Online higher education is booming in New Mexico. Distance learning has the advantage of presenting a course of study that is convenient, flexible and accessible with a high-speed Internet connection. This is particularly important in a state like New Mexico with a population spread out over wide-open spaces. The quality of distance education programs varies, however. The following is a list of schools that deserve recognition as 2016 -2017′s Best Online Colleges in New Mexico.
|Rank||University||Location||Score||Annual Tuition||# of Online Programs||Financial Aid %||Student-Teacher Ratio||Grad Rate||Credit for Experience||Placement Services||Counseling Services||University Information|
|1||Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus||Portales, NM||99.77||$4,858||26||42%||19:1||28%||No||Yes||Yes|
As the largest comprehensive university in New Mexico, Eastern New Mexico University offers students one four-year and two two-year campuses. They offer more than 60 programs of study that allow students to earn associate, bachelor's and master's degrees. ENMU's Office of Distance Education and Outreach provides students with the opportunity to earn 14 master degrees and 29 bachelor degrees completely online using Blackboard, an online learning management system. Students who choose to pursue an online education have access to additional resources including an online library and writing center. They may also receive online counseling through ULifeline, a mental health resource.
|2||Western New Mexico University||Silver City, NM||99.43||$5,346||18||26%||16:1||21%||No||Yes||Yes|
Western New Mexico University is accredited by four agencies and offers more than 70 courses of study at five physical campuses and online. Each year WNMU works to provide students with more than 200 online courses during both the fall and spring semesters as well as in the summer. These classes are part of the five graduate and 15 undergraduate degree programs that can be completed online, without ever needing to enter a classroom. Students use Canvas to complete their course work and have the option to receive online tutoring, through Smarthinking, a 24/7 online tutoring service.
|3||New Mexico Highlands University||Las Vegas, NM||99.26||$4,500||3||66%||13:1||17%||No||Yes||Yes|
New Mexico Highlands University offers graduate, undergraduate, certificate and online programs in areas from accounting to women' studies. Students can choose to take classes at their main campus, one of NMHU's five statewide centers or online. They offer five online programs including an RN to BSN program, three Master of Arts programs and a Master of Business Administration. Online courses are taught using Desire2Learn and Blackboard Collaborate software. Blackboard Collaborate allows students to interact in real time with professors and other students through video conferencing capabilities. Online courses can be in 16 or eight-week accelerated timeframes.
|4||New Mexico State University-Main Campus||Las Cruces, NM||99.21||$5,950||12||39%||17:1||46%||No||Yes||Yes|
New Mexico State University prides itself on diversity and serves as one of New Mexico's Hispanic serving institutions. They created the first honors college in the state and provide distance education options for students who can't attend on-campus classes. Currently, NMSU offers 92 bachelor's degrees, 57 master's degrees and 31 doctorates and enroll more than 15,000 students each year. Students interested in online learning can take one of 39 technology-based programs and earn a bachelor, graduate or doctoral degree online. Course can be taken in full term, eight-week or short course time frames and all courses are taught through Canvas.
|5||University of the Southwest||Hobbs, NM||86.00||$14,616||39||98%||17:1||17%||No||No||Yes|
The University of the Southwest is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and offers graduate and bachelor degrees online and on campus. The college is based on Christian values and offers 53 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. All 20 graduate programs are offered fully online. The four-year non-denominational university offers graduate and undergraduate degrees. Online degrees are offered for bachelor and master degrees and no out of state tuition is charged for students who don't live in New Mexico. All online course require Tegrity, a video capture system, as well as Blackboard, CAMS-Enterprise and MediaCAST.
|Rank||University||Location||Score||Annual Tuition||# of Online Programs||Financial Aid %||Student-Teacher Ratio||Grad Rate||Credit for Experience||Placement Services||Counseling Services||University Information|
|1||New Mexico Junior College||Hobbs, NM||96.42||$1,704||15||34%||18:1||18%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Committed to increasing learning opportunities for students, the distance learning department of New Mexico Junior College has designed their online courses for students who need a more accommodating option for education. The school offers online associate’s degrees that can help students begin or advance their careers. Some of the degrees available at NMJC include early childhood education, automotive technology, business, computer information systems, construction technology, and criminal justice. The school also offers online certificate programs. Curriculum is delivered through the Learning Management System. Students may need to take proctored exams in an affiliated testing center, depending on course requirements.
