Higher Education & Online Colleges in Chattanooga

Updated November 24, 2020 • 3 Min Read

As the fourth largest city in Tennessee, Chattanooga is home to approximately 171,000 residents. The city attracts visitors and potential students from nearby Knoxville and even from the neighboring state of Georgia. Chattanooga colleges and universities offer a wide range of degrees and subjects, as well as technical, career-oriented training and partnerships with local industry. Student to faculty ratio at some of the schools is as low as 18:1. Distance learning is available at individual schools and also through Tennessee's Regents Online Degree Program, which offers students the chance to gain fully online degrees in certain disciplines.

Educational Opportunities in Chattanooga

Chattanooga is home to public colleges and universities like the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Chattanooga State Community College, as well as several private schools. Postsecondary schools in Chattanooga include community and specialty schools, which typically focus on areas like health care, business or technology.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. Undergraduate programs range from photography and media art to geographic and cartographic sciences. Some programs target career goals, such as bachelor's degrees in legal assistant studies or applied mathematics for STEM education. Graduate studies are available in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, College of Business, College of Arts and Science, and College of Health Education and Professional Studies.

Chattanooga State Community College (known as ChattState) has academic partnerships with public and private schools such as Tennessee Technological University, Bryan College and Lincoln Memorial University allowing students to take advantage of advanced coursework in subjects like teacher education, psychology, the sciences and business. ChattState also offers students opportunities through engineering technology partnerships with organizations such as Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Volkswagen Group of America and Wacker Polysilicon, which has a production facility in Charleston, Tennessee. Community college students hoping to transfer to a Tennessee public university can seek information about the Tennessee Transfer Pathways.

Acceptance to colleges and universities in Chattanooga, including online colleges, varies. As an example, certain postsecondary schools in the city have competitive admission policies, while others adhere to more open admission policies. Some have hard application deadlines and others use rolling deadlines. Schools differ greatly in size — while larger colleges and universities have more student organizations, smaller schools in Chattanooga may also administer student life activities and provide resources like placement services and tutoring. Course schedules and campus facilities also vary widely among colleges. Formerly operating on a quarter basis, many of Chattanooga's postsecondary schools now use a 16-week semester schedule. On-campus housing is typically available at schools that confer four-year undergraduate degrees.

Specialized programs at Chattanooga's colleges and universities, like business or nursing education, may be accredited by agencies that specialize in one or more subjects. Examples of these types of accrediting agencies are the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.

Below is a glance at some of Chattanooga's colleges and universities.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga10,159$7,554PublicLiberal Arts, Engineering, Sciences, Business
Tennessee Temple University501$11,590Private (not for profit)Nursing, Chemistry, Physics
Chattanooga State Community College10,121$3,819PublicBusiness, Engineering, Sciences, Arts

Chattanooga's Options for Online Studies

Numerous online programs can be accessed in Chattanooga from public and private schools. In addition to two and four-year degrees, online colleges offer certificate and professional courses.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's UTC Learn option relies on synchronous and asynchronous programming and diverse technologies, including video conferencing, for delivery of web-based and hybrid courses. Online programs typically require 20 percent (or less) of class time spent on-campus for orientation, face-to-face interaction or proctored exams. Graduate online degree programs include Doctorate of Nursing Practice and Master of Education in Elementary Education. Undergraduate online programs may serve as degree completion programs building on prior studies and experience, as in the RN to BSN Nursing Gateway Program. Many online certificates target professional endeavors, with programs in project and technology management or the fundamentals of engineering management.

Chattanooga State offers wide-ranging online course selections including African American History, Tennessee History and U.S. History. ChattState students can use the eLearn course management system for email, discussion forums, quizzes and so on. Students can also access courses offered by the Regents Online Degree Program, which was developed by a consortium of Tennessee schools.

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Career and Employment Outlook

Chattanooga colleges and universities aim for a real-world approach rather than the old-school "ivory tower" image. Many schools are dedicated to helping students prepare to thrive in today's competitive career world. By participating in internship and exchange programs with various employers, students could improve their career options after they graduate with degrees or postsecondary certificates.

As for employment opportunities, the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated the most prevalent jobs in 2013 in the greater Chattanooga metropolitan area, which includes nearby urban areas of Georgia. This list shows a range of occupations:

  • Office and Administrative Support
  • Transportation and Material Moving
  • Production
  • Sales and Related Occupations
  • Food Preparation and Serving
  • Health Care Practitioners and Technicians
  • Management
  • Education, Training, and Library

Top industries in the local economy include manufacturing, education, health care, utilities and insurance. Among the city's leading employers are the TVA, Hamilton County Department of Education, CIGNA Health Care, McKee Foods Corporation and Roper Corporation. Banking is big in Chattanooga, with some of the city's largest financial institutions being First Tennessee, SunTrust and FSG Bank. Some of these local industries, such as finance, health care and education, typically require that job applicants have a college education or specialized training.

Resources for Students

Academic support centers, career counselors, exchange programs and placement centers are among the resources that students can access, whether they are freshmen or entering their final year of college. For example, Chattanooga State Community College has a Math Center, a Writing Center and Reading Center. Students can visit and receive support whether they are achieving passing grades or striving to meet academic requirements. Students seeking financial aid can look into organizations and programs like the Chattanooga State Foundation. Some funders provide merit based financial aid while others distribute need based financial aid.

Colleges & Universities in Chattanooga


The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga12,015$5,398Public
Tennessee Temple University1,325$11,250Not For Profit (Private)


Chattanooga State Community College13,549$3,096Public

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