The Best New Mexico Online Nurse Practitioner Programs and Requirements

Written by NurseJournal.org Staff


The need to expand primary and preventive healthcare services for the nation's aging and underserved populations has created a significant increase in the demand for nurse practitioners (NPs). The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for advanced practice nurses to grow by over 30% from 2016-26 in New Mexico, which is much faster than the rate for all other occupations. This guide spotlights the two best nurse practitioner programs in New Mexico, covering educational and licensing requirements and career prospects for NPs in the state.

The BLS projects employment for advanced practice nurses to grow by over 30% from 2016-26 in New Mexico, which is much faster than the rate for all other occupations.

NPs serve as patient-centered primary and specialty care providers in hospitals, medical centers, and outpatient clinics. Unlike registered nurses (RNs), NPs occupy roles that permit them to operate independently from physicians. New Mexico's NPs may diagnose and treat illnesses, prescribe medication, conduct diagnostic tests, and analyze the results -- all without doctor supervision. NPs in New Mexico deliver a full range of primary healthcare services, including prescribing medicine.

While RNs may become licensed after earning an associate or bachelor's degree and passing the NCLEX-RN exam, NPs must complete further education and training to practice. NPs in New Mexico must hold at least a master's in nursing, where they pursue high-demand specializations in areas of primary, family, and gerontological healthcare. NPs planning to enter leadership roles in advanced clinical practice often choose to enter a doctoral program in nursing practice.

Best New Mexico Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

1. New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University has stopped offering master’s degree programs for nurse practitioners. This is because there is an increasingly strong drive for all NPs in the country to have a doctorate degree. As such, they are now offering a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) instead. This shows just how forward thinking the university is, since the new regulations in terms of education for a NP have only just come into place in 2015. Students have the choice of taking part in a BSN to DNP program, or in an MSN to DNP program. They also offer different specializations: the Public/Community Health, Psych/Mental Health and Adult Health programs. The school has now also started the Family Nurse Practitioner track. However, some of these specializations only start every other year. This is mainly due to the incredible nursing shortage in the state of New Mexico, which is felt most acutely in the availability of nurse educators. The programs are available online, which means you can study and work at the same time. However, it is important to understand that the degree program requires a lot of hard work and dedication to complete it.

  • Campus: Las Cruces, NM
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Tuition: Varies, please inquire
  • Minimum time commitment: Varies depending on chosen pathway
  • Online availability: Yes – one week of on-campus attendance required per year
  • Degree requirements: Prerequisite courses, transcripts, clinical clearances, BSN or MSN
  • Programs: Online DNP – Adult Health, Psych/Mental Health and Public/Community Health, Family Nurse Practitioner – BSN to DNP or MSN to DNP
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

2. University of New Mexico

At the University of New Mexico, students can take part in a master’s level FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner) degree pathway. The emphasis of this program is on under-served and rural areas in the state. As such, nurses who are originally from or are current residents of these types of areas are encouraged to take part in the program. Some of the coursework are offered online for convenience. However, other classes do require on-site attendance. This means that it may be quite difficult to complete the degree program and work at the same time, particularly because the coursework itself is very heavy too. The school also offers a variety of other programs, as well as a DNP program for those who already have an MSN degree.

  • Campus: Albuquerque, NM
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Tuition: Varies, please inquire
  • Minimum time commitment: Varies, please inquire
  • Online availability: Some elements
  • Degree requirements: BSN and MSN for DNP program, BSN degree, work experience, RN license valid in New Mexico
  • Programs: FNP, Adult-Gerontology NP, Pediatric NP, DNP
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

Requirements to Become a Nurse Practitioner in New Mexico

You must complete the following steps before you can work as an NP in New Mexico:

