The Top Nursing Schools in New Mexico

Updated July 11, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Considering nursing programs in New Mexico? Learn about the best nursing schools in New Mexico, salary outlook, and how to get your nursing license.

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NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

The Top Nursing Schools in New Mexico
Credit: Copyright (c) Richard Susanto | Moment | Getty Images

New Mexico is experiencing a shortage of nurses, especially in rural areas. Attending nursing school in New Mexico can allow you to take advantage of this demand.

Keep reading to learn more about the top nursing programs in New Mexico, how to earn your registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP) license, and expected nurse salaries.

The Best Nursing Schools in New Mexico

There are fewer nursing programs in New Mexico than in many other states. However, prospective students can still find a program to match their background, experience, and career goals.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in New Mexico, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

#1

Northern New Mexico College

School Information
Location Espanola, New Mexico
Graduation Rate 22%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Northern New Mexico College, one of the top-ranked nursing schools in New Mexico, has trained nurses since 1973. The school's nursing and health sciences department offers accelerated “career ladder” degrees.

Certified nurse aides and licensed practical nurses can fast-track their careers with an ACEN-accredited associate degree in nursing. Registered nurses can earn a CCNE-accredited BSN that emphasizes holistic nursing care.

RN-to-BSN courses operate online to let working RNs continue their education. The average student takes two years to complete their degree. 

  • Program: Associate degree in nursing, bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Española, New Mexico
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE); Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $136 per credit for New Mexico residents; $505 per credit for out-of-state students; $204 per credit for Western Undergraduate Exchange students; $270 per credit for RN-to-BSN program
  • Admission Requirements: RN-to-BSN applicants need an ADN degree or nursing diploma; current RN license; official transcripts; criminal background check for clinical rotations
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 2 years
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
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#2

University of New Mexico-Taos Campus

School Information
Location Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico
Graduation Rate 7%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of New Mexico-Taos's (UNM-Taos) associate degree in nursing helps prepare students to take the NCLEX-RN exam or transfer to a four-year program. The two-year program provides a direct pathway to a higher degree at New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium schools. 

UNM-Taos enrolls small nursing cohorts of 16 students. The program requires 74 credits in subjects such as health and illness concepts, principles of nursing practice, and assessment and health promotion. Clinical rotations take place at sites including Holy Cross Hospital. 

  • Program: Associate degree in nursing, certified nursing assistant certificate
  • Campus: Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $10,860 per year for New Mexico residents; $27,166 per year for out-of state students
  • Admission Requirements: Current CNA certificate; cover letter; resume; high school and college transcripts; ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 2 years
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $68,965 for associate degree graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#3

New Mexico State University-Carlsbad

School Information
Location Carlsbad, New Mexico
Graduation Rate 15%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

New Mexico State University Carlsbad (NMSU Carlsbad) ranks among the best ACEN-accredited nursing schools in New Mexico. The school offers an associate degree in nursing along with licensed practical nurse and certified nursing assistant programs.

The LPN program takes one year. Students can complete an ADN in about two years. The curriculum covers topics like human growth and behavior, medication and dosage calculations, health deviations, and physical assessments. 

NMSU Carlsbad also offers a fully online RN-to-BSN degree in partnership with NMSU's Las Cruces campus. 

  • Program: Associate degree in nursing 
  • Campus: Carlsbad, New Mexico
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $41 per credit for in-district New Mexico residents; $74 per credit for out-of-district New Mexico residents; $93-$159 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Official transcripts; high school diploma or GED certificate; HESI A2 exam scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 1 year
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $63,997 for associate degree graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#4

Luna Community College

School Information
Location Las Vegas, New Mexico
Graduation Rate 20%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 24% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Luna Community College's ADN program caters to applicants with prior professional healthcare experience. Students take courses such as human anatomy and physiology, health and illness concepts, and nursing pharmacology. They complete 71 credits, including a clinical intensive and a capstone course. 

To receive an affidavit of graduation from the New Mexico Board of Nursing, students need to pass the ATI Comprehensive Predictor Exam.

  • Program: Associate degree in nursing 
  • Campus: Las Vegas, New Mexico
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $43 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: TEAS exam scores; must be at least 18 years old; high school and/or college transcripts; minimum 2.75 GPA in prerequisites; complete the ATI Fundamentals Exam for the LPN program
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 85% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $57,318 for associate degree graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#5

New Mexico Junior College

School Information
Location Hobbs, New Mexico
Graduation Rate 22%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

New Mexico Junior College (NMJC) ranks among the best nursing schools in New Mexico. The school's associate-level nursing program admits up to 50 students every year. 

The two-year nursing associate degree prepares learners to sit for the NCLEX-RN and pursue careers as registered nurses. Students begin the program with classes in human anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. They end with clinical intensive and capstone courses. 

NMJC accepts nursing applications until May 20 of every year. 

