Frequently Asked Questions

NMSU Information

Application information

TOEFL information

English placement information

Area information

NMSU Information

Where is NMSU?

New Mexico State University is located in the south-central area of the state of New Mexico in the U.S.A., in the regional city of Las Cruces. It is approximately one hour by car north of the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, and on the northern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert. The El Paso International Airport (less than 1 hour away by car) assures easy access nationally and internationally.

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What kind of university is NMSU?

NMSU is a public, land-grant university, which was founded in 1888 as an agricultural college and preparatory school. Today it is a major, all-purpose research-intensive public university offering over 80 undergraduate degrees and over 70 graduate degrees in 8 academic colleges. It is funded by the state of New Mexico, and has students from all over the U.S. and 80 countries around the world. It is dedicated to three areas of emphasis, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels: teaching, research, and service.

Because of its location and history, a strong part of the university’s mission is service to the borderlands, to the rural areas of the state and the state of New Mexico as a whole. Learn more about New Mexico State University in the following videos and links:

Promotional video in  English / español / 中国的 / العربية 

Welcome Tour of Campus (video)

A German exchange student’s video about Las Cruces, NM

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What are the most popular fields of study?

For undergraduate students, popular majors (by numbers of students) are in Business, Education, Criminal Justice, and Biology. For graduate students, the popular degree programs are in the educational areas of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Administration, Business Administration, Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Biology and Molecular Biology, and Social Work.

To see degrees offered at NMSU, see:

Undergraduate degree programs

Graduate degree programs

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What is the academic calendar at NMSU?

The academic calendar at NMSU, like most U.S. universities, consists of three semesters:

  • a fall semester which runs from mid-August to mid-December
  • a spring semester, from early January to early May, and
  • a limited summer session, which runs from late May to late July/early August, with limited courses offered.

NMSU does not solicit applications from international students with a start date of summer, except in rare circumstances. Most international students, as well as domestic students, begin their programs of study in the fall semester.

View the NMSU Academic Calendar.

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How expensive is NMSU? How do NMSU students pay their tuition, fees, and other costs?

Costs: New Mexico State University is proud to offer the highest quality in educational programs at extremely reasonable costs. NMSU has long been rated one of the top 100 college best ‘buys’ for offering value and quality. See Financial Requirements for International Students for more information.

International students are automatically considered ‘out-of-state (although some scholarship and assistantship recipients receive a ‘waiver’ of the out-of-state costs),’ and unlike domestic students can never qualify for residency. Tuition & fees during the summer sessions are always offered at in-state rates to all students. See current tuition figures on the university Accounts Receivable web page.

Additionally, the cost of living in Las Cruces is inexpensive, especially compared with other major universities located in urban areas throughout the U.S.

Payments: Payment for tuition (course costs) and fees are due after you register. If payment is not made promptly, the student may be disenrolled. See more information at the University Accounts Receivable web page. Students may pay by credit card, money order, wire transfer, personal check (from a U.S. bank) or traveler’s checks. Demand Drafts (DDs) are NOT accepted. After the first semester, registration and payment in most cases may be made online. Payment plans are available, and all campus costs can be consolidated into one account. Students with unpaid accounts or other campus “holds” will not be able to register for classes the following semester.

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What housing options are there? How do I reserve on-campus housing?

On-campus options consist of dormitories and apartments with various options and scales of amenities. There are also many student family housing homes located on the southwest edge of campus, which are a convenient choice for students with family members joining them here. Student Housing is responsible for on-campus housing arrangements.

To apply for on-campus housing, a student must be admitted and have their NMSU ID number, and have created their ‘MyNMSU’ account. Through that system, the student will apply for their preferred housing option and pay a deposit. On-campus housing is very popular, so early reservations are highly advised.

