More and more students are attending postsecondary institutions to develop the specialized skills for career entry and professional advancement. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the undergraduate student population in the U.S. is expected to grow from 16.8 million to 17.2 million between 2017 and 2028. Additionally, individuals who earn college credentials enjoy better job opportunities and higher pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that those with an associate degree earn $7,000 more in average annual salary than those with only a high school diploma.
Due to mounting tuition prices, you may not want to enroll in a bachelor's program immediately after graduating high school. Community colleges represent an affordable and flexible alternative, offering associate tracks that seamlessly transfer into baccalaureate-completion plans with partnering four-year institutions. Community colleges also deliver technical certificate programs that prepare you for a career in high-need trade industries like construction, agriculture, medical assisting, and manufacturing technology.
Top 10 Community Colleges in New Mexico
- Mesalands Community College - Tucumcari, NM
- Eastern New Mexico University - Roswell, NM
- Central New Mexico Community College - Albuquerque, NM
- New Mexico Junior College - Hobbs, NM
- Clovis Community College - Clovis, NM
- San Juan College - Farmington, NM
- Santa Fe Community College - Santa Fe, NM
- Luna Community College - Las Vegas, NM
- University of New Mexico - Ranchos de Taos, NM
- New Mexico State University - Grants, NM
The sheer number of community college program options out there can prove overwhelming. This guide aids your search for the right school by providing information on the 15 best community colleges in New Mexico. Each profile details academic offerings, distance education options, and general admission criteria. You will also gain insight into tuition prices and financial aid. If a college piques your interest, contact the institution's admissions specialists for more details. These counselors can help you navigate the enrollment process and apply for work-study positions, scholarships, and grants.
By attending a community college in New Mexico, you stand to benefit from an expanding economy, particularly in the construction, mining, and hospitality sectors. BLS data shows the state's unemployment rate at 4.9% as of August 2019, steadily decreasing over the past three years. New Mexico also offers a low cost of living; even in metropolitan areas like Albuquerque, living expenses fall 5% below the national average.
2020 Best Accredited Community Colleges in New Mexico
Mesalands Community College
|Tucumcari, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
Based in Tucumcari, Mesalands Community College serves over 1,000 students every semester. The school delivers transfer-focused associate degrees and technical certificates, many of which learners can earn remotely through asynchronous classes powered by the Moodle platform. Online programs include computer information systems, allied health, and health and physical education. Distance learners can also take coursework in mathematics and the physical sciences.
As one of the best community colleges in New Mexico, Mesalands delivers campus-based programs in areas like animal science, building trades, and wind energy technology. The college offers an associate degree in agribusiness, which prepares students for careers in farming and ranching. Learners who want to earn career-relevant certificates choose from programs in farrier science, technical and professional writing, and western silversmithing and fabrication. They can also pursue pre-nursing training in preparation for transfer into two- or four-year programs. In addition to affordable tuition prices, Mesalands provides a variety of scholarships.
Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Campus
|Roswell, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
Established in 1958, Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell enrolls 3,000 students in more than 80 certificate and associate programs. The school operates an open-door admissions process that only requires candidates to complete an online application and sit for placement exams. Learners pay low tuition rates based on where they reside. All students can apply for financial aid, which includes scholarships for resident high school graduates, nursing candidates, and undocumented individuals.
ENMU-Roswell operates academic programs in three broad areas: arts and sciences, allied health, and technical education. Options for technical education include certificate training for automotive technology and police science. Students can also pursue professional pilot training, which results in an associate of applied science approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Graduates complete the necessary flight hours to work as airline transport pilots. ENMU-Roswell is one of the few community colleges in New Mexico to operate completion tracks for bachelor's and master's degrees in partnership with ENMU-Portales.
Central New Mexico Community College
|Albuquerque, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 24%||
Located in Albuquerque, Central New Mexico Community College provides over 200 academic and career training programs through six schools. CNM is the largest community college in New Mexico, serving 22,000 students every semester. Prospective learners need to have either a minimum 2.5 high school GPA or transferable college credits. The school also accepts applicants with adequate ACT, SAT, PARC, or ACCUPLACER scores. Students benefit from ample financial aid opportunities, including state grants and institutional awards. CNM funds scholarships for state residents, first-generation students, returning learners, and members of Native American communities.
The catalog features technical certificate programs in industries like carpentry and photovoltaic systems. Additionally, students can train to become automotive technicians, truck drivers, and veterinary receptionists. CNM also delivers certificates that prepare learners to enter skilled and paraprofessional occupations. For students who want to earn associate credentials, options include psychology, computer information systems, and business administration. Students can also enroll in one of eight pre-health programs, such as nursing, dental hygiene, or health education.
New Mexico Junior College
|Hobbs, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
New Mexico Junior College is a comprehensive two-year institution based in Hobbs. The school educates more than 2,200 students through 14 academic and technical programs. NMJC also offers dual-enrollment opportunities for public high school juniors and seniors. In addition to affordable tuition rates and one-on-one career services, students can access generous financial aid. Award opportunities include foundation scholarships based on academic performance and intended field of study. To apply for these scholarships, students submit an online application, current transcripts, and a one-page personal essay.
