19 Best Online Colleges in Tennessee

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Between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River lies the state of Tennessee.

Best Online Colleges in Tennessee Badge

Here, the rich history of Civil War battlefields gives way to the serene natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. The well-known Southern warmth of small towns spills over into major centers of commerce, arts, and culture in Chattanooga, Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville.

The economy of Tennessee was once primarily agrarian, but starting in the 20th century, federal investments in the Tennessee Valley Authority spurred diversification. Today, agricultural products like poultry, soybeans, and cattle remain an important part of the Tennessee economy, while manufacturing and tourism are rapidly growing sectors.

Perhaps more than anywhere else in the nation, Tennessee is linked with music. Nashville has the Country Music Hall of Fame and flagship offices for the Big Three record labels (Sony, Warner, and Universal) on its iconic Music Row. Memphis has Beale Street, a national historic landmark and the birthplace of the Memphis blues, and the legendary Sun Studio, where Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis made their first records. It’s also home to Graceland, the mansion that once belonged to the King himself. Country, rock, gospel, and the blues all have deep roots in Tennessee.

The Volunteer State is so known because of the number of volunteer soldiers the state supplied for the Mexican-American War, but many locals feel that the same bold spirit and fearless attitude is still an essential part of Tennessee tradition.

The unique heritage and culture of Tennessee make this state an exciting launchpad for any number of careers. These days, students have more options than ever when it comes to pursuing their professional goals through higher education. Many people are choosing to earn a degree through online learning programs.

These online degree tracks, which often don’t require any on-campus classroom attendance, are at the cutting edge of education. They integrate all of the rigorous academic standards and expansive resources of Tennessee’s thriving colleges and universities, while still allowing students to keep up with the responsibilities of a family or full-time job. The state of Tennessee has an impressive roster of colleges offering online programs to undergraduate, graduate, and even doctoral students.

Top 10 Best Online Colleges in Tennessee

Rank School Location
1 The University of Tennessee-Martin Martin, TN
2 Union University Jackson, TN
3 Tennessee Technological University Cookeville, TN
4 King University Bristol, TN
5 The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Chattanooga, TN
6 University of Memphis Memphis, TN
7 Carson-Newman University Jefferson City, TN
8 Austin Peay State University Clarksville, TN
9 Trevecca Nazarene University Nashville, TN
10 Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, TN

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What are the best online colleges in Tennessee?

While compiling this list, we wanted to be sure that we accounted for not just one but all of the important factors that affect student experience at each school. To that end, we take into consideration data points such as graduation rate, test scores for incoming students, endowment size, institutional reputation, and student-faculty ratio. All of these points become part of our institutional excellence assessment.

We also consider average financial aid packages, return on investment based on tuition costs, student indebtedness after graduation, and expected early career salary for graduates, all of which become part of our student success assessment. Information for these assessments comes from sources such as individual college websites, U.S. News & World Report, Payscale, and the IPEDS database. All of these critical metrics have been used to build the following ranking for best online colleges in Tennessee.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. The University of Tennessee-Martin
    Location

    Martin, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    For 90 years, the University of Tennessee-Martin has been a keystone member of the University of Tennessee System. Whether students choose to take classes on-campus or online, theyll meet the same meaningful objectives and work with the same outstanding faculty. While the school offers numerous online-only programs, online classes are available for all students, an indication of UT-Martins robust distance learning program.

    Features

    The University of Tennessee-Martin offers a total of six online bachelors programs and nine online graduate programs. As part of the graduate academic catalog, UT-Martin Online offers a number of occupational licensure programs for teachers, including courses in Technology Integration, Students with Exceptionalities, and Diagnosis and Evaluation. Popular online undergraduate majors include:

    Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Bachelor of Science in Nursing Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies

    Details

    UT-Martin transitioned its distance learning platform from Blackboard to Canvas in the spring of 2017. Students can now use Canvas to access interactive course materials including PowerPoints, images, lectures, movie clips, audio, graphs, and charts. UT-Martins MBA program is ranked number 36 nationally among the Best Online MBA Programs by U.S. News World Report. The school recently launched a Paralegal Studies online curriculum that can be paired with any major and is designed to prepare students to seek a Doctor of Jurisprudence or to sit for the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) examination.

