Are you interested in a career in nursing? Or maybe you’re already an RN (registered nurse) and want to upgrade your education to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)?

Most Affordable Nursing Schools in Tennessee

A growing number of healthcare facilities/ agencies are requiring a BSN as the minimum level of education for RNs. This is partly due to an IOM (Institute of Medicine) initiative that aims to double the number of American RNs with a BSN from 40% to 80% by 2020. Colleges and universities are addressing this by providing more and more affordable online learning programs.

As there’s also a demand for nurses, a BSN makes you more competitive over those RNs with only an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing. In fact, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 16% increase in jobs for just registered nurses alone, between 2014 and 2024.

Currently in the state of Tennessee, there are 60,080 active RNs, and the mean hourly wage for them is $28.08, or $58,410/ year.

What are the cheapest nursing degrees in Tennessee?

If you are looking to start a nursing career or upgrade your nursing education and are interested in a school in Tennessee, this list will get you started. We’ve taken the 27 nursing schools listed in the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) database as offering a BSN in the past academic year, removed inactive or defunct schools/ colleges, and sorted by affordability (in-state tuition). The programs listed in this article have been verified as still active at time of publication.

1

Tennessee State University

Average Tuition: $7,112

Program Website

Tennessee State University (TSU) is a public institution governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents. It has institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Its undergraduate nursing programs are offered through the School of Nursing and are additionally accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). TSU is the largest HBCU (Historically Black College/ University) the state of Tennessee and is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). Nashville, where this campus is located, is nicknamed “Music City USA” and “The Athens of the South,” and is a hub of business and culture. The university has received top rankings from U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) and Washington Monthly (WM), including 10 straight years on USNWR’s “Guide to America’s Best Colleges” list.

TSU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion path. Students new to nursing should apply to the traditional BSN track. If you have your associate’s degree in nursing and are currently licensed as a Registered Nurse, apply for the RN completion track. An AASN (Associate of Applied Science in Nursing) and an LPN-to-RN track are being revised and not currently accepting applications.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Traditional BSN Program
  • RN to BSN

Students start as Pre-Nursing majors for the Traditional track BSN and must write an skills assessment exam for admission eligibility.. The program prepares students for nursing roles to improve the health of individuals, families, communities with evidence based nursing care. Some international study opportunities may be available for BSN students, broadening their overall perspective of the nursing profession. (Discuss with an academic advisor). Pre-licensure students are readied for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. RN track students build on their existing nursing skills and knowledge. TSU’s BSN graduates (2015) achieved an 84% employment rate after graduation.

Students need to complete 120 credits for graduation. Traditional track students take 59 credits of nursing in their final two years. RN track students can complete their BSN degree in 12 calendar months (three semesters), taking 30 credits of upper-division nursing and general education courses, plus any other outstanding requirements. Courses for this track are a mix of online and on-campus. A maximum of 30 advanced standing credits for prior nursing course work will be granted. A total of 135 clinical hours are required.

Sample courses include:

  • Pharmacology
  • Health Assessment
  • Community Health Nursing
  • Gerontology
  • Leadership/ Management

Campus or HQ: Nashville, Tennessee.

2

Austin Peay State University

Average Tuition: $7,501

Program Website

Austin Peay State University (APSU) is a public institution governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents, with institutional accreditation granted by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. APSU’s College of Behavioral and Health Sciences (CBHS) houses the School of Nursing (SON), which offers undergraduate nursing programs, which are additionally accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). APSU, which has one of the highest veteran enrollment rate amongst Tennessee institutions (as per 2012 Veterans Affairs data), has been designated a “Military Friendly School” and “Best for Vets” (both 2014) by Victory Media and Military Times, respectively. The SON itself “networks with the U.S. Army” to offer nursing programs suitable to military personnel.

APSU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths. The pre-licensure track is suited for new nursing students. Those with a current Registered Nurse license and who hold an associate’s degree in nursing should apply for the RN completion track.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Pre-Licensure)
  • RN-BSN (online)

The BSN program prepares students for both careers as professional nurses and graduate nursing studies. SON clinicals take place in and around Nashville. Labs make use of an on-campus computer lab, mannequins, audiovisual tools and more. The resources and the curriculum help prepare pre-licensure students for the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam. (The program’s first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate has been 90.91-96.63% for 2013-2015 – higher than the national average in each year.) RN track students building on existing skills, especially leadership and management, decision-making and critical thinking, and more. Courses are online and available at all times, for maximum study convenience for working nurses. Student employment rate after graduation (2013-2015) has been 90-95%.

APSU’s BSN degree requires 120 credits for graduation. The pre-licensure track students take three semesters of prerequisite core courses and then five semesters of nursing courses. Nursing courses completed outside APSU are generally not accepted for transfer credits. RN track students complete 30 credits of upper division online nursing courses. Clinicals are part of both tracks.