NMJC operates two dedicated transfer programs. Students can earn an associate of arts or science before completing their bachelor's degree at a partnering four-year institution. Candidates who want to work in trade careers can earn technical associate degrees in areas like cosmetology, energy technology, and law enforcement and corrections. They may also enroll in the animal science program and complete a generalist curriculum or pursue a specialized equine training track. Consistent with other community colleges in New Mexico, NMJC delivers distance education through Canvas.
Clovis Community College
|Clovis, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
Clovis Community College provides accessible higher education to individuals of all backgrounds, enrolling more than 3,100 students in associate and certificate programs. CCC also provides industry training and dual-enrollment opportunities. Students pay low tuition rates based on residency status and benefit from financial aid and tutoring services. Furthermore, CCC provides resume-building and job search assistance through its Career and Development Center.
Technical certificate programs include legal assistant studies, welding, and emergency medical services. Students can also enroll in an industrial technology program, which covers plant operations, equipment maintenance, and wind energy. They may also pursue training for automotive technology that prepares them for immediate career entry or a bachelor's degree in sales and marketing.
As one of the best community colleges in New Mexico, CCC delivers campus-based and online associate programs. Latter options include business administration, computer information systems, and criminal justice. Students who want to complete general education requirements before declaring a major can enroll in either the general studies program or the liberal arts program.
San Juan College
|Farmington, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 24%||
Located in Farmington, San Juan College was founded in 1956 as an agricultural and mechanical school. Today, the institution provides comprehensive academic and technical training programs to 6,700 students. To enroll, candidates submit a free application and can also apply for financial aid. They meet with advisors to complete career assessments and explore certificate/degree options. Learners can explore veterans benefits, tutoring services, and scholarships, as well as dedicated resources available through SJC's Herencia Latina Center and Native American Center.
Programming covers seven broad areas of study, including health sciences; business and entrepreneurship; and energy, manufacturing, and transportation. Students can also pursue social services training, earning credentials for fire and police science or teacher education leading to alternative licensure. Additionally, SJC operates computer science tracks, with options in cybersecurity support and digital media arts. On top of these campus-based programs, the college delivers online associate degrees in fields like psychology, occupational safety, and health information technology.
Santa Fe Community College
|Santa Fe, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
Santa Fe Community College has been providing affordable, high-quality academic programming and career training for over 30 years. The school serves more than 15,000 students annually and delivers distance education through Canvas. As one of the best community colleges in New Mexico for military students, SFCC offers tuition discounts and dedicated counseling to veterans. Military personnel also enjoy dedicated financial support, like the VFW Military Family Scholarship.
The college operates technical certificate programs in areas like building science, dental assisting, and plumbing. For students who want to continue their education at a four-year institution, SFCC offers an academic transfer plan that results in a certificate of liberal arts. Learners can also enroll in the New Mexico Environmental Job Training Program and participate in workforce development sessions over five weeks. This program prepares candidates to work as forklift operators and hazardous waste site specialists. Additionally, SFCC delivers associate-level training, with options in allied health, criminal justice, and business administration.
Luna Community College
|Las Vegas, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Founded in 1969, Luna Community College provides academic and technical training programs to improve job effectiveness and economic growth for the surrounding communities. Prospective students submit an online application and official transcripts. They also need to furnish adequate ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER test scores. LCC supports learners by offering low tuition rates and generous financial aid. Award opportunities include scholarships for New Mexico high school students and members of Native American tribes.
LCC provides transfer-focused associate programs in areas like general business and computer science. Students can also pursue a two-year nursing program to prepare for a career as a registered nurse. The 68-credit curriculum features required classes in developmental lifespan, pharmacology, and assessment and health promotion.
As one of the premier community colleges in New Mexico, LCC operates vocational education programs in fields like building technology, culinary arts, and barbering. Learners may also complete a program in automotive collision repair, which prepares them to sit for the Automotive Service Excellence Certification Test. LCC offers fully online classes and hybrid programming through Blackboard.
University of New Mexico-Taos Campus
|Ranchos de Taos, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
The University of New Mexico-Taos serves more than 1,200 students every semester, delivering affordable campus-based and remote programs. The school features low tuition prices based on residency status and facilitates scholarship opportunities for Taos county high school graduates and members of the Pueblo tribe. The college further supports learners by offering career guidance, tutoring services, and childcare.
One of the newest community colleges in New Mexico, UNM-Taos emphasizes innovative programming. Students can complete general education requirements by enrolling in the core curriculum program. Graduates can transfer to any one of the partnering four-year institutions. Through its extended learning platform, UNM-Taos provides online academic programs that include bachelor's programs and master's degrees.
Learners who prefer traditional academics choose from programs like business management, computer technology, and hospitality management. They can also train to work as licensed commercial drivers. Additionally, UNM-Taos operates allied health programs, with options for physical conditioning, nursing, and integrative health and medical massage.
