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.

The Top 50 Online Colleges in Tennessee

Best Online Colleges in Tennessee Badge
Intelligent Pick
Johnson University
Best Graduate Programs
The University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Best for Veterans
Trevecca Nazarene University
Best Christian Institution
Union University
Best Student Services
King University
Best For Adult Learners
University of Memphis
Best Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Lincoln Memorial University
Best Customizable Program
Tennessee Tech University
Best For Transfers
University of Tennessee at Martin
Most Affordable
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Lipscomb University

Lee University

Carson-Newman University
Best Online Seminary Programs
Bethel University

Bryan College

Christian Brothers University

Freed-Hardeman University

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center

East Tennessee State University

Austin Peay State University

Middle Tennessee State University

Tennessee State University

Milligan University

Baptist Health Sciences University

Cumberland University

Tennessee Wesleyan University

Tusculum University

Welch College

Pentecostal Theological Seminary

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.

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 flat rate of $413 per undergraduate credit for all online students regardless of state residency. The university offers 32 undergraduate programs, including human services and business administration.

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, parking, 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: University of Tennessee at Martin, $370 per credit (in-state), $407 per credit (out-of-state)
  • Most expensive online college in Tennessee: Johnson University, $450 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 allows graduates of Tennessee high schools 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

Learn more

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 seniors who have at least a 2.0 GPA, financial need, and Tennessee residency.

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

Learn more

Community Foundation of Greater Memphis

With just one application, you can apply for 25 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] | 865-524-1223

Learn more

East Tennessee Foundation

This Knoxville-based nonprofit organization administers more than 75 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] | 855-811-9849

Learn more

5 Fastest 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 examining the state’s official Tennessee Long-Term Job Outlook to 2028, we’ve determined that the following five industries will have the highest growth rates in Tennessee in the immediate years to come:

Healthcare Support

The population of Tennessee has grown 11.5% over the past two decades and is expected to continue, leading to an increased need for healthcare support workers. Within this sector, the most common occupations are home health and personal care aides, nursing assistants, and medical assistants. Other occupations in this field include psychiatric aides, physical therapy assistants, veterinary assistants, massage therapists, and pharmacy aides. The average salary for all jobs in healthcare support within Tennessee is $30,010.

  • Growth: 1.84%
  • Degree options: Associate in Veterinary Technology, Associate in Nursing, Associate in Dental Assisting, Associate in Clinical Laboratory Technician, Bachelor’s in Health Administration, Bachelor’s in Health and Human Services, Bachelor’s in Pre-Occupational Therapy

Personal Care and Service

The personal care and service industry is a broad sector that mostly focuses on consumer quality-of-life services throughout the lifespan. In Tennessee, the most common occupations in this sector are child care workers, hairdressers, and residential advisors. Other occupations include funeral attendants, makeup artists, animal trainers, and gambling service workers. All jobs in this industry have an average salary of $27,610 in Tennessee.

  • Growth: 1.79%
  • Degree options: Associate in Cosmetology, Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education, Bachelor’s in Recreation and Leisure, Bachelor’s in Funeral Service Management, Bachelor’s in Animal Behavior, Master’s in Leadership, Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology

Life, Physical, and Social Science Organizations

Although Tennessee is only the 36th largest state in the country by area, it is rich in natural resources like coal, sand, gravel, and clay. Tennessee is also home to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and several excellent research universities, so it’s no surprise to see that this science-centric industry is one of the strongest in the state. Jobs include soil and plant scientists, foresters, chemists, biological technicians, and epidemiologists. In Tennessee, the average salary for jobs in this sector is $74,150.

  • Growth: 1.59%
  • Degree options: Associate in Food Science, Bachelor’s in Archeology, Bachelor’s in Geography, Bachelor’s in Economics, Master’s in Political Science, Master of Forestry, Ph.D. in Urban Planning

Computers and Mathematics

Tennessee is home to many companies that employ top computer professionals, such as Asurion and Nissan North America, so it’s no surprise this industry is one of the fastest-growing in the state. Within this sector, the most common occupations are software developers, computer systems analysts, and computer user support specialists. Other occupations include information research scientists, actuaries, and web developers. The average statewide salary for all jobs in this industry is $76,660.

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations

With its generous student loan repayment programs for dentists, physicians, and other medical professionals, Tennessee is an attractive state for healthcare providers. Within this sector, the most common occupations are registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and physicians. Other occupations in this domain include dental hygienists, pharmacy technicians, speech-language pathologists, and athletic trainers. The average statewide salary for all jobs in this industry is $71,730.

  • Growth: 1.40%
  • Degree options: Associate in Veterinary Medicine, Bachelor’s in Nursing, Bachelor’s in Recreational Therapy, Bachelor’s in Audiology, Master’s in Genetic Counseling, Master’s in Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Doctor of Medicine