Colleges in New Mexico

Why go to College in New Mexico?

New Mexico

There are 61 different colleges in the state of New Mexico, including four major universities, graduate schools, community colleges, and beauty schools. There are also a number of online colleges located in New Mexico. Albuquerque is New Mexico’s biggest city and is home to 11 of these 61 colleges. It is the perfect college town, with an average temperature of 57.1°F and an excellent nightlife scene.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that New Mexico has a population of 2,081,015, with 909,906 of the population residing in Albuquerque where the two largest colleges in the state (Central New Mexico Community College and the University of New Mexico) are located.
If you are looking for a sunny place to live and go to college, then New Mexico is the place to be. According to recent climate data, New Mexico averages 278 sunny days each years, while the national average is just 205 days.
Number of Higher Learning Institutions
There are a total of 61 higher learning institutions in New Mexico. The five biggest colleges in New Mexico are Central New Mexico Community College, University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, San Juan College, and Eastern New Mexico University.
Sporting Events
The University of New Mexico Lobos have a wide variety of men’s and women’s athletic clubs. Their NCAA football team is a part of the Mountain West Conference and plays its home games in Albuquerque. The New Mexico State University Aggies, hailing from Las Cruces, are another popular sports fandom in the state.
The top party school in New Mexico is the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. The city is home to a wide variety of bars and night clubs, including Sister, Ibiza, Launchpad, and Uptown Funk Dueling Pianos.

What Options are Available for Colleges in New Mexico?


New Mexico State University (NMSU) is one of the state's largest universities and offers on-campus courses to students on their 900-acre campus. NMSU enrolls more than 15,000 students each year and is home to the very first honors college in the state. The University of New Mexico boasts an 800-acre campus with many buildings that were crafted using the unique Pueblo Revival architectural theme. Most on-campus students live closeby and typically enroll full-time.

Online Programs

Online programs are great for students who do not live close to campus, work full-time, have children, or have busy lives that prevent them from enrolling in classes on-campus. Most online colleges in New Mexico offer courses asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace instead of having to attend class for a set amount of time on predetermined dates. However, these programs do have final deadlines for assignments that keep students on track.

Both of the largest online colleges in New Mexico, The University of New Mexico and NMSU, offer online courses and degrees. The widespread integration of distance education has led to an increase in enrollment and diversity in colleges all across the country.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs consist of a mixture of online and on-campus learning. These classes provide the flexibility of online courses while still giving students a taste of on-campus learning. According to College Raptor, hybrid classes typically include 25-50% online study with the remaining 50-75% of time spent in the classroom. Most class lectures are delivered online, which frees up classroom time for discussing lecture material. If you are uncertain about whether or not distance learning is right for you, then you might want to enroll in a hybrid course to see how you enjoy it.

Popular Degree Programs in New Mexico

Natural gas and oil are two of New Mexico’s biggest industries. As a result, nuclear engineering is the state's most popular major. Education is also a common major because of the constant need for new teachers and administrators.

  • Nuclear Engineering

    Students in nuclear engineering programs learn how to manipulate nuclear energy to produce power and make medical advances by using radiology. This major requires strong math, critical thinking, and science skills and prepares graduates for careers in nuclear power plants, medical research labs, and even the government. Graduates have an average starting salary of $66,087.

  • General Education

    A degree in general education prepares students for a variety of careers in the education field, namely as a teacher. Students study foundational topics like educational psychology and learn how to create lesson plans and grade assignments. Depending on their specialty, graduates can teach students in grades PK-12.

What are the Best Online Colleges in New Mexico?

There are many options for online colleges in New Mexico. According to, the top three best online colleges in New Mexico are Eastern New Mexico University, University of the Southwest, and NMSU. Eastern New Mexico University is also considered to be one of the most affordable colleges in the state. Other affordable online schools in New Mexico including University of New Mexico, Western New Mexico University, New Mexico State University, and University of the Southwest.


New Mexico State University-Main Campus Las Cruces, NM


New Mexico State University is a Hispanic-serving institution and a NASA Space Grant College. The school provides students around the country with opportunities to enroll from a distance in a number of baccalaureate programs.

One of the top online colleges in New Mexico, NMSU offers bachelor’s degree completion programs for students who already have an associate degree or college credit. The school offers entirely online programs in sociology, business administration, criminal justice, gender and sexuality studies, information and communication technology, elementary education, and family and consumer sciences. NMSU has two hybrid 2+2 bachelor’s degrees in sociology and business administration, in which students complete two years through NMSU Alamogordo Community College and the second two years online at NMSU.


Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus Portales, NM


Students at Eastern New Mexico University benefit from career preparation and advanced study using traditional learning methods and modern technology. ENMU offers 30 online degrees, including baccalaureate degrees in business administration, communication disorders, criminal justice, management, and social work. Of note are the BS and BAAS in aviation science, in which students study required technical skills along with a liberal arts curriculum.

The BS is designed for students with some experience in the field or first-time students; the BAAS is ideal for those with significant experience in aviation science and at least 30 credits of aviation-related credits. Resources for online students at ENMU, one of the top online colleges in New Mexico, include online library services, a writing center, and counselling services.


University of the Southwest Hobbs, NM


University of the Southwest’s curriculum and educational community prepare students for lives of servant leadership. The school’s outreach includes online programs that are offered completely online. USW's online bachelor of business administration provides students with knowledge and training for careers in accounting, management, and marketing.

The BBA program offers many pathways, including accounting, e-commerce, energy management, sports management, and nonprofit management. Students at USW, one of the best online schools in New Mexico, can access online tutoring at no cost; the school has an eStudent portal to library services. USW has military friendly designation and boasts a "military-centered environment" for U.S. service members and their families.


New Mexico Highlands University Las Vegas, NM


NMHU is located in Las Vegas and has centers in Santa Fe, Farmington, Rio Rancho, and Roswell. The school has many online offerings, including an RN-to-BSN program. NMHU developed the program for working RNs in New Mexico to earn a baccalaureate degree either part time or full time. The online program prepares nurses for positions in patient care, community health, and management. Students enrolled in the program are able to take courses online and complete clinical training locally. Admission requirements include RN licensure and an associate degree or nursing diploma with a minimum 2.5 GPA; students must live in a state with SARA reciprocity. NMHU, one of the best online schools in New Mexico, offers one of the lowest tuition rates of a four-year institution in the western part of the nation.


Western New Mexico University Silver City, NM


Established in 1893 as a small teachers college, Western New Mexico University provides approximately 3,500 students with programming in a number of disciplines at its campuses and online. The school offers several bachelor’s programs asynchronously, though some require synchronous activities, such as on-campus labs or meetings through web-conferencing. WNMU offers bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice, education, English, general business, and social work.

Notable programs include the bachelor of applied science in rehabilitation services, which prepares students for work in care management, community rehabilitation programs, independent living centers, and drug and alcohol treatment programs. One of the top online colleges in New Mexico, WNMU offers bachelor's degrees for teacher preparation, including early childhood education and elementary, secondary, and special education tracks.

What are the Best Online Community Colleges in New Mexico?

Community colleges typically offer much cheaper tuition than universities. Students at a community college can earn certificates or associate degrees instead of a bachelor's or master's degree. There are many advantages and disadvantages to study at each type of institution, though the choice will ultimately come down to which option will best help you meet your long-term career goals. Some online schools in New Mexico include: Central New Mexico Community College, Clovis Community College, Luna Community College, Mesalands Community College, and Santa Fe Community College.


Clovis Community College Clovis, NM


Clovis Community College, located in eastern New Mexico, offers online associate programs in behavioral science, business, computer information systems, criminal justice, early childhood education, paralegal studies, liberal arts, and general studies.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED and must take an ACCUPLACER exam before starting their coursework. The school boasts a friendly transfer policy and articulation agreements with the University of New Mexico, Texas Tech University, and several other postsecondary institutions.

Known as one of the top online community colleges in New Mexico, Clovis provides academic coaching, tutoring assistance, a writing center, and a full digital library to its distance learners. It also offers Starfish, an online tool that facilitates communication among students, faculty, and the college's support services.


San Juan College Farmington, NM


Located in Farmington, San Juan College counts itself among the most popular online community colleges in New Mexico. The school offers seven completely online associate programs, including degrees in business administration, health information technology, liberal arts, and physical therapy assistant. Students may also pursue an online creative writing certificate.

After receiving an associate degree, many students seek a bachelor's degree from one of the eight institutions with which San Juan boasts articulation agreements. Students transfer immediately into a four-year program and engage in more advanced studies.

San Juan provides distance learners with access to multiple support services, including academic advising, tutoring help, an IT help desk, and career services. The school also offers support for disabled individuals, military veterans, and Native-American students.


New Mexico State University-Grants Grants, NM


Offering small class sizes, experienced faculty, and affordable tuition, NMSU Clovis allows students to seek their associate degree completely online. Located near the New Mexico-Texas border, the school offers 10 online associate programs and four online certificates.