Off-campus, there are many rental complexes in the immediate campus area, with rents ranging from $200 per month per person and up (usually these apartments require additional payments for utilities – electricity, gas, telephone etc., while these costs would be included in on-campus housing rates). Most of these are located just on the northern edge of campus on University Avenue or very near it (University Avenue runs east-west at the northern edge of campus), and make walking or cycling to campus very convenient. Apartments and apartment-sharing arrangements are usually easy to locate. Apartments can be located through local news sources and online.

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Is financial aid available to international students?

There are limited numbers of scholarships and tuition waivers (reducing out-of-state tuition to in-state rates) available to new international students (both graduate and undergraduate). The criteria for these awards are GPA and TOEFL (or IELTS) based. Competition for these awards is strong, and almost all are awarded well in advance of each semester. Not all eligible applicants (according to the criteria) are able to receive an award.

Many international graduate students have teaching or research assistantship awards, which waive out-of-state tuition in addition to paying a monthly stipend.

On-campus employment up to 20 hours per week of various types is available to international students under certain conditions.

See Costs, Payments and Financial Assistance

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What is the health insurance requirement? How much does the insurance cost?

All F-1 and J-1 visa status students are required to have the regular NMSU student health insurance, administered through the Student Health Center. New students purchase this plan as part of the orientation activities in the week before classes begin.

The policy costs for 2013-14 are significantly less than for the prior year. The costs are as follows:

Annual: $1231

Fall 2013 only: $526

Spring/Summer 2014: $729

Many students ask if they can purchase a health plan in their country for use here. In almost all cases this is not acceptable, and thus we strongly discourage students from purchasing such policies.

Graduate assistants are able to purchase the health plan online, and receive financial assistance from the university in covering the costs.

All students must ensure that they have health insurance coverage at all times and are not able to register for classes until this requirement is met every semester.

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What support services are there for students?

NMSU is committed to helping our students succeed, academically, professionally, and personally. To that purpose a full range of services and programs, including orientation, advising, counseling, employment, tutoring, career advising, health services, child care services for students with young children, and many services are more are offered. For information on student services, check here.

Additionally, student organizations are an important source of support, especially for international students. International student organizations include the Indian Students Association, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, the Muslim Students Association, the Korean Students Association, and several others. See a list of chartered student organizations here.

The International Student & Scholar Services office, located in the Garcia Annex building, has the mission of supporting the needs of international students on campus. ISSS also sponsors and administers educational and social events on campus and in the greater community. Please contact us with questions at 575-646-2834, or

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Does NMSU have a host family program?

NMSU does not organize or sponsor a host family program involving homestays, however we do coordinate with community groups a Friendship Family Program (FFP). The coordinator of this group matches community families with interested international students based on common interests and other factors. After being introduced, the student(s) and family socialize regularly and the family may act as a helpful community resource. Students interested in this program should contact the ISSS office in the Garcia Annex Building, Room 246, and speak to Mary Jaspers, Director, ISSS.

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How many international students are there at NMSU, and where are they from?

Currently NMSU enrolls more than 1200 international students from over 80 countries. The largest international student populations are from India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and China.**

**Does not include students who have obtained U.S. permanent residency or citizenship.

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Application information

How do I apply for admission?

The undergraduate application process and list of needed documentation can be found here. Applications should be done using the online application. The paper international application should be used only by branch campus (not main campus) applicants. International undergraduate applications are managed by the University Admissions Office and international graduate applications are managed by The Graduate School.  Full admission information is available in the university catalog (the international student section of the 2014-15 undergraduate catalog is available here).

Graduate applicants apply to the specific department which reviews the application materials and upon meeting university requirements are given an admission decision by The Graduate School. The final admission decision is made only after University Admissions receives all the necessary documentation. Application information for graduate students can be found here. Graduate applicants have additional application requirements in their academic department. Please view Graduate Degrees for more information. In some cases a graduate applicant will submit some or all application materials directly to the department.

All needed documentation must be received and evaluated before an official admission decision can be made.

Please note that all previous college and university coursework must be disclosed on an application.

Applications to the NMSU branch campuses (Dona Ana, Alamogordo, Carlsbad, and Grants) must be done using the international paper application (see link above).

