Best Nursing Schools in Tennessee
Selecting the best nursing school in Tennessee can be difficult. To make the process easier first look for a school that supports students towards licensure and beyond. A great way to measure this is through NCLEX-RN "pass rates." We have ranked the top 20 nursing schools in Tennessee by analyzing current and historical NCLEX-RN "pass rates", meaning the percentage of graduates who pass the exam, out of the 44 RN programs in the state. Programs reviewed include schools that offer an Associate in Nursing (ADN/ASN), BSN, or Direct-Entry MSN Degree.
For more information on our top nursing school rankings, see our Methodology Page (https://www.registerednursing.org/rn-ranking-methodology/).
The Tennessee health care system is evolving to one of great complexity. Registered nursing is a highly sought after career field, and the state is looking to hire an estimated 1,800 new nurses per year for the next five years. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting the annual mean salary for a registered nurse in Tennessee at $57,560, it is a worthwhile endeavor to earn your nursing degree through one of the state's many programs.
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A great place to start if you are looking into a career as a registered nurse is an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN). This program is relatively short at just 2 years in length, and widely available at many junior and technical colleges throughout the state. Once you go through the ADN program you will have the opportunity to take your licensure exam to become a registered nurse.
There are over 15 schools in Tennessee that offer ADN programs, making it easy to find one in a location near you.
What to Look For in an ADN Program in Tennessee
There's a lot to consider when looking for a good ADN program. Here are a few things to remember when comparing schools and programs:
Schools that offer legitimate programs are usually accredited, meaning that they follow certain rigorous standards of excellence. You'll want to look for accreditations from national organizations like the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and/or the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). You'll also want to be sure the program is fully vetted by the Tennessee Board of Nursing.
The ADN program you choose should prepare you to take the National Council Licensure Examination for licensure as a Registered Nurse (NCLEX). Once you pass this exam, you'll be able to receive your RN license in the state of Tennessee. In 2015 alone, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported that 3,557 individuals in the state took the NCLEX exam for the first time, and that 88.9% of new nurse grads that took the NCLEX received licenses.
A great way to ensure that your potential school's program is up to par is by taking a look at their outcomes. The following are all good indications of the school's reputation:
- Graduation rate
- Licensure exam pass rate
- Graduate satisfaction
- Employment rate
As an example, Walters State Community College in Morristown, TN, is one of the many schools in the state with an accredited ADN program.
ADN Program Admission Requirements in Tennessee
It's important to remember that each school may have slightly different admission requirements. Here are a few common ones:
- Successfully complete all pre-requisite courses with a grade of C or better
- Complete computer competency requirement
- Score a minimum of 75% on both the reading and math portions of the HESI A-2 nursing pre-admission exam
Tuition and Costs of ADN Programs in Tennessee
Understanding how much an ADN program costs is crucial. Aside from the big expense of tuition, you'll also have to factor in things like textbooks, uniforms, and other additional fees. Some schools roll these extras into the cost of tuition and some don't, so it's always wise to check with any prospective school to see what's included.
To give you an idea of potential cost, Columbia State College in Columbia, TN, estimates their in-state ADN program tuition to be roughly $10,452. This does not include extra fees such as textbooks, achievement exams, NCLEX application fee, and more.
Advantages of ADN Programs
The great thing about obtaining an ADN degree is that it gets you into the healthcare workforce much faster than a traditional 4-year nursing program. Because of the shortened length, and the fact that it's offered at junior colleges, ADN programs also tend to be less expensive. It's a perfect choice for the budget-conscious student looking to start their nursing career as quickly as possible.
A popular alternative route to registered nursing, the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) to RN bridge program is an excellent option for current practical nurses in the state. These programs offer an accelerated curriculum, taking into account prior courses taken. Students can earn either an ADN or a BSN degree.
LPN to ADN/BSN Programs
The quickest option for practical nurses to earn their RN degree is via the LPN to ADN program. Often, this program pathway can be completed in just a year or less. For example, Motlow State Community College, with locations throughout Tennessee, offers a renowned LPN to ADN pathway.
For those wanting a more intensive RN program, LPN to BSN programs exist. These programs take a little longer to complete, but culminate in the coveted bachelor's degree in nursing. East Tennessee State University offers an LPN to BSN pathway, which primes the nurse for immediate employment or for continuation into a graduate degree program.
LPN to RN programs in Tennessee usually require the following for admission:
- Minimum cumulative GPA (usually 2.5 or higher)
- Completion of all prerequisite courses
- Graduate of an accredited LPN program
- Current, active LPN license
A little more schooling can earn you a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN). This degree lasts the traditional 4 years, and will open up many more opportunities for employment and earning potential. A lot of schools also offer a shorter RN to BSN program for those who already hold a nursing license.
Tennessee boasts over 25 schools that offer BSN programs all throughout the state.
