New Mexico is undergoing dynamic shifts in college attendance, with numbers declining in recent years possibly due to a recovering economy, improved employment rates and a decline in the college-age population state-wide. However, more than ever, students will find expanding opportunities for online study, and increased funding opportunities, thanks to new higher education initiatives that seek to help those living in remote areas and across state boundaries achieve their goals.
But before we dive into our list of best online colleges in New Mexico for 2016, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in New Mexico today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in New Mexico
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that New Mexico had 44 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 28 public schools, 3 nonprofits and 13 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 7,684 at public schools, 121 at private nonprofits and 781 at private for-profits.
- 28 public
- 3 non-profit
- 13 for-profit
Tuition-wise, the College Board found that, in the ’15-’16 school year, the average in-state tuition and fees for four-year public schools was $6,350, while the out-of-state average was $19,410.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that New Mexico awarded $25.111 million in need-based grants and $79.276 million in non-need grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 12.2% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education. State spending for higher education was up 5.7% in ‘13-’14, but it is unclear how this will affect tuition costs if attendance should continue to decline.
The State of Online Higher Education in New Mexico
The NCES estimates that at least 12.9% of students enrolled in New Mexico’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 12.1% were reported to be undergraduates and 84% were found to be living in New Mexico.
Currently the New Mexico State University system is the leading provider of online higher education programs. A collective of 20 universities and colleges founded in 2006 as the New Mexico Virtual College, and now known as the New Mexico Learning Network, is working to bring e-learning to rural communities and provides students with numerous online learning resources. Universities in New Mexico offer many unique online programs including aviation, criminal justice and healthcare technology.
New Mexico is also a member of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, which actively works to improve the quality and scope of higher education in-state and across the region. The department is also concerned with establishing newly improved performance goal initiatives for institutions and addresses the issue of establishing higher enrollment especially in STEM programs. Online colleges in NM will certainly play an increasingly important role in these efforts.
Best Online Colleges in New Mexico
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in New Mexico. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list out their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in New Mexico, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in New Mexico or our index of popular in-state scholarships.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||Eastern New Mexico University||Portales||$$$$$||1500 S Ave K|
Portales, NM 88130
As New Mexico's largest regional university, Eastern New Mexico University offers a range of over 30 online degree programs to meet the needs of its growing student population, including a recently added aviation science program. ENMU offers bachelor's of Applied Arts and Science degrees for those students who have already received an associate degree in applied arts and science, or who have acquired significant credit hours in a technical or career-based institute. The BAAS program allows these students to streamline their bachelor's programs by offering flexible, online access to courses in a myriad of concentrations, from business to the culinary arts. In the BAAS program, students need only complete 30 hours within their primary major concentration, and 24 hours in their chosen secondary focus area, allowing them to complete the bachelor's degree program within two years with full-time enrollment.
Students are welcome to take classes towards these degrees either entirely online or in a hybrid format. Distance students at this online college in New Mexico are afforded the same benefits and resources offered to their on-campus counterparts, including financial aid, tutoring, and help with technology. Courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to potentially complete a 120-hour degree in as little as three years.
|2||University of the Southwest||Hobbs||$$$$$||6610 North Lovington Hwy|
Hobbs, NM 88240
Located in Hobbs, New Mexico, USW offers a growing number of online degree programs for students who need more flexibility in where they can complete their coursework. Currently, USW offers online bachelor's degrees in business administration, psychology, and criminal justice, with each degree track offering varying concentrations. The BBA program gives students the choice of 11 concentrations, including global business management, sport management, and finance.
Setting USW apart from the other online colleges in New Mexico, graduate education is offered only online, with no option for mixing in traditional in-person courses. You can earn your master's of science in education or your MBA; each program offers a lengthy offering of specific concentrations. Applying is simple: just fill out the online application, and send unofficial transcripts from any previous degree-work via email to the university's enrollment department. Official transcripts must be mailed in prior to admission and in order to receive financial aid, which is available to all admitted students. Nearly all of the students at USW are offered some kind of aid.
|3||New Mexico State University||Las Cruces||$$$$$||2850 Weddell Street|
Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001
At New Mexico State University, students have an abundance of options when it comes to online education. Though its home campus is located in Las Cruces, NMSU offers both online and as site-based programs around the region for distance learners who prefer face-to-face courses. In addition to seven web-based bachelor's degree programs, this online college in New Mexico offers a number of master's and doctoral degree programs. Some programs and specific courses may require a minimal in-person element, so applicants should contact their department for more on these requirements.
