UNM Los Alamos

General Information

General Information

Role and Function of UNM Branch Colleges

The University of New Mexico has established branch colleges to serve the citizens of New Mexico more fully and to provide the highest quality education throughout the state for students in different locations pursuing postsecondary education. Branch colleges respond specifically to the unique needs and multicultural backgrounds of the citizens in the respective communities they serve by offering transfer programs that prepare students for upper-division entry into colleges and universities. In addition the branches offer associate degree and certificate programs. Branch colleges use resources in the community as well as make educational resources available. Therefore, they also function as an integral part of the community.

The five-member elected UNM–Los Alamos Advisory Board serves as an advisory body to the College and to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents. It approves the annual budget and can call for elections. UNM–Los Alamos continues to benefit from a strong, supportive, and dedicated Advisory Board which is well informed, responsible, and committed to the College and its future. The branch colleges of the University of New Mexico are considered fully integrated component colleges. They are committed to serving the needs of their respective communities as comprehensive community colleges offering a variety of preparatory academic, career, and community service programs. The branch colleges pledge themselves to protect the quality and integrity of all academic curricula. UNM Albuquerque campus pledges its resources, whenever appropriate and practical, to the fulfillment of the varied missions of the branches. The Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of New Mexico has responsibility for the operation of the branch colleges. From a clear understanding of its role and function, UNM–Los Alamos has developed the following mission statement.

Mission, Vision, Values, and Strategic Goals


The mission of the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos is:

Preparation for Transfer…Pathways for Careers…Passion for Lifelong Learning!

UNM–LA is an innovative, rigorous, and affordable comprehensive branch community college that provides foundations for transfer, leading-edge career programs, and lifelong learning opportunities. We strive to prepare students who are capable, competent, and successful through high-quality instruction and personalized attention.


UNM–LA is recognized as a premier education provider for Los Alamos and the region by offering unique forward-looking learning opportunities, spanning the sciences and the arts, and building on unique local and regional assets.

We aspire to a future in which we are known for the following:

Commitment to Excellence

We are respected for excellence in all academic endeavors, offering traditional and innovative programs.

Success through Collaboration

We are seen as a committed partner supporting education and regional development.

Engagement with Community

We build on the history, geography, and cultures of our region for an improved quality of life for all.


The values that guide UNM–LA are Excellence, Integrity, Diversity, Respect, Collaboration, Innovation, Creativity, Accessibility.

Strategic Goals

The UNM–LA strategic plan is centered on the following six goals:

Goal 1 – Develop and maintain strong ties with constituents and stakeholders leading to greater participation in higher education within our region and resulting in economic development.

Goal 2 – Communicate and demonstrate how our mission, vision, and values are ensuring excellence in UNM–LA programs, services, and opportunities to underscore our position as a premier educational institution.

Goal 3 – Staff UNM–LA sufficiently to sustain high instructional standards, enable realistic workloads in providing support services, and create an environment that encourages excellence.

Goal 4 – Increase enrollment for the purpose of creating a vibrant campus community and sustainable programs and services.

Goal 5 – Create and manage new revenue streams to complement state funding, stabilize support for recurring costs, and enable investments in our educational infrastructure.

Goal 6 – Review and revise the strategic and implementation plans each quarter to ensure they serve as the framework for decision-making and continue to serve the UNM–LA community.

Educational Programs

The University of New Mexico-Los Alamos offers a range of educational programs as defined in the Mission Statement and institutional goals. These programs constitute the heart of the institution. Academic transfer programs for credit provide the first two years of high quality university education. UNM–Los Alamos is authorized to offer any freshman or sophomore course that appears in the UNM Albuquerque campus catalog for which an appropriate instructor and facilities can be obtained. In addition, UNM–Los Alamos may design courses that respond to the needs of its students. Most of these courses carry full UNM residence credit as though they were taken in Albuquerque. Thus students enrolled in academic transfer courses may complete most of and, in many cases, all of the first two years of a baccalaureate degree at UNM–Los Alamos before continuing their studies at UNM or other four-year institutions. 