|2||San Juan College||Farmington, NM||95.37||$1,312||13||28%||20:1||13%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
The distance learning program offered by San Juan College in New Mexico allows many students who may have difficulty attending on-campus classes earn degrees. The school offers online specialty programs such as the associate of science in occupational therapy, physical therapy assistance, health information technology, and veterinary technology. These programs require apprenticeships or internships as the hands-on practicum. The school also offers online associate of arts in liberal arts, creative writing and business administration. Many courses are offered fully or partially online. In most cases, courses may be transferred toward a bachelor’s degree at a university.
|3||Eastern New Mexico University - Roswell Campus||Roswell, NM||94.72||$1,776||15||5%||14:1||20%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
The Eastern New Mexico University Roswell Campus offers online associate’s degree courses through the distance education program. Courses offered online include business administration and aviation maintenance technology. Programs are designed to prepare students for work in specific fields. They can also use earned credits to pursue a four-year degree at the university level. ENMC also offers online certificate programs in alcohol and drug abuse studies for working adults who want to advance their careers with rehabilitation certification. Curriculum is delivered through Blackboard’s course management system. Students enrolled in these courses have access to different materials posted by the instructors, and can take quizzes and participate in forums via the platform.
|4||Clovis Community College||Clovis, NM||94.45||$1,248||24||12%||19:1||9%||No||No||Yes|
Dedicated to empowering its learners, Clovis Community College provides online course options in addition to their on-campus programs. Some associate degrees and certificate programs are available online, giving students a convenient format for their education. Programs include behavioral science, business administration, criminal justice, early childhood education, legal assistant studies, liberal arts, and computer information systems. Online certificate programs include accounting software, business communication, healthcare information management and business writing to name a few. All of these courses are project-oriented, so students must submit assignments, quizzes and participate in online discussions.
|5||New Mexico State University - Alamogordo||Alamogordo, NM||94.11||$2,328||3||41%||16:1||9%||No||Yes||Yes|
As part of its Continuing Education Program, the New Mexico State University Alamogordo campus offers distance education designed for professional development. The school specializes in providing online certificate programs to train professionals in the fields of medical coding, computer technology, medical administrative assistant, medical billing, and executive assistance. The school is partnered with Ed2Go and offers online courses in accounting, business, classroom computing, and creative writing. For convenience, students can learn at their own pace by logging on anytime of the day as long as they complete the course requirements by the specified due dates.
|6||New Mexico State University - Carlsbad||Carlsbad, NM||93.62||$1,780||3||32%||19:1||4%||No||Yes||Yes|
As an institution dedicated to excellence, New Mexico State University is aimed at providing resources to students to help them fulfill their potential. Among these resources are its online programs and non-credit online certificate programs. They are designed to provide the necessary skills that can help graduates advance their careers or further their education at a university after graduation. These online courses include topics in health and fitness, business, IT and software development, corporate management, media and design, skilled trades, and sustainable energy. The courses are taken by students asynchronously with the instructors. The school is partnered with Ed2Go to offer instructor-led courses where students interact with instructors in real time.
|7||Luna Community College||Las Vegas, NM||93.45||$1,198||3||15%||17:1||19%||No||Yes||Yes|
As Luna Community College provides quality education to students in Nevada, the school also provides the opportunity for people out-of-state to complete a degree by offering online courses. Through the its distance learning education program, the school offers online associate’s degrees that are designed to help students establish or advance their careers and prepare for further education. The school first offered the online degree in business administration. Today, its online offerings include general business, accounting, teacher education, and liberal arts. The school also offers online certificate programs in the fields of allied health, media art technology and criminal justice.
