Here's a general overview of what's available from online colleges in Tennessee:
  • Online associate degree programs are available at 37 Tennessee colleges, bachelor's degree programs are offered at 40, and master's degree programs are at 36.
  • The online colleges in Tennessee with the highest number of degree programs include University of Memphis, University of Phoenix-Nashville, and Strayer University-Tennessee.
  • Close to 20 faith-based Tennessee colleges offer online degree programs, including a seminary.

One initiative sponsored by the Tennessee Board of Regents is TN eCampus. This portal gives students the opportunity to access more than 400 courses and 500 online degree programs at all levels — certificate through graduate-level coursework.

To see which college might be best for you, read on to see our ranking of the top 10 online colleges in Tennessee as well as the most affordable ones. You can also find details on scholarships and loans that are specific to the state.

What Makes a Good Online College in Tennessee?

Students in the Volunteer State have many options when it comes to higher education. So how does a person start narrowing down those options? It starts with accredited schools, like the ones in our rankings of the best online colleges in Tennessee. Accreditation matters a great deal when choosing a school -- for details on why, see our "What is College Accreditation?" page. Most schools in Tennessee are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); to learn more about valid accreditation in the state, visit the Tennessee State Board of Education.

There are many other factors a student may want to consider when choosing an online college, such as the availability of tuition plans, the possibility of credit offerings and the number of online programs offered. We used all these factors and more to create our rankings of the best online colleges in Tennessee, and we display the data so students can compare the options for themselves and see what makes these colleges so good. To see all of the factors we used for our rankings and why we chose them, check out the "What Makes a Good Online College?" section of our "About Us" page.

Tennessee_Badge

Best Online Colleges in Tennessee for 2019-20

Students considering online education from anywhere in the U.S. should not overlook the many affordable online universities in Tennessee. Not only do they offer a diverse selection of degree programs, but they make it easy to pursue higher education in a flexible, online format.

To make finding the right school easier for potential students, we embarked on a search for the best online colleges in Tennessee based on factors such as affordability, accessibility and the number of programs available. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and our own unique methodology (details at the bottom of this page,) we have come up with this ranking of the 10 best online colleges in Tennessee.

1

Daymar College-Murfreesboro

Tuition & Fees
$15,000
Distance Education Participation
40%
Number of Programs Offered
3
School Type
4-year

What is DCM like?

DCM, one of the original career colleges, is a business-focused vocational school that was founded in 1963. The school started its online program in 2008 to help students across the country earn certificates, diplomas, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees focused on the technical skills and vocational training necessary for real-world success.

What online programs are at DCM?

This technical college offers career training programs for online learners interested in the criminal justice, business, and healthcare fields, including nursing and medical billing. Courses are offered asynchronously, and materials are delivered through the Canvas learning management system.

What online resources does DCM offer?

To encourage online learners' academic success, DCM has its own smartphone app that can help students stay connected with instructors and administrators, view job openings, keep track of their GPA, access forms and documents and more. The DCM Career Services staff is also accessible for online students, offering interview tips, college internship seminar programs and career preparation services.

2

East Tennessee State University

Tuition & Fees
$8,935
Distance Education Participation
56%
Number of Programs Offered
30
School Type
4-year

What is ETSU like?

East Tennessee State University is part of the State University and Community College System of Tennessee. A proud research institution, the school organizes the annual Appalachian Student Research Forum, through which students showcase their hard work and findings in a formal setting.

What online programs are at ETSU?

The university offers several graduate and undergraduate programs completely online, mostly in the fields of healthcare and sociology. In fact, ETSU's offerings in the areas of public health and social work & human services have earned the school a place in our rankings of the best online colleges for both programs of study. Even more options are available in the school's "Mostly Online" hybrid format, including nursing and early childhood education.

What online resources does ETSU offer?

ETSU's Sherrod Library has a dedicated librarian specifically for distance learners, and offers online tutoring, virtual career services and an online job board featuring opportunities on a worldwide scale. Online students can also partake of assistance and counseling through ETSU's Counseling Center. Most of these services are available at no additional cost to currently enrolled ETSU students.

