A Guide to Online Colleges in New Mexico

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The 47th state admitted into the union, New Mexico was populated by Native Americans for thousands of years before the Spanish entered the territory at the turn of the 17th century. Since then, the state has seen competing claims from Native American tribes, the French, the Republic of Texas, Mexico, and the Confederate and Union Armies, until admittance in 1912. For much of the 20th century, it remained largely undeveloped, though a major oil discovery in the 1920s brought investments into the state. Of course, during WWII, the first atomic bombs were designed and manufactured at Los Alamos. Since then, military and defense have remained a major part of the economy, including several air force bases. Transportation and logistics have long been important to New Mexico, too — be it via early desert highways, the Southern Pacific Railroad, or today’s 2,400 miles of commuter and freight rail. With all this traffic, communities began to hold at the state’s major hubs, and colleges and universities followed soon after. Today, over a half-dozen major public universities are located in New Mexico, in addition to private schools, community colleges, and other two-year professional schools. Keeping pace with trends toward affordability and flexibility across the country, many New Mexico schools are now offering online degrees.

In-state tuition is often applied to public schools offering online programs. Many online programs require some face-to-face time, or more numerous support services at their brick and mortar locations. Intensive study experiences — often on the weekends or in several week long bouts — enable many online students to accelerate their time until graduation. And students looking at online education can drastically expand their educational options if they also look to hybrid degrees (degrees where degrees can be taken partially, or mostly online). Finally, one of the most common stipulations in scholarships is that students be from a certain state or region, often more funds are available to students seeking degrees in-state.

There are 15 public schools in New Mexico that offer online degrees, the largest of which is Eastern New Mexico University, which has 44 bachelors and 12 masters; these include programs in Business, History, Aviation Science, Nursing, Social Work, Criminal Justice, Hospitality Management, Education, Sports Administration, and Information Systems. From there, New Mexico State offers 27 online degrees — 7 bachelors, 17 masters, and 3 doctoral; the NMSU Grants campus offers 20 degrees. The University of New Mexico is the second-largest provider of bachelor’s degrees, including a Dental Hygiene track, and Clovis Community College offers the most associates in the state: Behavioral Science, Business, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, and Information Systems, among others.

The University of the Southwest is the sole private school in New Mexico offering online degrees. Three bachelors are available in Business Administration, Psychology, and Criminal Justice; and 7 masters cover an MBA and a number of MEd tracks, including in Early Childhood Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Administration, Educational Diagnostics, Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, and Special Education. Founded in 1962, Southwest expanded its distance education program to accommodate adult learners and working professionals. Flexible courses typically take up 10-15 hours of study per week for undergrads and 15-20 for graduate students.

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Potential Resident

For a variety of reasons, a student may look to move to the state of their online college program whether specifically required by the program or not — be it for a job, location desirability, school benefits, etc. Different states have different policies, however, and some of them can be rather demanding. Fortunately, New Mexico has fairly straightforward requirements: applicants must be U.S. residents and have lived in the state for the past 12 consecutive months. There are a number of other potential qualifiers as well: the individual is married to a legal resident of NM; dependent has has obtained permanent full‐time employment; member of the U.S. armed forces is stationed in New Mexico; member of of an Indian nation, tribe or pueblo located wholly or partially in NM. For a full list, visit NMSU’s admissions page.

The average tuition per-year for a four-year public school in New Mexico for 2015-16 was $6,355, or about $2,800 cheaper than the national average. Its 3% year-over-year change and 13% 5-year change each match the national average. This is great news for New Mexico residents wanting to take advantage of in-state tuition. In fact, New Mexico was second in the country for tuition costs in 2015-16, behind Montana by only $4. Nor do New Mexico’s numbers over the last decade indicate any risk for a sudden spike; even during the height of the Great Recession, tuition remained nationally low. Should current trends continue, residents should enjoy highly stable and affordable in-state tuition.

The University of New Mexico’s main campus is the central hub for online learning in Greater Albuquerque and among the largest in the state. There are 8 bachelors available Business, Nursing, Communication, Medical Laboratory Sciences, Integrative Studies, Radiologic Sciences, and Dental Hygiene. From there, students can continue with a Master of Dental Hygiene; the university also offers a unique online Master of Public Administration. A short way away in Los Lunas, UNM’s Valencia County Campus offers an online Doctor of Nursing. To the west, NMSU’s Grant Campus offers 17 masters — in Education, Business, Nursing, and Sociology, among others — and three doctoral tracks.

In Las Cruces, The New Mexico State University’s Main Campus offers 27 online degrees, making it the second-largest provider in the state. Of the 7 bachelors include Business concentrations, a BS in Criminal Justice, BS in Education, and BS in Nursing. 17 masters include an MBA, MPA, MS in Industrial Engineering, MA in Agricultural And Extension Education, and MEd concentrations in Curriculum & Instruction, K-12 Administration, Community College and College Administration, and Gifted Learning, among others. In Silver City, Western New Mexico University offers 16 online degrees, including 3 associates (Criminal Justice, Liberal Studies, Human Services), and 6 bachelors and 7 masters in a wide range of fields, like Social Work, Educational Leadership, Occupational Therapy, Teaching, and Business.