  2. Union University
    Location

    Jackson, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Founded in 1823, Union University offers a broad spread of academic programs and an engaged student community that will enrich any experience, whether students attend Union on-campus or online. The university is located in Jackson, Tennessee, and is the oldest institution of higher education affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

    Features

    The academic catalog at Union University includes fully online programs in business, education, ministry, and nursing. Hybrid programs are offered for a masters degree (M.S. in Nursing), a professional certification (Post Graduate Certificate in Nursing), and doctorate degrees (Doctor of Education and Doctor of Nursing Practice). Fully online masters programs include a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Christian Studies, and a Master of Art in Education. Fully online bachelors degree completion programs are offered in the following fields:

    Organizational Leadership Organizational Management Information Technology Nursing (RN to BSN)

    Details

    The student body of Union University is 3,500, and the student-faculty ratio is just 10:1. For both on-campus and online programs, this student-centered environment provides ample opportunity for personalized attention from supportive professors. Union University highlights its commitment to integrating Christian faith into every program of study, including online coursework. The school earned the number one slot in the 2017 Best Christian Colleges and Universities in the South ranking from Christian Universities Online.

  3. Tennessee Technological University
    Location

    Cookeville, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Approximately 70 miles east of Nashville is Cookeville, the home of Tennessee Technological University. Tennessee Tech serves a total student body of over 10,000 and offers degrees across six academic fields, including Agriculture and Human Ecology, Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, and Interdisciplinary and Extended Education.

    Features

    Masters degrees available through online programs include a Distance MBA, Master of Accountancy, Master of Education, and Master of Science in Nursing. A number of endorsements for licensed teachers are offered through online coursework, including certifications in English as a Second Language, Mathematics, and Special Education (Comprehensive or Early Childhood). Available bachelors degrees include the following:

    Bachelor of Professional Studies Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies

    Details

    The university was named among the best schools in the Southeast for 10 consecutive years by the Princeton Review. Almost two-thirds of TTU students receive some form of financial aid either from the institution, the state or federal government, or private funds (financial aid works the same way for on-campus students or remote students). TN eCampus, a repository of digital courses used by TTU and numerous other Tennessee institutions, utilizes the Desire2Learn (D2L) learning management system to deliver class materials and allow students to connect with faculty members during the course.

  4. King University
    Location

    Bristol, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Bristol, King University was first established in 1867 and is still true to its Presbyterian roots. The school provides a strong liberal arts education as the foundation for all students, and has been recognized for excellence in a number of contemporary fields, including nursing, security and intelligence studies, exercise studies, and digital media and design.

    Features

    Students of the King University online program may pursue an Associate of Arts degree, a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Science in Nursing, or one of a number of bachelors degrees in business, nursing, arts and sciences, communication, and behavioral and health sciences. Some of the top online bachelors degree programs include the following:

    Information Technology Criminal Justice Business Administration Religious Studies

    Details

    In addition to its standard degree program structure, King University also offers a program called The Pathway, which is designed for adult students who have already earned 30 to 45 hours of college credit. Classes for The Pathway are either held entirely online or on-campus one night a week. The undergraduate degree programs at King are accelerated, and many can be completed in as little as 16 months. All online programs allow students to enroll in the spring, summer, or fall semesters, allowing extra flexibility for students to begin a new program and progress throughout the year.

  5. The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga
    Location

    Chattanooga, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga is one of three universities and two affiliated institutions in the University of Tennessee system, and one of the fastest growing campuses in the state. Recent campus renovations and expansions in the academic catalog have included the addition of an honors program, a state-of-the-art library, and a broadening range of credit and non-credit distance learning opportunities.

    Features

    Masters degree programs through UTC Learn, as the universitys remote learning platform is known, include a Master of Science in Criminal Justice, Master of Science in Engineering Management, Professional Master of Business Administration (PMBA), and Doctorate of Nursing Practice. UTC Learn offers three undergraduate tracks:

    Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (a degree completion program for non-traditional students) RN to BSN Nursing Gateway Program Non-Profit Management Certificate

    Details

    Programs are considered online if they replace 80 percent or more of in-class seat time with technology-enhanced instruction. Online courses through the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga may require minimal on-campus attendance for orientation or proctored exams. Hybrid programs, which replace 30 percent to 79 percent of required seat time with online instruction, are available for a Doctorate in Learning and Leadership and a MSN Nurse Anesthesia program. UTC Learn is powered by the Blackboard learning management system.

  6. University of Memphis
    Location

    Memphis, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The main campus of the University of Memphis is located in the citys Normal Station neighborhood, while the Lambuth Campus is located in midtown Jackson, Tennessee. As a major research institution located in a dynamic urban area, the University of Memphis offers numerous research, internship, and professional opportunities for both traditional and online students.

    Features

    All of the degree tracks through the distance learning program, called UofM Global, are fully online and are designed for maximum flexibility to allow students to take classes at their own pace. Over 60 areas of study are available. The online coursework is designed by the highly respected faculty of U of M. Graduate programs are available in education and engineering, while both graduate and undergraduate programs are available in the following fields:

    Business Health Professions Humanities Social Sciences

    Details

    Students who earn a degree through UofM Global will have a diploma and transcript that is identical to traditional on-campus students. Every UofM Global student is assigned an advisor who will guide them through their educational experience, and can assist them with alternative degree pathways such as the Finish Line program or the Prior Learning Assessment credit conversion program. Because of the array of academic options and plentiful sources of support for distance learning students, the university was recently named the Best Online College in Tennessee by TheBestSchools.org.

