Online Degrees In New Mexico (NM)
New Mexico’s nickname “The Land of Enchantment” is no accident. With its stunning desert landscapes, fascinating historical monuments and endless cultural and recreational opportunities, it’s easy to see why tourists are drawn here in ever-increasing numbers — beating the national average for 2018 — and why business owners and leading innovators are increasingly choosing to set up shop in the state.
In fact, Albuquerque, its largest city, was designated a Talent Hub by the Lumina Foundation in 2017. And the state capital, Santa Fe, is being called a “boomtown,” where the population and personal income have both exploded in recent years.
But if this growth is to continue, its number of workers with postsecondary credentials must increase. New Mexico colleges that offer online degree programs can play a critical role in making that happen, while providing students like you with important employment and salary advantages.
Why Earn an Online Degree in New Mexico?
Students in New Mexico should take the Route-to-66. No, not the famous highway that gives tourists their “kicks.” It’s the state’s initiative to improve the rate of college attainment and meet the increasing educational demands of its workforce. Currently, only 45 percent of residents have college credentials, but it’s estimated that at least two-thirds of new jobs in the state will require them. The state has set a goal to have 66 percent of New Mexicans ages 25-64 earn higher education credentials by 2030.
Not only does a college credential tend to improve your employment prospects, but individuals with higher levels of educational attainment statistically have lower unemployment rates and higher wages than those with only high school diplomas.
Despite these statistics, college enrollment in New Mexico overall has remained stagnant. While the reasons for this aren’t completely clear, experts have suggested rising costs, lack of student support and retention activities and the need for students to work while attending school as possible factors.
All of these issues and more could potentially be addressed by enrolling in online degrees in New Mexico. Because online courses frequently have few real-time requirements, your studies can usually be completed at any time that’s convenient to you, so you can still work and attend classes. Students often save money by not having to drive to or park on campus, and they don’t usually have to pay the fees associated with traditional courses. And many online degree programs in New Mexico are strengthening their student support efforts by offering such resources as online tutoring or counseling, to ensure you have the help you need to be successful.
10 Best Online Colleges in New Mexico
Using information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), including number of online programs, tuition rates and student support services, we’ve developed this list of the top 10 New Mexico colleges that offer online degree programs.
|Average in-state tuition||$1,320|
|No. of online programs||17|
|% of students in distance education||42|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,851|
|Average in-state tuition||$1,962|
|No. of online programs||8|
|% of students in distance education||39|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,784|
|Average in-state tuition||$1,296|
|No. of online programs||21|
|% of students in distance education||51|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$3,829|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,842|
|No. of online programs||26|
|% of students in distance education||69|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,958|
|Average in-state tuition||$1,344|
|No. of online programs||5|
|% of students in distance education||100|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$2,353|
|Average in-state tuition||$2,232|
|No. of online programs||8|
|% of students in distance education||71|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$6,123|
|Average in-state tuition||$1,776|
|No. of online programs||1|
|% of students in distance education||49|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,997|
|Average in-state tuition||$5,515|
|No. of online programs||33|
|% of students in distance education||43|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$10,038|
|Average in-state tuition||$1,800|
|No. of online programs||1|
|% of students in distance education||35|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,188|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,927|
|No. of online programs||40|
|% of students in distance education||71|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$7,524|
Top Online Degree Programs in New Mexico
We’ve drawn data from the NCES about the number of available online programs in the state to formulate this list of the top online degree programs in New Mexico. Recent high school graduates, returning adult students and career changers may find this a useful indicator of the state’s most in-demand fields. Remember that online programs may be offered fully or only partially online.
Quality of Online Education in New Mexico
When you’re assessing the quality of an online education in New Mexico, check first whether or not the school is accredited. Accreditation is a gauge of how well the program meets a set of quality standards, as determined by an authoritative third party, and you cannot receive federal student aid or tuition reimbursement without it. Accrediting bodies such as the Higher Learning Commission have a rigorous standard for quality established for online learning, and schools such as Central New Mexico Community College (CNMCC) develop their programs in accordance with these guidelines.
Also, 21 postsecondary institutions in the state are approved members of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). SARA is an agreement among member institutions in the state to allow students to complete online courses across state lines with other member schools, while all adhere to a baseline level of quality.
