Healthcare is constantly evolving and nursing schools in Tennessee are responding to meet the need of nursing students. They are offering new ways for nurses to expand their education and professional reach. Up until recently, hospitals were designed as the focus of bedside care to patients that experience health disruption. The guidelines in the Affordable Care Act require registered nurses to be health leaders and provide health prevention to the masses. Registered nurses are encouraged to pursue higher education to meet the challenges of the complex and evolving healthcare system. The new responsibilities of nurses are challenging but can present wonderful opportunities and rewards.

In our Tennessee RN program guide, find rankings for both ADN and BSN Degree programs, tuition costs, NCLEX passing rates, and more. Research key Tennessee RN Program information to help you compare program metrics and to apply to best RN program for your career in nursing.

In the State of Tennessee, nurses are helping to change the face of healthcare. To ensure that they have the best education and preparation for future health care challenges, registered nurses need to graduate from a state-approved associate's degree in nursing program or a BSN degree program.

Nurses who graduate from an RN program can obtain certification in over 100 nursing specialties, go on to earn an RN to BSN or RN to MSN degree.

BSN degree holders have options to earn an Advance Practice Register Nursing (APRN) degree and become a Nurse Practitioner (NP), or earn an advanced degree for a career in any number of nursing leadership roles such Nurse Educator or Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Tennessee RN Program Comparisons: ADN vs BSN

Compare RN ProgramsADNBSN
Number of Nursing Programs1629
Average NCLEX Passing Rate89.63%88.77%
NCLEX Passing Rate Range75.63% to 96.50%69.86% to 100.00%
Average Net Price$9,722.56$15,625.39
Average Net Price Range$4,575.00 to $26,647.00$7,531.00 to $30,357.00
Average Student Loan$9,290.93$17,663.68
Average Student Loan Range$2,500.00 to $21,565.00$11,128.00 to $27,000.00
See Additional DetailADN Rankings for Tennessee StateBSN Rankings for Tennessee State

Best Ranked RN Programs in Tennessee

Best Ranked RN Programs in TennesseeTo help nursing students in their search for a top RN program, the education experts at RNCareers.org publish their annual findings of the best nursing schools for both Tennessee and the country. Schools ranked on our list have proven their ability to educate highly competent nurses.

To create our rankings, we evaluated 15 ADN degree programs and 25 BSN degree programs in Tennessee. We obtained each institution’s first-time NCLEX-RN passing rates, the number of students taking the test, the program nursing accreditation and more. We then compared the results against other nursing programs in Tennessee to provide our state rankings. View our methodology


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99.30 ADNJackson State Community College15 Jackson

Jackson State Community College is located in Jackson, Tennessee.  The average RN program requires 60 credits and their RN program requires 65 for degree completion.  They offer an RN program and an LPN Mobility option, allowing the LPN advanced placement into the program.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
98.22 ADNChattanooga State Community College231 Chattanooga

Chattanooga State Community College is located in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The Baroness Erlanger Nursing Program offers an AAS in nursing; this program is subdivided into day and night programs.  They also offer an AAS Transition track, which is available to LPNs and paramedics.  Paramedics are accepted into the night program, and are accepted on even-numbered years.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
98.22 ADNNashville State Community College231 NashvillePublicCampusACENSee School Details
96.78 ADNPellissippi State Community College378 Knoxville

Pellissippi State Community College is located in Knoxville, Tennessee.  They offer an RN degree with a traditional pathway and a bridge pathway; the bridge pathway allows LPNs and EMT-P students to enter the program during the summer semester.  This program is offered at three of Pellissippi’s campuses: Blount County, Magnolia Avenue, and Strawberry Plains campuses.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
96.63 ADNColumbia State Community College483 Columbia

Columbia State Community College is located in Columbia College.  They offer both an RN program and an LPN to RN Bridge Program.  They also offer a 3+1 partnership with Middle Tennessee State University, which allows RN to complete general education requirements at Columbia State, with the final year being completed at MTSU.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
93.96 ADNLincoln Memorial University5197 Harrogate

Lincoln Memorial University is located in Harrogate, Tennessee.  They offer a variety of undergraduate options for their nursing students – an ASN program, a BSN program, and an RN to BSN program.  The RN to BSN program is offered completely online.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineACENSee School Details
93.48 ADNDyersburg State Community College6221 DyersburgPublicCampusACENSee School Details
93.26 ADNMotlow State Community College7230 Tullahoma

Motlow State Community College is located in Tullahoma, Tennessee.  They offer an AAS – Two-Year Path to RN ad AAS – One-Year Path, LPN to RN.  They also have articulation programs in place so that students may elect to transfer to a four-year university after graduation.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
91.67 ADNWalters State Community College8296 MorristownPublicCampusACENSee School Details
91.56 ADNCleveland State Community College9299 ClevelandPublicCampusACENSee School Details
91.44 ADNRoane State Community College10306 HarrimanPublicCampusACENSee School Details
90.81 ADNSouthern Adventist University11332 CollegedalePrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineACENSee School Details
89.96 ADNNortheast State Community College12364 BlountvillePublicCampusACENSee School Details
86.81 ADNSouthwest Tennessee Community College13482 Memphis

Southwest Tennessee Community College is located in Memphis, Tennessee.  STCC offers an AAS in Nursing: Generic Track and LPN Mobility Track.  STCC has nationally ranked for their degree programs for minorities and African Americans, such as “number one in the top 100 Associate Degree producers for total minorities in business operations support and assistant services – Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, 2014” and “number two in the top 100 Associate Degree producers for African-Americans in business operations support and assistant services – Diverse: Issues in High Education, 2014.”

