The natural beauty, Southwestern culture and cosmopolitan city living available in New Mexico are all points of pride in the Land of Enchantment, and that's not all that residents have to brag about. New Mexico is also home to some of the best colleges and universities in the country.
The state of New Mexico has 24 different institutions of higher education. They range from independent community colleges, community colleges that are branches of four-year universities, public and private baccalaureate colleges and universities, plus several research institutions.
Whether you're aiming for a four-year school right away or you're thinking about attending a two-year school first and then transferring to a four-year school later, the information on this page is designed to help you understand your options so you can make an informed decision. To help you decide which four-year schools might be the best choice for you, check out our rankings below. If you're a student at a two-year institution in New Mexico, though, don't forget to check with your advisor and find out if you can take advantage of any special transfer agreements with four-year schools in the state.
Best 4-Year Colleges in New Mexico
There's a lot of data available on New Mexico schools, but it's no easy task for prospective students to dig it all up and make sense of the numbers. We analyzed info on student success, tuition cost, financial aid availability, online education access and more to sort the best colleges and universities in New Mexico from the rest. Check out our list below, and for more insight into the state's education, check out the top New Mexico community colleges.
The historical roots of New Mexico State University stretch back to the region's territorial days, when two small New Mexico colleges -- Las Cruces College and the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts -- were founded in the late 1880s. Just 35 students were on the rolls when two institutions merged in 1890, but that resulting school went on to occupy a 900-acre campus and educate more than 14,000 students annually.
Seven academic colleges offer courses and degree plans at NMSU, including the oldest Honors College in New Mexico. Undergraduates can choose from close to 100 bachelor's programs, and graduate students have more than 70 degree and certificate programs available.
The College of Arts and Sciences is the most popular destination for undergraduate majors, claiming more than 35 percent of enrolled students in 2017. Engineering, education and business are also among the top areas of study.
Western New Mexico University counts roughly 3,500 degree seekers on its rolls, but the educational opportunity here is anything but small. A diverse array of more than 70 fields of study can be found here, "from accounting to zoology," as the school puts it, and the average class size is 18 students.
The Silver City school also has a place among the top colleges and universities in New Mexico for online programs and courses, offering close to 20 degree plans in the virtual classroom. Online degrees in business administration and education can be earned at the associate, bachelor's or master's level, good news for those who appreciate online courses.
The town of Silver City is community of fewer than 10,000 residents, located near the southern tip of Gila National Forest. Silver City itself is home to numerous art galleries and local events like the Silver City Blues Festival.
Albuquerque is the largest metro area in New Mexico by far, so it stands to reason that the largest student body among New Mexico universities should be found there. Founded in 1889, the University of New Mexico has grown into an institution that serves more than 34,000 students annually.
No fewer than 12 academic colleges and schools are equipped to guide UNM students on their path to graduation, including a few that may not be easy to find at other New Mexico schools. The College of Population Health, for example, focuses on public health issues, and the college of University Libraries and Learning Sciences trains aspiring librarians, archivists and information scholars.
The Albuquerque campus isn't the only location of UNM in the state. Branch campuses in Gallup, Los Alamos, Valencia and Taos work to serve students in other regions of the state.
Student success stands at the forefront of the mission at Eastern New Mexico University, and the institution makes sure to highlight the achievements of its recent graduates. Success stories of ENMU alumni are shared regularly on the institution's website to remind students of the many directions in which their education can take them.
Approximately 6,000 students attend classes at the main Portales campus of ENMU, with around 4,600 of them pursuing undergraduate degrees. The top bachelor's programs here are business administration, nursing, criminal justice and biology.
The wide range of online degree programs available at ENMU qualify it to be mentioned among the top schools in New Mexico for distance learning. More than 35 bachelor's program concentrations and 15 master's degree plans can be taken entirely online. Around a dozen minors are available for online students as well.
