education institutions.

Auxiliary Campuses

Montrose Campus

The Montrose Campus of CMU provides the Western Slope’s second largest community local access to postsecondary education.  For local students pursuing a bachelor’s degree, it offers a convenient location to complete general education courses before attending the main campus to take courses in their major.  For students who want to complete their education in Montrose, the campus offers several associate degree and certificate programs and a bachelor’s degree program in nursing for students who have a LPN. 

To meet the needs of high school graduates and adult working students, classes occur primarily in the afternoons and evenings.  Seating in classrooms are limited to no more than 30 students to ensure students receive personal attention from their instructors.

The campus is adjacent to the Montrose Regional Library.  Facilities include classrooms with advanced instructional technology, computer labs and study lounges.  The campus has a career and technical facility for welding, machining technology and other programs. 

Admissions, advising and student services staff are available in the Branscome Center, open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and until 5 p.m. on Friday.  Services include admissions counseling, orientation, academic advising, financial aid, course registration, testing services, career counseling, and tutoring.   Future and current students can make an advising appointment in advance by calling 970.249.7009.

Visit the CMU Montrose website for more information about the academic programs available at the Montrose campus.

Tilman M. Bishop Campus

The Tilman M. Bishop Campus of Colorado Mesa University is the result of a partnership of the University, Mesa County Valley School District 51, and area businesses. The applied technology programs at the Bishop Campus serve the technical education needs of both university and area high school students, primarily those in District 51.

Students at the Bishop Campus—the main site of Western Colorado Community College, Colorado Mesa University’s two-year division­­—can earn two-year associate degrees or technical certificates. High school students can earn university credits through concurrent enrollment. Among the services available at the Bishop campus are college admission, class scheduling, academic and interest assessments, bill payments, financial aid assistance, resume preparation, job interviewing skills, and placement in internships and jobs. For more information call 970.255.2670 or toll free, 888.455.2617.

Diversity Statement

Colorado Mesa University extends its services to anyone regardless of age, race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation.

Following is the statement of philosophy on diversity which has been adopted by the faculty at Colorado Mesa University:

“Colorado Mesa University is a community of scholars in the liberal arts tradition. As faculty we believe that all people, regardless of age, race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation, have something worthwhile to contribute and that these contributions benefit us all. Therefore, we intend that within our academic community all cultural differences will be treated with equal respect and tolerance. We desire that our students have the opportunity to appreciate the diversity of our modern world, and we encourage them to partake of the resources available within our community. As faculty we pledge ourselves to provide as many divergent cultural experiences for our students as the resources of the college and the needs of our disciplines allow.”

“To further tolerance and appreciation of our society’s diversity, Colorado Mesa University requires that all graduates fulfill General Education requirements. In doing so we honor the validity of a liberal education. We hope that the experience will help our students understand how to appreciate the true diversity of the world. Because diversity promotes multiple opinions, techniques, viewpoints and approaches, it is not the individual courses within the General Education program which we believe will further the above-stated goals, but the whole experience of the program itself.”

Colorado Mesa University expects all members of the campus community to uphold the highest standards of civil and ethical conduct and to promote a culture of respect and inclusiveness. For more information on these expectations, review the Resolution Concerning Expectations Regarding Safety, Violence, Intimidation, Abuse and Discrimination at Colorado Mesa University.

Student Bill of Rights

The Colorado General Assembly implemented the Student Bill of Rights to assure that students enrolled in public institutions of higher education have the following rights:

  1. A quality general education experience that develops competencies in reading, writing, mathematics, technology and critical thinking through an integrated arts and science experience;
  2. Students should be able to complete their associate of arts and associate of science degree programs in no more than sixty credit hours or their baccalaureate programs in no more than one hundred twenty credit hours, unless there are additional degree requirements recognized by the commission;
  3. A student can sign a two-year or four-year graduation agreement that formalizes a plan for the student to obtain a degree in two or four years, unless there are additional degree requirements recognized by the commission;
  4. Students have a right to clear and concise information concerning which courses must be completed successfully to complete their degrees;
  5. Students have a right to know which courses are transferable among the state public two-year and four-year institutions of higher education;
  6. Students, upon successful completion of core general education courses, should have those courses satisfy the core course requirements of all Colorado public institutions of higher education;
  7. Students have a right to know if courses from one or more public higher education institutions satisfy the students’ graduation requirements;
  8. A student’s credit for the completion of the core requirements and core courses shall not expire for ten years from the date of initial enrollment and shall be transferable.