Does the image of colorful hot-air balloons gently rising above the desert floor and over stark rock formations enchant you? If so, it just means that New Mexico is living up to its nickname: the Land of Enchantment. And there’s a lot more to the state that will do it, too. Whether it’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park and its stalactites and stalagmites, the mysterious cliff dwellings by the headwaters of the Gila River, or the inexplicable “Miraculous Stair” in the Loretto Chapel of Santa Fe, prepare to to have an out-of-the-ordinary experience in New Mexico.
Of course, New Mexico isn’t all fabulous attractions and parks. It also boasts some excellent institutions of higher education. That’s why we’ve put together this list. If you’re considering going to college in the Land of Enchantment, you’ll want to check it out. And if you think you can only afford a public school, don’t immediately write off a private school – sometimes they’re just as affordable because of their generous financial aid packages.
What are the best colleges in New Mexico?
So how did we get our ranking? It’s a statistical analysis of all of New Mexico’s four-year colleges and universities. In searching through the available data, we looked for three critical components in order to rank the schools. These are institutional excellence, student satisfaction, and return on investment. In other words, our data analysis is focused on making sure you get a good education, have a good time in college, and that your education will end up improving your earning potential. Data comes from Payscale, IPEDS, U.S. News & World Report, and student rating review sites.
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $32,625
The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech) was founded in 1889 in Socorro, New Mexico as part of the national land-grant movement in the late 1880s. The area is known for over 300 days of sunshine and the mining in the Magdalena Mountains. The main campus has 320 acres and is adjacent to a 18-hole championship golf course. Socorro is 75 miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology offers 30 majors for 1,633 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 13-to-1. Nearly 57% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, student can access over 25 student organizations. Top majors include:
- Mechanical Engineering
- Petroleum Engineering
- Computer Science
- Chemical Engineering
The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology is sometimes referred to as a research institution that happens to have university on the same property. New Mexico Tech has over 12 research divisions that work with private industry, government agencies and other universities. Some of the research is about lightening, DNA sequencing, seismology and explosives.
University of New Mexico
College Choice Score: 92.09
Average Net Price: $34,896
The main campus of the University of New Mexico was founded in 1889 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, prior to the territory becoming a state. Today, it is a flagship institution for the University of New Mexico system. It is located off Route 66 in downtown Albuquerque. The main campus has 769 acres and you can enjoy more than 310 days of sunshine each year.
The University of New Mexico is a commuter campus that offers over 200 degree options for 20,500 undergraduate students – less than 10% live on campus. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 17-to-1. Nearly 56% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, student can access over 400 student organizations – including Greek Chapters. The University of New Mexico participates in NCAA Division I sports teams. Top majors include:
- Biological & Biomedical Sciences
- Social Sciences
The University of New Mexico is in the heart of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with all the possibilities a large city provides: culture, art, adventure or outdoor recreation. One of the major highlights in this area is the world largest hot air balloon fiesta. It is a sight to see.
New Mexico State University
College Choice Score: 88.82
Average Net Price: $32,702
The main campus of the New Mexico State University (NMSU) was founded in 1888 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to teach agriculture and mechanical arts. This land-grant institution is the oldest public institution in New Mexico and 1 of 5 New Mexico State University locations. The Las Cruces campus has 900 acres.
New Mexico State University offers 90 majors for over 12,500 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 16-to-1. Nearly 47% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, student can access over 200 student organizations – including Greek life chapters. New Mexico State University participates in NCAA Division I sports. Top majors include:
- Biology & Biological Sciences
- Criminal Justice / Safety Studies
- Liberal Arts & Sciences
The New Mexico State University houses the Apache Point Observatory. This Observatory has a 3.5-meter telescope and a Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope. They have close ties with NASA and Astrophysical Research Consortium. They usually have over 300 days of clear skies – perfect conditions for studying aerospace and astronomy.
St. John's College – Santa Fe
College Choice Score: 86.11
Average Net Price: $62,184
St. John’s College can trace its history back to a preparatory school in 1696 near Maryland. Today, St. John’s College is one college with two campuses. One of which is located on a 250-acre campus in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The curriculum has not changed much since its founding. Classes are conducted as seminars with faculty facilitating the classical education. All students will be taking four years of literature and philosophy, four years of languages (Greek, French and English), three years of laboratory science and 4 years of mathematics.
St. John’s College has 324 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 8-to-1. The average class size is 17-19 students. 100% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, student can access over 10 student organizations. St. John’s College participates in intramural sports only.
Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the oldest capital city in the United States and the cultural capital of the Southwest United States. It has a rich artistic, musical and culinary scene that attracts tourists year-round. The campus is located 7,300 feet above sea level and a quick walk to museums, galleries and hiking trails.
Eastern New Mexico University
College Choice Score: 84.94
Average Net Price: $22,410
The main campus of Eastern New Mexico University was founded in 1927 in Portales, New Mexico by the state legislature. There was a huge need for teachers. By 1949, the school became a university. Today, Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) is the largest regional comprehensive university, a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, and is a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. The Portales campus has 324 acres near a friendly, small town and Air Force Base.
ENMU offers 60 majors for 4,600 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 19-to-1. Outside the classroom, student can access over 50 student organizations in addition to the Greek Life Chapters. ENMU participates in NCAA Division II athletics. Top majors include:
- Criminal Justice
- Communicative Disorders
- Aviation Science
ENMU’s sport teams are called the Greyhounds. The campus has two costumed mascots, Ralph and Roxy, that show up to sporting and other events. But they have also adopted former racing greyhounds named, Victor and Victoria. These adopted pups are widely loved by the students on campus and enjoy campus life regularly.