Top Nursing Schools in Tennessee

Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 Walters State Community College 97.25 $$$$$ 18:1 1 20%
2 Columbia State Community College 96.75 $$$$$ 19:1 1 16%
3 Motlow State Community College 96.50 $$$$$ 21:1 1 22%
4 Roane State Community College 96.50 $$$$$ 16:1 1 19%
5 Nashville State Community College 96.00 $$$$$ 19:1 1 12%
6 Dyersburg State Community College 95.25 $$$$$ 18:1 1 13%
7 Cleveland State Community College 95.00 $$$$$ 21:1 1 16%
8 Northeast State Community College 95.00 $$$$$ 21:1 1 18%
9 Chattanooga State Community College 94.00 $$$$$ 18:1 1 11%
10 Jackson State Community College 93.50 $$$$$ 23:1 1 11%
11 Pellissippi State Community College 93.25 $$$$$ 20:1 1 15%
12 Southwest Tennessee Community College 92.50 $$$$$ 20:1 1 5%
Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 Union University 93.25 $$$$$ 10:1 2 66%
2 Vanderbilt University 93.25 $$$$$ 8:1 1 93%
3 Southern Adventist University 91.75 $$$$$ 14:1 3 52%
4 Lincoln Memorial University 91.00 $$$$$ 13:1 8 47%
5 Belmont University 90.75 $$$$$ 13:1 7 70%
6 Carson-Newman University 90.50 $$$$$ 11:1 6 48%
7 Lipscomb University 90.00 $$$$$ 12:1 13 62%
8 East Tennessee State University 89.50 $$$$$ 18:1 3 43%
9 Baptist College of Health Sciences 89.50 $$$$$ 12:1 13 43%
10 University of Memphis 89.25 $$$$$ 14:1 8 44%
11 Freed-Hardeman University 89.00 $$$$$ 14:1 13 52%
12 Tennessee Technological University 88.50 $$$$$ 20:1 8 49%
13 Milligan College 88.25 $$$$$ 13:1 13 58%
14 The University of Tennessee-Martin 88.00 $$$$$ 17:1 13 47%
15 Tennessee State University 88.00 $$$$$ 19:1 5 42%
16 Tennessee Wesleyan University 88.00 $$$$$ 12:1 13 43%
17 Middle Tennessee State University 87.75 $$$$$ 19:1 8 46%
18 Christian Brothers University 87.75 $$$$$ 13:1 13 55%
19 Austin Peay State University 87.25 $$$$$ 18:1 8 37%
20 Fisk University 86.50 $$$$$ 13:1 13 40%
21 Cumberland University 85.75 $$$$$ 14:1 13 37%
22 Trevecca Nazarene University 85.50 $$$$$ 18:1 13 51%
23 Martin Methodist College 84.75 $$$$$ 17:1 13 45%
24 Tusculum College 83.00 $$$$$ 15:1 13 36%

Start Comparing Tennessee Nursing Schools

Nursing is a driving force within Tennessee’s health care industry. Individuals interested in a nursing career can choose from multiple education programs and nursing specialties, leading to both entry-level and advanced roles. Compare and filter nursing schools and programs in Tennessee by using the search tool below.

Basic Search
School Type
Advanced Search +
Degree Level
Student Population
Compare key info for up to 4 schools

Please remove a school if you would like to compare a new one



School Tuition
Tuition for in-state undergrads at the campus location
Acceptance Rate Student Population School Type Nursing Programs

Tennessee Requirements for RN Licensure

The Tennessee Board of Nursing is an office working under the state’s Department of Health and issues licenses to registered and advanced practice nurses. All nurses who want to practice legally in the state must hold a valid and active license. Take a look at the process for licensure by examination in Tennessee.