Look for individual schools’ efforts to address quality as well. For example, CNMCC is a member of the Online Learning Consortium, a leading professional organization dedicated to advancing quality online instruction by providing professional development, best practice publications, guidance for teachers and more. And the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University voluntarily undergo a rigorous peer-review process by Quality Matters, an organization that maintains a recognized rubric for best practices in online education.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in New Mexico
Once you’re assured of any prospective program’s accreditation, you should consider a few other factors as well to find the right program for you.
According to the Mission: Graduate initiative in New Mexico to attract, retain and graduate more college students in the state, the top three impediments to students’ successful graduation from college are time, money and information. To address these issues and increase your probability of success, consider these factors:
Time: How much time is involved in your courses on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Are you required to participate in any real-time activities (such as in-class meetings, conference calls, on-campus labs), and can this fit into your existing schedule? Are there resources at the school to assist you with time management?
Money: Can the program cost be prohibitive for you? Look at what financial aid options are available for you, and assess whether the cost of your prospective program seems reasonable to you. And if you absolutely must work full time to afford school, be sure the program can be done simultaneously with your existing work schedule.
Information: Talk to admissions officers, financial aid advisors, faculty members and former students about the student experience. Find out about what resources are available to help support your studies, including tutoring, writing help, advisement, mentorship, counseling, tech support or career planning. The more engaged you are in your school and knowledgeable about what to expect, the more successful you are likely to be.
Top Occupations in New Mexico
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these jobs are growing rapidly in New Mexico. This information may be helpful for deciding which field or program to study in an online program.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||114,620||$33,470|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||83,760||$20,390|
|Sales and Related Occupations||78,400||$25,980|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||54,990||$39,650|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||54,250||$30,890|
|Educational Instruction and Library Occupations||53,370||$45,620|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||49,990||$24,500|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||47,530||$69,720|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||38,430||$60,780|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||34,010||$41,990|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||30,230||$21,620|
|Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive||28,990||$34,180|
|Protective Service Occupations||25,760||$38,240|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||25,560||$24,300|
|Fast Food and Counter Workers||24,290||$19,620|
|Architecture and Engineering Occupations||20,720||$91,160|
Top Metropolitan Areas in New Mexico
Thirty-eight of the state’s 49 postsecondary institutions are located in urban or suburban settings, in or around the state’s major metropolitan areas. These areas also are where the bulk of job and economic growth are taking place. Its high number of research universities and labs is driving innovation and creating new opportunities for those with college credentials.
Tourism continues to be a major economic sector, and leisure and hospitality saw the most job growth in 2018.
Here are the industries in demand in New Mexico’s major metropolitan areas:
Santa Fe: In the capital city of the northern part of the state, leisure and hospitality led job growth, thanks to the city’s historic and artistic attractions remaining a draw for tourists. Education and health services have also grown recently, as have information, manufacturing and construction.
Albuquerque: Also considered the Central Region, this metropolitan statistical area contains about 44 percent of New Mexico’s population. The sector seeing the greatest job growth in Albuquerque in 2018 was trade, transportation and utilities, followed by leisure and hospitality, construction, financial activities and manufacturing.
Las Cruces: Job growth has been somewhat slower in this Southwestern region city, due in part to a slowdown in the area’s oil production. The biggest job gains in 2018 were in education and health services, followed by manufacturing.
Farmington: Situated at the junction of three major highways — U.S. Highway 550, U.S. Highway 64 and New Mexico Highway 371 — near the Four Corners region of four states, Farmington is an important hub for commerce and an important energy-producing area. Coal-production plants in this area have shuttered, but natural gas remains important in the area. And city leaders are working to diversify the area away from energy and toward tourism, agriculture, light manufacturing, food processing and alternative energy businesses.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in New Mexico
Because money has been considered one of the most important factors in students enrolling in, persisting in and graduating from colleges, the New Mexico Educational Assistance Foundation (NMEAF) helps students in the state plan, prepare and pay for college. Its work includes helping students find financial aid and save on student loan repayments, counseling about financial options and assisting with college applications and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the required first step in securing federal student aid. Through the NMEAF web portal, you can access dozens of individual school grants and scholarships or national award programs.
The New Mexico Higher Education Department (NMHED) also offers two financial aid awards:
New Mexico Lottery Scholarships: This program helps offset tuition for New Mexico’s high school graduates who want to attend the state’s public colleges or universities. The amount is set annually by the NMHED, depending on lottery earnings, and can only be applied to tuition (not fees or books, etc.).