Sample courses include:

  • Concepts of Professional Nursing for RN
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Pathophysiology Pharmacology
  • Community and Public Health Nursing

Campus or HQ: Clarksville, Tennessee.

3

Tennessee Technological University

Average Tuition: $8,011

Program Website

Tennessee Technological University (TTU) is a public institution governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents. Institutional accreditation comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs are offered by the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing (WHSON) and are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). TTU enjoys rankings from several top college review list publishers, including: U.S. News & World Report (six rankings across 1-13 years, including Top Public Schools in The South); Princeton Review (Best Southeastern Colleges, America’s Best Value Colleges); Payscale.com; Washington Monthly; Brookings Institute, and more. Three publishers ranked the university as being military friendly.

TTU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with three entry/ completion paths. Students who are new to nursing and first-time undergrads can apply for the traditional BSN track. Students who already hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree should apply for the accelerated second-degree track (or consider the MSN-RODP bridge program). If you already have your Registered Nurse license and an associate’s degree in nursing, there is also the RN completion track. As of Fall 2017, TTU and ETSU (East Tennessee State University) will jointly offer a BSN to DNP program.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (traditional)
  • Accelerated 2nd-Degree BSN
  • ASN/ ADN RN-to-BSN bridge.

TTU’s WHSON has a range of nursing programs that collectively cater to students with different levels of nursing experience. Pre-licensure (RN) tracks prepare students for the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam. All tracks provide the skills and knowledge to pursue professional nursing roles, as well as for graduate studies such as an MSN or DNP nursing degree.

Students need to complete 121 credits for graduation. Credits are granted for prior coursework as relevant (see site for details). The 2nd-degree track is 1.5 years in duration (four semesters, including Summer), and students receive appropriate credit for prerequisite courses. RN track students can potentially receive credit for over half of upper division nursing courses, as well as credits for completed lower division courses in general.

Sample courses include:

  • Health Assessment
  • Medical Surgical Nursing
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Mental Health

Campus or HQ: Cookeville, Tennessee.

4

Middle Tennessee State University

Average Tuition: $8,080

Program Website

Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) is a public institution governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR). Institutional accreditation is given by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The university has been ranked a “Best for Vets: Colleges” by Military Times (2014) and a “Military Friendly” institution by G.I. Jobs magazine, amongst other designations by several college review publishers. It produces the most graduates overall in the TBR system and for the Greater Nashville region. It’s also the only Tennessee institution to produce Fulbright scholars, putting it in a group enjoyed by Ivy League schools and other highly-regarded colleges and universities.

MTSU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion path. The Traditional track is intended for first-time undergraduate nursing students. Those who already hold an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing and have current licensure as a Registered Nurse should apply to the RN completion track. MTSU has a partnership with Columbia State Community College (CSCC) since 2012, to ease the transition between associate’s degrees to BSN.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Traditional)
  • RN-BSN

The BSN program emphasizes the importance of nurses in health care, and seeks to educate those who care about people and communities, who want to comfort them and save lives. The traditional track prepares students to sit for the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam, as well as for possible graduate studies. Careerwise, there is a long list of potential roles that BSN graduates may find themselves in, including: blood bank supervisor; cardiac care nurse; clinical operations/design specialist; clinical researcher; compliance education; critical care transport nurse; emergency room nurse; family nurse practitioner; health, wellness, and fitness education; home health care professional; nursing education; on-site nurse programs; patient case manager; pharmaceutical salesperson; school nurses

Students need to complete 120 credits for graduation from the BSN degree program. Traditional track students start as Pre-Nursing major and complete three semesters of prerequisite courses before application and admission into the Nursing major. The latter requires completion of 71 credits of upper division nursing courses over five semesters, with a total program timeline of four years. RN track students receive some credit for prior coursework and need to complete 37 credits of upper division nursing courses, including a Capstone and clinicals.

Sample courses include:

  • Pathophysiology
  • Health Assessment
  • Clinical Pharmacology in Nursing
  • Health and Gerontology
  • Health Care Research

Campus or HQ: Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

5

East Tennessee State University

Average Tuition: $8,153

Program Website

East Tennessee State University (ETSU) is a public institution governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents, with institutional accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs are offered by the College of Nursing and are specially accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). In addition to the main campus, there are four other campuses in Tennessee, with another location opening soon.