Associate Degrees

Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees are offered in the following fields: Computer Science, Early Childhood Multicultural Education, Emergency Medical Services, Environmental Science, Liberal Arts, Pre-Business Administration, Pre-Professional Elementary Education, Pre-Engineering, Pre-Professional Health Sciences, Science, and Studio Art. These programs are considered transfer programs because most, or all, of the courses required transfer to other four-year colleges and universities.

Occupational and technical programs are offered for academic credit. Associate of Applied Science Degrees are available in Accounting, Applied Technology with concentrations in Electro-Mechanical Technology, Manufacturing, and Robotics, Business with concentrations in Marketing and Management, Environmental Technology, General Studies, Fire Science with concentrations in Fire Science and Emergency Medical Services, Information Technology with Cybersecurity, Public Safety, and Robotics. The Associate Degree in General Studies provides students the opportunity to develop programs of study not available through other UNM–Los Alamos programs. The courses selected may reflect either specialized or broad patterns of educational experience.

Academic Certificates

Academic Certificates are offered in Accounting, Business with Marketing and Management concentrations, Office Communications and Technology, Pre-Professional Elementary Education, Pre-Professional Health Science, Southwest Studies, and Studio art. 

Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees

UNM–Los Alamos also offers Bachelor’s Degrees on this campus in Business Administration, Computer Science, Communications and Journalism, Mathematics, Liberal Arts, Integrative Studies, and more. Master’s program courses are offered in Nuclear Engineering, Computer Science, Educational Leadership, Public Administration, and more.  To see a complete list of offerings, go to http://statewide.unm.edu/nm/los-alamos/index.html

First Year Experience Program

The First Year Experience Program is rooted in the On Course principle that the most effective learners are empowered learners who are characterized by self-responsibility, self-motivation, self-management, interdependence, self-awareness, life-long learning, emotional intelligence, and a strong sense of self. UNM-LA’s FYE program, in conjunction with the Academic Support Center, the UNM-LA Library, and Student Services, is dedicated to empowering learners by expanding educational opportunities for all students, including those who by traditional measures are not expected to succeed in higher education. The program offers students course placement evaluation, Introductory and University Studies courses, and a well-designed educational experience, so students have the opportunity for deep, transformational learning and success-- academic, personal, and professional.

Introductory Studies

Introductory Studies credit courses are offered in math, English, and reading comprehension.. The Introductory Studies courses are components of the First Year Experience program, which is designed to help students strengthen their areas of academic competencies, as well as ensure successful transition into college. 

Adult Basic Education

The Adult Learning Center provides adults basic education (ABE) services to adults who wish to obtain their New Mexico High School Equivalency Credential (HSE), brush up on basic literacy skills, improve workplace skills, or learn English as a second Language (ESL).

The Academic Support Center

The Academic Support Center (ASC) offers a range of services to supplement UNM-LA’s academic programs. ASC organizes and hosts homework/study groups, review sessions, and workshops, while offering additional course resources and various types of extra help and tutoring (drop-in, by appointment, and online). Services cover a wide range of academic subjects and special arrangements may be made for those subjects not currently covered. The ASC is located next to the Student Center, on the top floor of Building 2. For more information, tutor schedules, and access to online tutoring, visit the ASC homepage at losalamos.unm.edu/asc.

Employability Certificates

UNM–LA offers three Employability Certificates that provide students the option to gain expertise in a focused, marketable skill set. These skill sets represent areas of employment where the Federal Department of Labor and New Mexico State Labor statistics project growing needs over the coming years.

Operating Agreement and Funding

UNM–Los Alamos was established under the provisions of the Branch College Act, New Mexico Statutes of 1978, implemented in an operating agreement between the Los Alamos School Board and the Regents of the University of New Mexico. The UNM–Los Alamos Advisory Board serves as the Advisory Board to the UNM Board of Regents. This Advisory Board approves an annual budget for UNM–Los Alamos and calls elections for local tax levies and capital outlay general obligation bonds for UNM–Los Alamos. The University of New Mexico retains administrative and academic oversight of UNM–Los Alamos, and the Executive Director of UNM–Los Alamos reports to the President of the University. Funding for UNM–Los Alamos comes directly from state appropriations and local tax levies, grants, and tuition and fees paid by students.


