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School Spirit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With nearly 30 colleges, New Mexico has something for every potential student across the state.

Here’s a quick look at the state colleges offering four-year degrees.


Located in central Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico is the largest higher education institution in the state of New Mexico.

It’s also home to the only level one medical trauma center, University of New Mexico Hospital, which means patients from all over the state go to the university for their most dire of medical emergencies. UNM is also home to the only law school, and many firms statewide have UNM grads in their ranks.

journal file Students packed the atrium in the student union to celebrate the University of New Mexico’s 127th birthday earlier this year.

journal file
Students packed the atrium in the student union to celebrate the University of New Mexico’s 127th birthday earlier this year.

In addition to its regular operation, UNM’s academics research everything from new methods to prevent the spread of mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus to developing technology that can map out landslides before they happen.

UNM’s branch campuses in Gallup, Los Alamos, Taos and Valencia County provide regional education opportunities for the communities removed from Albuquerque.

Though New Mexico has no major league football or basketball teams, many instead cheer for UNM’s student athletes, the cherry and silver Lobos. Basketball is a perennial favorite on both the men’s and women’s sides. And the women’s cross country team seized the NCAA championship in 2015.

Men also compete in baseball, cross country, football, golf, skiing, soccer, tennis and track and field. Women compete in the same sports save baseball and football, and additionally compete in beach volleyball, swimming and diving, softball and volleyball.


Down south in Las Cruces, you’ll find New Mexico State University.

Sheep and other livestock roam portions of the campus. And seasonally, hawks may make their home on the main campus, dive-bombing inattentive passers-by.

The school is known for its agricultural research, and it recently secured a $4.4 million grant to breed more productive pecan trees, according to an August news release. The campus is home to The Chile Pepper Institute, which according to the group’s website, is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to studying chile peppers. The institute recently made public a new pepper researchers have been working on since 2001.

The school also has several branch campuses in the southern New Mexico towns of Alamogordo, Carlsbad, Dona Ana County and Grants.

Men and women students compete in basketball, cross country, golf and tennis. Men also compete in baseball and football, and women additionally compete in equestrian, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, track and field, and volleyball.

N.M. Tech

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology is in the small town of Socorro, about an hour and 15 minute drive south of Albuquerque along I-25.

The smallest of the state’s research universities, Tech has a large reputation throughout the state and nation having been consistently ranked as one of the best value colleges.

The university also conducts private explosives research in its Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center. On the blast range, they’ll blow up letters, briefcases and even cars. “The Mythbusters,” a popular TV show focused on science, has visited the school to blow stuff up.

Tech also recently underwent a change in leadership. Former president Dan Lopez retired from his post after nearly a quarter of a century at the school. His successor is Steven Wells, a former professor at the University of New Mexico and more recently the head of the Desert Research Institute in Nevada.


New Mexico Highlands University calls Las Vegas, N.M., home. The university is home to an eclectic gathering of academics – one professor even travels to South America to study and capture anacondas.

The school is also home to the Paleomagnetic-Rock Magnetic Laboratory, a lab that studies magnetic fields recorded in rocks. And some students learned to create interactive exhibits that allow people to experience ancient pueblo life.

The men’s athletic teams compete in baseball, football and wrestling, and the women compete in soccer, softball, track and field and volleyball.


In the northern New Mexico town of Española lies Northern New Mexico College. Its base is in the rural community of El Rito, but many classes take place at the large campus in the rural town of Española. Over the years, the college has expanded its focus to include two- and four-year programs.

And it claims on its website to have the cheapest tuition among four-year colleges in New Mexico.

Northern also has student athletes who compete in basketball and cross country. Female students can also compete in cheer and dance.


Eastern New Mexico University calls Portales home. The small school has seen a steady increase in enrollment for nearly 20 years, which is impressive given many other schools have seen fewer students in recent years. It’s also been recognized by many college monitoring sites for offering affordable online degrees in education, nursing and even theology.

And the Chronicle for Higher Education recognized Eastern as the 14th fastest growing college that offers master’s degrees.

Eastern competes in basketball, cross country, soccer and track and field. Men also compete in baseball, football and rodeo. Women compete in softball, spirit squad and volleyball.


Western New Mexico University is in Silver City, about a two-hour drive west of Las Cruces. Started in 1893, Western was home to about 4,500 students on main campus in the past fiscal year.

Western also recently touts its acceptance of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals eligible students. The school also recently signed an agreement with the Mexican university, Universidad Tecnologica de Camargo, that called for the exchange of faculty and students between the universities.

The men’s and women’s athletics teams both compete in basketball, cross country, golf and tennis. Men also compete in football, while women compete in softball and volleyball.