|8||New Mexico State University - Dona Ana||Las Cruces, NM||93.38||$1,944||12||7%||23:1||12%||No||Yes||Yes|
Through its Virtual Learning and Instructional Technology (VLIT), New Mexico State University at Dona Ana is able to provide online educational opportunities to students. The school’s online courses are available every 30 days and are self-paced. Students can access the course and work as quickly as desired for the duration of the course. Online certificate programs are also available for those who want to improve their career prospects with additional credentials in business research, customer service, data analysis, or social media business, among others. The school also offers non-credit courses in which students can study their personal interests and learn basic skills like email etiquette, advanced Microsoft tools, and healthy aging.
|9||Mesalands Community College||Tucumcari, NM||93.06||$1,560||3||38%||15:1||32%||Yes||No||Yes|
Work schedules, distance, and personal matters often make class attendance difficult. Mesalands Community College provides students with flexible instruction through its online courses. The students can participate in courses through webcast, podcast, digital interactive television, and via the school’s open source management system Moodle. Students are able to learn asynchronously with other students and instructors. Many of the courses of the various associate in arts or science degrees can be taken as online classes. However, before students can take the course, they need to enroll in CIS 129, the Introduction to Internet Learning, to prepare them for online learning.
|10||Central New Mexico Community College||Albuquerque, NM||92.28||$1,376||3||15%||24:1||11%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
As a member of the Online Learning Consortium, Central New Mexico Community College is one of the leading institutions providing online programs to students. Its online platform delivery includes fully-online classes as well as hybrid classes. The school offers online courses that can count towards associate degrees in liberal arts, accounting, criminology and english. The school also offers an online post certification program for public accountants. For extra flexibility, students are able to complete coursework at their own pace rather than logging on during specific times for class discussions.
|11||Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso Campus||Ruidoso, NM||91.32||$1,372||3||4%||14:1||19%||Yes||No||Yes|
|12||Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute||Albuquerque, NM||90.12||$1,095||3||N/A||16:1||7%||No||Yes||No|
In the past, students living in remote areas in New Mexico often found that the long distances necessary for travel to the nearest college campus made earning a degree difficult. The Internet has changed that, and while the number of online options remains relatively limited in the state, particularly on the bachelor’s and graduate levels, colleges throughout New Mexico are beginning to respond with new online degree and certificate programs in a variety of majors.
In New Mexico, public postsecondary online education’s biggest contributor today is the University of New Mexico, with its flagship campus located in Albuquerque. Other public colleges offering distance learning programs include New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, Eastern New Mexico University in Portales and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro. The options for students seeking a private, not-for-profit online college program are currently limited to one school, the University of the Southwest, located in Hobbs.
While colleges offering online programs can be found throughout the state, the center for postsecondary education in New Mexico is, not surprisingly, the state’s largest city, Albuquerque. The following two sections take a focused look at Albuquerque’s higher education environment, both on the ground and online.
Albuquerque is home to the largest postsecondary institution in the state — the University of New Mexico. UNM’s faculty guides about 27,000 students in more than 215 degree and certificate programs, including 87 bachelor’s degrees, 72 master’s degrees, and 38 doctoral programs. UNM isn’t the only educational option in this city on the Rio Grande, however. Albuquerque hosts several other postsecondary institutions, ranging from four-year universities to art and design schools to community colleges. Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), for example, offers 47 associate’s degree programs that cover the arts and sciences and some career/technical fields. CNM also has 52 certificate programs in business, health, technology and other technical fields.
As the largest college in the city, the University of New Mexico offers the most extensive distance learning options, including numerous online courses and degree-completion programs taught by UNM faculty. These classes vary from 100 percent online to instructional television or correspondence courses to hybrid courses. CNM also has a distance learning program, which offers fully online courses, hybrid courses (50 percent online, 50 percent in person) and blended courses (51-99 percent of coursework completed online). To ensure educational standards, online instructors must earn an online teaching certification at CNM before they can begin teaching an online course.
Students who are planning to go to college in New Mexico need to be aware of the cost of higher education and how they will pay for it. Tuition is the primary concern, and in-state and out-of-state rates can differ. The amount charged may also be determined by the choice of school or program of study. In 2012, students qualifying as residents paid about $6,230 per year in tuition, making New Mexico the 4th most affordable state in the country for college tuition.