  • Program: Associate of applied science in nursing, certified nursing assistant certificate, licensed practical nurse certificate
  • Campus: Hobbs, New Mexico
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $40 per credit for in-district New Mexico residents; $60 per credit for out-of-district New Mexico and Texas residents; $75 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Official transcripts; high school diploma or GED certificate
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 2 years
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 88.9% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $59,169 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard 
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#6

University of New Mexico-Main Campus

School Information
Location Albuquerque, New Mexico
Admission Rate 94%
Graduation Rate 54%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of New Mexico's (UNM) main campus in Albuquerque offers CCNE-accredited graduate and undergraduate nursing programs. 

UNM's four BSN degree options include a pre-licensure BSN and an RN-to-BSN program. Students entering the pre-licensure program can learn at the Albuquerque campus or the Rio Rancho campus. 

The university offers a BSN pathway for high school seniors through its direct entry program. The BSN dual degree allows students to study at their local community college with six campus locations. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing; doctor of nursing practice; Ph.D. in nursing
  • Campus: Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $359-$614 per credit for New Mexico residents; $1,218-$1,355 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: RN-to-BSN students need a current RN license; minimum 2.5 college GPA; at least 26 transferable credits
  • On-Campus Requirements: Varies by program
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.2% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $68,965 for associate degree graduates; $70,863 for bachelor's graduates; $94,999 for master's graduates; $135,393 for doctoral graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#7

University of New Mexico-Gallup Campus

School Information
Location Gallup, New Mexico
Graduation Rate 7%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of New Mexico's Gallup campus (UNM-Gallup), recognized as one of the best nursing programs in New Mexico, has trained nurses since 2002. 

UNM-Gallup's nursing cohorts graduate twice a year. The ADN degree requires 70 credits, while the BSN program requires 128. 

The selective BSN program admits eight students each semester. Students take prerequisites in subjects like human growth and development, human nutrition, and general psychology at the Gallup campus. For the rest of the degree, students study at UNM's College of Nursing.

  • Program: Associate of science in nursing, bachelor of science in nursing, certified nursing assistant certificate
  • Campus: Gallup, New Mexico
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $81 per credit for New Mexico residents; $196 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Meet with a nursing advisor; take the TEAS exam; complete prerequisites
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 4 semesters
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 83.3% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $68,965 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#8

New Mexico State University-Dona Ana

School Information
Location Las Cruces, New Mexico
Graduation Rate 14%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Part of the New Mexico State University system, Dona Ana Community College offers some of the most flexible nursing programs in New Mexico.

Students can complete a licensed practical nursing program, then take another 15 credits to earn an associate degree in nursing. The 69-credit program trains students in key topics like pharmacology, nursing skills and assessments, and anatomy and physiology. Specialized courses include geriatric patients, mental health nursing, and maternal child nursing. 

  • Program: Associate degree in nursing, licensed practical nurse certificate
  • Campus: Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $74 per credit for in-district New Mexico residents; $85 per credit for out-of-district New Mexico residents; $236 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: High school and/or college transcripts; minimum 3.0 GPA; admissions interview 
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $63,997 for associate degree graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#9

Navajo Technical University

School Information
Location Crownpoint, New Mexico
Graduation Rate 16%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Navajo Technical University opened as Navajo Skill Center in 1979. The school's nursing assistant certificate program prepares graduates to sit for the New Mexico nurse assisting certification exam. 

Courses build knowledge and practice through labs and clinical rotations. Course topics include pathophysiology, admission exams, technical communications, and human nutrition. 

  • Program: Certified nursing assistant certificate
  • Campus: Crownpoint, New Mexico
  • Type: Public
  • Tuition: $71 per credit for students with a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood; $143 per credit for students without certificate
  • Admission Requirements: Minimum 2.0 GPA; official transcripts; high school diploma or GED certificate; CPR training
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
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#10

University of New Mexico-Valencia County Campus

School Information
Location Los Lunas, New Mexico
Graduation Rate 14%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 74% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of New Mexico's Valencia campus (UNM-Valencia) offers an associate degree in nursing that enrolls eight students every year. 

UNM-Valencia also administers a five-semester dual ADN and BSN program. The curriculum covers general nursing practice principles, assessments and health promotion, and health and illness concepts. Learners also study care of patients with chronic conditions. The program ends with a capstone and a clinical intensive.

  • Program: Associate degree in nursing
  • Campus: Los Lunas, New Mexico
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Accrediting Commission on Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $75 per credit for New Mexico residents; $210 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED certificate; official transcripts; Kaplan Admissions Test
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 5 semesters
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 76.9% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $68,965 for associate degree graduates, according to College Scorecard
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Featured Online MSN Programs

How to Choose a Nursing Program in New Mexico

Whether you're looking for an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), important considerations include tuition and other costs, financial aid for nurses, and the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rate. Other factors are acceptance rate and program logistics. For online nursing programs in New Mexico, check to see if you can get clinical placement in your community.

This guide lists only accredited nursing programs, as unaccredited programs can prevent you from getting licensure and employment.

