Overview of Tennessee Colleges & Schools

The state of Tennessee is home to a large number of public and private higher education institutions located throughout the state. Larger colleges and universities are typically located in the state’s capital, Nashville, and its largest cities, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga, with Memphis and Nashville having significantly higher populations. The state is bordered by Virginia to the north, North Carolina to the east, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi to the south, and Arkansas and Missouri to the west. Given the shape of the state, most individuals will be near the border to one or more of these states, allowing for ease of travel and exploration when not studying.

Public institutions in Tennessee are part of one of two systems. The first, the Tennessee Board of Regents, is comprised of six universities, thirteen community colleges, and 27 learning centers throughout the state. The system was formed in 1972, and is currently the sixth largest system of education in the United States. The second system is the University of Tennessee, which operates three primary campuses, two secondary campuses, and a large number of learning annexes throughout the state. The system was formed 1969 and expanded thereafter, though the oldest school in the system, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, dates to 1794.

Public Tennessee institutions include:

Private schools in the state are typically liberal arts colleges, providing a unique curriculum of study and allowing for the exploration of interests by students. Such schools also tend to have been founded within a religious context and many maintain ties to the denomination that assisted in their foundation. Private schools tend to have higher tuition costs due to a lack of public funding, smaller class sizes, and excellent student to teacher ratios allowing for a more personal educational experience. Such schools also tend to maintain programs and internship opportunities with sponsors and partners, and a small enrollment means greater opportunity.

Private schools in the state include:

Tennessee is also home to a large number of private two year colleges, career schools and community colleges. These schools primarily offer career training and technical training for individuals seeking to enter the workforce. Private schools and colleges often are more expensive and limited in their offerings to specific, often high demand, fields. Programs normally take up to a year to complete, but can be as long as two, and are designed with the intention of immediate employment after graduation. Community colleges provide the above as well as transfer opportunities to four year institutions to pursue higher degrees of education.

The most populous city in Tennessee is Memphis, followed by Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga.  While the most populous county in Tennessee is Shelby County with Davidson County close behind.   If you are interested in visiting the state of Tennessee, consider visiting their state page or the state chapter of the Chamber of Commerce.

College Degree Breakdown for the State of Tennessee

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, NCES, O*NET Online

Doctoral or professional degree57,3302.0
Master's degree47,6801.6
Bachelor's degree515,95017.8
Associate's degree72,3702.5
Postsecondary nondegree award208,7907.2
Some college, no degree63,6202.2
High school diploma or equivalent1,102,65038.1
No formal educational credential824,64028.5

Public Universities & Colleges

Image of Public College Campus

There are nine public 4-year state universities and colleges in Tennessee. These four-year institutions predominantly offer bachelor's or higher level programs and some may even include research facilities. See a state-wide list of the state universities and colleges in Tennessee.

Private Universities & Colleges

Image of Private College Campus

In Tennessee there are thirty-nine accredited private four-year colleges. Similar to public schools, private colleges and universities offer bachelor's or higher level programs and research opportunities, although they usually have smaller classes and higher tuition. Compare admission requirements and tuition details for private colleges in Tennessee.

Community Colleges

Community College in Tennessee

Community colleges are public institutions that offer low cost, high quality education for residents throughout the state. These schools offer 2-year programs that grant associate degrees or offer training courses in specialized trades. Tennessee" Community colleges also are the number one transfer-out programs available for four-year colleges and universities. Learn more and compare community colleges in Tennessee.

Liberal Arts Colleges

Liberal Arts Colleges

Tennessee has six accredited liberal arts colleges. These schools primarily focus on undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences through comprehensive and flexible curriculums. Compare all the liberal arts colleges in Tennessee.

Bible & Christian Colleges

Christian Colleges

Bible and Christian colleges generally provide specialized undergraduate education with a focus on religious or biblical study. There are approximately thirty-four such colleges in Tennessee located throughout the state. See a full list of Christian colleges in Tennessee along with program and tuition information.

Browse Schools by Career in Tennessee

Follow the links below to get information on accredited schools in our database that offer programs or degrees.

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