Correction Officers Training Academy (COTA)

NOTE: The COTA Program is currently not accepting students
nor scheduling a Corrections Officer Training Academy at this time.

The New Mexico State University Corrections Officer Training Academy is a state approved course of basic training for correctional officers. The curriculum meets or exceeds all requirements set by the New Mexico Department of Corrections for becoming a corrections officer in the State of New Mexico. Successful cadets take an oath of office upon graduation.

NMSU Grants COTA provides an intensive 8 week program conducted between 7:30 am and 5:30 pm Monday through Friday that includes rigorous physical training, self-defense tactics, and the use of fire arms. The successful cadet earns 16 college credits. This work may be applied to the certificate program in Corrections Officer Training, certificate program in Criminal Justice/Corrections, the Associate Degree in Criminal Justice/Corrections, and the Associate Degree of General Studies.

Cadets may be sponsored by a correction agency or be self-sponsored. Agency sponsored cadets have the program’s costs paid by the sponsoring agency that may include an hourly stipend. Self-sponsored cadets may qualify for financial aid to help pay COTA expenses.

Entrance Requirements

A cadet:

  1. Must be a citizen of the United States and have reached the age of 18 when starting the academy.
  2. Possess a high school diploma or the equivalent at the time of entry.
  3. Must possess a valid driver’s license and social security card.
  4. After examination by a licensed physician, be free of any physical condition that might adversely affect their performance as a correctional officer or prohibit them from successfully completing a prescribed basic correctional training program as required by the NM Department of Corrections.
  5. After examination by a certified psychologist, must be free of any emotional or mental condition that might adversely affect their mental performance as a correctional officer or prohibit them from successfully completing a prescribed correctional training program as required by the NM Department of Corrections.
  6. Must go through a thorough background and criminal history check.
  7. Must pass a pre-assessment examination prior to beginning the academy.

Costs

Medical and Psychological Screening

Cadets must complete and pass a Medical examination including drug testing and an approved Psychological assessment. The cost for these examinations will likely exceed several hundred dollars.

Tuition

Please see Tuition page.

Course Fees

The four OEPS courses have a $135 fee attached for a total cost of $540 in course fees.

Uniforms and Supplies

Cadets are required to purchase an approved uniform, gym gear, footwear, as well as pencils, pens and notebooks.

Curriculum

COTA is comprised of the following four OEPS courses taken as a block:

OEPS 150 Corrections Officers I 4 credit hours
OEPS 180 Corrections Officers II 4 credit hours
OEPS 250 Corrections Officers III 4 credit hours
OEPS 280 Corrections Officers IV 4 credit hours

A cadet must successfully complete and pass all four courses to complete COTA and be eligible to be certified as a correctional officer.

Physical Training (PT)

COTA includes a rigorous physical training component that consists of the following activities: push-ups, sit-ups, grip strength test, and a timed one mile run. Cadets must meet or exceed the established standard for all four activities to pass COTA.

Credit by Examination

Individuals who have successfully completed a Corrections Officer Training Academy approved by the NM Department of Corrections, and who are officers in good standing may use the “Credit by Examination” procedure to attempt to earn college credit to be posted on an official transcript. Please contact student services staff and refer to the NMSU Grants College Catalog for further information.

Contact Information

For additional information contact the NMSU Grants Vice-President for Academic Affairs at 505-287-6641 or Student Services at 505-287-6628.

NMSU Grants – Credit by Examination

Any enrolled student with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0, currently attending classes, may with the permission of the Campus Academic Officer and the appropriate program manager, challenge by examination any undergraduate course in which credit has not been previously earned except an independent study, research or reading course, or any international language course that precedes the final course in the lower-division sequence. The manner of administering the examination and granting permission shall be determined by the program manger in which the course is being challenged. Student may not enroll in a single course, challenge it by examination and drop it during the drop/add period, unless they enroll in an additional course.

In exceptional cases in which a student demonstrates outstanding ability in a course in which he/she is already registered, he/she may be permitted to challenge the course.

Student pursuing an associate degree will not be allowed to take special examinations for credit to meet the last 15 semester credits required for the Associate Degree.

Any student applying for special examination may obtain the necessary forms from the Campus Student Services Officer. The fee for challenging a course is the same as the approved tuition rate.

A grade of C or better is required for credit and will be recorded on the student’s record as CR. Courses may not be challenged under the S/U option.

The special examination privilege is based on the principle that the student, exclusively, has the responsibility for preparing for a special examination.

NMSU Grants Credit by Examination
Corrections Officer Training Academy (COTA)

Eligibility Criteria

An individual is eligible to apply for COTA Credit by Examination who has: (1) successfully completed a corrections officer training program accepted or recognized by the New Mexico Department of Corrections, (2) is currently a Corrections Officer in good standing and (3) is employed or eligible to be employed by the NM DOC or approved agency (for example Corrections Corporation of America and Wackenhut Services, Inc.).

Application and Examination Process

In addition to following the general university policy and procedures for Credit by Examination COTA applicants are to (1) provide documentation in the form of a copy of all earned certificates or credentials relevant to the profession, (2) arrange for an interview with the VPAA or delegated individual(s), (3) pass a written assessment of knowledge with a score of 80% or better.

Courses

COTA consists of sixteen (16) credit hours of instruction packaged in four courses of four credit hours each. They are:

OEPS 150 Corrections Officers I 4 credit hours
OEPS 180 Corrections Officers II 4 credit hours
OEPS 250 Corrections Officers III 4 credit hours
OEPS 280 Corrections Officers IV 4 credit hours

An individual must apply for and pass all four courses at one time to successfully earn Credit by Examination for COTA.