As one of the top online community colleges in New Mexico, NMSU Clovis provides its students with flexible course scheduling. Incoming students can start their coursework in the fall, spring, or summer terms. The school also boasts articulation agreements with several colleges and universities, enabling graduates to seamlessly transition to bachelor's programs. The school makes several resources available to students, including a writing center, math lab, testing center, digital library, and Student Success Center.


New Mexico State University-Alamogordo Alamogordo, NM


NMSU Alamogordo offers nine distinct online associate degree and certificate programs, allowing students to study business management, accounting, business office technology, education, leadership, and pre-business.

While some students move immediately into careers upon graduation, others seek bachelor's degrees at one of NMSU's four-year programs. They may also transfer credits to other colleges and universities throughout the region, making the school one of the most popular online community colleges in New Mexico.

To apply, prospective students need a high school diploma or GED. They also must provide their high school and/or college transcripts. Some programs require applicants to submit their ACT or SAT scores. NMSU Alamogordo students benefit from services such as tutoring, financial aid, a career center, academic advising, and assistance for military veterans.

How We Ranked the Schools

To determine the best programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online master's in management information systems programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.

Education Trends in New Mexico

New Mexico is middle of the road when it comes to education trends when compared to the rest of the country. The percentage of adults in New Mexico over the age of 25 who have a graduate degree or higher is slightly higher than the national average. While the country has experienced two recessions in the past decade, New Mexico's economy is growing. In fact, the total revenue per students from tuition in the state has decreased, indicating that the economy is continuing to recover.

  New Mexico United States
Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census
Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student $6,006 $6,954
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education 5.5% 5.8%
Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree 7.8% 8.1%
Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor's degree 14.8% 18.5%
Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher 11.5% 11.2%

Paying for College in New Mexico

Price is one of the biggest factors when deciding which college to go to. Education is an investment, and coming out of college without student loans of some kind is almost unavoidable. However, spending more doesn't mean that you'll receive a better education. A degree from one college can get you the same job that the same degree from a more expensive college can get you. This makes it even more important to shop around and try to find a school with a low tuition rate.

Tuition Prices

Tuition prices in New Mexico are significantly lower than the average U.S. school. In fact, the cost of tuition at a public two-year school in New Mexico is less than half the national average. Even with the costs of books, transportation, and rent included, the cost of college in New Mexico is much lower than most other states.

Financial Aid

Financial aid comes in many forms, including loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study programs. Grants and scholarships do not have to be repaid and therefore should be your most desired type of financial aid. Loans must be repaid with interest, although federal students loans offer payment deferrals and lower interest rates than private loans. Work-study programs offer students the opportunity to work while in school to help fund their education. Every student should fill out a FAFSA application to see what types of federal financial aid they are eligible for. The U.S. Department of Education awards over $120 billion each year in grants and work-study programs, on top of providing loans to more than 13 million students.

Cost for Online Programs in New Mexico

Online colleges in New Mexico offer many of the same financial aid opportunities and their on-campus counterparts. Not only do they offer the same financial aid opportunities, but the overall cost is also lower because students don't have to worry about certain fees or transportation costs. Plus, the cost of online books is often significantly lower than hard copies of college textbooks.

Cost of Living by Region

The cost of living is different in every city in the U.S. and it can have a great impact on the cost of a college education. Not only do students have to consider the costs of tuition, but they should also research the cost of living in the city where they will have to live during their studies. Important factors to determine the cost of living include the average cost of housing and other necessary expenses. Below are some of the average housing prices in New Mexico and the surrounding areas.