  7. Carson-Newman University
    Location

    Jefferson City, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located less than 40 miles from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Carson-Newman University serves a student body of over 2,600 and offers degree programs in over 50 majors for undergraduates alone. The 120-acre campus is at the heart of scenic Jefferson County. A historically Baptist university, the school was recently named to the Presidents Honor Roll for Service with Distinction, the highest federal honor available for an outstanding commitment to service learning and civic engagement.

    Features

    C-N offers online degree programs at the graduate level leading to a Master of Arts in Social Entrepreneurship, Master of Education, Education Doctorate, Master of Business Administration, and Education Specialist certification. The university also grants the following undergraduate degrees through fully online programs:

    Bachelor of Business Administration Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership Bachelor of Science in Independent Studies

    Details

    Students at C-N will find extensive tools and resources tailored specifically to the unique challenges of online learning. Distance education students will have access to a Career Services center, a Writing Center, an IT help desk easily accessible by email or phone, and an extensive library of e-books, journal articles, and digitized archives. C-N utilizes the Edvance360 learning management system for multimedia course content.

  8. Austin Peay State University
    Location

    Clarksville, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The history of Austin Peay State University goes back more than 210 years: The campus was first established as the Rural Academy in 1806. Located on the Cumberland River and just 45 minutes from Nashville, Austin Peay State University and the surrounding city of Clarkesville have both grown into vibrant communities full of creative energy and professional opportunity.

    Features

    Online students at APSU may pursue an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science. Theyll also have degree and certification options at the bachelors, masters, and post-masters level in the fields of teacher education, STEM, business, arts and letters, and behavioral and health sciences. Fully online degree programs at the undergraduate level include the following:

    Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Information Systems Bachelor of Professional Studies in Leadership and Organizational Administration

    Details

    The Distance Education program highlights a commitment to exceptional student support. One-on-one help sessions are available for the programs learning management system, Desire2Learn (D2L). In addition, the university offers a dedicated Distance Education Help Desk, online proctoring services, and online student assistance. APSU is part of the TN eCampus consortium, which includes numerous other institutions and community colleges throughout the state.

  9. Trevecca Nazarene University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The history of Austin Peay State University goes back more than 210 years: The campus was first established as the Rural Academy in 1806. Located on the Cumberland River and just 45 minutes from Nashville, Austin Peay State University and the surrounding city of Clarkesville have both grown into vibrant communities full of creative energy and professional opportunity.

    Features

    Online students at APSU may pursue an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science. Theyll also have degree and certification options at the bachelors, masters, and post-masters level in the fields of teacher education, STEM, business, arts and letters, and behavioral and health sciences. Fully online degree programs at the undergraduate level include the following:

    Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Information Systems Bachelor of Professional Studies in Leadership and Organizational Administration

    Details

    The Distance Education program highlights a commitment to exceptional student support. One-on-one help sessions are available for the programs learning management system, Desire2Learn (D2L). In addition, the university offers a dedicated Distance Education Help Desk, online proctoring services, and online student assistance. APSU is part of the TN eCampus consortium, which includes numerous other institutions and community colleges throughout the state.

  10. Middle Tennessee State University
    Location

    Murfreesboro, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Middle Tennessee State University is true to its name: Its located in Murfreesboro, the geographic center of the state. As the largest producer of graduates in the Greater Nashville economy, MTSU is the top choice for Tennessee adult learners. Every semester, over 8,000 students enroll in the roughly 400 fully online courses offered through MTSUs academic catalog.

    Features

    Five undergraduate and seven graduate degrees are currently available through Middle Tennessee State University Online. Many of these tracks offer numerous optional concentrations, allowing students to tailor their academic experience to best meet their career goals. An additional three graduate and three undergraduate degrees are available through hybrid or blended programs. The fully online tracks leading to a bachelors degree at MTSU include the following:

    Criminal Justice Liberal Studies Organizational Communication Professional Studies Psychology

    Details

    MTSU is a major driver of the regions economic growth, providing a yearly $1.1 billion impact and 8,400 jobs across the state. The distance education program at MTSU uses the Desire2Learn (D2L) platform for delivering course content. MTSU participates in TN eCampus, a repository of online courses that is utilized by numerous Tennessee institutions. Students may register either for TN eCampus courses, which were developed by a variety of community colleges and universities across the state, or for university-specific courses developed by MTSU faculty.

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