Online schools in New Mexico

New Mexico might be most widely known for Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands National Monument and other natural wonders, but the Land of Enchantment is more than just a great place to hike and sightsee. Students at campus-based and online colleges in New Mexico can choose from a selection of hundreds of degrees, including some that may go hand-in-hand with qualifications for in-demand career paths both statewide and nationally.

Scholarly amenities like libraries, bookstores, cafés, public greenspace and readily available Wi-Fi for studying on the go can make your college experience all the more pleasant, and cities with considerable student populations are more likely than others to support such brain-boosting features. The five cities in New Mexico with the largest populations of students, according to college enrollment data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), are Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Farmington, Santa Fe and Portales.

The location flexibility afforded to students at online colleges in New Mexico can give you the opportunity to choose the environment where you'd like to live and work, whether it's a metropolitan area like Albuquerque or a small, student-dense town like Portales. Tuition is often less expensive at online schools in New Mexico, also, which may give you more space in your budget to live in the neighborhood that suits you best.

To find out more about the state, its educational options and potential careers, explore the different sections of this guide. They include:

• Online education in New Mexico
• Major industries & in-demand degrees
• Colleges in New Mexico

Online colleges in New Mexico

The NCES counts a total of 28 two- and four-year degree-granting institutions in New Mexico, both campus-based and online. Schools in New Mexico offer a wide range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees and certification plans that can help you prepare for a rewarding career or gain deep understanding of academic subjects you're passionate about.

Top degrees at online schools in New Mexico

Each year, U.S. News and World Report publishes subject-specific ranking lists for campus-based and online schools all over the country, and programs at New Mexico universities came away with recognition in multiple categories. Aspiring educators looking for a degree in the virtual classroom, for example, can apply to Albuquerque's University of New Mexico, where the online graduate degree in education made the U.S. News list in 2015.

Prospective online graduate students have several ranked programs to choose from at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, which was named among the top 200 schools for online graduate programs in engineering, criminal justice and education. The online graduate program in nursing at NMSU was given even higher marks, with its rank at No. 64 placing it in the same league as powerhouse online schools such as the University of Cincinnati and Arizona State University.

The National Center for Education Statistics counts a total of 28 two- and four-year degree-granting institutions in New Mexico, both campus-based and online.

Some smaller schools charted on the 2015 U.S. News lists as well:

- University of the Southwest, a faith-based rural academy in Hobbs, was recognized for its online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program

- The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology was named the third-best regional public school in the West and cracked the national top 50 for its graduate program in earth sciences

- Notable graduate programs in rehabilitation counseling and social work were found at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas

Best online colleges in New Mexico for undergraduates

New Mexico can be a great place to live when attending online school for several reasons, but the state's cost of living can be an extra benefit to undergraduates. According to the Center for Community and Economic Research, only three states have less expensive housing than New Mexico, and it ranks among the top 15 most affordable states for overall cost of living. That statistic combined with the ability of online students to apply to colleges outside their home area can allow online students in New Mexico to work toward some of the best degrees in the country with minimal financial stress.

Online education pioneer Pennsylvania State University, which took top honors overall in the 2015 U.S. News rankings for bachelor's degrees in the virtual classroom, offers a list of degrees that features two dozen subjects across multiple disciplines as of Spring 2015. Also among the nationwide leaders for online bachelor's degrees was Oregon State University, which offered a total of 19 undergraduate degrees online in Spring 2015 and includes such specialized areas of study as horticulture, sustainability and fisheries and wildlife sciences.

If you're interested, start exploring what online degrees might be offered near you by checking out this map, which shows the location of all colleges in New Mexico based on 2013 data from the NCES. (Mobile users will need to visit the full Schools.com site to use the map.)

Best industries and degrees to get in New Mexico

The New Mexico Department of Labor (DOL) reports that the statewide job market is expected to grow by about 12 percent between 2012 and 2022, staying largely in step with the national average, but projections show that certain professions should experience more significant gains than others. Earning a degree in one of these fields can't guarantee employment after graduation, but taking university training in a field with long-term growth potential might help you navigate the working world with a little more confidence.

  • Statistics published by the DOL indicate that graduates with degrees in teaching should see excellent employment prospects over the next several years. Elementary, middle and vocational school teaching positions are all expected to grow about 28 percent by 2022, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows a mean annual salary around or above $50,000 for all three fields in New Mexico in 2014. Subject-specific degrees such as biology, chemistry, English and math may also qualify you for elementary or secondary work, and those hoping to teach at public institutions must also pass a licensure exam given by the New Mexico Public Education Department.
  • Tech careers are on the rise just about everywhere, and plenty of traditional and online colleges in New Mexico offer a bachelor's or master's degree in computer science to help you get your start in the field. Jobs for computer systems analysts are expected to increase 25 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to the DOL, and employment of information security analysts should rise about 38 percent in the same period. The information industry was also the fastest-growing sector of the New Mexico economy in early 2015, according to BLS data, growing more than 4 percent on average during the first three months of the year.

The New Mexico Department of Labor reports that the statewide job market is expected to grow by about 12 percent between 2012 and 2022, but projections show that certain professions should experience more significant gains than others.

