In recent years, the Tennessee government has taken steps to increase the state’s college graduates as well as improve the quality of higher education. Various organizations such as the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) and Tennessee Higher Education Sustainability Association (THESA) have been dedicated to helping students achieve academic success. Additionally, lottery proceeds are being used to fund the government’s Hope Scholarships, which help aid students financially. These efforts, and more, are helping to increase the number of college graduates and improve the quality of education.
There are three major higher education systems in the State of Tennessee:
The University of Tennessee is the largest university system in the state. It has five campuses, with its main branch located in the city of Knoxville. It offers more than 230 academic programs, with 75 master’s degree programs and about 45 doctoral degree programs. This system also has branches in Chattanooga and Martin as well as two specialized centers, which are not separate institutions. The University of Tennessee Health Science Center is located at Memphis and offers degrees in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, allied health sciences, and graduate health sciences. The University of Tennessee Space Institute is another specialized center located in Tullahoma and offers degrees in aviation systems, industrial and systems engineering, flight test engineering, mechanical, aerospace and biochemical engineering (MABE), and physics.
|School Branch||Total Enrolled|
There are a total of six public universities in Tennessee outside of the University of Tennessee system. These universities offer four-year bachelor’s degree programs while some offer graduate degrees as well. Among these, the largest is Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), which has over 80 degree programs and eight undergraduate colleges. It is also home to the Honors College, which first began as MTSU’s honors program and then grew to become a central part of the campus, offering Buchanan Fellowships, Honors Transfer Fellowships, and other awards to select high-achieving scholars.
The second largest is the University of Memphis. It has three off-campus buildings: The Park Avenue Campus, which is directly south of the main campus and has intramural and athletic facilities, research buildings and other classrooms; The Downtown Law School Building (DLS), which is the new law school campus; and the Lambuth Campus, which is located at Jackson City.
|Middle Tennessee State University||Murfreesboro||26,430|
|University of Memphis||Memphis||22,420|
|East Tennessee State University||Johnson City||14,952|
|Tennessee Technological University||Cookeville||11,538|
|Austin Peay State University||Clarksville||10,723|
|Tennessee State University||Nashville||8,930|
The largest higher education system in Tennessee is its community college system. There are a total of 13 community schools that offer quality education to high school graduates or those looking for a fresh start. These schools offer two-year programs that may be transferred to a four-year institution for a bachelor’s degree. These, however, may or may not be career specific. Tennessee’s community college system is most popular due to its affordability and convenience. Additionally, the State of Tennessee recently launched the “Tennessee Promise,” which offers a free community college or an applied technology education to high school seniors who graduate from an eligible Tennessee high school or complete a home school program and apply for the Promise. The Promise provides a so-called last-dollar scholarship, which will cover the tuition and fees that are not covered by other financial aid. Tennessee governor Bill Haslam noted that the program is the only one of its kind in the country. It will launch in 2015 as an on-going effort to meet the state’s “Drive to 55” goal—a mission to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with certificates or college degrees to 55 percent by 2025, which will ultimately help improve the state’s economy.
|Southwest Tennessee Community College||Memphis||13,362|
|Pellissippi State Technical Community College||Knoxville||11,049|
|Chattanooga State Technical Community College||Chattanooga||10,401|
|Nashville State Community College||Nashville||9,853|
|Volunteer State Community College||Gallatin||8,989|
In addition to public universities and community colleges, there are also private non-profit universities that offer more choices for students. These universities also have four-year bachelor’s degree programs, with some also offering master’s and doctorate degrees.
There are a total of 47 private non-profit universities in Tennessee, each offering different fields of studies and programs. The largest private institution is Vanderbilt University, which is located in the city of Nashville. It offers undergraduate programs in engineering, liberal arts and sciences, music, human development and more. It offers over 33 degrees and about 86 subjects.
The second largest private college is Belmont University. It has two campuses, with the main branch located at the city of Nashville. The second location is in the Cool Springs business community in the city of Franklin. Belmont @ Cool Springs serves students who are enrolled in the university’s Adult Degree Programs, which are offered in subject areas such as accounting, general business, nursing, social work, ministry, and public relations management. It also offers a self-design liberal studies program and a Nashville Ballet Partnership program in which Nashville Ballet dancers can earn their bachelor’s degree part-time.
|Lincoln Memorial University||Harrogate||4,445|
With the rise of modern technology, distance learning has become a more popular option for students, especially in higher education. While there are many of cities with their own schools and universities, some areas in Tennessee do not have their own colleges, which leaves students with limited access to education. Online learning makes higher education more accessible—and convenient—for such students.
Online courses are also popular for employed adults who wish to earn a degree but do not want to stop working. They can incorporate learning into their busy work schedule in order to earn a four-year degree entirely online.
In total, there are over 70 colleges and universities offering online programs in the state of Tennessee. The regional agency responsible for accrediting colleges in the state is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The Association for Biblical Higher Education, on the other hand, is responsible for the accreditation of faith-based schools.
The largest university, The University of Tennessee, offers online undergraduate and graduate degree programs though UT Online. These online courses are taught by UT professors. MTSU offers a variety of distance education options including online and hybrid degree programs, adult degree completion programs, certificates, and professional non-credit courses. Tennessee State University and University of Memphis also offer a number of online degree programs.
There are a number of fast growing professions in the state, such as biomedical engineers, home health aides, medical scientists, commercial pilots, and physician assistants.
There are also numerous industries in the state that provide job opportunities for its residents. One of the top industries is manufacturing, which employs more than 360,000 people. Tennessee’s automotive industry also provides various jobs to approximately 105,000 people. Other top industries in the state are health care, energy, film production, plastic, chemicals, and transportation and logistics.
Tennessee is also home to the headquarters of some of the largest companies in the nation. The top five largest companies in Tennessee are FedEx Corp., HCA Inc., CBRL Group Inc., Dollar General Corp., and AutoZone Inc.
The University of TennesseeKnoxville, Tennessee
Middle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboro, Tennessee
University of MemphisMemphis, Tennessee
Southwest Tennessee Community CollegeMemphis, Tennessee
East Tennessee State UniversityJohnson City, Tennessee
Pellissippi State Community CollegeKnoxville, Tennessee
Nashville State Community CollegeNashville, Tennessee
Chattanooga State Community CollegeChattanooga, Tennessee
Vanderbilt UniversityNashville, Tennessee
Tennessee Technological UniversityCookeville, Tennessee