Located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the state's largest mountain range, New Mexico Highlands University has a history that stretches back more than a century. The territorial legislature of New Mexico established the institution as New Mexico Normal School in 1893, but it grew quickly into an accredited university and took its current name in 1941.
NMHU aims to provide affordable education both online and on campus, and the numbers show that it's working. Undergraduate tuition and fees for a full-time, in-state student come to around $6,000 for the year -- nearly $4,000 more affordable than the national annual average of $9,970 for public universities.
Students who like a more intimate campus environment might feel right at home at NMHU. The Las Vegas campus had just over 1,700 students on the rolls in 2016.
The University of Phoenix is a nationwide chain of accredited for-profit institutions that offers degree programs at all academic levels. A brick-and-mortar campus does exist in Albuquerque, but online degree programs make up the bulk of its available academic plans.
Few other online colleges in New Mexico offer an array of online degrees as large as the one at University of Phoenix - New Mexico. More than 40 bachelor's programs, 30 master's degree plans and 10 Associate of Arts (A.A.) programs comprise the catalog here, as well as dozens of certificate programs and close to ten doctorates.
Degrees in business administration and management are the most popular programs system-wide at the University of Phoenix, and the programs offered at the Albuquerque campus reflect this. More than 15 types of Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in business are available as of 2018.
Chances are pretty good that students at Southwest University of the Visual Arts -- a Tucson, Arizona, based school with a campus in New Mexico -- could all know each other's names. The Albuquerque outpost of this private arts college is one of the smallest institutions in the state, with total enrollment of fewer than 300 students.
Perhaps because of that close-knit campus environment, SUVA was one of the best schools in New Mexico in terms of graduation rate. More than eight out of every ten students completed their degrees within six years.
As an arts university, SUVA doesn't offer traditional bachelor's degrees in subjects like business, psychology, math, history or the sciences. Students seeking degrees in animation, advertising, graphic design, photography, landscape architecture or other creative pursuits, however, should be among kindred spirits here.
Most Popular Degree Programs in New Mexico
Knowing which degree programs New Mexico students seek out most often can help you get an idea of the general higher education climate in your state. Check out this list of top New Mexico degrees by enrollment.
In-Demand Careers in New Mexico
Finding that first job out of college is notoriously challenging, but keeping an eye on employment projections and angling your education toward gaps in the market may make the search a little easier. Here's a list of high-demand careers in New Mexico.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Solar Photovoltaic Installers||112.6%||170||$43,260|
|Wind Turbine Service Technicians||57.5%||150||$52,530|
|Information Security Analysts||37.2%||960||$109,550|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||36.5%||30,230||$22,720|
|Roustabouts, Oil and Gas||25.7%||4,240||$35,690|
|Physical Therapist Aides||25.1%||280||$28,540|
|Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas||24.2%||1,070||$49,500|
|Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas||24%||1,040||$47,400|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||23.6%||600||$51,190|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||23.5%||500||$66,460|
|Computer and Information Research Scientists||23.4%||730||$129,950|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||22.9%||-||$150,480|
|Septic Tank Servicers and Sewer Pipe Cleaners||22.4%||160||$34,530|
|Operations Research Analysts||22.3%||340||$86,100|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||21.7%||3,490||$88,980|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||21.2%||90||$67,410|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||20.8%||1,880||$55,160|
|Geological and Hydrologic Technicians||20.3%||110||$61,110|
|Service Unit Operators, Oil and Gas||19%||2,390||$63,900|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in New Mexico
State-based financial aid programs, like The Legislative Lottery Scholarship, may award up to the full tuition amount for full-time college students who earned their high school diploma or equivalency in New Mexico. In addition, The Student Incentive Grant Program awards need-based aid to students at nonprofit public and private colleges in New Mexico
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
April 24 (for students who will attend out-of-state schools or in-state private schools); June 27 (for students who will attend New Mexico in-state state public schools)
Recipient must reapply, maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA, remain a New Mexico resident, and demonstrate continued financial need.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
- New Mexico Higher Education Department
- New Mexico Higher Education Dashboard
- Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) New Mexico
- New Mexico's 529 College Savings Plan
- High School Equivalency Information
To get our list of the best colleges, we ranked 1,383 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the following data points and the weights specified. In order to be included in the ranking, schools had to report data for each of the following data points:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- The average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduate students as a percentage of in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered on campus, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Programs of study that can be completed entirely on weekends or in the evening
- Remedial services
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Guaranteed tuition plan
- Tuition payment plan
- Any other alternative tuition plan
Note:Tuition prices are based on data for the 2016-17 academic year reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.
