Best Online Colleges in New Mexico

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In New Mexico, earning a college education online is becoming increasingly common. The flexibility of online study is convenient not only for students living in New Mexico’s rural communities, but also for those who want the convenience of attending college on their own time, without sacrificing academic quality.

New Mexico is part of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). As a WICHE member state, New Mexico provides a variety of benefits to distance learners. These include reduced tuition and interstate reciprocity agreements, which allow students to pursue academic programs that are not offered in New Mexico. Community colleges, state colleges, and the University of New Mexico system all work to provide distance learners with the services and help they need to thrive, ensuring that all students, regardless of location, have the tools to succeed in school.

Distance learners can study at their own pace, accommodating their work schedules or any other responsibilities that make attending classes on campus difficult. As online education becomes increasingly popular, students can expect universities to offer more and more of their programs online with each passing year.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus 73.75 3/5 29% Portales, NM

Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) is the state’s largest regional comprehensive university. It’s curriculum, emphasizing the liberal arts, inquiry, diversity, and whole student life, is delivered to approximately 6,000 students. The school offers more than 60 associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs. It’s top 10 undergraduate degree programs include business administration, nursing, criminal justice, biology, and communicative disorders.

ENMU, among online colleges in New Mexico, offers online degrees administered by the Office of Distance Education and Outreach. Bachelor’s programs that can be earned 100% online include the fields of business administration with several areas of specialization, career and technical education, communicative disorders, and emergency management. Of note is an online aviation program (BS and BA/AS) providing students with the education and training for careers in aviation such as ground operations and servicing, safety, and maintenance. ENMU’s tuition is among the lowest for public Southwestern institutions.

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2 New Mexico State University-Main Campus 69.17 3/5 44% Las Cruces, NM

With a 900-acre campus in the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico State University (NMSU) serves more than 15,000 students from 49 states and many countries across the globe. NMSU, a NASA Space Grant College, offers 92 bachelor’s, 57 master’s, 31 doctoral programs, and several certificates. NMSU is among New Mexico’s online colleges offering distance learning at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Bachelor’s degrees can be earned 100% online and hybrid in sociology, business administration, criminal justice, information and communication technology, elementary education, and nursing. The school’s 2 + 2 bachelor’s degrees in sociology and business administration can be earned 100% online. Students complete the first two years at NMSU Alamogordo Community and the next two years at NMSU Las Cruces via online learning. NMSU utilizes web-based technologies, interactive TV, and off-site classes in delivering distance learning.

Master’s degrees include education and health-related programs, as well as engineering and public administration. The university is unique in the state as it offers one of the few PhD degrees in nursing with a health policy concentration.

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3 University of the Southwest 64.17 3/5 22% Hobbs, NM

A Christ-centered university located in Hobbs, the University of the Southwest (USW) offers educational programming rooted in academic excellence and servant leadership. Students at USW have 50 undergraduate programs and 15 graduate programs from which to choose. One of the best online colleges in New Mexico, all USW’s graduate programs are available via distance learning.

USW, which does not charge out-of-state tuition or distance education fees, offers three bachelor’s degrees online in business administration, psychology, and criminal justice. The online BBA is notable because there are several degree plans such as e-commerce, accounting, finance, health care management, and sport management. Students can seamlessly move from the BBA into the online MBA. Online classes are available 24/7 via Blackboard and CAMS-Enterprise course management, e/pop web conferencing, and MediaCAST. USW has a virtual books store, online tutoring, and affordable tuition.

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4 New Mexico Highlands University 58.33 2/5 16% Las Vegas, NM

New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU), a public institution located in Las Vegas, New Mexico, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees on its main campus, at four centers throughout the state, and online. NMHU touts its “affordable excellence” in programming in the arts and sciences, education, business, and social work. NMHU, one of the online colleges in New Mexico, offers several graduate degrees and courses 100% online using the Desire2Learn or Blackboard Collaborate course learning management systems.

The RN-to-BSN is also offered online for registered nurses holding an associate degree or diploma in nursing who would like to earn a baccalaureate degree. Online students have 24/7 access to NetTutor, an online tutoring program in more than 30 subjects. The school’s dual enrollment program allows high school students to earn college credit toward a bachelor’s while still in high school.

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5 Western New Mexico University 52.08 3/5 16% Silver City, NM

Established in 1893, Western New Mexico University (WNMU) is a comprehensive regional and rural university serving more than 3,500 students on its five campuses and via e-learning. WNMU’s catalog of offerings comprises approximately 70 fields of study from accounting to environmental sustainability. One of the best online colleges in New Mexico, WNMU delivers e-learning that is affordable with some of the lowest in-state tuition in the nation and special tuition discounts of about $7,000 for students living in certain states.

Bachelor’s degree programs are offered online in fields such as business, interdisciplinary studies, nursing, and special education. A notable programs is the BA in Rehabilitation Services designed to prepare students with field experience to work with people with disabilities. Most online programs are delivered asynchronously, but some do require on-campus activities such as labs or meetings via web-conferencing

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More About Online Colleges in New Mexico

New Mexico has cut higher education spending since 2008 like many other states and has decreased spending by 34.2% since 2008 (a loss of $4,588 per student). However, New Mexico has increased spending 5.7% this past year, showing some effort to mitigate these cuts, and it is apparent that the local government is seeking to address these concerns in new education initiatives. Theses cuts have driven up tuition rates and have placed more of the burden on the students themselves, especially from low-income households. Tuition in New Mexico has increased 25.4% since 2008 ($1,214), and experienced a 3.9% ($225) increase from 2013-2014. Online education is generally more affordable, and in a challenging economic environment, could be an effective way for students to increase their earning potential while continuing their employment.

Browse our list of the best online colleges in New Mexico for more insight into distance learning programs in this state.

NCES Report

A 2014 report by the US Department of Education identified the following about online education’s contributions to the New Mexican postsecondary system:

  • The total number of students enrolled exclusively in distance education courses in New Mexico was 20,357 in fall 2012.
  • Of these, 17,364 were enrolled exclusively in undergraduate distance courses (12.1% of total undergraduates), and 2,993 were enrolled exclusively in graduate distance education courses (20.4% of total graduate students).
  • 10.1% of all degree-seeking students in New Mexico were enrolled exclusively online. 4,505 (8.6% of attendees) were enrolled at Title IV public 4-year institutions were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses.
  • 12,382 students (15.3% of attendees) were enrolled in 2-year institutions exclusively online.

According to data collected by The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, New Mexico ranks #1 in the Nation for Student loan defaults. First year retention rate at 4 year colleges is 71.8% and the state currently averages a cost per student of $11,833. The average 4-year degree costs $54,271 (ranked #42 in the nation).

As New Mexico continues to battle dwindling college attendance, new digital education initiatives like IDEAL New Mexico are providing online learning opportunities for students in grades K-12. This program is designed to offer educational opportunities to a broader range of students, and seeks to involve a greater number of students in pre-college and college readiness preparation. New Mexico is seeking to increase the number of high school graduates, and the number of students who enter college. As the local economy slowly recovers, the state is hoping to offer more flexible programs that will engage a greater portion of the young population and offer incentives to attract out-of-state students.

Currently the University of New Mexico is a leader in online education in New Mexico, offering the widest range of online courses. Also of note, is that all of New Mexico’s Tribal colleges offer online education. These programs are designed to be affordable and flexible. All programs are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Best Online Colleges in New Mexico of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Eastern New Mexico University Portales, NM
2 University of New Mexixo Albuquerque, NM
3 University of the Southwest Hobbs, NM
4 Western New Mexico University Silver City, NM