What To Look For in a BSN Program in Tennessee
It's extremely important to do some research and compare BSN programs to find the right fit for you. Cost, program outcomes, location and accreditation are just a few of the things you'll want to vet to be sure the program is a good one. Program type is also something to consider; accelerated BSN programs as well as RN to BSN programs may be available at some schools.
Lincoln Memorial University, located in Harrogate, TN, is a great example of a school offering a properly accredited BSN program in the state.
BSN Program Length in Tennessee
A direct BSN program will be 4 years in length. Depending on the school, shortened accelerated programs may be available. If you are already a nurse, an RN to BSN program can take roughly 1-2 years to complete. Be sure to inquire at prospective schools about what kind of BSN schedules and program options are available.
BSN Program Admission Requirements in Tennessee
While BSN program requirements vary, the following is a sampling of what you might come across when researching schools:
- Satisfactory completion of general education and program course requirements
- Academic transcripts from all postsecondary schools attended
- Cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher
Tuition and Costs of BSN Programs in Tennessee
The cost of earning your BSN has a few basic components. First, you'll need to pay for tuition, which is the main cost of attending a school with a BSN program. Then, depending on what your school's tuition includes, you'll need to pay for extras such as textbooks, lab fees, uniforms, and other miscellaneous items. The estimated cost of tuition for a BSN at Tennessee Wesleyan University, located in Athens, TN, is $22,000 a year, along with an additional $2,000 in annual fees and a $527 annual ATI Nursing Assessment Fee.
Advantages of BSN Programs
BSN degrees are perfect for someone who has the time and ability to complete a traditional 4-year program. In return, earning your BSN will grant you the opportunity to earn a greater amount of money and to obtain a wider array of jobs in the nursing field. For those who are already nurses, a BSN will allow them to advance further in their careers.
A Master's of Science in Nursing degree (MSN) is ideal for RNs wanting to move into jobs including Clinical Nurse Specialist, Certified Nurse Midwife and Nurse Practitioner, among other advanced specialties. This graduate level degree offers increased earning potential as well.
With a handful of MSN programs in the state, continuing your education in nursing is right at your fingertips.
MSN Program Length in Tennessee
MSN programs can vary, but most of them take roughly 2-3 years to complete. A lot of this depends on the type of schedule your program offers, as many schools design their MSN programs around the needs of busy working nurses. Online, night, or part-time schedules may be available depending on the school.
MSN Admission Requirements in Tennessee
You'll want to inquire about MSN admission requirements with any prospective school as they can vary. The following is an example of some typical requirements:
- BSN degree from an accredited program
- Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
- RN experience and licensure
- GRE or MAT scores within the last 5 years
Tuition and Costs of MSN Programs in Tennessee
Careful consideration should be placed on comparing MSN program costs and fees, as they can vary widely depending on the school and the program. As an example, the estimated tuition and fees for an MSN at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga is approximately $34,000 for in-state students, and nearly $90,000 for out-of-state students.
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Tennessee has set out regulations for obtaining a nursing license that requires candidates to provide more documentation along with a paid application.
Applying for licensure by examination requires the corresponding application, fees and supporting documentation:
- Declaration of citizenship form
- Proof of Education - official transcripts sent to the Board or a copy of diploma
- Signed affidavit from a notary public
- Criminal Background Check
- Registration for NCLEX - eventual passing score
Applying for licensure by endorsement requires the appropriate application, fees, the above documentation and this additional information:
- Verification of Licensure from originating state - either by request or NURSYS
If you could take 12 to 18 months out of your career and apply it to earning a higher degree what would you do? Twelve to 18 short months in one of accelerated programs offered within the state could send your career on the fast track for opportunities and advancement. Employers are seeing the same benefits and are offering incentives to nurses that are looking to attend bridging programs, these programs are generally offered while the candidate is still working; accelerated programs require a full-time commitment. Prerequisites vary depending on program and college, as do tuition costs, look closely at each program to ensure it meets your individual needs.
Lee University tops the ranks with a Christian-centered BSN program for students in and around Cleveland, TN. Lee offers students a rigorous curriculum focused on holistic and compassionate care, with numerous nursing scholarship opportunities available.
Critical thinking, dedication, and effective communication are just a few of the attributes a graduate from the University of Tennessee - Martin are sure to possess upon completion of the BSN program. With a 100% first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate, UTM grads are poised for top employment opportunities.
Jackson State Community College in Jackson, Tennessee is dedicated to providing a program that evolves with the changing health care field. Graduates benefit from faculty that are experts in their field and support each student's individual academic needs.
Chattanooga State Community College in Chattanooga, Tennessee is preparing its graduates to become the change they wish to see in the health care field. Critical thinking and clinical decision-making are core values instilled in all nursing professionals emerging from the AAS Transition Programs.
Nashville State Community College's 2-year ADN offering primes students with a mix of didactic and clinical training to assess and care for patients across the lifespan. The hands-on portion of the curriculum takes place at hospitals and facilities located in middle Tennessee.
Through innovation, research and clinical care the University of Tennessee - Health Science Center in Memphis is determined to provide graduates with the most up-to-date learning experience that will translate into innovative nursing professionals.