3

Daymar College-Nashville

Tuition & Fees
$15,000
Distance Education Participation
30%
Number of Programs Offered
3
School Type
4-year

What is DCN like?

DCN has risen from No. 17 in last year's rankings due in no small part to its career training programs based on the local region's expanding industries. The technical school prides itself on helping to ensure that students are hired quickly after graduation through classes that are specifically catered to those who also have work and family obligations. DCN offers a slightly shorter degree program than the traditional 4-year program.

What online programs are at DCN?

This vocational school began delivering online courses in 2008 and currently offers plenty of options for distance learners to earn their degrees in the fields of healthcare, business, criminal justice, technology and health & wellness. Online students benefit from flexible class schedules that allow coursework to be completed in their free time, and an abundance of career training in their relevant field to set them up for real-world success.

What online resources does DCN offer?

Daymar cements its place among the top online colleges in Tennessee by offering its own smartphone app to encourage online learners' academic success. Students can collaborate with instructors, browse job openings, track their academic progress and more.

4

Daymar College-Clarksville

Tuition & Fees
$15,000
Distance Education Participation
55%
Number of Programs Offered
15
School Type
4-year

What is DCC like?

DCC made a name for itself as a top online school in Tennessee when it began granting online certificates, diplomas, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees in 2008. Its goal is to help students develop marketable technical skills for real-world success. The school has soared to its current position on our list from No. 43 last year, largely due to its customized, career-focused programs that take into account each individual's learning style and schedule.

What online programs are at DCC?

With dozens of career training programs available for online learners, students may choose their degree from a variety of programs in the fields of health care, business, criminal justice and technology. Because of each program's relevant career training and online coursework, presented in a flexible and convenient manner, students are set on the path to quickly obtain entry-level positions within their desired career path.

What online resources does DCC offer?

Daymar has taken advantage of the intelligent use of technology to create its own smartphone app to encourage online learners' academic success. The app affords students the ability to track their GPA, connect with instructors, view job openings and manage their entire student experience.

5

Austin Peay State University

Tuition & Fees
$8,159
Distance Education Participation
55%
Number of Programs Offered
15
School Type
4-year

What is APSU like?

APSU, a four-year public university, strives to instill in its students a spirit of collaboration and critical inquiry as they work toward their degrees. APSU seeks to prepare students to be engaged and productive citizens, while recognizing the importance of global awareness and continuous learning. Online students work closely with advisors to ensure they meet their academic and career objectives.

What online programs are at APSU?

APSU offers a multitude of associate, bachelor's and master's degrees in several fields of study, including business administration, health care, criminal justice and sociology. The school also tops our list of best online colleges for organizational psychology thanks to their Master of Science in Industrial-Organizational Psychology degree. All online courses begin and end on specific dates, but students may choose a blended approach and include on-campus coursework in their schedule, as well.

What online resources does APSU offer?

APSU's user-friendly online platform makes distance learning simple, even for first-timers. Online learners also have resources including online tutoring, library services, career guidance and more at their fingertips.

6

University of Memphis

Tuition & Fees
$9,317
Distance Education Participation
38%
Number of Programs Offered
47
School Type
4-year

What is UofM like?

UofM is a public research university whose online programs consistently rank highly with U.S. News & World Report. Its Online Master of Business Administration degree has been ranked as one the best by The Princeton Review. UofM Global is the main hub for online learners, though the school has also collaborated with the TN eCampus initiative to make several online degrees available through a statewide partnership.

What online programs are at UofM?

UofM offers dozens of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in fields including business and social science. The school also ranks in each of our top 10 lists for best online colleges for English, nonprofit management and real estate. Students can complete their degree fully online, or blend it with in-person coursework. Most online programs are composed of completely asynchronous, semester-based classes.

What online resources does UofM offer?

Like many online universities in Tennessee, learners at UofM are afforded easy access to the school's library resources, and librarians are available to assist through online chat, email, phone and even Skype. Students can also obtain live 24/7 online tutoring, as well as a comprehensive online career guidance system.