Visa documents are not issued until an applicant is admitted and provides proof of financial ability to pay for one year’s costs of study and living (see figures here.) We recommend beginning your application process well in advance (6 months or more) of your expected start date, especially for graduate applicants.

For more information on the application process, see our application page.

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I haven’’t graduated from high school/university yet, can I apply now for studies at the next level?

If you are currently in a study program and expect to graduate, you can apply for admission to NMSU with your partial transcripts. You may be granted ‘”tentative’” admission, and then have to provide your final official documents to University Admissions when they are available following your graduation.

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I’m trying to apply, but the online system doesn’t work?

The online application system used at NMSU occasionally experiences technical problems. In such cases, we recommend attempting the application again 24 hours later. If problems persist, please download and use the paper application.

International applicants to the branch campuses must use the paper application.

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I’’ve applied online, but now I can’’t access my application?

Online applications are not accessible to the applicant after being submitted as ‘complete.’ For updates on the status of a submitted application, applicants are welcome to communicate directly with the University Admissions office, at International graduate applicants can check their admission status using their ‘Grad Connection’ page, accessible from the Graduate Student Services page. Update information obtained via Grad Connection will not include departmental requirements or the admission decision.

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How can I re-apply or defer my application?

If you have applied and been admitted to NMSU but did not attend, and wish to re-apply for a later semester, you need to contact admissions staff. Undergraduate applicants should contact the University Admissions office, and graduate applicants need to communicate with their specific department. In most cases, deferral and re-application are simple and fast processes, although some documents will need to be re-submitted. No additional application fee is required. If you need guidance on who exactly you need to contact to defer or re-apply, please email us at

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I want to re-apply, do I need to pay the application fee again?

If you are applying to the same degree program or deferring your application to a later semester no new fee payment is necessary. In most cases, an applicant will only ever need to pay the application fee once. Please note that this fee is a requirement, and an application is not processed until the fee is received.

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How can I have my documents “attested” and translated?

Submitted academic documents must be official original documents (or officially attested copies), and English translations must be provided. Official documents (preferably unopened) coming from your original educational institutions are required if obtainable. If not, you may have copies of official documents attested as official at an educational governmental office in your home country, or an EducationUSA Advising Center.

Many colleges, universities and high schools around the world now can provide English-language documents for their students and graduates. If not, applicants need to obtain official translations from a company or individual recognized as an approved translator in their country or in the U.S.A.

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Do I need to have my documents evaluated?

NMSU requires professional credential evaluation only in certain circumstances. You will be contacted directly if your transcripts require evaluation.

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How long does the application process take?

The application and admission process from start (initial application) to finish (admission to the university and program) can take up to 3 months, and occasionally longer. It is important to apply early, and to understand the needed requirements and meet them as soon as possible.

At the graduate level, applicants need to fulfill departmental requirements precisely and so must communicate with their department of interest, while understanding that they must fulfill both the overall university requirements and their department’s requirements.

Many applicants file their applications at the last moment, submit incomplete applications, submit unofficial documents, etc., and then expect special processing to meet their deadline. Such requests for “expedited” or “priority” processing are not able to be met, therefore we advise applying early and being aware of all admission requirements. University Admissions cannot and does not make exceptions to the NMSU application requirements.

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What are the application deadlines?

NMSU doesn’t have a university-wide application deadline, but at the graduate level some departments have deadlines, please view the department deadlines here.

We advise at the graduate level if no deadline exists having the application complete (with all supporting academic materials) by:

  • March 1 (for fall admission, to begin studies in August of the same year)
  • October 1 (for spring admission, to begin studies in January of the following year)

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Do I need original official documents for my application?

Yes, all applications require original or officially attested copies of academic documents (see the question above, ‘How can I have my documents attested and translated?’), and required exam scores (TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, etc.) must be issued by the testing service and sent directly to NMSU. Once these documents have been submitted, they become property of NMSU and therefore cannot be returned to the student for any reason. NMSU does not accept the ‘institutional TOEFL’ testing conducted at other universities.

