El Pasoans, out-of-state students and international students have a selection of institutions of higher education from which to choose. The city’s largest and oldest institution is the University of Texas at El Paso, which is commonly referred to as UTEP by locals.
UTEP students are referred to as “Miners” because the school was originally founded as the Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy in 1914. When opened in the fall of 1914, the school was housed in a building on the Fort Bliss Army Base and had just 21 students enrolled. After the school’s building was destroyed in a fire, then Dean Steve Howard Worrell led the search for a new site. The site secured was a 22.9 acre plot near the Rio Grande river and nestled in the Franklin Mountains. A century later, the school, now the University of Texas of El Paso, is teeming with professors, counselors and students – more than 23,000 undergraduate and graduate students and more than 1,300 full-and part-time faculty members – on a campus of 420 acres.
On the scenic campus complete with Bhutanese–style architecture, UTEP students choose from an array of degree programs: 72 bachelor’s, 73 masters, and 21 doctoral degrees, as well as a growing number of online degrees. Notable programs that have received national acclaim are programs in business, fine and performing arts, education, behavioral sciences, and the humanities. UTEP ranks fourth among all 35 Texas public universities in federal research funding and is also included on the National Science Foundation’s list of Top 200 research universities in the United States. Hispanic Business Magazine regularly ranks UTEP’s graduate programs in both Business Administration and Engineering among the Top 10 in the nation. The Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts has become an internationally renowned venue for contemporary art. Students of UTEP’s Theatre and Dance department – led by faculty who have won national recognition for acting, choreography, and set design – produce live plays and musicals.
The University boasts an 80-percent Hispanic student population and additional 5 percent of the student population originates from Mexico, which represents the demographic composition of the binational region from which UTEP draws 90 percent of its students.
During football season, the UTEP Miners battle their longtime rivals, the Aggies of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The winner receives a pair of traveling trophies: the Silver Spade and the Brass Spittoon. When playing at home, the Miners play in the Sun Bowl, a 52,000-seat football stadium that also serves as the venue for both UTEP women’s and men’s intercollegiate athletics teams and major regional entertainment programming, including Cirque de Soleil and the Rolling Stones. Other major events, such as rock concerts and graduations, take place in the University’s Don Haskins Center, 12,200-seat venue that is also a basketball arena.
El Paso Community College
Coined the “Best Place to Start” is El Paso’s community college, which currently serves more than 27,000 credit students and 8,000 continuing education students. Like UTEP, EPCC got its start in buildings on the Fort Bliss Army Base but soon after retained other locations in the city to accommodate the school’s rapidly growing enrollment. EPCC, which opened in the fall of 1972, has five campuses throughout the El Paso area: the Northwest campus, the Transmountain campus in the northeast, the Rio Grande campus in the Sunset Heights neighborhood near downtown, the Valle Verde campus in the east, and the Mission del Paso campus in the far east.
EPCC offers 138 programs of study in pursuit of an associate’s degree or certificate of completion and 350 continuing education programs. EPCC also offers athletic programs, including baseball, softball and cross-country. The school is a member of the Western Junior College Athletic Conference (WJCAC) and competes at the Division I Level in Region V of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
In 2015, the Aspen Institute named EPCC one of the Top 10 Community Colleges in the nation for its innovative programs and student support services. In 2016, the Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine named EPCC number one in the nation for granting associate degrees to Hispanic students. The magazine wrote a feature on EPCC and praised the institution for its community partnerships with local K-12 school districts, which allowed for the creation of nine early-college high schools and a continually growing dual-credit program.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso), which began as a regional academic health center in 1973, has provided medical education and primary health care to West Texas residents for nearly 45 years, but the facility received full accreditation as a university in 2008. Soon after, the school expanded, opening the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, which accepts first-and second-year medical students as well as third-and fourth-year students, in 2009, and opening the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing, a free-standing nursing school, in 2011. The Paul L. Foster School of Medicine is the only medical school along the U.S.-Mexico border and the only medical school in the nation that requires its students to learn Spanish. TTUHSC El Paso is also home to a Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, which prepares students for careers in biomedical research and related fields.
In 2013, then-Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a bill establishing the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso as its own independent school within the Texas Tech University System, making it the fourth university under the TTU System. In addition, TTUHSC El Paso is also the only health sciences center in El Paso. The school’s physicians, clinics, and partnering hospitals provide more than $33 million in free health care services to the El Paso community each year.
The El Paso Regional Campus (EPRC) of the UT School of Public Health
The UT School of Public Health in El Paso, located less than a mile from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, is an institution that offers students the opportunity to focus on health problems that affect the more than two million people living along the largest metropolis of the U.S.-Mexico border. The school offers certificate programs, a general Master of Public Health degree in health promotion and behavioral sciences or environmental health, a Doctor of Philosophy degree in environmental health, and a Doctor of Public Health degree in health promotion and behavioral sciences. Faculty at the UT School of Public Health in El Paso foster local partnerships with organizations such as the El Paso Clean Air Coalition, the Paso del Norte Tobacco Control Network, the Border Public Health Interest Group, the City of El Paso Department of Public Health, the El Paso Independent School District, and the Alliance of Border Collaboratives to conduct vital research and community-based health promotion interventions. The campus encompasses more than 4,700 square feet and houses a computer lab, two dedicated classrooms, a reading room, and a slew of research offices.
Trade and Online Schools
El Paso is also home to a number of trade schools and online schools that may also have physical locations in town. There are eight schools in the area of this variety: Western Technical College, Western Governor’s University, Academy School Careers, Brightwood College-El Paso, Park University, Southwest Career Institute, University of Phoenix, and Vista Computer Career Center.