- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2015-16, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed March 2, 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2014-15, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, accessed March 2, 2016, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- School pages, accessed May 29, 2017: Why should I choose NORTHERN?, Northern New Mexico College, http://nnmc.edu/home/about-northern/why-should-i-go-to-northern/; About NMSU, New Mexico State University, https://www.nmsu.edu/about.html; About the University of New Mexico, University of New Mexico, http://www.unm.edu/welcome/index.html; Online Programs, Western New Mexico University, http://online.wnmu.edu/offerings/#undergraduate; Online Degrees, Eastern New Mexico University, http://www.enmu.edu/index.php?option=com_content&Itemid=355&catid=30&id=136&lang=en-us&view=article; NMHU Mission, Vision, Values, Strategic Goals, New Mexico Highlands University, http://www.nmhu.edu/about-nmhu/; About USW, University of the Southwest, https://www.usw.edu/about-usw; Undergraduate Online Programs, University of the Southwest, https://www.usw.edu/USW-Online/Undergraduate-Online-Programs; New Mexico Campus, University of Phoenix, http://www.phoenix.edu/campus-locations/nm/new-mexico-campus/new-mexico-campus.html; About St. John's, St. John's College, https://www.sjc.edu/about; Southwest University of Visual Arts, http://suva.edu/;
- 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
- Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
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
To give you an idea of what's out there, we put together a sizeable set of data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and other U.S. Department of Education sources and analyzed it with a detailed methodology that you can read about by clicking the button below.
Northern New Mexico College grabbed the No. 1 overall spot on our list thanks to its placement among the top three schools on eight of our 13 metrics. It featured the most affordable raw cost of tuition and fees in the state by a considerable margin in 2015-16, and its average net price — the estimated out-of-pocket cost of tuition, fees, housing and other necessary expenses after the average amount of institutional grant and scholarship aid is subtracted — was No. 1 in the state for students of average income.
The comparatively low admissions costs at this Espanola school helped lead to another impressive statistic among top New Mexico universities. Northern graduates reported a median college debt of just $7,000 after finishing their degrees, good for the No. 1 spot in the state in that category and No. 5 among all 1,649 schools we surveyed nationally.
Student aid in the form of institutional grants can go a long way toward helping you comfortably afford your education, and the numbers show that New Mexico State University takes pains to make that type of assistance available to its students. NCES numbers show that not only does the flagship campus of NMSU provide the highest proportion of institutional grant aid in the state; only 10 other schools in the country covered a larger percentage of tuition and fees per student with similar aid programs.
Average net price was also a bright spot for the Las Cruces institution. Just two other schools in the state reported lower out-of-pocket cost estimates for both middle- and low-income students. NMSU also featured the state's second-largest catalog of campus-based academic degrees in 2015-16, and its array of programs available via distance education ranked No. 4 statewide.
The main campus of the University of New Mexico was founded in 1889, over 20 years before its namesake became an official U.S. state. The school's well-established roots now support a student body of more than 27,000, marking it as the largest university in the state by enrollment. The academic degree catalog available at UNM ranked No. 1 in the state for its variety with business administration and management being the most popular major among students.
Students at UNM had a tendency to finish the degree programs that they started, according to NCES numbers. Only one other school in the state posted a higher graduation rate than the Albuquerque school. In addition to students completing their programs, more than 70 percent of graduates reported being able to repay their student loans within three years of finishing their degrees. Campus-based flexibility measures, including degree programs that can be completed using only weekend and evening classes, are also available here.
Western New Mexico University ranked No. 4 in the state for its affordable raw cost of tuition and fees, and students in search of financial aid through institutional grants are likely to find the help they're looking for. This Silver City school took the No. 2 spot statewide for the percentage of its tuition covered by institutional grant aid.
WNMU was also one of the best online schools for New Mexico students, offering a catalog of degree plans via distance education that was the state's second-largest. Their online undergraduate programs include education, business, English, criminal justice, health care and the social sciences. It was also one of the best online colleges in New Mexico by enrollment, reporting a statewide No. 3 online enrollment rate of more than 61 percent of students.