Why Become a Nurse in New Mexico

New Mexico is a Nurse Licensure Compact state, which means that you can earn a multistate license that lets you practice in any of the 37 participating states.

The state also offers up to $12,000 in loan forgiveness for nurses in New Mexico each year to eligible nurses. You must be a New Mexico resident (who has lived in the state for 12 months or longer), attend nursing school in New Mexico, and work in an underserved area after graduation.

The New Mexico Nurses Foundation also offers scholarships.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in New Mexico

New Mexico expects an additional 2,080 jobs for RNs and 90 for NPs by 2028, according to the Health Care Workforce in New Mexico. The cost-of-living index is 90.6 compared to 100 nationally, allowing salaries to go farther, depending on where you live.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for an RN in New Mexico is $75,700, just over the national median of $75,330. The average NP salary is $117,050, compared to a median $111,680 nationally.

Loan forgiveness for nurses through the state program or federal programs can further stretch your income.

Santa Fe is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Southwest U.S., especially for art lovers. Albuquerque is also home to a strong arts scene, with both cities being popular retirement destinations, guaranteeing ongoing demand for nurses.

New Mexico is full of outdoor recreation opportunities and Native American historical and cultural sites.

Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses in New Mexico
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Average Salary for RNs
Santa Fe $77,830
Albuquerque $76,740
Farmington $74,260
Las Cruces $73,870
Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in New Mexico

The New Mexico Board of Nursing issues licenses for all practicing nurses in the state. The board oversees the approval and accreditation of all traditional and online nursing programs in New Mexico, ensuring each maintains minimum standards.

The board also requires licensed nurses to engage in continuing education (CE) to ensure they consistently advance their knowledge.

Certified nursing assistants are required to complete at least 75 hours of an approved in-state nursing program, followed by passing the Nurse Aide Competency Exam. And, like nearly half of all U.S. states, New Mexico allows NPs to engage in full practice. Thus, NPs can serve as primary care providers, issue prescriptions, and provide treatment similar to the duties of a physician.

RN Requirements

To apply for an RN license, individuals must first hold an associate degree in nursing or a bachelor of science in nursing degree from one of the accredited traditional or online RN programs in New Mexico. Depending on the program, students must complete a certain number of clinical hours before graduating and sitting for the NCLEX-RN.

The RN license process includes a $110 application fee, $44 criminal background check fee, and $200 exam fee. The board usually takes 3-4 weeks to process the application before issuing an approval. Students should submit their applications before graduating from nursing school.

Practicing RNs must renew their licenses, which comes with a $93 fee. Nurses must engage in at least 30 CE hours for renewal.

APRN Requirements

To receive licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), individuals need a master's in nursing or doctor of nursing practice from an accredited program. They must also take an exam from an approved certification body. The exam depends on the nurse's specialty area.

Because the state's nursing board can take several weeks to issue a license, nurses may secure a temporary permit to practice. An individual's employer receives this permit on the nurse's behalf as long as the employer intends to hire the nurse.

To gain authorization to prescribe medications, NPs must complete 400 hours of preceptorship training, along with demonstrated coursework in assessment, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. Applying for APRN licensure comes with a $100 fee.

Professionals must renew their license every two years while also engaging in at least 50 CE hours during each license period.

Other Top Nursing Programs in New Mexico

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in New Mexico


What is the NCLEX-RN pass rate in New Mexico?

The average first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate in 2020 for nursing programs in New Mexico was 85.7%. The national rate was 86.6%, but many nursing schools in New Mexico had a pass rate above the national average. BSN programs generally have a higher pass rate than associate programs.

Which schools have the highest NCLEX-RN pass rate in New Mexico?

The top five nursing programs in New Mexico (with at least 100 students taking the exam) all had an NCLEX-RN pass score above 96% in 2020. These schools are:

  • San Juan College BSN and University of New Mexico BSN Aggregated (97.12%)
  • University of New Mexico Taos BSN and University of New Mexico BSN Aggregated (97.04%)
  • University of New Mexico Gallup BSN and University of New Mexico BSN Aggregated (96.85%)
  • University of New Mexico Albuquerque/BSN (96.75%)
  • New Mexico Junior College BSN and University of New Mexico BSN Aggregated (96.24%)

While smaller nursing schools in New Mexico also had pass rates above 96%, their average pass scores are not necessarily as strongly indicative of overall performance.

How many times can you take the NCLEX-RN in New Mexico?

As of May 3, 2018, if you attended nursing school in New Mexico or elsewhere in the U.S., you may take the NCLEX-RN up to three times within three years of first becoming eligible.

International students can take it up to three times within three years of their initial application.

What is the salary range for nurses in New Mexico?

According to the BLS, half of all nurses in New Mexico earn between $65,140 and $85,070. The average salary is $75,700. Nursing salaries vary based on degree, experience, certifications, and location, with urban nurses earning the highest salaries.

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NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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