Scholarships for New Mexico College Students

Manuel Lujan Excellence in Education Scholarship
$500; students must continue their education in New Mexico, have a minimum GPA of 2.5, attend a college or university full-time, and be a graduating senior of one of the listed high schools in the Albuquerque area. View Scholarship
ACF Notah Begay III Scholarship Program
$1,300; students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0, be Native American scholar-athletes, and provide proof of tribal enrollment or certificate of Indian Blood. View Scholarship
Albuquerque Open Space Scholarship
$500; students ages 13-21 must participate in or lead an environmental stewardship project for the benefit of any lands managed or co-managed by the Open Space Division, take photos of the project in action, and write an essay (750-1,500 words) about the project. View Scholarship
Church's Chicken Community Scholarship Program
$1,000; students must have a minimum GPA of 2.7, and be planning to enroll in the entire upcoming academic year at an accredited two-year or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school in the U.S. View Scholarship
Henry & Joyce W. Sumid Scholarship
$5,000; students can either be high school seniors and college students interested in studying theatre arts who reside in New Mexico or surrounding states. View Scholarship
MGMA Western Section Scholarships
$2,500; students must reside in MGMA Western section states and be current MGMA members enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program relevant to medical practice management. View Scholarship
Sussman-Miller Educational Assistance Award Program
$2,000; students must reside in New Mexico, be recipients of federal financial aid, and be a graduating high school senior or currently enrolled in college or university. View Scholarship
NSHSS Tesoro Youth Leadership Awards
$2,500; students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0, be high school seniors, and live in one of 19 states where Tesoro does business, including New Mexico. View Scholarship
New Mexico Scholars Program
Amount Varies; students must live in New Mexico, graduate from a New Mexico high school in the top 5% of their class or score 25 on ACT, attend an eligible college or university before they are 21 years old, and have a combined family income that does not exceed $30,000 per year. If two or more family members are in college, combined family income may not exceed $40,000 per year. View Scholarship
New Mexico Legislative Lottery Scholarship Program
Amount Varies; student must be a resident of New Mexico, have graduated from a New Mexico public school, accredited private school, or obtained a high school equivalency credential in New Mexico. They must also enroll in and complete 15 credit hours per semester at a four-year New Mexico public university or enroll in and complete 12 credit hours per semester at a two-year New Mexico public community college. Finally, the must enroll immediately following high school graduation and have a minimum GPA of 2.5. View Scholarship

Can all Scholarships be Used for Online Programs?

Most scholarships can be used for online programs in the same way that they can be for on-campus programs. Since online schools in New Mexico are quite common, most scholarship that are offered in the state will account for distance learners. If you are unsure whether or not a scholarship is available for online students, then you should reach out to the organization offering the scholarship for clarification.

Employment Outlook in New Mexico

The mining, natural gas, and oil industries are by far the largest employers in New Mexico. The Los Alamos National Laboratory is one of the main employers, with the goal of assuring the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear deterrent. Employees work on advanced technologies to provide the U.S. with the best scientific and engineering solutions to the country's most important challenges. Sandia Corp is another of the state's largest employers, which delivers important science and technology solutions related to the country's most challenging security issues.

  New Mexico United States
Source: BLS and BLS
Unemployment Rate, May 2017 6.3% 4.3%
Annual Mean Wage, May 2016 $44,160 $49,630

Top Employers and Industries in New Mexico

Top Industries in New Mexico

  • Mining:Mining is huge in New Mexico. Coal mining has been prominent for the last century. There are also many thriving potash, copper, silver, and uranium mining operations in the state.
  • Oil: Between January and June of 2017, New Mexico produced 79,885 barrels of oil. In 2015, New Mexico ranked sixth in crude oil production.
  • Natural Gas: New Mexico has 26% of the country’s coal bed methane reserves. Since the state has a lot of renewable energy potential in the forms of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy, the state can easily export a great deal of its natural gas.

Top Employers in New Mexico

  • University of New Mexico: 12,000 employees
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory: 11,000 employees
  • Sandia Corp: 8,761 employees


Accreditation for Colleges in New Mexico

There are two main types of academic accreditation: regional and national. The majority of regionally accredited colleges are degree-granting, nonprofit institutions and the majority of nationally accredited colleges are trade or vocational schools. Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious than national accreditation. Regionally-accredited colleges usually have instructor-led courses while nationally accredited colleges have more self-study courses.

While accreditation works the same way for online programs, except that there are additional standards for how student services function and how students and faculty interact with one another. Attending an accredited online college is important because many employers that are unfamiliar with distance learning can look to a school's accreditation status as confirmation of its legitimacy. The U.S. Department of Education has a database of accredited online programs on its website.

Resources for Students in New Mexico

  • New Mexico Public Education Department: This website helps students explore different options for colleges, scholarships, career and technical programs, and other topics related to higher education.
  • New Mexico State Higher Education Agency: This agency's website offers resources for students and parents, institutions, researchers, and programs related to financial aid, scholarships, adult education, rule making, and annual reports.
  • Academic Keys: This career database website acts as a robust job board, allowing students to search for potential opportunities and for employers to post job descriptions. The site also has a database of faculty and administrators in higher education that is broken down into different academic disciplines.
  • Scholarly Hires: This advertising job site is most used by colleges and universities for handling staff, faculty, and post-doc positions. The site has an applicant advice feature and specific categories for community colleges, online schools, and faith-based colleges and universities.
  • American Association of University Women: This organization's website has information about job opportunities at their national office and at colleges and universities located throughout the U.S.