The University of New Mexico’s Los Alamos Campus offers a Doctor of Nursing with online delivery options, and New Mexico Highlands University, in Las Vegas, offers an RN-BSN and two MBA concentrations. For students willing for occasional commutes to Albuquerque, University of New Mexico’s Main Campus is among the largest online education centers in the state, with 8 bachelors and 2 masters in Dental Hygiene and Public Administration. Undergraduate tracks are available in Business Administration, Medical Laboratory Sciences, Nursing, Radiological Sciences, Communication, and Organizational Communication, among others.

Albuquerque


Population: 557,169
Cost of Living: 92.9%
Top Industries: Tech, Defense
Local Online Programs: 3

Las Cruces


Population: 101,408
Cost of Living: 84.9%
Top Industries: Education, Healthcare
Local Online Programs: 2

Rio Rancho


Population: 93,820
Cost of Living: 94.1%
Top Industries: Tech, Healthcare
Local Online Programs: 3

Santa Fe


Population: 70,297
Cost of Living: 97.8%
Top Industries: Tourism, Government
Local Online Programs: 2

Roswell


Population: 48,608
Cost of Living: 81.5%
Top Industries: Government, Education
Local Online Programs: 1

Farmington


Population: 44,445
Cost of Living: 86.3%
Top Industries: Government
Local Online Programs: 1

Clovis


Population: 39,860
Cost of Living: 83.5%
Top Industries: Defense, Agriculture
Local Online Programs: 3

Hobbs


Population: 37,118
Cost of Living: 83%
Top Industries: Education
Local Online Programs: 1

The Best Online Colleges in New Mexico

  • 1. New Mexico State University-Main Campus

    Online Programs: 27
    Type: Public
    Website

    Founded in 1888, New Mexico State University has a total enrollment of about 15,500. With 27 online degrees available, NMSU is the second-largest distance education provider in the state, offering 7 bachelors, 17 masters, and 3 doctoral tracks. Undergraduate degrees include several Business concentrations, a BS in Criminal Justice, BSN, and BEd. Master’s degrees range across the disciplines; highlights include an MBA, MPA, MEd tracks (Curriculum & Instruction, K-12 Administration, Community College Administration, Gifted Learning, etc.), MS in Industrial Engineering, MA in Agricultural And Extension Education, and more. Doctorate degrees are offered in Educational Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction, and Nursing. NMSU’s 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio helps to support a vibrant, collaborative learning community while also maintaining individualized instruction. Nearly half of classes consist of fewer than 20 students. US News ranks the university among the best public schools in the nation, in addition to highlighting NMSU’s business and engineering programs.

  • 2. University of New Mexico-Main Campus

    Online Programs: 10
    Type: Public
    Website

    Founded in 1889, The University of New Mexico has a total enrollment of 27,400 and offers 10 online degrees: 8 bachelors in Business, Nursing, Communication, Dental Hygiene, Medical Laboratory Sciences, and Radiologic Sciences, among others; plus a Master of Public Administration and MS in Dental Hygiene. As the only Hispanic-Serving Institution in the U.S. that’s also classified a Carnegie Research University with Very High Activity, US News ranks UNM among the top 100 public universities in the country. Its 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio helps to maintain a dynamic, collaborative educational environment while also sustaining individualized and tailored instruction. Over half of classes have less than 20 students, and less than 10% have over 50. For maximum flexibility, students have synchronous and asynchronous delivery options, UNM’s online platform includes email, discussion boards, web pages, web conferencing systems, and multimedia technologies.

  • 3. Eastern New Mexico University

    Online Programs: 56
    Type: Public
    Website

    Eastern New Mexico University, founded in 1927, has a total enrollment of about 5,500. Thanks to a major expansion in distance education, ENMU now offers 56 online degrees (44 bachelors, 12 masters), making it the largest provider in the state. Among the diverse range of programs with online delivery include Business, History, Aviation Science, Criminal Justice, Hospitality Management, Information Systems, Nursing, Social Work, Education, Sports Administration, and more. All courses are 100% online for maximum flexibility, and the university’s learning platforms, including Blackboard and Mediasite, give students 24/7 access to course materials, group discussion boards, live chat rooms, videoconferencing technologies, and other multimedia. Additional resources available include an online writing center, library services, enrollment assistance, and tech support. ENMU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, in addition to six specialty accrediting bodies.

  • 4. New Mexico State University-Grants

    Online Programs: 20
    Type: Public
    Website

    NMSU’s Grant Campus offers 20 online degrees — all graduate level — putting it third in total offerings in the state. Master’s tracks span from Education specializations (Curriculum & Instruction, K-12 Administration, College and Community College Administration, etc.), Business, Public Health, Sociology, Industrial Engineering, and Nursing. From there, students may earn online EDs or PhDs in Education, or a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing. With a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio, the university couples a collaborative and dynamic educational community with individualized instruction. More than 40% of classes consist of less than 20 students, and only 10% have more than 50. Additional resources include a student success center, writing center, testing services, peer mentorship, and library services. US News ranks the university among the best public schools in the nation.

