The religious landscape of New Mexico's population mirrors the rest of the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, 75% of New Mexico self-identify as Christian, 4% more than the nation as a whole. Of this group, Catholics make up the largest category at 34% followed by evangelical Protestants at 23% and mainline Protestants at 14%. Meanwhile, 83% of those surveyed say they believe in God's existence, with 63% saying they "absolutely" do. For New Mexico adults, religion is an important part of their lives; 67% attend religious services at least a few times a year, and 36% of those attend services weekly.
75% of New Mexico self-identify as Christian, 4% more than the nation as a whole. Pew Research Center
Despite these figures, there aren't many Christian colleges in New Mexico. The University of the Southwest, for example, is an interdenominational liberal arts institution located in Hobbs, and one of the few Christian institutions in the state. This paucity of options, however, may be due to an overall lack of New Mexico colleges in general. New Mexico has 44 postsecondary institutions and only three of them are private nonprofit schools, of which USW is one.
Another academic path that New Mexico Christian students can consider, though, is attending one of the nation's numerous online Christian colleges, which allow degree seekers to attend a faith-based college or university without leaving their homes. Online Christian colleges offer the same liberal arts-based education, Christian worldview, and fellowship that Christian students often seek for their college years.
Online Christian Colleges in New Mexico
Given the few number of Christian colleges in New Mexico, Christian students should weigh the advantages of attending an online Christian college. As with all distance education, online Christian colleges offer students flexible coursework that they can complete from the comfort of their own homes. What's more, many instructors teach in an asynchronous format, meaning students can participate when is most convenient for them. This flexible schedule is especially helpful to working students and those juggling family, life, or church obligations.
Christian online colleges and universities offer many student services online, such as spiritual support, counseling, and live streams of worship services.
The cost of attending college continues to rise in the U.S., for both public and private schools. Christian online colleges help eliminate some of the traditional costs of college, such as expenses for on-campus accommodations and transportation. As a result, students in Christian online colleges can stay local while earning their degree in a neighboring state -- or even clear across the country.
Fortunately, online Christian colleges around the country usually offer the same faith-based curriculum as students would find in an on-campus program. Learners can take comfort in knowing they will receive the same quality, rigorous education as their on-campus counterparts. Furthermore, Christian online colleges and universities offer many student services online, such as spiritual support, counseling, and live streams of worship services. Through online groups and forums, Christian students can connect, collaborate, and practice their faith.
Finding the Right Christian College
College-bound students have many factors to consider when selecting a school such as costs, program offerings, transfer credits, and admission rates. Christian students researching Christian colleges in New Mexico and online have the same considerations, plus a few more. A Christian student, for example, may also want evaluate a school's values, Christian student services, and location. For example, location can impact the availability of service work. A big city will have more opportunities, but may not offer the kind of college experience that a smaller town can provide. According to the College Board, rural campuses offer fewer distractions and greater sense of community, but less access to off-campus activities.
Campus size is also an important consideration. Private Christian colleges tend to be smaller than their secular counterparts, allowing students to form a close-knit community. Smaller campuses also assure a lower student-to-faculty ratio, which translates to a more attentive faculty. Campus values at a Christian college, meanwhile, support an environment conducive to spiritual growth. Not all campuses require students to attend chapel service, but the option is often available. Also, a Christian college may prohibit the use of drugs and/or alcohol, and some campuses are tobacco-free.
A liberal arts education at a Christian college emphasizes a Christian worldview and develops the whole person, both academically and spiritually.
Students considering online Christian colleges should also explore how a school integrates faith into the online learning experience. Most colleges offer an online version of on-campus services, such as spiritual counseling and daily devotionals. Christian students should also determine the type of programs the school offers. A liberal arts education at a Christian college emphasizes a Christian worldview and develops the whole person, both academically and spiritually. Bible colleges, on the other hand, usually offer a Bible- or ministry-focused degree that prepares students for seminary school or pastoral training.