If your current/previous university is an eScrip-Safe® Network member, you may order your transcript document(s) to be sent electronically using the eScrip-Safe format. Contact the Registrar’s office in your current/previous university to do so.

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How much is the application fee, and how can I pay it?

The application fee is US$50, and this fee cannot be waived or deferred.

To pay the application fee, the easiest way is via the Graduate Application Fees webpage. It is also possible to pay via check or money order, payable to ‘New Mexico State University,’ and submitted to the same mailing address given below.

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Where should I send my application materials?

Please send undergraduate application materials to our offices, located at:

University Admissions**
Educational Services Building, Suite 850
New Mexico State University
1780 E. University Ave.
Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001

**Overseas courier services usually request this address.

Regular mailing address is:

University Admissions
New Mexico State University
P.O. Box 30001
Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001

Please send graduate application materials to our offices, located at:

The Graduate School**
New Mexico State University
Educational Services Building, Suite 301
1780 E. University
Las Cruces, NM 88003

**Overseas courier services usually request this address.

Regular mailing address is:

The Graduate School
New Mexico State University
P.O. Box 30001 MSC 3GS
Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001

TOEFL, GRE and other exam results should be sent directly from the testing company or service to NMSU using our institution code, 4531. No departmental code is necessary unless your department requires exam scores directly (please see the next question).

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I’’m a graduate applicant, do I apply to University Admissions or directly to my academic department?

All graduate applicants submit all application materials directly to the academic department, as graduate students first have to gain acceptance into their program of interest before gaining admission to NMSU. Please visit your appropriate department web pages, and inquire which additional documents are to be submitted aside from the application. After you have been accepted by the academic department, students will need to submit the required documents (transcripts, official TOEFL/IELTS scores, etc.) to the University Admissions office to gain admission to NMSU. It is the responsibility of the applicant to be familiar with the steps and requirements of admission for the graduate program they apply for.

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When will I be contacted after I apply?

Applicants should receive communications from University Admissions at the following times:

  • Upon submission of a completed application online, applicants will receive a confirmation message in the form of a ‘thank you for your application to NMSU.’
  • Upon submission of the application fee online, applicants will receive a confirmation message of their payment.
  • After initial receipt and review of the materials, applicants will receive a brief email regarding the results of that review (incomplete or complete).
  • Upon an admissions decision (reached only if an application has already been evaluated as ‘complete), applicants will receive email and postal notice of the decision from the university.

Applicants may also receive formal or informal communications from their department, especially in the case of graduate applicants.

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How can I track the status of my application?

International graduate applicants can track their ‘Admissions Checklist’ online, through their Grad Connection page. This page does not track departmental requirements, however, and cannot provide the admissions decision.

NMSU does not currently have the capability of allowing applicants to track their application status online. Please be aware that initial reviews and departmental reviews, as well as the admissions decisions, can take an extended period of time (especially at the graduate level). The time needed can also vary considerably due to factors such as the academic and holiday schedules, the department involved (for graduate applicants), the current volume of applications, and other factors beyond our control. NMSU University Admissions appreciates your patience. Applicants are welcome to inquire directly with University Admissions at for information regarding the progress of their application. We cannot share your application status or other admission information with a third party (such as a friend or family member), due to U.S. privacy laws.

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“My test scores are ____, my grades are ____, my TOEFL is ____, am I admissible to NMSU?”

This is a common question from prospective  international and domestic applicants alike, and is impossible to answer. Admissions decisions are dependent on many factors, and it is not possible to advise an applicant if they are admissible or not without a full review in both University Admissions and the graduate department of interest (for graduate applicants).

Our advice is to become familiar with the requirements of our ‘Admissions Checklist,’ and the requirements that exist in your graduate department of interest, to determine if you are eligible for admission or not. Graduate departments make the final admissions decisions for their own applicants, and applicants are advised to communicate directly with the graduate level faculty or graduate admission committee regarding their application. Admission is competitive, which means that not all eligible applicants are always admitted.