To be eligible for a license, candidates must meet the following requirements. Candidates should also note that the Tennessee Board of Nursing accepts scores from both the State Board Test Pool Examination and the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

  • Graduate from a Board-approved school of nursing
  • Complete and pass a criminal background check
  • Submit an application for licensure by examination alongside a passport-sized photo and a $115 application fee
  • Have the application signed and notarized in front of a Notary Public
  • Out-of-state students must formally request an application packet and submit an education verification form from their nursing school
  • Register for the National Council Licensure Examination with Pearson VUE and pay a $200 testing fee
  • After the Board of Nursing approves the application, an Authorization to Test (ATT) will be sent and the applicant can set a testing date

License Renewal in Tennessee

Tennessee registered nurses must renew their licenses every two years. The Board of Nursing sends out renewal notices at least 45 days before the nursing license expires, but it is the responsibility of nurses to ensure their license is renewed on time, even if notification is not received. Nurses are able to renew their license up to 60 days before they expire. The fee for renewal is $100.

Licensure for Tennessee APRNs

The Board of Nursing issues licenses to advanced practice nurses in four specialty roles: nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners. The basic qualifications include at least a master’s degree in the specialized area, a national certification, demonstration of skills in the specialization, and three-quarter hours of study in pharmacology. Advanced practice nurses must apply for and obtain a DEA number and register with the Controlled Substance Monitoring Data website in order to prescribe medications. All applications must be notarized by a Notary Public. Additional application requirements include:

  • Complete and submit application along with a $100 advanced practice certification fee and a $10 state regulatory fee
  • Download and submit practitioner profile questionnaire along with application
  • Complete and submit notice of formulary form
  • Provide a passport-sized photograph with a signature on the front
  • Submit an official nursing transcript that confers graduate nursing practice directly to the Board of Nursing
  • Submit advanced practice certificate specialty program information, which must be completed by the Dean or Director of the student’s graduate program of study
  • Submit notarized Declaration of Citizenship

Visit the Tennessee Board of Nursing for more information regarding advance practice registered nurses.

Career Outlook for Nurses in Tennessee

Nursing dominates the healthcare industry in Tennessee and is expected to account for 33 percent of the state’s healthcare job openings between 2010 and 2020. These figures, compiled in a report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, also project that Tennessee will have the fifth highest national concentration of nurses by 2020. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, demand for skilled nursing professionals is only expected to increase as the state works to serve numerous regions that are underserved and understaffed. Learn more about these occupational projections and the overall outlook for the nursing industry in Tennessee below.

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Tennessee

Area Hourly Median Wage Annual Median Wage
Memphis TN-MS-AR $28.32 $58,900
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin TN $28.30 $58,870
Chattanooga TN-GA $27.72 $57,670
Clarksville TN-KY $27.69 $57,600
North Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area $27.07 $56,300
Johnson City $26.43 $54,980
Knoxville $26.11 $54,310
South Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area $25.32 $52,670
Cleveland $25.20 $52,420
Western Tennessee nonmetropolitan area $25.09 $52,190

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Tennessee vs. National Numbers

  • Tennessee
  • National
  • Annual Salary (25th percentile)
  • Annual Salary (median)
  • Annual Salary (75th percentile)

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Total Employment (2014)
2022 occupational outlook
Avg. annual openings (2012 – 2022)

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central

Registered Nursing Resources

Nursing in Tennessee

Nursing in Tennessee is comprised of the Deans and Directors from nursing schools and programs in the state. They provide guidance to current and prospective students, highlight information about different nursing specializations, and offer advice on choosing the right type of training.

Tennessee Association of Student Nurses

TASN is a membership-based organization that supports nursing students preparing for initial licensure as a registered nurse. From NCLEX preparation to legislative action, the association offers a variety of resources to students entering the profession.

Tennessee Board of Nursing

The Tennessee Board of Nursing is a regulatory government body responsible for overseeing the practice of nursing in the state. The Board of Nursing sets licensing standards, manages the licensing and renewal process, and deals with complaints against practicing nurses.

Tennessee Nurses Association

This association is a constituent member of the American Nurses Association and serves as the primary professional organization for registered nurses in Tennessee. The TNA offers support through public policy lobbying, scholarships, career resources, networking events, and conferences.

Tennessee Action Coalition

TAC is an advocacy group comprised of the AARP and University of Tennessee College of Nursing. Founded in 2010, the coalition advocates for improvements in health care and is primarily focused on the practice of nursing. It has relationships with multiple colleges of nursing and supports students through scholarship programs.