New Mexico State University-Grants
|Grants, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
Founded in 1968, New Mexico State University-Grants currently enrolls 1,000 students each semester. The institution maintains an open-door admissions policy that requires prospective learners to complete an online application and the ACCUPLACER exam. On top of associate degrees, NMSU Grants delivers dual-enrollment options and gainful employment programs. Latter options lead to certificates in high-need industries like woodworking, welding technology, medical billing and coding, and applied business retail.
Like other community colleges in New Mexico, NMSU Grants operates a distance education platform. Students can take individual online courses or pursue entirely remote programs through Canvas. Options include certificates in computer technology and early childhood education, as well as associate programs in criminal justice, social services, and pre-business.
NMSU Grants delivers a variety of campus-based programming. The catalog includes nursing, energy technology, and general studies. Students can also earn an associate of arts with an emphasis on Southwest heritage studies.
New Mexico State University-Dona Ana
|Las Cruces, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 15%||
As part of the New Mexico State University system, Doña Ana Community College serves nearly 8,000 students. The school works to meet the academic and workforce development goals of its diverse student population. DACC offers affordable tuition prices based on residency status. Part-time candidates pay by credit, while full-time learners enjoy low per-semester rates. All students may apply for financial aid, which consists of government grants, work-study opportunities, and institutional scholarships.
DACC follows other community colleges in New Mexico by offering a transfer-oriented associate of general studies for undecided students who want to complete their academic training at partner universities. The college provides technical degrees in areas like aerospace technology, cybersecurity, and hospitality and tourism. Candidates can also obtain an associate of public health, which prepares them for careers as environmental scientists and epidemiologists. Furthermore, DACC delivers certificate programs for trade industries like diagnostic medical sonography, office administration, and law enforcement.
University of New Mexico-Valencia County Campus
|Los Lunas, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 12%||
Based in Tomé, the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus enrolls more than 2,000 students. The school maintains an open-door admissions policy that serves learners who are not currently under suspension from another postsecondary institution. Required application materials include an online form, official academic transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores. All students enjoy affordable tuition, financial aid, campus employment opportunities, and career services. They can also take advantage of a peer mentoring program.
For students interested in transfer opportunities with four-year institutions, UNM-Valencia offers associate programs for business administration, criminology, nursing, and secondary education. Learners can also pursue a pre-engineering track, which prepares them for advanced coursework in specialized fields like nuclear, civil, and chemical engineering. Alternatively, students can wait to declare a major by enrolling in the general education or liberal arts program. Similar to other community colleges in New Mexico, UNM-Valencia delivers certificates for architectural drafting technology, medical assisting, and industrial welding.
Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso Campus
|Ruidoso, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso Campus partners with employers and federal workforce development departments to provide affordable certificate and associate programs. The institution also collaborates with local high schools to deliver dual-credit options for juniors and seniors who possess a minimum 2.5 GPA. Candidates apply with the help of their school counselors and must past assessment testing.
Certificate programs cover fields like computer network security; hotel, restaurant, and tourism management; and accounting/bookkeeping. Students can pursue occupational training to work as EMTs and nurse assistants. ENMU-Ruidoso sets itself apart from other community colleges in New Mexico by offering a wildland fire science program that results in either a certificate of completion or an associate of applied science. Fire science students benefit from dedicated scholarships and can earn college credits for prior learning and work experience. Additional associate options includes psychology, business administration, and pre-nursing. ENMU-Ruidoso also offers a two-year program in police science.
University of New Mexico-Gallup Campus
|Gallup, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 13%||
The University of New Mexico-Gallup Campus offers flexible associate programs, technical and trade career training, remedial education, and high school dual-enrollment opportunities. The school features affordable tuition rates based on residency status, with out-of-state students paying about twice as much per credit as New Mexico residents. Available financial aid includes lottery scholarships and awards specifically for members of the Zuni Tribe and Navajo Nation.
UNM-Gallup stands out from community colleges in New Mexico by offering an associate of environmental planning and design. This 62-credit interdisciplinary program prepares students for careers in urban planning, sustainable architecture, and conservation science. The college also operates associate programs in fields like automotive technology, nursing, and teacher education.
Students interested in 12-month certificate programs pick from options such as construction technology and dental assisting. UNM-Gallup also offers a certificate for organizational management and public administration. The school provides remote learning opportunities through Blackboard LEARN.
New Mexico State University-Carlsbad
|Carlsbad, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 13%||
New Mexico State University-Carlsbad enrolls 2,000 students in academic and technical programs that cover eight broad areas of study. The institution also provides dual-credit opportunities for students attending Artesia, Carlsbad, Loving, and Jefferson Montessori high schools. To enroll, candidates complete an online application, submit transcripts, and complete the ACCUPLACER exam. Dual-enrollment applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Like many community colleges in New Mexico, NMSU Carlsbad offers two nursing programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. The certificate track prepares candidates to work as practical nurses, while the associate program enables students to become registered nurses. The university also offers programs in allied health, with options for surgical technology and health information technology.
Students who want to earn technical certificates can pick from options in banking, business office technology, electrical trades, and autobody collision repair. Learners can also prepare for careers as graphic designers and web developers by earning a digital animation certificate. The school offers a one-year program in heritage interpretation, which covers topics like historic preservation and anthropology.