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What is “tentative” admission?

“Tentative admission” means the applicant has been admitted to the university, but has some conditions to fulfill before initial registration or during the first semester of enrollment. Some examples of tentative admissions are the requirement to provide final transcripts from their previous university, language testing upon arrival at NMSU due to low TOEFL scores, and the requirement to complete one semester at an acceptable grade point average.

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Can my friend or family member check my admission status?

Privacy laws in the U.S. do not allow our office to share information about a specific application with anyone other than the person in question. If you are applying to NMSU, please check your admission status yourself by email (preferably) or phone if necessary. If you are asked by a friend or family member to assist with their application, please have them contact our office directly for assistance.

Of course we can provide general information about the process or requirements of admission to anyone who is interested.

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TOEFL® Information

Do I need the TOEFL® test?

With few exceptions, international applicants need a current (less than 2 years old) TOEFL result, and an official report of that result coming directly from the testing company. The exceptions are:

  • Being an applicant from an English-speaking country (this list is found on our page on Language Requirements);
  • Transferring from another U.S. university with 30 or more satisfactory credit hours;
  • Coming to NMSU with a degree from a university in an English speaking country, a U.S. university or a U.S. high school diploma;
  • Applicants with a degree that has been completed in one of the following countries. No TOEFL or IELTS score report may be required.
    Antigua, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Belize, Bermuda, Canada (except Quebec), Dominica, England, Eritrea, Fiji, Ghana, Grand Cayman Islands, Grenada, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Kenya, Malawi, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & Grenadines, Scotland, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, Virgin Islands, Wales
  • Having a current and official IELTS result;
  • Being currently enrolled in a full-time, approved intensive English program in the U.S.

Please note that the “institutional TOEFL” given at other universities is not acceptable for NMSU admission.

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How do I register for and take the TOEFL® (or IELTS) test?

Please visit for information regarding the TOEFL test, which is offered around the world in two main formats (the internet-based test, and the paper-based test), both of which are acceptable for NMSU application.

In some locations the IELTS may be a more accessible option, visit to see testing options for this test.

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I have an acceptable TOEFL test score, do I need any English test when I arrive at NMSU?

Many new regularly admitted  international students must take the NMSU English Language Placement Test (NMSU’’s own testing, consisting of a written essay-style exam and an oral interview) upon arrival at NMSU, regardless of their TOEFL score.

All new undergraduates take the test, if they do not have a high school diploma from a U.S. high school or are transferring with 30+ acceptable credits from a U.S. or other English-speaking university in a English-speaking country.

New graduate students take the test if they have a TOEFL below 550 or 79 (iBT) equivalent, or if they been awarded a teaching assistantship.

Some other new international students take the separate ELPT Placement Test, which is required of students entering NMSU with a TOEFL score lower than needed for regular admission, or some other special admission category.

We find at NMSU that many international students, regardless of their level of English-language abilities (as measured by the TOEFL or IELTS), lack experience with the requirements of academic English as needed in a university setting. To help these students adapt and improve their language skills to be successful university students in the U.S., NMSU requires coursework in many cases (please see the next FAQ section, English Placement Information).

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Can I get “conditional” admission to NMSU without a TOEFL score?

NMSU does not have this system, the only possibilities of being admitted to NMSU without a TOEFL score are as outlined in the question “Do I need the TOEFL test?”

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English Placement Information

What English classes might I be required to take on arrival?

New international students may be placed into several different course selections based on their results on the ELPT (the English Language Placement Test, find more information here). International students need a high level of proficiency in English to succeed in their studies and to become fully-functioning members of the university community. While admission to NMSU is based on TOEFL or IELTS scores, these tests are not designed to reveal a student’s productive use of English in a classroom setting.