In addition, students are responsible for a variety of education-related fees. Most colleges and universities charge fees for activities, technology resources, health services and parking. Yearly fees at New Mexico colleges averaged $560 per student in 2012, bringing the total annual charges for tuition and fees to $6,790.
Room and board are the other key costs to consider when planning for college. Even students who won’t be living and eating on campus must budget for housing and meals. In general, the cost of living in New Mexico is about 1 percent lower than the national average. Here’s a detailed look at the cost of living for New Mexico’s urban areas compared to the national average:
|Urban Area||Composite Index||Housing||Groceries||Utilities||Transportation||Health Care||Misc.|
The costs associated with going to college (tuition, fees and room and board) play a central role in the school selection process. However, students should also be aware of the potential return on those investments, mostly in the form of career prospects and salary after graduation. In other words, which New Mexico colleges confer degrees that hold the most real-world value? Here’s a glimpse at the New Mexico colleges with the highest returns on investment:
For prospective students, it’s important to determine a school’s accreditation status. Accreditation means that a school has met the established standards for educational quality and that students are therefore eligible to apply for federal financial assistance. Regional accreditation for New Mexico colleges and universities is conferred by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (www.northcentralassociation.org). Higher education institutions in the state can also hold programmatic accreditation for specific programs, schools or departments. At New Mexico State University, for example, programs, colleges and departments have been accredited by the Society for Range Management, the New Mexico Public Education Department, the Council on Education for Public Health and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Students must consider a number of factors when choosing an online degree program or course of study, such as cost, length of program, flexibility of class attendance, school quality and more. It’s a process that can consume a lot of time and effort. This search tool is designed to make that process easier by allowing New Mexico students to quickly filter out those online colleges whose programs just won’t work to find those that will.
|RANK||COLLEGE||Tuition And Fees||Enrollment||Accredited||MORE INFO|
|1||Western New Mexico University||$4,314||3,523||YES|
Western New Mexico University offers more than 150 online courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels to students wanting to attend an online college in New Mexico. Fully online degrees are also available in subjects that include, but are not limited to, criminal justice, educational leadership, and nursing. The university, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, utilizes the Canvas online learning system for program administration.
|2||Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus||$4,350||5,638||YES|
Eastern New Mexico University's main campus provides online education to students wanting to expand their career options. Bachelor's and master's degrees in subjects such as business administration, nursing, reading and literacy, and special education are among the opportunities available through this online college in New Mexico. The university, which provides more than 20 online degree options, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
|3||New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology||$5,496||N/A||YES|
New Mexico Tech is known for preparing students for careers in science, engineering, and technology-related fields. It’s online college, undergraduate degree programs can be completed from anywhere in the world and include, chemical engineering, computer science and engineering, earth and environmental science, information technology, hydrology, and mechanical engineering.
|4||University of New Mexico-Main Campus||$6,050||N/A||YES|
Founded in 1889, UNM’s main campus serves 27,278 students and offers more than 215 degree and certificate programs. A variety of distance education delivery methods give online college students the opportunity to complete degrees in several disciplines, including business administration, dental hygiene, elementary education, nursing, and medical and laboratory sciences.
|5||University of the Southwest||$14,280||362||YES|
The University of the Southwest provides an online MBA to students hoping to become more competitive in the business field. The degree available through this online college in New Mexico is offered entirely online and includes coursework in controllership, e-marketing, and sustainability management. Online courses begin every eight weeks, and students can complete the degree in as little as a year.
|6||St John’s College||$45,004||398||YES|
Students wanting to attend an online college in New Mexico can look to St. John's University for numerous degree options. Both associate and bachelor's degrees are offered through e-learning, allowing students to pursue an education in areas such as business, criminal justice, and liberal studies. The university also provides several graduate degrees, in fields such as accounting, library science, and taxation, and certificates through distance learning.
New Mexico students first entering the world of distance education are bound to find the technical learning curve a little daunting. The key to academic success, however, depends on becoming adept at locating and using several of the numerous online tools and resources available to college students. What’s more, many of these resources are offered to the public at no cost. The list below serves as a brief introduction to the depth and breadth of education tools that can be found online and used free of charge.