As a Branch College of the University of New Mexico, UNM–Los Alamos is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Student Outcomes Assessment

Student Outcomes Assessment is an essential measure of the institution’s effectiveness in achieving its goals as outlined in the UNM–Los Alamos Mission Statement. It is an ongoing process intended to measure student academic achievement and adjust and adopt courses and programs as needed. Faculty have the primary ownership and responsibility for the development, implementation, and monitoring as part of the College Assessment Review Committee (CARC). Specific competencies at the course/program level and the assessment tools used to measure identified competencies are continuously being developed and continuously being implemented. See the current report at losalamos.unm.edu/assessment.

History of UNM–Los Alamos

The University of New Mexico began its presence in Los Alamos in 1956 with the establishment of the UNM Los Alamos Center for Graduate Studies. The Graduate Center has been in continuous operation since that time. It has a distinguished history of offering graduate degrees in scientific, engineering, management, and health-related fields. The first significant UNM undergraduate offering in Los Alamos began with the establishment of the University of New Mexico Residence Center in Los Alamos in the fall of 1970. In 1973, the University of New Mexico Northern New Mexico Branch College came into existence, with Los Alamos as one of its campuses. In 1977, as a result of Legislative action, the UNM Northern Branch College was absorbed into Northern New Mexico Community College (NNMCC). 

In 1980, after a local referendum and Board of Educational Finance and legislative approval, the Los Alamos Branch Community College Campus of the University of New Mexico was founded. It began operations on July 1, 1980, in the Little Valley School on Orange Street. The new Director assumed his duties at that time, and several key NNMCC employees were transferred to the UNM–Los Alamos Branch College, which subsequently assumed the informal title of UNM–Los Alamos. 

In October 1980, the campus moved from the Little Valley School to its present site. In January 1981, the staff of UNM–Los Alamos assumed, under a contractual arrangement, the daily operations of the UNM–Los Alamos Center for Graduate Studies from the Training Office of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Director of the Graduate Center moved his office to UNM–Los Alamos. During 1982-1983, the facilities were remodeled and expanded and the new UNM–Los Alamos campus was dedicated by then Governor of New Mexico, Toney Anaya, on January 6, 1984. The campus facilities were further expanded in 1987 to include a fifth classroom building.

During 1988-89, an institutional self-study was conducted and an accreditation visit took place in May 1989 as part of the University of New Mexico decennial accreditation review. In 1988, the Los Alamos School Board approved additional space in the Mesa Complex for use by UNM–Los Alamos. In 1996, an extension housing the Learning Center, the Tutorial Center, and the Adult Basic Education Program was added to the administration building. Additional classroom, laboratory and office space was obtained in 1997 by negotiation with the Los Alamos Public Schools. In 2000 the expanded and renovated Student Center building was opened. It includes a Student Center with a food service area, classrooms, media room and lecture hall. Business Services support areas including cashiering, accounting, marketing, and facility services are located in the lower level of this building. Additionally, a Facilities Services building which houses a Woodworking shop and Solar Technology classroom has been added along with a remodel of existing space to create a new Lecture hall and new computer labs. 


Los Alamos, home of the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos campus, is a community of approximately 18,000. The town is located on the pinion, juniper, and ponderosa-covered red mesas of the Pajarito Plateau at an elevation of 7,300 feet. The Jemez Mountains provide a backdrop for the community that looks east across the Rio Grande Valley to the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 

The setting is ideal for the outdoor enthusiast. There are nearby locations for downhill and cross-country skiing and ice skating in the winter. Summer activities include hiking, picnicking, horseback riding, backpacking, and camping, together with fishing and river rafting. Three renowned races are held in Los Alamos each year: the High Altitude Mini-Marathon, the Tour de Los Alamos Bicycle Race, and the Triathlon. In April 1988, the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center opened its doors to the citizens of Los Alamos and surrounding area. This facility is open to the public and houses an Olympic-sized swimming pool. There are year-round musical and theatrical events in Los Alamos and numerous other cultural attractions to choose from in Santa Fe, 30 miles away, and in Albuquerque, a 90-mile drive from Los Alamos. 