ETSU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with seven entry/ completion paths. Students have multiple options to choose from, depending on their status, and there are some sub-options. A partial summary of tracks is as follows: new nursing students (first-degree or second-degree); current associate’s nursing students (dual degree track); experienced and licensed students (tracks for Licensed Practical Nurses or Registered Nurses), etc. See site or contact ETSU for additional information.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Traditional BSN
  • Accelerated 2nd Degree BSN
  • Accelerated BSN
  • LPN to BSN
  • RN to BSN
  • Dual Degree RN to BSN
  • Kingsport Accelerated

The university is located in the scenic Appalachian Mountains and has nearly a dozen nurse-managed clinical sites. Additional clinical sites are provided by partnered hospitals and health care centers. So students combine course work with actual experience. Students in several of the BSN tracks will be prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam after graduation. ETSU’s first-time pass rate for the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam in 2016 was 88%.

Students in the Traditional track must complete 120-123 credits for graduation. Students in other tracks will be awarded transfer credits for work completed in LPN or ADN programs. Check with an ETSU advisor for more information. An “accelerated” option exists for several of the BSN tracks, so timeline to graduation varies by track.

Sample courses include:

  • Pharmacology for Nursing
  • Nursing Informatics and Healthcare Systems
  • Patient Centered Care 2
  • Health Promotion and Research
  • Care of Persons with Mental Illness

Campus or HQ: Johnson City, Tennessee.

6

University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

Average Tuition: $8,356

Program Website

University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (UTC) is a member of the public University of Tennessee system. It receives institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs are offered through the School of Nursing (SON) and are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), through their Exercise is Medicine (EIM) global initiative, awarded UTC with a Gold Level Campus designation for the main Chattanooga campus – one of only 23 such awards worldwide. The city itself is a hub of tourism and business, with headquarters or regional offices for some of the world’s most well-known brands (Amazon, Coca-Cola, Volkswagen).

UTC offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths. Students new to nursing can apply to the traditional BSN track. Those with current licensure as a Registered Nurse and who have an associate’s degree in nursing should apply to the RN completion track.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (traditional, on-campus)
  • RN-BSN Gateway Program

Working RNs can maintain their job and other obligations while taking advantage of the 100% online courses in the RN track. (Attendance for a program pre-start orientation session on campus is required.) Traditional track students will complete a full complement of courses and clinicals, with a small student to faculty ratio, to benefit from individualized attention. Clinicals take place at one of three major hospitals near UT. Pre-licensure students are readied for the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam. (First-time NCLEX pass rate has been 92-98% over the period 2013-2015.) In either track, students are prepared professional nursing roles in various health care environments, as well as for graduate programs such as an MSN degree in nursing.

Traditional track students start as Pre-Nursing majors and must be close to completing prerequisite courses before applying to the upper division nursing course work. RN track students complete sixteen 100% online courses (65 credits) over four semesters (16 months, including Summer semester), plus any outstanding General Education courses needed for graduation.

Sample courses include:

  • Introduction to Conceptual Thinking
  • Pathophysiology
  • Health Assessment
  • The Individual in Professional Practice
  • Conceptual Thinking

Campus or HQ: Chattanooga, Tennessee.

7

University of Memphis

Average Tuition: $8,903

Program Website

University of Memphis (U of M) is a public institution governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents. Institutional accreditation comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Loewenberg College of Nursing (LCON), which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017, offers undergraduate nursing programs which are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The university was designated a White House Healthy Campus in Jan 2017 by meeting requirements of the Challenge, including making affordable health care available to students. U of M was one of over 350 colleges and universities to participate.

U of M offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with four entry/ completion paths. One is a Traditional track for first-time undergrads new to nursing, who can apply for Freshman Pre-Admission to the BSN Program. New nursing students who have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree can apply to the Accelerated/ 2nd-degree track, but would be equally eligible for the Traditional track (if finished prerequisite course work). Students with a current Registered Nurse license and who hold an associate’s degree in nursing should apply to the RN track.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Traditional BSN
  • Accelerated BSN Program
  • RN-BSN Program (online)

All BSN tracks are available at the main Memphis campus, while the traditional track is also available at the Lambuth campus (Jackson, TN). Students in the traditional or accelerated tracks take six practicums, while RN track students take two practicums. Traditional track students start as Pre-Nursing majors first (or transfer from another institution), and complete prerequisites over three semesters before applying for upper division nursing courses.

Students need to complete 120 credits for graduation from the U of M BSN degree program. RN track courses are online and asynchronous, thus available 24/7, for student convenience. The track can be completed full-time (four semesters) or part-time and consists of 31 credits of upper division nursing courses (and outstanding General Education requirements). Credit for prior nursing courses can be acquired through successfully passing a national standardized exam. For timelines, the Accelerated track takes 18 months (four semesters), while the traditional track takes five semesters after prerequisites are complete.

Sample courses include:

  • Professional Nursing
  • Clinical Pathophysiology
  • Health Assessment
  • Pharmacology
  • Community Health Nursing

Campus or HQ: Memphis, Tennessee.