7

Tennessee Technological University

Tuition & Fees
$8,731
Distance Education Participation
70%
Number of Programs Offered
11
School Type
4-year

What is TTU like?

TTU strives to set students on the path to becoming leaders in their chosen field of study by offering cutting-edge online programs through TN eCampus, a collaboration with all Tennessee Board of Regents institutions. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school's online MBA program as one of the best in the country. The school is also continuously ranked by The Princeton Review as one of the best colleges in the southeast. TTN claims its degrees give grads the highest salary potential of all public universities in the state.

What online programs are at TTU?

TTU offers a small variety of bachelor's degree programs including health administration and information technology, and multiple graduate degrees in the fields of business and nursing.

What online resources does TTU offer?

Online learners are afforded access to most of the same resources as on-campus students, including career services and easy transfer pathways for those who seek to move credits from one institution to another.

8

Johnson University

Tuition & Fees
$16,060
Distance Education Participation
36%
Number of Programs Offered
16
School Type
4-year

What is JU like?

JU has more than a century's experience doling out distance learning to students near and far. With today's technology, the landscape is a bit different, but the school is just as dedicated as ever to bringing an affordable Christian education to students worldwide. JU Online is part of the Johnson University system, maintaining physical locations in Tennessee and Florida.

What online programs are at JU?

JU offers bachelor's and master's degree programs in numerous fields, including business administration and religious studies. The school also offers a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies, several associate degree options and certificate programs as well. Courses are offered in seven-week sessions in the fall, spring and summer in an effort to accommodate busy students' schedules.

What online resources does JU offer?

Online learners at JU benefit from a 24/7 help desk that can be quickly and conveniently initiated via online chat. They also have access to the JU library, academic and career services and online coaching sessions to help spur student success and support educational efforts anytime and anywhere.

9

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Tuition & Fees
$13,006
Distance Education Participation
35%
Number of Programs Offered
21
School Type
4-year

What is UTK like?

UTK is Tennessee's flagship university and premier public research institution. The land-grant university ranks highly on U.S. News & World Report's list of best institutions nationwide, likely due to the school's commitment to rigorous and interactive classes taught by industry-leading faculty and instructors.

What online programs are at UTK?

UTK offers a Registered Nurse to BSN program and a variety of master's programs in fields such as education, agriculture and engineering. In fact, UTK landed high on our lists of top online colleges for both their civil engineering and industrial engineering programs. The coursework for these undergraduate and graduate programs can be completed online or through hybrid options. Depending on the class, students may be required to meet virtually at the same time each week, while other courses are asynchronous for maximum schedule adaptability.

What online resources does UTK offer?

Though full-time distance learners save on costs by not having to pay the on-campus Student Programs and Services fee, they still have access to online career services, the Student Success Center and more. UTK also offers specialized transfer advisors.

10

Carson-Newman University

Tuition & Fees
$27,900
Distance Education Participation
46%
Number of Programs Offered
16
School Type
4-year

What is C-N like?

C-N is a top-ranked, Christian liberal arts university with a strong commitment to providing accessible education to all students. Its degree programs are fairly competitive, so students are encouraged to push the boundaries of what they already know and keep up to date on the latest technology and best practices in their field.

What online programs are at C-N?

If you're looking for online degree programs in Tennessee, C-N offers bachelor's and master's degree programs primarily in the fields of business administration, nursing and education. In fact, C-N ranked near the top of our list of best online colleges for curriculum design.

What online resources does C-N offer?

Distance learners at C-N have access to eLearning apps, free word processing software and 24/7 online tutoring to encourage their academic success, as well as career development resources to help prepare for the future. The school has also established transfer pathways to make the process of transferring credits from other institutions as easy as possible.

Affordable Online Colleges in Tennessee for 2019-20

The two lists below present two- and four-year schools in Tennessee who boast some of the lowest in-state tuition costs for degrees. The data was sourced from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, part of the National Center for Education Statistics.

Financial Aid Resources in Tennessee

The Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC), in collaboration with state-wide nonprofits, offers two years of tuition-free attendance at a technical or community college. The program also offers mentors to assist with college applications.