Seminary Schools vs. Bible Schools
Bible colleges offer an education built upon scripture. Although students at a Bible college take courses in general studies, the primary focus remains the Bible, preparing graduates for careers in ministry or serving Christ. A Bible college degree may be a prerequisite for seminary school, which offers graduate-level study in theology and biblical/theological doctrines.
Many Bible college students major in religious studies, but there are options such as music, pastoral ministry, family ministry, or interdisciplinary studies. Common courses at a Bible college include the Old and New Testament, Greek, Hebrew, and the life of Christ. Graduates of a Bible college who go on to seminary may receive credit for foundational courses like biblical languages.
Because seminaries provide advanced training for individuals intending to enter the church or a ministry-related profession, the curriculum is built around leadership development. To teach in higher education, seminary students generally need to obtain a doctoral degree.
Accreditation for Christian Colleges
Higher education accreditation is a voluntary, non-governmental process of evaluation for colleges and universities. The purpose of accreditation is two-fold: to provide the public with assurance that a school has met or exceeded quality standards, and to encourage a school to continuously innovate and improve. There are two types of institutional accreditation prospective students need to be familiar with: regional and national.
The main accreditors of national accreditation of Christian colleges in New Mexico and the U.S. are the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Association for Biblical Higher Education and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.
Regional accreditation is the older of the two, beginning in the late 1800s. There are six regional accrediting bodies, each recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). These accreditors primarily evaluate nonprofit, degree-granting institutions. National accreditors, on the other hand, review a larger number of schools, including for-profit and vocational schools, and may not grant credit that is transferable to regional institutions.
The ED does not recognize all national accreditors, so students should note that only schools accredited by a recognized agency are eligible for federal financial aid. Specialized accreditation, meanwhile, is program-specific and granted to departments or programs within a university. To help students with their research, the ED maintains a searchable database of accredited postsecondary institutions.
The Higher Learning Commission grants regional accreditation for 19 states, including New Mexico colleges. The main accreditors of national accreditation of Christian colleges in New Mexico and the U.S. are the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Association for Biblical Higher Education and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. The ED recognizes all three agencies.
Career and Salary Expectations
While New Mexico continues to recover from the Great Recession, the state's labor force has grown comparatively slower than neighboring states like Colorado and Utah. According to New Mexico's 2017 "State of the Workforce Report," the state's median income is sixth lowest in the nation. This said, the state is trending in the right direction. For March, the state's unemployment rate was 5.1%, 1% higher than the nation as a whole. That rate, though, was 1.2% better for New Mexico year-over-year. The state's mean hourly wage is $21.56, with an annual mean wage of $44,840.
New Mexico's fastest-growing industry is manufacturing, but healthcare and social assistance also added 10,391 jobs from 2011 to 2015. During this same period, the largest percentage growth was in mining, which increased by 20%. In total, New Mexico's 14 industries continue to show growth, though at a slower rate than much of the nation. Looking forward, the healthcare and social assistance industry is projected to again be the main driver with a 23.2% growth over a 10-year span (2014-2024). For occupations, the biggest employer of the 22 major groups is in office and administrative support at 15.3%, while the community and social service sector accounts for approximately 1.7%.
|Occupation||Employment||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Wage|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||710||$28.41||$59,090|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||60||$26.04||$54,170|
|Mental Health Counselors||1,110||$20.15||$41,910|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||2,090||$20.61||$42,870|
|Healthcare Social Workers||1,070||$25.04||$52,090|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||2,360||$15.90||$33,060|
Scholarships and Financial Aid
As college costs continue to rise, it is important for students to maximize the financial awards available to them. Students attending college in New Mexico for the first time should prepare for the scholarship season which begins each year on February 1. Those looking at Christian colleges in New Mexico or online should research scholarships at both the local and state levels, as well as awards created solely for Christian students or New Mexico residents.
