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Our Research

This list features some of the best online schools in Tennessee. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. We included liberal arts colleges and research universities as well as small, midsize, and large institutions. Next, we compared this comprehensive list to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The Tennessee online colleges on this list are accredited, which is important for credit and degree transfer and professional recognition of credentials. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accredits the majority of schools on the list using a number of stringent standards. The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is another Tennessee accreditor that uses multiple criteria to determine educational excellence.

We evaluated each school on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for online students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Online College Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

The Top 50 Online Colleges in Tennessee

Best Online Colleges in Tennessee Badge

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Trevecca Nazarene University

Union University

Lincoln Memorial University

King University

Johnson University

University of Memphis

University of Tennessee at Martin

Middle Tennessee State University

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Lee University

Vanderbilt University

Bethel University

Austin Peay State University

Carson-Newman University

Belmont University

Bryan College

Tennessee State University

East Tennessee State University

Christian Brothers University

Lipscomb University

University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Tusculum University

Milligan University

Freed-Hardeman University

Baptist Health Sciences University

Tennessee Tech University

Tennessee Wesleyan University

Pentecostal Theological Seminary

Cumberland University

Remington College

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Frequently Asked Questions: Online Colleges in Tennessee

Does Tennessee have good online colleges and universities?

Yes. The state offers a wealth of online educational opportunities, such as the University of Memphis’s Online Bachelor’s in Healthcare Leadership and East Tennessee State University’s Online Bachelor’s in Marketing. After you graduate, you may want to consider staying in Tennessee to complete a master’s degree while you work in one of the state’s many growing fields, such as healthcare. Tennessee is rich in graduate school options, like Vanderbilt University’s Online Master’s in Computer Science and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Online MBA.

That said, there are many excellent online college programs available in other states as well. If you’re open to attending a school that’s located in another state, check out our guide to the best accredited online colleges. In addition to showing you the top 30 options in the entire United States for remote learning, this guide offers expert advice on how to choose a college and complete the application process.

Do online college credits in Tennessee cost more than in-person classes?

The answer to this question depends on which college you attend. Some schools offer discounted rates for online courses, while others charge an additional fee for online courses to help cover the cost of software licenses, technical support, etc. Tennessee became a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) in 2015. This means that out-of-state students who live in a SARA-participating state can take online courses from Tennessee schools without incurring additional fees.

Why should you choose Tennessee for online higher education?

From affordable community colleges to top public research universities, Tennessee offers something for every type of online college student. One option that stands out as particularly appealing is Lee University, which offers a wide variety of online degree and certificate programs.

The Cost of Online College in Tennessee

How much does an online degree in Tennessee cost?

The cost of an online degree in Tennessee depends on which institution you attend as well as the type of degree you decide to pursue. For example, undergraduate degrees are usually more affordable than graduate degrees. Also, you’ll probably find yourself paying more for your degree if you major in a STEM field rather than the humanities.

Regardless of the cost per credit, you should also consider that you may be able to save money on indirect expenses, such as transportation and housing, by earning your college degree online.

To give you a sense of exactly how much you should expect to pay for your online education, we’ve listed the lowest and highest rates for earning an online bachelor’s degree in Tennessee below:

Most affordable online college in Tennessee: Milligan University, $335 per credit

Most expensive online college in Tennessee: East Tennessee State University, $493 per credit

Average College Tuition Cost

Source: Education Data Initiative

How long do you have to live in Tennessee to get in-state tuition rates?

Typically, you’ll be eligible for in-state tuition rates after you’ve lived in Tennessee for 12 consecutive months. Some groups, such as military veterans, tribal members, and graduate fellows, are entitled to in-state tuition rates without meeting this one-year requirement.

Who qualifies for reduced tuition costs in Tennessee?

The Tennessee Promise provides graduates of Tennessee high schools with the opportunity to attend a community or technical college free of tuition and mandatory fees. Recipients may use the scholarship at any College System of Tennessee community college or applied technology college. Recipients must maintain a 2.0 GPA and complete eight hours of community service each semester. To apply, students must first fill out the FAFSA.

College Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Grant Programs in Tennessee

If you don’t qualify for the Tennessee Promise, there are many other sources of financial support available that can help you cover the cost of college. Some of these programs are based on income, while others are awarded based on factors such as demographics or academic merit. We’ve reviewed a few of the most prominent scholarship options for you below:

Ned McWherter Scholars Program

This program awards scholarships to Tennessee’s top graduating seniors. Applicants must be graduating high school seniors from Tennessee who have a GPA of at least 3.5 and ACT score of at least 29. Participation in honors or Advanced Placement courses and holding leadership positions in high school are also encouraged.

Who’s eligible? The scholarship can only be used at a college or university in Tennessee, and recipients must maintain a 3.0 GPA. It is renewable for three years following the initial award.

Contact information: [email protected] | 615-741-1346

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Horatio Alger State Scholarship

This national scholarship program, funded by James L. Clayton and the Haslam Family Foundation in Tennessee, is named after American author Horatio Alger. It’s offered to students who exhibit integrity and perseverance in overcoming personal adversity. Recipients may begin their studies at a two-year institution and later transfer to a four-year institution.

Who’s eligible? High school juniors who have at least a 2.0 GPA, financial need, and Tennessee residency.

Contact information: [email protected] | 844-422-4200

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Community Foundation of Greater Memphis

With just one application, you can apply for 30 scholarships administered by this Memphis-based nonprofit foundation. Most scholarships are for graduating seniors who are residents of Tennessee; some require a more specific residency, like being from the Memphis area.

Who’s eligible? Applicants must plan to attend an accredited two- or four-year college, university, or technical institution; demonstrate academic achievement; and have financial need.

Contact information: [email protected] | 901-722-0032

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East Tennessee Foundation

This Knoxville-based nonprofit organization administers more than 79 scholarships annually through one common application. Requirements are specific to each scholarship and range from financial need to scholastic achievement to potential and motivation for success. Others are geared toward students pursuing a specific major or who will be attending a school in a specific area.

Who’s eligible? You should be a resident of Tennessee. And although filling out the FAFSA is encouraged, it is not required.

Contact information: [email protected] | 877-524-1223

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Top 5 Fast-Growing Industries in Tennessee

If you still don’t know where you will attend college, you may be undecided on your major as well. In that case, one of the most important factors you should consider is which industries are growing the fastest in Tennessee — this will make it easier to find a job, and more demand should also help you earn a higher salary.

By consulting the U.S. Department of Labor’s Long-Term Employment Projections (2020–2030), we’ve determined that the following five careers have some of the highest projected growth rates in Tennessee:

Nurse Practitioners

NPs are advanced practice registered nurses who specialize in diagnosing and treating patients with an emphasis on preventative care and health education. They are quickly becoming many Americans’ preferred primary care professionals. NPs tend to be well-compensated; in Tennessee, they earn an average salary of $99,330.

Home Health and Personal Care Aides

As Tennessee’s population ages, the state is in increasing need of personal care aides to assist patients, often older adults or disabled people, with tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and bathing. In Tennessee, personal care aides make an average annual salary of $26,900.

Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary

Across the nation, demand for health professionals is on the rise due to the country’s aging population and increased prevalence of chronic and acute disease. Tennessee is no exception. In addition to clinical practitioners, the state also needs qualified health professionals who can teach students to become doctors, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, etc. In Tennessee, health specialties professors earn an average annual salary of $109,840.

  • Growth: 38.4%
  • Degree options: Master of Public Health, Master of Nursing Science, Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Pharmacy, Doctor of Veterinary Science, Doctor of Nursing, Doctor of Dentistry

Physician Assistants

Physician assistants are one of the most in-demand health professionals. They work under physicians to support patient care and must complete extensive education and medical training. They are not as highly compensated as physicians, but they still tend to make six-figure salaries. The average annual physician assistant salary in Tennessee is $106,110.

Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists

Market research analysts and marketing specialists use data to understand consumer preferences and tailor a company’s marketing campaigns to what will bring the greatest return on investment. In Tennessee, market research analysts and marketing specialists make an average salary of $66,570.

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