8

University of Tennessee-Health Science Center

Average Tuition: $9,434

Program Website

University of Tennessee-Health Science Center (UTHSC) is part of the public University of Tennessee System. It is institutionally-accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs are offered through the College of Nursing (CON) and are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The CON’s graduate nursing programs have ranked on multiple U.S. News & World Report college review lists.

UTHSC offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths. One track is for pre-licensure students. The other track is for students with an associate’s degree in nursing who are currently licensed as a Registered Nurse.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Pre-Licensure)
  • RN to BSN

BSN students have access to clinical experiences in UTHSC’s partner “network of hospitals, practice groups, specialty care clinics, and mobile health care facilities.” For the RSN track, students have the flexibility of choosing not only a full- or part-time schedule, but also between online or hybrid classes (once per week). In-state tuition may be available to RN track students (part-time only) who work in Tennessee but live in Arkansas or Mississippi. Note: The CON’s NCLEX-RN exam pass rate for the first class of the BSN program (reactivated) was 100% (first-time test takers), compared to a state average of 87% and U.S. average of 81%.

Students will complete 120 credits to graduate from the BSN program, with 60 credits each allotted to Prerequisite courses and Program courses. Entry into the RN track includes 30 credits awarded for completed nursing coursework.

Sample courses include:

  • Pathophysiology
  • Health Assessment
  • Medication Safety in Healthcare
  • Mental Health
  • Genetics

Campus or HQ: Memphis, Tennessee.

9

Bethel University

Average Tuition: $10,750

Program Website

Bethel University (Bethel) is affiliated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Institutional accreditation is provided by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs are offered by the College of Health Sciences and are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The university has satellite campuses in six other locations in Tennessee, including Chattanooga, Memphis and Nashville.

Bethel offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths. New pre-licensure students take the traditional BSN track. The RN completion track is for students with an associate’s degree in nursing and licensure as a Registered Nurse. Students graduating from the traditional track are prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • RN to BSN

The BSN program integrates Christian values into the curriculum. Students learn from a combination of coursework, nursing labs and real clinical experiences. A primary focus of the program is “health impacts quality of life,” and nursing is care-giving that promotes health and prevents illness. COHS’ first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate has been 100% for three out of the last four years. BSN students also have a 100% record for gaining employment after graduation.

The BSN program requires a total of 129 credits for completion. Of that, 67 credits of coursework is allotted to the Nursing Major category. Program Core courses take up another 29 credits (various sciences), and General Education courses take the remaining 33 credits. Students in the RN track will be awarded some credits (up to 37 credits) for nursing coursework completed previously.(Contact a Bethel advisor for more information.)

Sample courses include:

  • Adult Health Assessment in Nursing
  • Foundations in Nursing Care
  • Pharmacology in Nursing
  • Concepts in Professional Nursing
  • Nursing Care of Clients with Psychosocial Disorders

Campus or HQ: McKenzie, Tennessee.

10

Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences

Average Tuition: $10,892

Program Website

Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences (BCHS) is a nonprofit institution associated with Baptist Memorial Health Care. BCHS receives institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. BCHS’ Division of Nursing offers undergraduate nursing programs, which are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The university has approval from the Tennessee Board of Nursing to offer its first graduate nursing program, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), which launches in Jan 2018.

BCHS offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths. New undergraduate nursing students take the traditional BSN track. Students who have completed an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing and have current Registered Nurse licensure take the RN completion track.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN, online)

The BSN program is integrated with the Baptist Health Care system, and is based on Christian principles. Students learn from course work and simulated and actual clinical experiences. The simulation lab’s simulators are designed to mimic physiological response, allow students a safe means of building their skills. Students in the Traditional track can sit for the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam after graduation. First-time NCLEX test pass rates for BCHS is 86-95% for 2013-2016, which is comparable to or exceeds state and national averages in the same period. RN track students receive credits for prior courses, with no age limit on science courses. Some experiential credit may be awarded for “…nurse leaders, case managers, and public health/community health nurses” through a portfolio option. (See site for details or contact BCHS.)

Students will complete 122 credits for graduation. The traditional track consists of four years (10 trimesters) of full-time study, while the RN track consists of 25 credits of Nursing courses and 16 credits of support courses, plus any outstanding requirements. In total, for either track, General Studies takes up 56 credits, 25 credits for Professional Studies (Nursing), and 41 Validation Credits. The RN track takes four trimesters (Fall to next Fall) and can be taken as online courses or blended. Campus visits may be required for some prerequisite courses. Credits will be granted for prior relevant course work.

Sample courses include:

  • Transitions to Professional Nursing
  • Pharmacology
  • Health Assessment
  • Nursing Research in Evidence Based Practice
  • Perspectives on Healthy Aging

Campus or HQ: Memphis, Tennessee.

Degree Finder

1
2
3