All of the National Center for Education Statistics data came from IPEDS:
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2015-16, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- School pages, accessed April 26, 2018: A Brief History, New Mexico State University, https://www.nmsu.edu/ourheritage.html; Office of Institutional Analysis, New Mexico State University, http://oia.nmsu.edu/; Academics, New Mexico State University, http://admissions.nmsu.edu/academics/; Graduate Programs, New Mexico State University, http://gradschool.nmsu.edu/graduate-programs/; About, Western New Mexico University, https://wnmu.edu/about/; Online Programs, Western New Mexico University, https://online.wnmu.edu/offerings/#undergraduate; About, The University of New Mexico, https://www.unm.edu/welcome/index.html; Campuses & Special Programs, The University of New Mexico, https://www.unm.edu/campuses/index.html; The People, The University of New Mexico, https://www.unm.edu/welcome/about/index.html; Academic Programs, The University of New Mexico, https://www.unm.edu/academics/index.html; About, Eastern New Mexico University, https://www.enmu.edu/about; Facts and Figures, Eastern New Mexico University, https://www.enmu.edu/about/general-information/enmu-facts-figures; Alumni Highlights, Eastern New Mexico University, https://www.enmu.edu/about/news-and-events/enmu-news/alumni-highlights; Online Programs, Eastern New Mexico University, https://www.enmu.edu/academics/degrees-programs/online-programs; New Mexico Highlands' History, New Mexico Highlands University, http://www.nmhu.edu/campus-tour/new-mexico-highlands-history/; MNHU Mission, Vision, Values, Strategic Goals, New Mexico Highlands University, http://www.nmhu.edu/about-nmhu/; Fall Headcounts By Campus, 2016-2017 Factbook, New Mexico Highlands University, http://its.nmhu.edu/IntranetUploads/004680-2016-17Fact-6152017105901.pdf#page=15; Tuition and Fees, New Mexico Highlands University, http://www.nmhu.edu/office-of-the-registrar/tuition-and-fees/#tuition%20and%20fees; Online Business Degrees, University of Phoenix, https://www.phoenix.edu/business.html; Program Finder, University of Phoenix, https://www.phoenix.edu/degrees/bachelors.html; About, Southwest University of the Visual Arts, http://suva.edu/about/; Campus Information, Southwest University of the Visual Arts, http://suva.edu/about/campusinfo; Quick Facts, Southwest University of the Visual Arts, http://www.suva.edu/about/suvafacts; Academic Programs, Southwest University of the Visual Arts, http://suva.edu/programs/;
- Tuition and Fees and Room and Board over Time, Trends in Higher Education, The College Board, accessed April 26, 2018, https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-room-and-board-over-time
- Silver City, New Mexico, QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed April 26, 2018, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/silvercitytownnewmexico/PST045217
- Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Sangres.com, accessed April 26, 2018, http://www.sangres.com/mountains/sangres.htm#.WuN1ypch2M8
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- From Territory to Statehood: The Southwest, The Library of Congress, accessed May 29, 2017, http://loc.gov/rr/news/topics/FTTSTheSouthwest.html
- Brochure, Financial Aid Division, New Mexico Higher Education Department, accessed May 17, 2017, http://www.hed.state.nm.us/uploads/files/Brochure%20Final-%20updated%20cover%202-23.pdf