State of New Mexico to Launch Adult Diploma Program

National External Diploma Program another pathway to earn a high school credential 

New Mexico adults have a new option for attaining their secondary school credential with the National External Diploma Program thanks to a partnership between the New Mexico Higher Education and Public Education Departments.  

Starting this year, New Mexico will recognize adult diplomas awarded under the National External Diploma Program (NEDP©) as valid secondary credentials. The NEDP adult diploma is the first competency-based high school completion option for adults approved in the State and the third recognized option available to New Mexicans needing to demonstrate mastery of high school-level skills.  

The New Mexico Higher Education and Public Education Departments authorized the NEDP as an eligible adult diploma program after a committee review process to determine alignment with state and national curriculum standards and quality of college and workforce preparation. Gov. Lujan Grisham approved $250,000 to begin delivering the program this year via the state’s 26 adult education providers and 8 adult literacy providers.   

“Providing educational options that meet New Mexicans where they are is key to helping students gain the skills they need to enter and advance in the workforce and continue into higher education,” Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez said. “Offering pathways like the National Adult Diploma Program that recognize students’ unique experiences and strengths helps break down barriers for students and will help many New Mexicans attain necessary credentials and skills.” 

"While we wish every student could succeed on the K-12 pathway to a high school diploma, we recognize that many New Mexico adults could not do so due to obstacles beyond their control. These adults and out-of-school youth deserve alternate paths to a much-needed secondary credential, and the National External Diploma Program gives them a new way to demonstrate mastery of high school-level skills," Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said.  

While New Mexico adults have historically had the option to pursue High School Equivalency credentials (HSEs) by passing the GED or HiSET exams, the NEDP program allows students to acquire a state-issued diploma rather than a high school equivalency. The program also enables students to demonstrate skill mastery through skills assessments. As a hands-on learning program, NEDP assesses the skills of adults and out of school youth, and evaluates reading, writing, math, and workforce readiness skills as applied in the real world. Participants have the option to complete the program remotely, in person, or in a hybrid environment.   

“The National External Degree Program will revolutionize adult education in New Mexico. Not only is this a viable alternative for students who experience serious test anxiety, it is a hands-on approach to demonstrating academic ability,” New Mexico Adult Education Association President Jamie Trujillo said. “For adult learners, this is an opportunity to put life and work experience to use in a way that will allow them to earn their diploma. High-stakes testing is only one way to demonstrate knowledge and skill.” 

Nearly 15 percent of New Mexico adults currently lack a high school diploma or equivalency. High school diplomas and equivalency credentials help New Mexicans meet minimum requirements for employment opportunities, admission to colleges, universities, and trade schools, and eligibility for military service. Last year, 308 New Mexico adults earned a high school equivalency credential, a number that is expected to increase as New Mexico emerges from the pandemic. 

Those with a high school diploma or equivalency earn nearly $10,000 more annually than those without the credential and could experience a 53 percent increase in income over ten years compared to their counterparts.  

To learn more about the National Adult Education Program in New Mexico or find an adult education program, visit