  • Occupational therapy is one of the hottest careers in New Mexico and nationwide, according to data from the BLS and DOL, with 28 percent expected growth reported at both the state and national levels. A master's degree or higher is typically required to practice, and New Mexico occupational therapists earned an average of $79,550 in 2014. Positions for occupational therapy assistants, which paid $56,480 in New Mexico in 2014, are growing even faster in the state — 43 percent growth by 2022 is expected, according to the DOL — which can allow you to get experience in the field while working toward the full master's degree in the subject.
  • Two of the top five employers in New Mexico are large health care facilities, and no fewer than nine of the ten fastest-growing jobs that require an associate degree can be found in the health care field. Graduates with two-year degrees or certificates in diagnostic medical sonography, cardiovascular technology or clinical laboratory technology should see considerable opportunity over the next several years, with DOL growth projections of 40 percent, 24 percent and 26 percent in each field respectively. Sonographers earned the highest annual wages of the three in 2014, a mean figure of $65,580, but none of the three careers mentioned averaged less than $48,000 for the year.
  • Working professionals looking to advance their careers can get ready for the next level with degrees and certificates in business administration and management at most campus-based and online schools in New Mexico. Management professions in fields such as public relations, health services, social services and general business operations are all expected to grow faster than average between 2012 and 2022, and management occupations typically offer considerable salary compensation for the investment of work experience and formal training necessary to qualify for them. In 2014, managers across all industries in New Mexico earned mean wages of $92,640 for the year, or between $44 and $45 per hour.

New Mexico colleges

Certain traditional and online colleges in New Mexico have been nationally recognized for their approach to instruction in certain subject areas, and knowing what you want to study can help you narrow down your choice of institution. Here's some information about a few New Mexico schools, along with a short list of standout degree programs at each one:

Institution name Online degrees? Top programs
University of New Mexico Yes Occupational therapy, earth sciences, engineering, primary care medicine, rural medicine, family medicine, medical research, graduate education (online), clinical psychology, history, political science, pharmacy, printmaking, photography
New Mexico State University Yes Social work, biological sciences, graduate nursing (on campus and online), graduate education (online), graduate criminal justice (online), graduate engineering (online), chemistry, physics, math, psychology, social work, fine arts
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology No (some online graduate courses available) Environmental geology, petroleum geology, materials engineering, geophysics, hydrology, geochemistry, computer science, geobiology (doctorate)
Santa Fe University of Art and Design Yes (professional certificates) Graphic design, creative writing, music, film (on campus and online), theater, photography, studio arts, digital arts, business arts management
New Mexico Highlands University No Social work, rehabilitation counseling, media arts, English, chemistry, criminal justice, educational leadership
University of the Southwest Yes Elementary education, special education, school counseling, history, psychology, biological sciences, MBA (online)

Whether you're interested in taking a class online or earning your entire degree without stepping foot on campus, there may be a program that meets your needs. Take a closer look at online schools in New Mexico and request additional information below to learn more today.

1. College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed May 9, 2015, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=NM&ic=1+2&en=700
2. State and County Quickfacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed May 9, 2015, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/35/3502000.html
3-7. Overall Rankings, U.S. News and World Report, accessed May 9, 2015: University of New Mexico, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-new-mexico-main-campus-187985/overall-rankings; New Mexico State University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/new-mexico-state-university-main-campus-188030/overall-rankings; New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/new-mexico-institute-of-mining-and-technology-187967/overall-rankings; University of the Southwest, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-the-southwest-188182/overall-rankings; New Mexico Highlands University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/new-mexico-highlands-university-187897/overall-rankings;
8.Best Online Bachelor's Programs, U.S. News and World Report,  http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/bachelors/rankings
9. Best Online Nursing Programs, p3, U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/nursing/rankings?page=3
10. Bachelor Degree, Penn State World Campus, The Pennsylvania State University, http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates/directory/undergraduate/bachelor
11. Undergraduate Degrees Online, Oregon State University, http://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/online-degrees/undergraduate/
12. New Mexico Economy at a Glance, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed May 10, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.nm.htm
13. May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed May 10, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_NM.htm
14. Fastest-Growing Occupations, Career InfoNet, accessed May 10, 2015, http://www.careerinfonet.org/oview1.asp?printer=&next=oview1&level=Overall&optstatus=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=35&jobfam=&group=1&showall=yes
15. NMPED Licensure, New Mexico Public Education Department, accessed May 10, 2015, http://www.ped.state.nm.us/Licensure/2010/index.html
16. "Top 5 Employers in New Mexico: Which Companies Have the Most Jobs?," Shawndra Russell, Newsmax, accessed May 10, 2015, http://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/employers-in-new-mexico-companies-jobs/2015/04/19/id/638398/
17. Occupational Therapists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Occupational-therapists.htm
18. Departments and Degrees, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, http://www.nmt.edu/departments-and-degrees
19. Distance Education, Academic Center for Technology, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, http://act.nmt.edu/distance/
20. About our Faculty, New Mexico Highlands University, accessed May 10, 2015, http://www.nmhu.edu/about-our-faculty/
21. Academics, Santa Fe University of Art and Design, accessed May 10, 2015, http://santafeuniversity.edu/academics/
22. Online Certificates, Santa Fe University of Art and Design, http://santafeuniversity.edu/online-film-certificates/certificates/
23. Academics, University of the Southwest, https://www.usw.edu/Academics

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