Read on for more information on scholarships, grants and loans in the state of Tennessee.

What Grants and Scholarships are Available in Tenneseee?

Most of Tennessee's biggest scholarships are funded by the Tennessee lottery and are administered by TSAC. According to the Tennessee lottery website, more than 100,000 students receive lottery-funded awards and programs annually.

Here are some of the state-funded grants and scholarships in Tennessee that students may want to consider:

For more on grants, check out our Ultimate Guide to Grants. Our Ultimate Guide to Scholarships can cover your scholarship questions.

Student Loans in Tennessee

Prior to July 1st, 2016, TSAC granted loans to Tennessee students – $13 billion in student loans to be exact. However, TSAC turned that program over to the nonprofit Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC). TSAC will continue to offer resources to prospective students on its web site. Listed on the site are three subject-specific loan forgiveness programs that include the following:

This forgiveness program encourages Tennesseans to enter the field of teaching. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.75 or higher and commit to teaching at a pre-K through 12th grade public school in Tennessee for at least one year after graduation. If that commitment is not met, the award becomes a loan which must be paid back at an interest rate of 9 percent.

  • Application deadline:  April 15th
  • Award amount:  Depends on loan amount
This program provides assistance for public school teachers seeking an advanced degree in math and science. Recipients must be employed for two years at a Tennessee public school for every year of loan funding.

  • Application deadline:  September 1st (for fall semester)
  • Award amount:  Maximum $10,000
Registered nurses living in Tennessee who are considering becoming teachers and administrators in nursing education programs should consider applying for loan forgiveness. Applicants must already be enrolled in a master's or post-master's degree program in nursing education, and they must commit to four years of teaching at a college or university in Tennessee. If this requirement is not met, the loan must be paid back in full.

  • Application deadline:  March 1st
  • Award amount:  Depends on loan amount

Get more information on student loans by reading our Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Costs for Out-of-State Students in Tennessee

Non-resident students are typically charged an elevated out-of-state tuition rate at Tennessee's colleges and universities, but there are a few ways to work around the cost increase:

  • Veterans' discount. In 2018, the Tennessee Board of Regents enacted a policy exempting veterans of the U.S. armed forces from residency rules when determining eligibility for in-state tuition
  • Apply for residency. If you can demonstrate that you moved to Tennessee for reasons other than seeking education, you may be able to earn a residency classification regardless of how long you've been in the state
  • Regional programs. The Southern Regional Education Board's Academic Common Market is a tuition relief program for residents of southeastern states that features tuition breaks on more than 1,900 graduate and undergraduate programs

Transfer scholarships can also help offset the cost of out-of-state tuition. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, for example, provides up to $5,000 to eligible out-of-state community college graduates with top-tier GPAs.

Online degrees from certain Tennessee schools may come with lower costs for out-of-state students, as well. Tennessee State University uses a separate tuition system called e-Rate for students who intend to remain non-residents of Tennessee throughout their online degree program.

If you want to know more about out-of-state tuition rates in Tennessee, check with an adviser or registrar at the school you're considering.

Best Careers In Tennessee

What are the best jobs in Tennessee? It depends on your goals and interests, but earning a degree is likely to help you qualify for a higher-skill job. According to a Georgetown University Study, more than half (58 percent) the jobs in Tennessee are likely to require at least some level of postsecondary education by 2020, and almost 20 percent may require a bachelor's degree.

In this section, we take a look at the best jobs in Tennessee, based on statewide employment, average salaries and more. Comparing this data can help you decide which degree program and education level to pursue.

