The Top Nursing Schools in New Mexico

February 24, 2022 , Modified on June 24, 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.

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The Top Nursing Schools in New Mexico
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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.

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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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