  • 5. Western New Mexico University

    Online Programs: 16
    Type: Public
    Website

    Founded in 1893, Western New Mexico University consists of 3,500 students across five campuses. In recent years, WNMU has also expanded its online educational offerings and today offers 16 degrees, including 3 associates, 6 bachelors, and 7 masters across a diverse range of fields: Criminal Justice, Social Work, Nursing, Rehabilitation Services, Business, Teaching, and Occupational Therapy, among others. WNMU also boasts a highly diverse and inclusive student body: designated as an Hispanic Serving Institution, 18 countries are represented in the university’s student body. To foster an intimate, collaborative educational atmosphere, the university keeps classes sizes small, around 18 students. WNMU holds accreditation from North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, the Professional Standards Commission of the State of New Mexico, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the Council on Social Work Education.

  • 6. University of the Southwest

    Online Programs: 13
    Type: Private
    Website

    The University of the Southwest, founded in 1962, is a small private school with just over 1,000 students enrolled, split between undergraduates and graduates. Online, the school offers 3 bachelors — Business Administration, Psychology, and Criminal Justice — and 7 masters, including an MBA and MEd’s in in Early Childhood Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Administration, Educational Diagnostics, Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, and Special Education. All online programs are designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate working professionals, adult learners, and other students with busy schedules. Undergraduates can expect to spend 10-15 hours per week on material; graduates spend 15-20 hours per week. Resources include 24/7 tech support, online tutoring services, and learning platforms with group discussion boards, web conferencing technologies, live chat rooms, and more. USW is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • 7. Clovis Community College

    Online Programs: 8
    Type: Public
    Website

    Clovis Community College was established in 1961 as a branch of Eastern New Mexico University and continues to work closely with ENMU. All programs are designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate working professionals and adult learners, and CCC offers 8 online associate degrees (the most in the state) in Behavioral Science, Business, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, and Information Systems, among others. Student resources include tech support, career services, academic advising, online tutoring, a writing center, and more. CCC holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and three specializing bodies.

  • 8. San Juan College

    Online Programs: 6
    Type: Public
    Website

    Founded in 1956 as a branch of the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, San Juan College has a total enrollment of nearly 13,000 students, many of whom take advantage of the school’s online campus: 6 associate degrees in Business Administration, Liberal Arts, Occupational Safety, Health Information Technology, Physical Therapist Assistant, and Veterinary Technology. All SJC programs are designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate the schedules of working professionals and adult learners. Student resources include enrollment assistance, academic advising, tech support, tutoring, and career services. In addition, through the Canvas learning platform, students have access to course materials, group discussion boards, multimedia tools, and live chat rooms. SJC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and follows the Quality Matters Standards for its online course work.

  • 9. New Mexico Highlands University

    Online Programs: 3
    Type: Public
    Website

    Founded in 1893, New Mexico Highlands University has a total enrollment of 3,500; it is regionally ranked by US News. NMHU offers 3 online degrees: an RN-BSN and two MBA concentrations (accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs). The university’s 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports an intimate, collaborative educational community and individualized learning. Over 70% of classes consist of fewer than 20 students, and less than 1% have over 50. Financial aid opportunities are available, as well: three-quarters of undergraduates receive some form of aid. For maximum schedule flexibility, admissions are rolling.

  • 10. Central New Mexico Community College

    Online Programs: 3
    Type: Public
    Website

    Founded in 1964, Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque has over 30,000 students and a thousand faculty members (330 full-time). A member of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), 3 pre-professional associate tracks are available online: Child Care Providing and Assistance, Project Management, and General Studies. All courses are designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate adult learners and working professionals, and students can opt for 100% online delivery, hybrid delivery (half online, half on-campus), and blended delivery (51%-99% of coursework is online; courses require some on campus sessions). All students have access to 24/7 tech support, a distance learning achievement coach, web tutorials, drop-in lab schedules, and the Blackboard learning platform, which creates a dynamic, collaborative learning environment through multimedia technologies. CNM is accredited by the HLC’s North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Monitoring the accreditation of a university you are interested in attending is incredibly important. Accreditation ensures your credits can transfer that you can receive Federal financial aid, and most importantly that certain standards of educational quality are during your schooling. The highest accreditation standard for most programs in the United States is provided by regional accreditation agencies. The regional accrediting agency for New Mexico is the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional accrediting agencies responsible for accrediting schools in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Making sure that a University you’re hoping to attend is regionally accredited — or accredited by a real and respected accrediting agency — is one of the most important choices you can make in ensuring the quality of your education.

Three Steps for Securing Financial Aid

  • Submit your FAFSA.
  • Check to see if additional forms are needed at your university of choice.
  • Search and apply for private scholarships.

Through the previous three steps most students find themselves offered some sort of federal grant, work study, private grant, scholarship, or stipend.

Great New Mexico Higher Education Resources

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