Known for its scenic vistas and wide-open spaces, New Mexico ranks among the least densely populated states in the country, meaning residents might not always find themselves within convenient distance of a college or university. Fortunately, online education offers students the chance to earn a degree no matter where they reside, often without ever having to visit a college campus.
This ranking highlights five of the best online colleges in New Mexico, offering a general overview. Below, you can find information on each school's academic offerings, online features, and other unique resources.
Top 5 Online Colleges in New Mexico
- Eastern New Mexico University - Portales, NM
- University of New Mexico - Albuquerque, NM
- New Mexico State University - Las Cruces, NM
- Western New Mexico University - Silver City, NM
- New Mexico Highlands University - Las Vegas, NM
2020 Best Online Colleges in New Mexico
Online learning differs from campus learning in several ways, offering many advantages along with some special challenges. Many students -- especially those who work full time -- appreciate online courses for their convenience and flexibility. Online programs often require no campus visits and no set class times, making it easier to complete work when it best suits your schedule. Additionally, some schools offer a reduced online tuition rate for out-of-state learners, and distance learning can cut down on other expenses, like transportation.
While online learning works well for many students, its added flexibility comes with added responsibility. Online students must typically work with less faculty supervision, completing their assignments independently without the aid of weekly class meetings or face-to-face collaboration. However, online learning can be an excellent fit for self-motivated, focused students.
College graduates in New Mexico face an unemployment rate more than 1% above the national average (4.8% as of November 2019). However, the state's cost of living ranks well below the national average, with particularly low housing costs. In terms of employment, New Mexico is home to a varied economy that includes growing sectors like healthcare, retail and service, and education, along with a long-established energy sector that offers jobs related to mining, oil, and natural gas extraction.
Eastern New Mexico University
|Portales, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
Home to more than 30 online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, ENMU ranks among the best online colleges in New Mexico. Based in Portales -- about 20 miles south of Clovis and 30 miles from the Texas border -- this public school also ranks as a major Hispanic-serving institution. More than 35% of its ~5,700 students identify as Hispanic. Online learners at ENMU choose from a wide selection of fully online degrees, including accounting, aviation science, computer science, history, and religion.
ENMU's online programs use a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous elements, and some courses require students to log on at set times for live class meetings. Most programs occur entirely online, though some may require students to visit campus for select activities, such as presentations or orientation sessions.
The school provides free tutoring to online students. Learners can typically complete proctored exams at approved sites within their own community, as well.
University of New Mexico
|Albuquerque, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
A major center of education and research in Albuquerque, UNM ranks as the largest four-year university in the state, serving more than 26,000 students annually. UNM also ranks among the best online colleges in New Mexico, with a distance education program that oversees undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. Online students choose from more than 20 programs, including dental hygiene, elementary education, liberal arts, Native American studies, and space systems engineering.
UNM also hosts several "managed" online programs, which offer an even higher level of flexibility. These programs feature several annual start dates and accelerated, eight-week courses. The school's managed online programs include graduate tracks and bachelor's completion programs, with options such as business administration, construction management, and Chicana and Chicano studies. Managed online programs are taught by the school's on-campus faculty, and students pay the same fixed tuition rate whether they reside in New Mexico or another state.
New Mexico State University
|Las Cruces, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
Another major center of education in New Mexico, NMSU is also the oldest institution of higher learning in the state, with a history dating back to 1888. Today the school serves more than 12,000 students from its main campus in Las Cruces and thousands more through branch campuses and a significant distance education program.
Online students can seek degrees at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels. Students can also choose from hybrid options, combining campus and online courses.
NMSU offers more than 500 online courses and 65 degrees in many popular fields, such as business administration, criminal justice, family and child sciences, electrical engineering, and public health. At the undergraduate level, the school offers several degree completion programs, which require students to earn their lower-division credits from another institution (or on campus at NMSU) before completing their upper-division credits online.
Western New Mexico University
|Silver City, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 27%||
A comprehensive public school based in Silver City, WNMU ranks among the top Hispanic-serving institutions in New Mexico. About 50% of the school's undergraduate student body identify as Hispanic. The school also ranks among the best online colleges in New Mexico, offering a sizeable selection of associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees via distance education.
Most of these programs operate in a fully online, asynchronous format, requiring no set login times and no campus visits. The university also offers free tech support, tutoring, and student advisors to distance learners.
WNMU primarily offers online programs at the undergraduate level, with options like English, criminal justice, general business, and secondary education. Graduate students can select from degrees that include nursing, social work, business administration, and a customizable program in interdisciplinary studies.
Known for its affordable in-state tuition, WNMU also offers tuition discounts for residents of neighboring states -- including Texas, Colorado, and Arizona -- enabling some out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition rates.
New Mexico Highlands University
|Las Vegas, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
A public school located in Las Vegas, New Mexico -- about an hour east of Santa Fe -- NMHU also operates regional campuses in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Farmington. The university also oversees a distance education program that enrolls students across the state.
As one of the best online colleges in New Mexico, NMHU hosts a variety of online degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including health education, nursing, business administration, counseling, and special education.
NMHU offers a variety of resources to online students, including advising, tutoring, library services, and career services. The school's writing center offers live tutoring for all types of writing via the Zoom video conferencing platform. NMHU students can also access tutoring in other academic subjects at any time of day through the NetTutor platform. The school's library hosts dedicated resources for distance learners, including research assistance, tutorials, and a comprehensive selection of virtual periodicals.