Student Incentive Grant: This grant for state residents of between $200 and $2,500 per year goes to undergraduates with substantial financial need who are attending New Mexico public colleges, universities or tribal colleges at least half time.
Tests You May Need to Take
As you plan to apply to online degree programs in New Mexico, you should expect to be asked to submit SAT or ACT exam scores with your admissions packages. Typically, schools will accept either — for example, NMSU, the University of New Mexico and Eastern New Mexico University will take one or the other. Still others, such as Clovis Community College, have open admissions policies and don’t require test scores at all for admission. Check with your prospective school to learn what its individual requirements are.
To be included in our ranking of the best colleges for online degree programs, all colleges had to meet the following five criteria:
- Be an accredited U.S. institution
- Offer either 2- or 4-year degree programs
- Have at least 1 percent of students taking at least some of their classes via distance education
- Be active in the 2015-16 school year
- Report data for all 15 specific ranking variables included in our methodology
We then ranked the remaining 2,169 colleges and universities and scored each on a 100-point scale on these specific. Our data points include:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The average amount of federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Full-time Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Open admissions policy for all or most entering first-time undergraduate-level students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Offers credit for military training
- College Navigator: New Mexico, Institute for Education Studies, National Center for Education, accessed July 24, 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=NM
- A Stronger Nation: New Mexico’s progress toward the goal, State-by-State educational attainment, Lumina Foundation, February 2019, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/2019/#state/NM
- Emmie Martin, “Americans are flocking to these 15 cities where business is booming and salaries are rising,” CNBC, April 27, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/26/us-cities-where-business-is-booming-and-salaries-are-rising/
- “New Mexico Tourism Dept. releases 2018 visitation report,” KRQE-TV, July 10, 2019, https://www.krqe.com/news/new-mexico/new-mexoci-tourism-dept-releases-2018-visitation-report/
- Faith Schifani, “NMSU recognizes faculty for excellence in online education,” New Mexico State University, October 18, 2018, https://newscenter.nmsu.edu/Articles/view/13363/nmsu-recognizes-faculty-for-excellence-in-online-education
- Rick Nathanson, “Jump seen in post-secondary educational achievement in central New Mexico,” Albuquerque Journal, July 20, 2018, https://www.abqjournal.com/1198941/more-than-20000-new-post-secondary-degrees-and-certificates-awarded-from-2010-2016/
- New Mexico Educational Assistance Foundation, accessed July 25, 2019, https://www.nmeaf.org/
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- Alison Felix, “Educational Attainment and Labor Market Outcomes in the Rocky Mountain States,” Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, June 29, 2018, https://www.kansascityfed.org/en/publications/research/rme/articles/2018/rme-2q-2018
- Mission: Graduate, United Way of Central New Mexico, accessed July 25, 2019, https://missiongraduatenm.org/
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- Legislative Finance Committee Brief, Colleges and Universities in New Mexico, July 11, 2019, https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&ved=2ahUKEwjToqzAlc7jAhUHIKwKHaJRAAQQFjAGegQICRAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nmlegis.gov%2FEntity%2FLFC%2FDocuments%2FJuly%2520LFC%2520Hearing%2520-%2520Enrollment%2520Management.pdf&usg=AOvVaw0TSzAU2EMsHhFhEWh6R6B-
- To Apply, New Mexico State University, accessed July 25, 2019, https://admissions.nmsu.edu/apply/
- Online Programs, Eastern New Mexico University, accessed July 25, 2019, https://www.enmu.edu/academics/degrees-programs/online-programs
- About UNM’s Managed Online Programs, University of New Mexico, accessed July 25, 2019, http://online.unm.edu/online-programs/managed-online-programs/index/
- Distance Learning, Central New Mexico Community College, accessed July 25, 2019, https://www.cnm.edu/student-resources/distance-learning
- New Mexico, National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, accessed July 25, 2019, https://www.nc-sara.org/states/NM
- Kevin Robinson-Avila, “San Juan region scrambles to shift to new economy,” Albuquerque Journal, January 1, 2018, https://www.abqjournal.com/1113206/san-juan-region-scrambles-to-shift-to-new-economy/
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