Best Colleges in Tennessee for Associate, Bachelor’s & Master’s

Tennessee College Guide – What You Need to Know

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Tennessee boasts quite a few public and private colleges that are well-known. Being centrally located in the Eastern US, they provide nearly every degree you could think of. Not only do they provide excellent public institutions, like the University of Tennessee and other associated colleges, but they also have some popular private universities. These include large private institutions like Vanderbilt or Lipscomb University, and also smaller institutions where you can depend on a fully academic atmosphere, like Maryville College and the American Baptist College. Finally, there are a few 2-year institutions, if you want to obtain an associate or a certification, including the National College of Business and Technology, and Remington college, with two campuses you can choose from.

What are the Most Popular Degrees Offered in Tennessee?

As you get ready to begin your college years, you may already have a degree or major in mind. Or, if you’re like the majority of high school seniors, you may not have any idea of what you want to do in your life. That’s okay. You can use your first semester or two to explore careers you may have considered. Take introductory courses in those majors. Once you know what career interests you, it’s time to declare your major.

The most common careers in a state are usually influenced by the largest economic sectors in said state. In Tennessee, some of the largest economic factors are automotive engineering, agriculture, and the healthcare industry. Their most popular bachelor degrees line up with some of those factors, but also include business, a popular degree everywhere in the United States, and Criminal Justice, a less common top degree for most regions of the US.

Education Level & National Average Median Compensation


NO FORMAL EDUCATION HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA ASSOCIATE DEGREE BACHELOR’S DEGREE MASTER’S DEGREE DOCTORAL DEGREE
$30,784* $38,792* $46,124* $64,896* $77,844* $96,772*

Best Associate Degrees in Tennessee


Tennessee is one of the lucky states where students can attend a community college and complete great associate degrees, all for free. It doesn't matter if the associate degree is in engineering, computer science, accounting, or education. Tennessee residents need only enroll, work hard, and graduate debt-free. Graduates can then take their free associate degree and transfer to another excellent college in the state. Keep reading to learn about the best associate programs in Tennessee.

Roane State Community College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
5,172
Graduation Rate
30%
Net Price
$4,721
Grads Salary
$34,700
Volunteer State Community College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
8,832
Graduation Rate
25%
Net Price
$5,839
Grads Salary
$36,400
Columbia State Community College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
5,931
Graduation Rate
26%
Net Price
$6,705
Grads Salary
$31,500
Pellissippi State Community College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
9,334
Graduation Rate
28%
Net Price
$5,973
Grads Salary
$35,200
Walters State Community College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
5,742
Graduation Rate
30%
Net Price
$5,000
Grads Salary
$31,400
Motlow State Community College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
6,616
Graduation Rate
32%
Net Price
$8,157
Grads Salary
$34,100
Cleveland State Community College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
3,370
Graduation Rate
28%
Net Price
$7,754
Grads Salary
$32,400
John A Gupton College
College Type
2-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
167
Graduation Rate
10%
Net Price
$12,602
Grads Salary
$32,000
Northeast State Community College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
6,085
Graduation Rate
31%
Net Price
$6,364
Grads Salary
$31,200
Chattanooga State Community College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
8,050
Graduation Rate
21%
Net Price
$6,479
Grads Salary
$33,600
Full Ranking Report

Best Bachelor's Degrees in Tennessee


Tennessee students who are interested in finding the best bachelor's degrees available should continue reading the following list. There are many great colleges in Tennessee which have made this list and include both public and private institutions. Whether students are interested in a school like Vanderbilt, or a small liberal arts school in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee, you can find the best programs available here.

Vanderbilt University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
13,537
Graduation Rate
93%
Net Price
$25,804
Grads Salary
$83,700
The University of Tennessee
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
30,559
Graduation Rate
71%
Net Price
$21,133
Grads Salary
$68,600
Tennessee Technological University
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
10,140
Graduation Rate
57%
Net Price
$16,618
Grads Salary
$70,200
University of Memphis
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
22,205
Graduation Rate
52%
Net Price
$13,777
Grads Salary
$69,000
The University of the South
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
1,800
Graduation Rate
80%
Net Price
$36,244
Grads Salary
$75,400
Freed-Hardeman University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
2,117
Graduation Rate
66%
Net Price
$17,350
Grads Salary
$63,300
Rhodes College
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
1,875
Graduation Rate
82%
Net Price
$29,852
Grads Salary
$65,900
Bethel University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
4,001
Graduation Rate
35%
Net Price
$15,612
Grads Salary
$57,100
Lincoln Memorial University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
4,867
Graduation Rate
53%
Net Price
$22,251
Grads Salary
$71,900
Trevecca Nazarene University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
4,088
Graduation Rate
56%
Net Price
$16,508
Grads Salary
$64,000
Full Ranking Report

Best Master's Degrees in Tennessee


These days an advanced degree is nearly a requirement. While only a few professions actually require a master's degree, employers in nearly every field place a high value on a graduate diploma. The best master's degrees and doctorates in Tennessee are listed here. Every Tennessee professional who has aspirations of rising to the top if their field should consider these graduate programs and degrees.