Carson-Newman University - Department of Nursing in Jefferson City, Tennessee offers a BSN program that is both rigorous and challenging. Students that graduate from this program feel completely prepared to pass licensure and gain immediate employment.
The changing curriculum in the nursing programs at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville are a testament to providing graduates with the most modern healthcare framework for understanding. Evidence-based practice and incorporation of the most modern technology and methods is what successful graduates remember.
Leadership, lifelong learning, Christian perspectives and the pursuit of excellence in life and profession are all values of the nursing programs offered at Bethel University in McKenzie, Tennessee. Graduates complete the program with confidence in knowledge and skill.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga - School of Nursing program aspires to educate nurses who embrace diversity, inclusion, and foster change in the field. Graduates are known for being innovators in patient care.
Nursing programs at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee are delivered by experienced faculty and give opportunities to graduates to thrive in theoretical, clinical, and simulated environments. Nursing graduates from APSU are known to serve around the world.
The mission of the Lincoln Memorial University nursing department in Harrogate is to educate, support, and facilitate highly qualified nurses to the outlying communities that are currently in need. Graduates of the nursing program are well prepared for a successful career beyond Lincoln Memorial University.
Motlow State Community College is known for its real-world curriculum and training in their health care degrees. Graduates from the Tullahoma-based nursing program will be able to demonstrate the core competencies and skills required to be a front-runner in the nursing field.
University of Tennessee - Knoxville campus is not afraid to answer the demand for more qualified nurses. The College of Nursing offers a competitive, diverse nursing program guaranteed to fulfill the demand for highly qualified nurses.
Traditional and bridge pathways are popular nursing options at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee. Programs are built to provide the skills and competencies to gain employment immediately upon graduation.
Creating Godly nursing leaders is the mission of Union University and their Department of Nursing in Jackson, Tennessee. Graduates will utilize state-of-the art technology in simulation labs, the expertise of seasoned faculty, and the challenging curriculum that is sure to prepare them for a fulfilling career in nursing.
For those who hold a non-nursing bachelor's degree, Vanderbilt University provides an accelerated MSN pathway that requires no prior nursing background. Enrolled students take 3 semesters of "Pre-Specialty" courses before diving into the MSN curriculum, where they can choose from a number of advanced practice specialties or dual-focus areas.
Flexibility in the healthcare field goes hand-in-hand with nursing, as well as the programs offered at Columbia State Community College. Students are prepared to deftly handle the many challenges nursing can throw their way with confidence and ease.
Harriman's Roane State Community College prepares students with a traditional day-time associate's degree in nursing pathway. The program prides itself on the individual attention that the highly qualified faculty and staff are able to give students.
With an expected influx in the number of people needing health care, Fortis Institute in Nashville is preparing their nursing graduates to excel in the field and fulfill the need for high-quality nursing standards.
Continued List of All RN Programs in Tennessee
4220 Harding Road, S&E Building, Ste. 500, Nashville, TN 37205
Tennessee Wesleyan College
204 E College St, Athens, TN 37303
Middle Tennessee State University
1301 E Main St, Murfreesboro, TN 37132
Dyersburg State Community College
1510 Lake Rd, Dyersburg, TN 38024
Programs: Associate in Nursing
Walters State Community College
500 S Davy Crockett Pkwy, Morristown, TN 37813
Programs: Associate in Nursing
East Tennessee State University
310 Nicks Hall PO Box 70617, Johnson City, TN 37604
1 University Park Dr, Nashville, TN 37204
1 Blowers Blvd, Milligan College, TN 37682
1900 Belmont Blvd, Nashville, TN 37212
University of Memphis
101 Wilder Tower, Memphis, TN 38152
Programs: BSN, Accelerated BSN
Northeast State Community College
2425 Highway 75, Blountville, TN 37617
Programs: Associate in Nursing
Southern Adventist University
4881 Taylor Cir, Collegedale, TN 37363
Programs: Associate in Nursing
Cleveland State Community College
3535 Adkisson Dr, Cleveland, TN 37312
Programs: Associate in Nursing
158 E Main St, Henderson, TN 38340
Trevecca Nazarene University
333 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37210
Baptist College of Health Sciences
1003 Monroe Ave, Memphis, TN 38104
1 Cumberland Dr, Lebanon, TN 37087
Southwest Tennessee Community College
5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, TN 38134
Programs: Associate in Nursing
3904 Lonas Dr, Knoxville, TN 37909
1350 King College Rd, Bristol, TN 37620
Tennessee State University
3500 John A Merritt Blvd, Nashville, TN 37209
Programs: Associate in Nursing, BSN
60 Shiloh Rd., Greeneville, TN 37743
Concorde Career College
5100 Poplar Ave., Suite 132, Memphis, TN 38137
Programs: Associate in Nursing
Martin Methodist College
433 W Madison St, Pulaski, TN 38478
Are we missing your school's program or need to update information listed? Please contact us so we can make the necessary changes.
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