  • Each applicant to nurse practitioner programs in New Mexico must have a BSN degree and an unrestricted RN license.
  • An NP in New Mexico must apply to a master of science in nursing or a doctor of nursing practice degree from a program that provides training in primary, acute, chronic, long-term, or end-of-life healthcare. New Mexico offers two NP programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • Once admitted, you will spend 2-4 years earning your degree. You take general coursework in nursing theory, evidence-based practice; biostatistics; population-based healthcare; and a research or capstone project. The program must also include at least 24 academic hours in pharmacology.
  • In addition to these basic requirements, New Mexico's advanced practice nursing programs offer specializations in six areas: primary care or acute adult-gerontology; acute or primary care pediatrics; neonatal care; women’s health; family care; or mental health. Degree-seekers must complete at least 500 supervised clinical practice hours in a specialization. The table in the following section lists the requirements for some of the most in-demand specialties.
  • The New Mexico Board of Nursing requires all NP applicants to take the certification exam in a specific population focus through one of several nationally recognized agencies. New Mexico recognizes the following certification agencies: American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC); the National Certification Corporation (NCC); the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP); the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN); the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board; and the National Board of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA).
  • Initial licensure requires submission of an application to the state board of nursing. You can download all necessary forms and check requirements at the New Mexico Board of Nursing website. In addition to the completed application, the board requires an official transcript sent from the school that conferred your degree, a copy of your RN license, a verification of NP education form, verification of initial certification sent by the national certification agency, and a completed affidavit validating prescriptive writing.
  • To receive prescriptive authority to administer dangerous drugs and controlled substances, candidates must complete 400 hours of preceptorship. NPs with prescriptive authority must receive a state license from the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy and apply for a DEA registration number.
  • Once you receive your NP license, you must renew your license every two years at the same time as your RN renewal. Renewal requires NPs to complete 50 continuing education hours within the 24 months preceding your renewal deadline. NPs without a DEA registration number must complete 30 contact hours of continuing education to renew their RN license, 10 hours in NP practice, and 10 hours in pharmacology. NPs with a DEA number must complete 30 hours to maintain their RN license, five hours in NP practice, five hours in non-cancer pain management, and 10 hours in pharmacology.

In-Demand Nursing Specialty Eligibility Requirements in New Mexico

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (AGPCNP-BC)

Years of Experience: Variable; active RN license plus master's or doctoral degree

Clinical Hours Required: 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours related to the adult-gerontology nurse practitioner role and population

Continuing Education: Minimum 75 contact hours of approved courses for renewal, 25 of which must be in pharmacotherapeutics

Other: Passing score on certification examination; graduate degree must include three courses in advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology

Gerontological Nursing Certification (RN-BC)

Years of Experience: Active RN license; two years full time as an RN

Clinical Hours Required: 2,000 hours of clinical practice in gerontological nursing within the last three years

Continuing Education: 30 hours of continuing education in gerontological nursing within the last three years

Other: Passing score on certification exam

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (AGACNP-BC)

Years of Experience: Variable; active RN license plus master's or doctoral degree

Clinical Hours Required: 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours related to the adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner role and population

Continuing Education: Minimum 75 contact hours of approved courses for renewal, 25 of which must be in pharmacotherapeutics

Other: Passing score on certification examination; graduate degree must include three courses in advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology

Salary and Career Information

Recent studies confirm the pressing need for advanced practice nurses in New Mexico. A 2017 study conducted the state's Healthcare Workforce Commission reports that the number of NPs practicing in New Mexico lags behind national benchmarks. A third of the state's 2.1 million residents live in rural areas with NP shortages. The state projects a dramatic increase in its 65 and older population, including a significant percentage requiring healthcare services for one or more chronic conditions.

Given these projections for New Mexico, aspiring NPs can expect a healthy return on their educational investment in the form of expanding career opportunities and competitive salaries. NPs, who must complete at least a master's degree to practice in the state, receive much higher compensation than RNs, who can enter nursing jobs with only an associate or bachelor's degree. NPs throughout New Mexico earn annual salaries near or above six figures.

RN vs. NP Salary and Projected Job Growth in New Mexico
  Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
New Mexico Mean Salary $71,730 $109,810
U.S. Mean Salary $75,510 $110,030
New Mexico Job Growth 12.9% 30.8%
U.S. Job Growth 14.8% 36.1%

Source: BLS, Projections Central


New Mexico Metropolitan Areas With the Highest Mean NP Wages
  Salary Employment
Las Cruces, New Mexico $123,670 120
Albuquerque, New Mexico $109,960 440
Farmington, New Mexico $102,110 40
Santa Fe, New Mexico $95,330 140

Source: BLS