Vanderbilt University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
13,537
Graduation Rate
93%
Net Price
$25,804
Grads Salary
$83,700
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
30,559
Graduation Rate
71%
Net Price
$21,133
Grads Salary
$69,000
Tennessee Technological University
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
10,140
Graduation Rate
57%
Net Price
$16,618
Grads Salary
$70,200
University of Memphis
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
22,205
Graduation Rate
52%
Net Price
$13,777
Grads Salary
$69,000
Freed-Hardeman University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
2,117
Graduation Rate
66%
Net Price
$17,350
Grads Salary
$63,300
The University of the South
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
1,800
Graduation Rate
80%
Net Price
$36,244
Grads Salary
$75,400
Rhodes College
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
1,875
Graduation Rate
82%
Net Price
$29,852
Grads Salary
$65,900
Middle Tennessee State University
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
21,721
Graduation Rate
51%
Net Price
$12,265
Grads Salary
$62,200
Trevecca Nazarene University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
4,088
Graduation Rate
56%
Net Price
$16,508
Grads Salary
$64,000
Bethel University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
4,001
Graduation Rate
35%
Net Price
$15,612
Grads Salary
$57,100
Full Ranking Report
Learn about MBA's in Tennessee

Cost of Tennessee College Education & Salaries


Colleges and universities in Tennessee are working to ensure that tuition and other fees are affordable for their students. This is one of the first questions that comes up as students are looking for the school they will eventually attend.

If students are going to a college or university in the state where they hold residency, they will pay less for their tuition, overall. Out-of-state students will pay higher tuition each semester, primarily because universities want to attract in-state students before they invite the out-of-state students to enroll.

Another factor to consider: the student’s major. Some majors will come with higher tuition costs.

Some Tennessee universities participate in the Academic Common Market. This allows out-of-state students to obtain a college degree at in-state tuition rates. In this program, more than 1,900 degree programs, undergraduate and graduate, are available for students.

Name of School In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition
University of Tennessee-Knoxville $13,006 $31,426
Tennessee State University $3,450 $3,832 (w/Scholar Rate)
E. Tennessee State Univ $9,277 $28,459
Middle Tennessee State Univ. $9,090 $27,942
University of Tennessee Health Science Center-Med School $35,006 (annual) $35,006, + $16,546 Out-of-State surcharge

College Cost Analysis - Tennessee vs. National


As the years go by and universities find their operating costs rising, it’s inevitable that students will be the ones to bear the cost of those increases. Every year (or almost every year), chancellors, regents and administrators have to make the unpopular decision to increase individual tuition rates.

Average Tennessee Tuition and Fees at Four-Year Public School

In-State Tuition - $9,789

National Average – $9,580

Out-of-State Tuition – $26,068

National Average – $27,437

Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid in Tennessee

Financial Aid Tennessee Nationally
Received Federal Grants 36% 37.7%
Average $ per Recipient $10,172 $10,927

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships are available for postsecondary students at any level, from community college to postgraduate. Even the tuition at a trade school or community college may be beyond the student’s ability to pay without help.

Postsecondary education is vital, no matter your professional goals. From cosmetologists and certified nursing assistants all the way up to medical research scientists, they wouldn’t be where they are today if they hadn’t taken the chance on getting that college education and degree.

CCGS

Community College Graduate Scholarship

http://www.tnstate.edu/commcolleges/scholarships.aspx#community
Amounts: $4,000 (per year)
Deadline: April 1 (Fall); November 1 (Spring)
As the name states, this award is intended for graduates of Tennessee State Community College who intend to continue their educational efforts at a four-year institution. Awarded by one of the 13 community colleges in Tennessee, this scholarship helps students to pay for a bachelor’s degree.

Minimum requirements include a 3.00 GPA, graduating within the previous 12 months from a Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) community college, and by taking at least 15 credit hours each semester that the student receives this scholarship. This scholarship is good for one year, as long as the recipient maintains a 3.0 cumulative GPA. The student must also be continuously enrolled full-time at Tennessee State University.

Winning students receive $4,000 per academic year ($2,000 per semester). These periods don’t include mini-sessions or summer sessions. It is intended to cover the cost of tuition, room, board, mandatory fees (that the Pell Grant and other grant awards, such as HOPE, TSAA programs or other scholarships may not cover).

TJFTS_logo

TJFTS

Tom Joyner Foundation Teaching Scholarship

http://www.tnstate.edu/commcolleges/scholarships.aspx#tomjoyner
Amounts: Full Tuition and Housing
Deadline: April 1 (Fall); November 1 (Spring)
Tennessee State University has partnered with the Tom Joyner Foundation, providing scholarships that cover the full cost of tuition and housing for transfer students who are majoring in chemistry, math, and biology with the goal of becoming teachers. Summer sessions and mini-sessions are excluded from this scholarship; it will continue for four consecutive semesters or for two consecutive academic years.