John W. McDevitt Scholarships $1,500
Baptist Convention of New Mexico Scholarships Varies
WMU Foundation Scholarships Varies
National CCAA Scholarship $1,000
Scholarships for New Mexico Residents
Horatio Alger Association State Scholarships $10,000
NSHSS | Andeavor Youth Leadership Awards $2,500
New Mexico Scholars Tuition
NIADA Foundation Regional Scholarships $3,500
Sussman-Miller Educational Assistance Award Program $500-2,000
Find a Church in Your Community
Comprehensive, browsable, and searchable, college costs and USA Churches help new college students learn about their community and locate nearby churches. Students at New Mexico colleges can browse tens of thousands of church profiles by city or keyword. Through the profiles, students can do quick comparisons of distance/location, service times, church size, worship style, attire, and ministries and programs.
Like fellowship groups on campus, Christian networking websites can help students expand their Christian global community as they enter the workforce. Such connections can open doors to collaboration, professional development, and even job or endeavor opportunities.
- Christian Business Network Merging a biblical foundation and technological infrastructure, CBN brings together business developers, content providers, community seekers, recruiters, entrepreneurs, employers, and job seekers who share in their Christian faith and vision.
- Christian Business Fellowship CBF is a community of Christian small business leaders and owners engaging in a mutually beneficial forum of ideas, peer counsel, and insight. At CBF, the focus is on leadership and adhering to the organization's belief in business accountability.
- CBMC International CBMC is an interdenominational organization dedicated to both marketplace ministry and the influence of Christ on business practice. CBMC has ministry teams in 80 countries.
Find Christian Ministries
For many students, cost and/or location make attending a private college prohibitive. Instead, Christian students can opt for a public university. The good news is that public universities have many campus ministries and fellowship groups that bring together like-minded individuals for fellowship and community. Through these groups, Christian students can continue to invest in their faith and community service.
- Campus Crusade for Christ A parachurch organization, Cru supports 5,300 campus ministries, as well as 35 "city" citizen-kingdom community programs. Founded in 1951 at UCLA, Cru provides spiritual guidance to students and the community through evangelism.
- Chi Alpha A network of 300 campus ministries, Chi Alpha provides members with fellowship, discipleship, and communities of prayer. Every year, Chi Alpha holds Reach the U Institute, a training conference for effective campus ministry.
- International Fellowship of Evangelical Students IFES supports students and their ministry in the areas of evangelism, leadership development, and pioneering. The organization launched in 1947 and connects more than 500,000 students in over 160 countries.
- Fellowship of Christian Athletes Founded in 1954, FCA is an international sports ministry of athletes and coaches that serves local communities and impacts the world for Jesus Christ.
- Catholic Campus Ministry Association A professional organization for Catholic campus ministers, CCMA originated in 1908 at Purdue University. Today, it is composed of nearly 700 campus ministries on over 955 campuses.
- Lutheran Student Movement USA This Christ-driven organization provides fellowship for Lutheran college students in the U.S. The Chicago-based organization splits into nine regions, which match the same regions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
- Reformed University Fellowship RUF has served as the official campus ministry of the Presbyterian Church of America since the mid-1970s. The first RUF launched in 1971 at the University of Southern Mississippi.
- UKirk Since 2012, UKirk has provided a central hub of support for professionals of campus ministries representing the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). UKirk helps members establish connections and share resources.
- Baptist Collegiate Ministry Life BCMLIfe is a network of Baptist campus ministries working together to "lead, develop, and connect." In partnership with supporting Baptist churches, on-campus ministries evangelize and disciple students, provide group worship, community and social ministry opportunities, and mission service.
Public Universities in New Mexico with Christian Ministries
- New Mexico State University: There are 17 religious organizations at NMSU. For Christian students, there's Chi Alpha, Cru, and the International Christian Fellowship. Each organization offers members outlets for their faith such as Bible study and worship.
- University of New Mexico: UNM is home to eight religious organizations that offer students ministry and fellowship groups in which they can discuss, study, and practice their faith. Christian faiths represented include Catholicism, Baptism, and Lutheran.
- New Mexico Junior College: At this two-year college, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is one of 10 available student organizations. Through FCA, student athletes can help through community service and evangelism.