Best Community Colleges in New Mexico

Learn more about the educational opportunities available at community colleges in New Mexico.
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Updated on June 11, 2024
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There are a total of 18 community colleges in the state of New Mexico. Together, they serve a student population of more than 64,000 every year. Community colleges in New Mexico offer a variety of academic programs that can help students make a quicker transition from college to entry-level jobs in high-demand industries.

The best community colleges in New Mexico provide prospective students with an alternative and more affordable educational pathway, along with a direct route to the jobs that they are aiming for.

Why Study in New Mexico?

Educational Opportunities

Enrolling at a four-year university can prove too costly for some students, and community colleges seek to provide a solution. Community colleges in New Mexico are mostly known for their two-year associate programs, but they also provide students with credits that can transfer to four-year universities or colleges.

Many community colleges in New Mexico also offer students the option to take courses fully online or in a hybrid setup that combines distance learning and on-campus classes.


Like most other states, New Mexico's economy dropped during the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. New Mexico lost more than 60,000 jobs to the pandemic, but the state's economy is steadily recovering. To stabilize the economy and quickly produce new jobs, New Mexico is making strategic investments and crafting innovative solutions in the sectors of tourism, marketing, food preparation and serving, and entertainment.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in New Mexico is below the national average by almost 12 points. This means that living in New Mexico is more affordable than in most states in the country. The cost of housing in the state is 16% cheaper than the national average. Along with less costly housing, all other living expenses in New Mexico fall below the U.S. average, including groceries, healthcare, and transportation.

Cultural and Community Offerings

New Mexico is a diverse state with many artistic attractions. New Mexico is home to many cultural districts, including the Artesia Arts and Cultural District, Gallup Arts and Cultural District, Los Alamos Creative District, and Raton Arts and Cultural District.

Moreover, the state also boasts world-renowned museums, including the New Mexico History Museum, Museum of International Folk Art, Fort Selden Historic Site, and the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Visitors and residents who enjoy exploring the outdoors will also find ample opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and rock climbing in the state.


New Mexico's tourist-friendly climate is among its best attractions. New Mexico experiences more sun than the national average, and less snow and rain than most states. There are sometimes short bursts of rain in July and August, but nothing that could be considered extreme.

Top Degree Programs in New Mexico

Featured Online Programs

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

New Mexico Employment Outlook

The economy and employment rates in New Mexico are still in the recovery process due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate in New Mexico stands at 6.9%, which is still above the national average of 6.2%. However, the number has improved considerably and continues to shrink. The state's unemployment rate was 9.2% following the first surge of the pandemic in March 2020.

New Mexico was significantly impacted by COVID-19, with the sectors of retail trade, accommodation and food services, and arts, entertainment, and recreation sustaining significant layoffs.

5 New Mexico Jobs in Demand

Personal Care and Service Occupations

  • Annual Average Salary in New Mexico (May 2020): $29,290
  • Job Outlook in the U.S. (2020-2030): 22%

Completing a short-term skills training program can lead to entry-level jobs in the personal care and service industry. Workers in this field can pursue a variety of roles, including first-line supervisor in entertainment and recreation businesses, concierge, exercise trainer, fitness instructor, and residential advisor.

Healthcare Support Occupations

  • Annual Average Salary in New Mexico (May 2020): $27,730
  • Job Outlook in the U.S. (2020-2030): 16%

Most community colleges offer associate degrees that can provide students with the qualifications needed to pursue careers in the healthcare support industry. Professionals in this field include nursing assistants, occupational therapy assistants, dental assistants, and healthcare support workers.

Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations

  • Annual Average Salary in New Mexico (May 2020): $23,990
  • Job Outlook in the U.S. (2020-2030): 20%

With a total of 71,010 jobs and a high job growth rate, the food preparation and serving related field is currently the second-largest industry in New Mexico. Finishing a skills training program can enable students to assume roles as assistants to chefs and head cooks and first-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers.

Community and Social Service Occupations

  • Annual Average Salary in New Mexico (May 2020): $49,590
  • Job Outlook in the U.S. (2020-2030): 12%

The community and social service sector is currently one of the most in-demand fields in the state of New Mexico. Entry-level professionals in this field include health education specialists, social and human service assistants, community health workers, and assistants to career counselors and rehabilitation counselors.

Transportation and Material Moving Occupations

  • Annual Average Salary in New Mexico (May 2020): $36,580
  • Job Outlook in the U.S. (2020-2030): 9%

Community college programs can prepare graduates for entry-level roles in the transportation and material moving industry. Roles in this industry include air traffic controller, sales worker, flight attendant, heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver, material moving machine operator, railroad worker, and water transportation worker.

Popular Career Paths in New Mexico

Best Accredited Community Colleges in New Mexico

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Best Community Colleges in New Mexico

  1. Mesalands Community College

    Tucumcari, NM



    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.

  2. Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Campus

    Roswell, NM



    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.

  3. Central New Mexico Community College

    Albuquerque, NM



    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.

  4. New Mexico Junior College

    Hobbs, NM



    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.

  5. Clovis Community College

    Clovis, NM



    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.

  6. San Juan College

    Farmington, NM



    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.

  7. Santa Fe Community College

    Santa Fe, NM



    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.

  8. Luna Community College

    Las Vegas, NM



    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.

  9. University of New Mexico-Taos Campus

    Ranchos de Taos, NM



    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.

  10. New Mexico State University-Grants

    Grants, NM



    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.

Best Online Colleges in New Mexico

Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in New Mexico

Are community colleges worth it?

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Yes. For students eager to quickly join the workforce and advance in their careers, enrolling in community college can be a practical educational route. Community colleges provide an alternative college-to-workforce pathway that is often more affordable and flexible than attending a four-year college or university.

Furthermore, most credits can transfer to four-year universities, which leads to reduced costs should students decide to enroll in bachelor's degree programs. Students in community colleges can also often take classes fully online.

How many community colleges are in New Mexico?

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There are a total of 18 community colleges in New Mexico.

Is community college free in New Mexico?

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All students pursuing an associate degree on a full-time basis in any New Mexico community college are eligible for the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship, a tuition promise program that qualifies recent high school graduates for 100% free tuition.

The New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship is another tuition promise program that also allows students pursuing certificate programs or associate degrees to earn significant financial aid. Part-time learners can receive this scholarship.

Other grant programs available for college community students in New Mexico include the Student Incentive Grants, College Affordability Grants, Pell Grants, and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants. Prospective students can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to seek federal financial aid.

How many junior colleges are in New Mexico?

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There are a total of 22 junior colleges in New Mexico, 19 of which are public, while the other three are private colleges.

Is Santa Fe a community college?

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Santa Fe Community College is one of the 18 community colleges in New Mexico. Founded in 1983, SFCC now serves more than 15,000 students every year. SFCC offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs. The school also offers credit and noncredit courses, continuing education classes, and adult basic education programs.

Along with affordable tuition fees, SFCC also provides exceptional support services, including career and counseling services; online teaching and learning; and offices for student accessibility, development, and employment.

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