Students should hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0; have graduated within the past 12 months from Nashville, Columbia, Volunteer, Southwest Tennessee, or Motlow Community Colleges with an associate of science degree.

Students are required to declare math, biology, or chemistry as their majors before being considered for this scholarship. They must sign up for at least 15 credit hours each semester that they receive this scholarship and maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA. Finally, they must agree to teach for at least one year following the completion of their degree.

STCC_logo

STCC

Southwest Tennessee Community College Transfer Scholarship

http://www.tnstate.edu/commcolleges/scholarships.aspx#southwest
Amounts: Tuition, Fees, Housing, and Meal Plan (10 Award)
Deadline: April 1 (Fall)
Again, this scholarship goes to graduates of Southwest Tennessee Community College. Eligible students should have graduated within the previous 12 months from Southwest Tennessee Community College. They should have had a 3.25 cumulative GPA. In their new 4-year university, they should be enrolled in at least 15 credit hours for each semester that they receive this award and maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

This scholarship covers tuition, applicable fees, housing, and meals. Ten students will receive this award each semester.

THS_logo

THS

The HOPE Scholarship

https://www.tn.gov/collegepays/money-for-college/tn-education-lottery-programs/tennessee-hope-scholarship.html
Amounts: $1,500-$2,250
Deadline: FAFSA Deadline (Must complete the FAFSA form)
This is the Lottery Scholarship, funded by the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship. Eligible students should be residents of Tennessee attending eligible universities and colleges within Tennessee.

Within the HOPE Scholarship, there are several programs available for students with different plans, qualifications, and needs. These include:

  • Don’t Lose Hope
  • Inspire Award
  • General Assembly Merit Scholarship (GAMS)
  • Aspire Award
  • Hope Access Grant
WGU_logo

WGU

Western Governors University-Tennessee - WGU Military Appreciation

https://www.wgu.edu/financial-aid-tuition/scholarships/military-veterans/military-appreciation.html#close
Amounts: Up to $2,000
Deadline: Varies
WGU and the National Military Family Association offer scholarship opportunities to active-duty military personnel, veterans, and spouses so they can advance their educations. This scholarship tells military personnel, their family members, and veterans, “thank you” for the service they provided so selflessly.

Once applied, this scholarship allows military-affiliated students the opportunity to earn a degree in information technology, K-12 education, business, or healthcare.

AHMS

Amanda Hudson Memorial Scholarship

https://www.wgu.edu/financial-aid-tuition/scholarships/partner/amanda-hudson-memorial.html
Amounts: $5,000
Deadline: March 31
WGU created the Amanda Hudson Memorial Scholarship in 2017, after she passed away fighting breast cancer. This scholarship is awarded to a Women Tech Council individual member or an employee of a WTC member or sponsor business.

The scholarship is awarded to one new student within WGU’s College of Information Technology; it’s worth $5,000, which will be applied to the student’s tuition.

Students competing for this scholarship should describe how a degree from WGU would help her achieve her goal of becoming a leader in the IT field.

MMS

Margaret McClure Scholarship

https://www.wgu.edu/financial-aid-tuition/scholarships/general/margaret-mcclure.html
Amounts: $3,000 (4 Awards)
Deadline: June 30
Named for Margaret McClure, the “Mother of Magnet”, who knew the value of a higher education in nursing. She spearheaded the 80/20 Magnet movement, aiming to attract 80% of RNs to achieve their BSN status by 2020.

This scholarship is worth $3,000, which will be applied to the costs of tuition in many of the College of Health Professions degree programs at WGU. Four students will be chosen for their record of activism or innovation in nursing which helps to improve patient outcomes.

Eligible students already hold their RN license and have competed an admission application to WGU. Students must be officially admitted to WGU to be considered.

WGUTT

WGU Tennessee Tenn-K Scholarship

https://www.wgu.edu/financial-aid-tuition/scholarships/tennessee/tenn-k.html
Amounts: $10,000
Deadline: March 15
The Tenn-K Scholarship is awarded to students who are ready to strive for either their bachelor’s or master’s degrees. To be eligible, students must be current residents of Tennessee and planning to enter any degree program that is offered by WGU Tennessee.

Currently, the programs and degrees that are eligible for this scholarship include:

  • College of Health Professions
  • College of Business
  • WGU Teachers College
  • College of Information Technology

More than one scholarship will be awarded in an academic year. It is a competitive program, which means scholarships will be awarded based upon the student’s academic record, readiness for online study through WGU, current competency, financial needs, and other concerns.

Students are required to read the WGU Student Handbook, agreeing to the academic progress, tuition, and refund policies. Before receiving their award, students are required to agree to the Scholarship Terms and Conditions as presented by WGU. In addition, winning students are required to meet WGU’s On Time Progress requirements so they can maintain their eligibility for their scholarship. Finally, each winning student can only be awarded one scholarship funded or administered through WGU while they are pursuing their degree. This award can be used along with any tuition discounts for which the student may be eligible.

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