There are also year-round events at the nearby pueblos of San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Ohkay Owingeh, Pojoaque, Tesuque, Nambe and Jemez. Located within 15 miles of Los Alamos is the world-famous Bandelier National Monument. The park, home of Native American cliff dwellings as well as many other ancient treasures, is open year round. Students at UNM–Los Alamos are fortunate to be able to draw on the rich tri-cultural heritage of the area and to explore all the area has to offer in terms of history, geology, and archaeology. In addition, UNM–Los Alamos students can take advantage of the outstanding collections of Mesa Public Library and the J. Robert Oppenheimer Study Center at Los Alamos National Laboratory, within two miles of the UNM–Los Alamos campus.


The faculty of UNM–Los Alamos is predominately part-time. Many of the faculty enjoy international reputations in their fields, and all are extremely well qualified. Most UNM–Los Alamos faculty are subject to UNM approval through the various departments at the UNM–Albuquerque campus. About one-third of the UNM–Los Alamos faculty consists of a core of continuing faculty. Core Faculty members, in addition to teaching, hold regular office hours, provide academic advisement, and participate in a variety of committee work and special projects. Invited Faculty are encouraged, but not required, to participate in advisement, hold office hours, and attend various faculty development workshops throughout the academic year. Department Chairs for General Studies, Fine Arts, Communications, Math, Science, Engineering, Applied Science, Computer Science, Information Technology, and Business are responsible for the coordination of faculty and instructional issues within each curriculum area. An Associate Dean of Instruction advises the administration on curriculum and academic personnel matters and, with the Dean of Instruction, monitor the quality of teaching through classroom visits. Other means of class evaluation may include a mid-semester evaluation survey, a classroom assessment technique of the teacher’s choosing, and a UNM computerized student evaluation survey at the end of the semester.


The UNM–Los Alamos campus consists of 78,667 square feet of leased and owned buildings. The campus includes eight buildings that house classrooms, administrative offices, student services, a library, facilities services, laboratories, lecture halls, and community meeting and student activity space. The facilities at UNM–Los Alamos encompass computer, general science and electronics laboratories, a photography darkroom and art studios, together with general classrooms, solar technology area and a machine shop/welding area. 


UNM-Los Alamos has partnered with MBS Direct, an on-line textbook vendor to supply all required books for our programs. It is the student’s responsibility to order their own textbooks. The online vendor will make textbooks available for purchase six (6) weeks prior to the start of classes.

Students may access MBS by clicking on the “Ordering Books” link in the “Campus Life” menu on the UNM-LA web page. Required and optional books for Lower Division, Upper Division and Community Education classes are listed. Students may purchase their textbooks using a credit card or can charge them to their UNM-LA student account by visiting the cashier and obtaining a book voucher. 


The mission of the UNM–Los Alamos Library is to provide for the information needs of its students, faculty and staff, and to contribute to the information resource base of the communities that it serves, through its resources (both traditional and electronic), services, staff, equipment and facility. The library, located in the Learning Center (Building 7), is a technologically advanced facility with wireless capability and 10 hardwired public computing stations providing access to the Microsoft Office Suite, the Internet, LIBROS (the online catalog), a variety of academic databases and other online reference sources and online collections of other libraries. In addition, the library has a variety of laptops and iPads that patrons may checkout to use in the Library. The Library houses a growing collection of books, periodicals, pamphlets, maps, instructional videos and sound recordings. The library provides a pleasant, inviting setting for study, research and the exchange of ideas. The main floor of the library offers a variety of comfortable study spaces appropriately dispersed throughout the facility, including carrels, study tables, three group study rooms equipped with white boards, computing stations and a periodical browsing area. An eating area, furnished with comfortable bistro chairs and tables allows patrons to enjoy a meal or a snack while they read and study. A loft, upstairs from the main floor of the library, is a pleasant, airy space, which houses a distinctive Southwest Collection and provides a quiet area for study and instruction. The library team is friendly, knowledgeable and very dedicated to helping library patrons with their information needs. 

Changing art and book exhibits in the library contribute to an aesthetically pleasing environment for all library visitors. For more information, link to the library web site at http://losalamos.unm.edu/library/index.html.