|Motto||Artes, Scientiae, Humanitates|
|Colors||Purple and White|
|Nickname||Cowboys and Cowgirls|
|NCAA Division II - Rocky Mountain|
The university was first established as New Mexico Normal School in 1893, with the prominent archaeologist Edgar Lee Hewett serving as its first president. The institution became New Mexico Normal University in 1902, and then New Mexico Highlands University in 1941, as it expanded its role beyond teacher education. Today, NMHU offers graduate and undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, education, and social work.
Located in Las Vegas, a city with a population of over 13,000, Highlands' main campus is close to recreational and wilderness areas and is within an hour's drive of Santa Fe and two hours from Albuquerque.
The majority of the school's approximately 3,765 students are from New Mexico and are Latino. Highlands' programs focus on its multiethnic student body, especially the Latino and American Indian cultures distinctive of New Mexico.
NMHU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and also has specialty accreditations for many programs. The School of Education received full accreditation by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) in 2012. The School of Business is accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). The School of Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The School of Social and Behavioral Sciences is accredited by the Master's in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC).
There are over 50 student organizations at NMHU.
NMHU's athletic teams are nicknamed the Cowboys / Cowgirls, and compete in the NCAA's Division II's Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Ten varsity athletics programs are offered, including women's soccer, cross-country, track, volleyball, men's and women's basketball, wrestling, baseball, Softball and college football.
In the 1997-98 academic year, New Mexico Highlands University established an extended learning center in Rio Rancho and began offering upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses in business, accounting, education, and social work. The center has continued with classes in those areas and has added studies in criminal justice, public affairs administration, computer science and general and school counseling.