Online courses and degrees are a big part of the mission at the main campus of Eastern New Mexico University, where the NCES reported the top distance education enrollment rate in the state. Students taking all or part of their coursework in the virtual classroom made up nearly 95 percent of the total enrolled population at Eastern in 2015. Theironline catalog contains some relatively rare online programs in subjects like aviation science, communicative disorders and personal financial planning.
Education at Eastern was also among the most affordable in New Mexico. The Portales school ranked No. 3 statewide for its raw cost of tuition and fees, and students paid the second-lowest average cost for books and supplies of any school in the state.
New Mexico Highlands University compiled a list of strong placements on our affordability metrics. The No. 2 most-affordable average cost of tuition and fees could be found here, as well as a cost of books and supplies that only two other schools in the state could beat. It also featured the state's lowest average net price for low-income students and the No. 2 average net price statewide for those with family incomes closer to average.
All that affordability at the point of payment translated to the state's second-lowest median student debt for recent graduates. In fact, the $12,500 average debt figure for HU alumni also fell in the 98th percentile of all the schools we analyzed nationwide.
This private, faith-based university in Hobbs was one of the best online colleges in New Mexico by the numbers, offering the statewide No. 1 array of online study plans in 2015-16 and serving the second-highest percentage of online students in the state. Online programs at USW focus mainly on the various branches of business administration, but social sciences degrees are also available.
Graduates of USW also had access to reasonably well-paying jobs once they finished their degree programs, according to the numbers. Just three other schools in New Mexico reported a higher percentage of alumni who were able to eliminate the balance of their student loans within three years of leaving school.
The University of Phoenix, a nationwide chain of higher education institutions, does maintain a brick-and-mortar campus in Albuquerque, but online programs make up the bulk of its available degree plans. Only two other institutions that offer online bachelor's degree programs in New Mexico featured a wider array of distance education degree programs than the University of Phoenix - New Mexico.
It also was one of the few four-year schools in the state to offer opportunities for students to turn their life experience into course credit, and its campus-based degree programs tended to be flexible enough that students who work day jobs can complete them on the weekends and in evenings. Alternative options for tuition payment are available as well.
This tiny liberal arts college in Santa Fe featured the state's No. 3 graduation rate in 2016, as well as the second-highest percentage of first-year students who returned to continue their degree programs as sophomores.
St. John's was also something of a study in extremes, as far as our rankings around affordability were concerned. For example, it charged the lowest average amount for books and supplies in 2015-16, but the raw cost of its tuition and fees was highest in the state. It offered the third-highest amount of institutional grant aid in the state, but its average net price figures for low- and middle-income students placed at No. 7 and No. 9 statewide, respectively. The bottom line: Alumni of St. John's had the No. 1 rate of student loan repayment within three years — more than 82 percent — of any four-year school in the state.
Our No. 10 school is also the smallest one on our list, featuring a total 2016 enrollment of just over 100 students. The state's top rates of graduation and student retention were found here, which suggests a deep commitment to student learning outcomes on the part of faculty and staff. The cost of books and supplies at SUVA ranked No. 3 in the state for affordability.
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, illustration, graphic design, photography, landscape architecture or other creative pursuits in visual media, however, are likely to find what they're looking for at this Albuquerque school.
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|
|Personal Care Aides||42.2%||23,940||$20,020|
|Home Health Aides||40.2%||8,050||$23,480|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||36.5%||390||$49,160|
|Physical Therapist Aides||35.9%||210||$29,790|
|Personal Financial Advisors||31.5%||510||-|
|Operations Research Analysts||29.5%||350||$86,650|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||29.2%||500||$67,880|
|Interpreters and Translators||28.1%||270||$58,990|
|Counselors, All Other||26.7%||220||-|
|Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians||26.3%||300||$51,480|
|Therapists, All Other||25.7%||130||$68,300|
|Health Technologists and Technicians, All Other||25.5%||580||$42,850|
|Law Teachers, Postsecondary||25%||50||$125,850|
|Septic Tank Servicers and Sewer Pipe Cleaners||24.8%||140||$32,710|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||24.1%||140||$61,770|
|Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary||24%||60||$60,040|
|Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians||24%||130||$29,940|
|Dental Laboratory Technicians||23.7%||90||$37,970|
|Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education||23.3%||2,250||$31,500|
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