For those students looking for an entirely online bachelor's degree, NMSU offers what it calls a 2+2 track. This track requires students to obtain an associate degree from NMSU Alamogordo Community College, then transition into taking online courses through NMSU Las Cruces to complete the bachelor's degree. Through the 2+2 track, students may choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in sociology or business administration.
All distance learning courses will be assessed a $35 fee per credit hour on top of the normal tuition rates. For more specific, program-based information, prospective students should contact the distance education director for their chosen program.
|4||Western New Mexico University||$$$$$|
For those seeking smaller class sizes at an online school in New Mexico, Western New Mexico University offers just that. This university boasts more one-on-one attention for its online students and keeps class sizes small, with classes being led by experienced faculty. Online students can choose from 12 bachelor's degrees, including an interdisciplinary studies program that allows students to create their own plan of study. Many of the university's online courses are available asynchronously; however, there are certain courses that may require some on-campus lab meetings or scheduled web conferences with instructors.
The university offers a tuition rate guarantee for undergraduate students who maintain a 2.0 GPA and take 30 credit hours per year. This tuition guarantee promises that, upon maintaining those requirements, a student's tuition prices will not increase. WNMU is an especially affordable online option, though there is a $30 charge per credit hour for online learning. WNMU boasts some of the lowest tuition rates in the country.
Students in the online programs have access to 24/7 online tutoring and 24/7 tech support through Canvas.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in New Mexico
Below you’ll find another list of the top online colleges in New Mexico, sorted by lowest tuition rate.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||University of New Mexico||Albuquerque||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Eastern New Mexico University||Portales||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Western New Mexico University||Silver City||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||New Mexico State University||Las Cruces||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||University of the Southwest||Hobbs||School profile||$$$$$|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in New Mexico
The University of New Mexico Amigo Scholarship is open to out-of-state freshmen with a GPA of 3.5+ and an ACT score of 23+, or with a GPA of 3.0+ and an ACT score of 26+. Selection is highly competitive. Award is $16,338 per year for 4 years.
Andrew Piech Memorial Scholarship
This award is open to New Mexico undergraduate students who are pursuing education in Automotive Technology or related Applied Technologies. The maximum award is $1,000 per year; it may be used at a community college, technical institute, or four-year college or university. Funds are administered by the Albuquerque Community Foundation.
Excel Staffing Companies Scholarships for Excellence in Continuing Education
This scholarship is open to New Mexico residents who work at least 20 hours per week while pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree, or professional certification. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0+ and demonstrate financial need. The award is $1,000 per year. Funds are administered by the Albuquerque Community Foundation.
New Mexico Scholars
This scholarship is administered by the New Mexico Department of Higher Education. It is open to New Mexico high school seniors who rank in the top 5% of their class, or scored 25+ on the ACT. The award covers tuition and fees for 4 years at a New Mexico college or university.
Presidential Scholarship from the University of New Mexico
The Presidential Scholarship is open to University of New Mexico freshmen with a high school GPA of 3.75+ and an ACT score of 25 (SAT 1140). Selection is highly competitive. Applicants must be graduates of a New Mexico high school. The award is $8,186 per year for 4 years.
The Regent’s Scholarship is open to University of New Mexico freshmen with a high school GPA of 3.9 and an ACT score of 31 (SAT 1380). Selection is highly competitive. The award is $17,285 per year for 4 years. New Mexico residents only.
Sussman-Miller Educational Assistance Award
This scholarship is available to New Mexico high school seniors and current college students. It is intended to address the “gap” in financial aid packages. Applicants must be recipients of federal financial aid, and have additional education expenses that are not covered by federal aid. Provided by the Albuquerque Community Foundation.
UNM Scholars Scholarship
The UNM Scholarship is open to University of New Mexico freshmen with a high school GPA of 3.5+ and an ACT score of 26 (SAT 1190). Selection is highly competitive. Applicants must be graduates of a New Mexico high school. The award is $6,150 per year for 4 years.
Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) Scholarship
The Western Undergraduate Exchange allows students from participating states to attend college in New Mexico and receive a tuition discount equalling 150% of resident tuition. Participating states include: AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, ND, OR, SD, UT, WA, and WY.
Woodcock Family Education Scholarship Program
Available to graduating high school seniors who will pursue a degree in math or science. Applicants must be residents of Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia, or Torrance County. A GPA of 3.8+ and an ACT score of 30+ is required. Scholarships of $10,000 will be awarded to three students each year. Funding provided by the Albuquerque Community Foundation.
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