EmploymentEmployment GrowthMedian High School SalaryMedian Bachelor's Salary
3,175,45011.2%$27,073$46,024

Top Tennessee Industries

*Industry rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data is sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Top IndustriesEmploymentProjected GrowthAverage Salary
Pipeline transportation853,30014%$65,306
Ambulatory healthcare services2,151,31015%$59,330
Data processing, hosting, and related services1,132,68014%$62,264
Monetary authorities-central bank576,17018%$67,694
Telecommunications1,301,94014%$60,907
Utilities1,580,82013%$58,927
Lessors of nonfinancial intangible assets (except copyrighted works)780,48016%$64,827
Hospitals; state, local, and private2,337,82014%$57,594
Oil and gas extraction1,233,69014%$62,322
Postal service831,00013%$61,330

Tennessee is the 16th most populous state in the U.S., and it's bordered by eight other states and the Mississippi River. With such a large potential workforce and a centralized location, it's easy to see why some of the world's largest companies call it home, including FedEx and First Horizon National Corporation. And with such heavy-hitters in the area, it's no surprise that many of the best jobs in Tennessee lie in central banking and the United States Postal Service.

The availability of healthcare programs, specifically nursing degree programs, across the vast majority of the state's top schools is a clear indicator that these are among the most needed jobs in Tennessee. Organizations such as HCA Healthcare, Community Health Systems, Methodist University Hospital and Vanderbilt University Hospital need skilled candidates to fill these in-demand jobs. Business degrees are also very common in Tennessee, which makes sense: business knowledge is useful to have in a state teeming with large companies.

Large companies also naturally create a need for support services in telecommunications, utilities, data processing and related fields. In addition, Tennessee's Department of Labor & Workforce Development predicts that the next few years may also see increased demand for jobs in Tennessee in engineering and IT.

Here's a more in-depth look at the high demand jobs in Tennessee that are most prominent in the state's three largest metropolitan areas.

Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metro Area

Total Population
1,344,058
Median salary for high school grads
$27,231
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$49,517
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
24.3%
Median rent
$883

Both FedEx and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital are headquartered in Memphis, making the city an optimal location for anyone interested in nursing, medical and health services or the transportation, storage and distribution industry.

Memphis is also home to International Paper, a renewable packaging manufacturer, and AutoZone automotive parts. Both are thriving Fortune 1000 companies that are frequently in need of financial managers and similar finance- and business-focused professionals.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Health Specialties Teachers, PostsecondaryDoctoral or professional degree$106,5102,590
Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$107,2101,280
Medical and Health Services ManagersBachelor's degree$110,4502,050
Transportation, Storage, and Distribution ManagersHigh school diploma or equivalent$89,1401,160
Financial ManagersBachelor's degree$117,9502,540

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN Metro Area

Total Population
1,830,410
Median salary for high school grads
$30,105
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$48,993
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
25.9%
Median rent
$951

With HCA Holdings, Community Health Systems, LifePoint Health Inc., Iasis Healthcare and Brookdale Senior Living all headquartered here, it's no wonder that many of the high demand jobs in Nashville belong to nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and health services managers.

The region is also home to the corporate operations of Deloitte, Bank of New York Mellon, State Farm Insurance and Dell. As such, students interested in high-paying jobs in Nashville may want to consider studying marketing, management or human resources at one of Tennessee's best online colleges in order to qualify for positions as human resources managers, sales managers or similar.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Nurse AnesthetistsMaster's degree$147,770960
Medical and Health Services ManagersBachelor's degree$108,9804,040
Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$90,1101,910
Human Resources ManagersBachelor's degree$104,6001,590
Sales ManagersBachelor's degree$111,2303,070

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Knoxville, TN Metro Area

Total Population
862,490
Median salary for high school grads
$27,103
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$44,815
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
28.3%
Median rent
$779

Knoxville's most prominent employers include Covenant Health, Tennova Healthcare, the University of Tennessee Medical Center and Blount Memorial Hospital. With such prominent medical facilities, it's no surprise that healthcare professionals such as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and medical service managers are generally considered to be high demand jobs in Knoxville.

This area is also home to Norfolk Southern Corp., a transportation company that relies on civil engineers and related workers to improve safety and infrastructure around the region. Of all the places in Tennessee where pipeline transportation is a hot industry, the Knoxville metro area might be the most important.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$95,4901,180
Nurse AnesthetistsMaster's degree$150,370490
Financial ManagersBachelor's degree$94,5802,240
Civil EngineersBachelor's degree$115,930880
Medical and Health Services ManagersBachelor's degree$99,0901,340

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

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