Course placements (these courses are taken during the first semester/year at NMSU) following the English Language Placement Test may include:

  • Courses for undergraduate international students:
    1. SPCD 108, to increase speaking fluency, expand active vocabulary, and improved pronunciation.
    2. SPCD 110, to improve composition and grammar skills necessary for all university-level writing.
    3. SPCD 111G (required for all international undergraduate students), to teach the library, reading and writing skills necessary to do university-level course papers.
  • Courses for graduate international students:
    1. SPCD 110, as above.
    2. SPCD 458, to increase speaking fluency, expand active vocabulary, improve pronunciation, and provide individual tutorial work on an area of special concern.
    3. SPCD 470, to introduce graduate students to the special characteristics unique to scholarly and research writing.
    4. SPCD 490, to help students become effective in presenting their research or project findings in formal settings.

Course/level placements following the ELPT (which evaluates students’ abilities in speaking, writing, grammar listening, reading and vocabulary and then requires an individual meeting with the program director to discuss placement results):

  • SPCD 101 (undergraduate) or 401 (graduate), Beginning Level: The Beginning Level course focuses on ‘Life Skills’ English and is intended for those with little or no fluency in English. This course focuses on basic listening, speaking, reading, writing and grammar skills.
  • SPCD 102 (undergraduate) or 402 (graduate), Intermediate Level: The Intermediate Level course is an integrated skills course in social and academic English. Designed for students who already speak, write and understand some English, the course emphasizes academic skills including listening and note-taking, reading, vocabulary development, grammar, and composition. In order to enroll in this course, students must submit a TOEFL score as listed on the “Required Minimal TOEFL Score” chart or have already passed the CELP Beginning course.

In some cases, CELP students can enroll in one other course at the university (for credit or for audit) in addition to the intermediate English course. Students may enroll in an additional university course only with the recommendation of the CELP director and the approval of the student’s academic advisor.

  • SPCD 103 (undergraduate) /403 (graduate), Advanced Level: the Advanced Level course prepares students to communicate effectively in their academic area of specialization. Public speaking, reading and discussion, seminar presentations, and research paper writing are included in this course. Students wishing to enter the CITE at this level are asked to submit a TOEFL score as part of their application

Depending on his or her language proficiency, a student may be allowed to take regular university courses and CELP courses simultaneously. Students may enroll in additional university courses only with the recommendation of the CELP director and the approval of the student’s academic advisor, however.

It is important to understand that ELPT placement may result in 1-3 semesters of study in addition to a student’s degree plan.

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Do my SPCD course placements count in my degree plan?

Required SPCD courses count toward the number of credit hours required for the full-time student status but do not count directly toward a student’s graduate degree. CELP courses also do not count toward a degree plan.

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Can I study only ESL (English as a Second Language) at NMSU?

Yes, currently NMSU’’s intensive language program (CELP, the Center for English Language Programs) is also intended for non-NMSU regular applicants. CELP students must be complete a separate application and provide the requested documentation in order to enroll in our English Language program.

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Area Information

What are Las Cruces and New Mexico like?

Las Cruces is a quiet community of around 100,000. It has a strong link to its roots as a Mexican, Spanish-speaking village. The interesting Mexican-heritage village of Mesilla adjoins the city.

Today, Las Cruces is a fast-growing Sunbelt community especially popular with retirees coming from more expensive, urban, areas with more adverse weather conditions and social problems. See local information here.

New Mexico was the 47th state admitted to the U.S., almost 100 years ago. It is one of the largest states by area, but the population remains small and spread out. The largest city is Albuquerque, with a population of half a million. The city of El Paso, Texas is much nearer (60km), and adds urban attractions to the area.

The state of New Mexico enjoys some of the most beautiful, unspoiled natural scenery in the U.S., with desert landscapes complemented by soaring peaks. Outdoor recreational opportunities are numerous. The climate in the state is an attraction, with mostly mild winters and comfortable springs and autumns throughout the state. See New Mexico government information and tourism information.

  • NMSU International & Border Programs: ISSS
  • (575) 646-2834
  • Garcia Annex, Room 246
  • MSC 3567 / P.O. Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001

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