Best Colleges in New Mexico

The higher education experts at reviewed the top 4-year colleges in the state of New Mexico. Start planning your future now.
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Updated on July 6, 2023
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College enrollment in the U.S. continues to climb as more individuals earn postsecondary credentials to pursue lucrative careers and long-term professional development. The National Center for Education Statistics projects that the total number of undergraduate students will grow from 16.8 million in 2017 to 17.2 million in 2028. However, the sheer number of degree options can prove overwhelming as you look for the right school that matches your academic interests and career goals. Fortunately, this guide -- which outlines the five best colleges in New Mexico -- can assist your search.

Top 5 Colleges in New Mexico

  1. University of New Mexico - Albuquerque, NM
  2. New Mexico State University - Las Cruces, NM
  3. Eastern New Mexico University - Portales, NM
  4. University of the Southwest - Hobbs, NM
  5. Northern New Mexico College - Espanola, NM

The ranking below considers factors like tuition costs, financial aid availability, and overall student success (as reflected by retention and graduation rates). Each profile provides information on program offerings and general admission requirements. If a college interests you, contact the school's admissions office directly. Counselors can help you find scholarships and navigate the enrollment process.

By attending a New Mexico university, you can benefit from the state's growing economy. The state offers career opportunities in the mining, construction, and hospitality industries. The healthcare sector represents another major source of employment for the state's workforce. New Mexico also boasts a relatively low cost of living. Even in a major city like Albuquerque, living expenses fall 5% below the national average.

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Best Accredited Colleges in New Mexico

Best Colleges in New Mexico

  1. University of New Mexico

    Albuquerque, NM



    Based in Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico enrolls over 24,000 students in comprehensive academic programs. First-year candidates must submit an official application, high school transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores. To enroll as a transfer student, applicants need at least 24 college credits earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Graduate criteria vary by program, but generally include an accredited bachelor's degree completed with a minimum 3.0 GPA. UNM bases its tuition on residency status but offers discounts to non-residents with high academic performance.

    Bachelor's candidates pick from majors like construction engineering, music education, film and digital arts, and anthropology. Learners can enroll in a business administration program that comes with 13 concentration options, including organizational leadership and human resource management. UNM also delivers a Native American studies degree that emphasizes education planning and community building.

    At the graduate level, programs include master's tracks in public health, applied behavior analysis, and special education. UNM also offers flexible distance education options through Blackboard Learn.

  2. New Mexico State University

    Las Cruces, NM



    New Mexico State University was founded in 1888, making it the oldest public higher education institution in the state. NMSU serves roughly 22,000 students from its flagship campus in Las Cruces and across four satellite locations. First-time admission requirements include a minimum 2.75 GPA and adequate ACT/SAT results. Transfer applicants need at least 30 credits earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA. The university offers a variety of financial aid opportunities, like the President's Associates Excellence Scholarship for high-achieving in-state students.

    NMSU delivers more than 175 undergraduate and graduate programs. Bachelor's degrees include horticulture, fashion merchandising and design, engineering technology, and agricultural biology. Students may also pursue a bachelor of computer science, focusing their studies on areas like cybersecurity and software development.

    Graduate students can enroll in traditional master's programs in criminal justice, molecular biology, and public administration. Alternatively, they may pursue online education delivered by Canvas, with 14 graduate options available, including nursing administration and social work.

  3. Eastern New Mexico University

    Portales, NM



    Eastern New Mexico University is as the largest regional, comprehensive, postsecondary school in the state. The institution enrolls about 5,700 students in more than 60 associate, bachelor's, and master's programs. Learners can earn their credentials through traditional campus-based tracks or flexible evening and online classes. ENMU delivers distance education through Blackboard.

    The school's academic catalog contains associate tracks in psychology, agriculture, and culinary arts. Undecided students can enroll in a general studies track, completing their core requirements before pursuing transfer. Bachelor's candidates pick from programs like sports and recreation management, financial planning, and cultural anthropology. They may also earn a forensic science degree, which comes with three concentration options. Graduate programs center on education, with master's degrees available in pedagogy and educational technology.

    To enroll as a first-year undergraduate, applicants must submit an official form, academic transcripts, and ACT/SAT scores. ENMU charges tuition based on legal residence. Financial aid opportunities include RaiseMe micro-scholarships for out-of-state students who do not live within 135 miles of Portales.

  4. University of the Southwest

    Hobbs, NM



    Founded in 1962 as a Baptist junior college, the University of the Southwest now delivers interdenominational education to over 1,000 students each semester. First-time undergraduate candidates need to fulfill two out of three major requirements, which include a minimum 2.0 GPA, ranking in the top 50% of their high school class, and a minimum 940 or 18 on the SAT or ACT. Tuition rates ignore residency status, and learners may apply for donor-funded scholarships if they possess a GPA of at least 3.0.

    USW operates 50 bachelor's and 15 graduate programs. Undergraduate students can pursue degrees in areas like early childhood education, psychology, Christian studies, and healthcare management. They may also enroll in a bachelor of business administration program that emphasizes e-commerce and virtual marketing practices.

    Candidates who want to expand their business knowledge and experience can pursue an MBA. This program offers 10 specializations, including a self-designed degree plan. Additional graduate-level options include forensic biology, clinical mental health counseling, and teaching with an alternative track to state licensure.

  5. Northern New Mexico College

    Espanola, NM



    Northern New Mexico College was established as a teacher training school in 1909. Today, the institution serves about 1,100 students, most of whom come from rural communities surrounding Espanola. Prospective first-year learners need to submit ACT, SAT, or COMPASS test scores. On top of traditional academics, Northern offers dual-credit coursework that helps local high school juniors and seniors jumpstart their college education. The college also delivers online learning opportunities through Blackboard.

    For candidates interested in practical career training, Northern offers technical certificates in areas like radiation protection and administrative assistant. Associate programs consist of allied health, renewable energy, and crime and justice studies. Learners can also enroll in a two-year nursing program, which prepares them to work as registered nurses.

    Active RNs may earn a bachelor's degree by enrolling in an accelerated program that emphasizes holistic and relationship-centered care. Additional baccalaureate offerings include biology, environmental science, and education. Northern also oversees a bachelor of business administration program that is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Business Schools and Programs.

Click here to see the best community colleges in New Mexico.