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
78.15 ADNTennessee State University14649 NashvillePublicCampus, OnlineACENSee School Details
98.89 BSNThe University of Tennessee-Martin115 Martin

The University of Tennessee – Martin is located in Martin, Tennessee.  UTM offers a traditional BSN program and an online BSN program.  UTM also recognizes nursing student excellent with Sigma Theta Tau (Pi Tau Chapter), which is an international honor society for nursing.

PublicCampus, OnlineACME, COASee School Details
98.78 BSNThe University of Tennessee-Chattanooga217 ChattanoogaPublicOnlineSee School Details
98.52 BSNCarson-Newman University322 Jefferson City

Carson-Newman University is located in Jefferson City, Tennessee.  They offer two avenues towards a nursing degree – the traditional BSN degree, which is 8 semesters over 4 years, or the accelerated BSN degree, which is 8 continuous semesters.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
98.33 BSNLincoln Memorial University429 Harrogate

Lincoln Memorial University is located in Harrogate, Tennessee.  They offer a variety of undergraduate options for their nursing students – an ASN program, a BSN program, and an RN to BSN program.  The RN to BSN program is offered completely online.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineACENSee School Details
97.52 BSNAustin Peay State University554 Clarksville

Austin Peay State University is located in Clarksville, Tennessee.  They offer a traditional BSN program and an online RN to BSN program.  The traditional program is for pre-licensure students and students with a prior bachelor’s degree. The online program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis.

PublicCampus, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
96.78 BSNLipscomb University677 NashvillePrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusACME, COASee School Details
96.70 BSNTennessee Technological University780 Cookeville

Tennessee Technological University is located in Cookeville, Tennessee.  The Whitson-Hester School of Nursing offer a BSN program, an accelerated BSN (ABSN) and an RN to BSN program.  Their RN to BSN program is an online program and is one of the most affordable options available, at $365 per credit hour for in-state tuition and $661 per credit hour for non-resident students.

PublicCampus, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
96.52 BSNThe University of Tennessee-Knoxville885 KnoxvillePublicCampus, HybridACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
96.44 BSNBethel University988 McKenziePrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineCCNESee School Details
95.15 BSNTennessee Wesleyan College10137 Athens

Tennessee Wesleyan College is located in Athens, Tennessee.  They boast that their student to faculty ratio is 12:1.  92% of their classes have 30 or fewer students.  The Fort Sanders Nursing Department has a partnership with Covenant Health and Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, providing extensive resources for clinical experience.  They offer a BSN degree.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineACME, COASee School Details
94.37 BSNUnion University11174 Jackson

Union University is located in Jackson, Tennessee, with 2 other campuses in Germantown and Hendersonville.  They are proud to boas that their student to faculty ratio is 10:1 and 85% of their faculty have the highest degree possible in their field.  Their nursing program offers state-of-the-art equipment to practice skills and the opportunity to take ministry trips internationally.  They offer a traditional BSN program, an LPN to BSN program, which takes two years to complete, an RN to BSN program, which is completed online in 8 months, and a First Step to BSN program, which is designed for adult learners with little college experience, readying them for the accelerated BSN program.  The ABSN program is designed for students of the First Step program and students with  prior bachelor’s degree.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, HybridACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
93.74 BSNMiddle Tennessee State University12203 Murfreesboro

Middle Tennessee State University is located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  They offer a traditional BSN program and an RN to BSN program.  MTSU has multiple simulation labs where students may practice their nursing skills; the labs have low-, medium- and high-fidelity simulators that mimic real-life situations.

PublicCampus, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
92.89 BSNMilligan College13241 Milligan CollegePrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details
92.52 BSNFreed-Hardeman University14250 HendersonPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details
91.74 BSNBelmont University15276 Nashville

Belmont University is located in Nashville, Tennessee.  Belmont was named as the “Most Innovative” university by US News & World Report.  It is a Christian university that “…brings together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service.”  They offer a BSN program, an accelerated BSN program, and an RN to BSN program.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, HybridACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
91.56 BSNKing University16283 BristolPrivate Not-For-ProfitOnlineSee School Details
88.89 BSNUniversity of Memphis17353 Memphis

University of Memphis is located in Memphis, Tennessee.  The Loewenberg College of Nursing.  They offer a traditional BSN program, an accelerated option for students with a prior bachelor’s degree, and an online RN to BSN program.  They also offer a freshman pre-admission to the BSN program option – students must apply in their senior year of high school.  This allows entrance into the program during the second semester of sophomore year, or earlier if the student has AP or dual enrollment credits.

PublicCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
87.78 BSNTrevecca Nazarene University18385 NashvillePrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusACME, COASee School Details
87.56 BSNCumberland University19396 LebanonPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineCCNESee School Details
87.04 BSNEast Tennessee State University20407 Johnson CityPublicCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
85.63 BSNBaptist Memorial College of Health Sciences21432 Memphis

Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences is located in Memphis, Tennessee.  The college seeks to educate healthcare professionals, from nurses to respiratory therapists.  They offer a traditional BSN program, which utilizes plenty of hands on experience in simulation labs to practice nursing skills, or an RN to BSN program, where the learner can choose an online program or a blended program – a mixture between online and hands-on learning.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineCCNESee School Details
82.89 BSNSouth College22464 Knoxville

South College is located in Knoxville, although they do have several other campuses.  They offer an ADN degree at an outlying campus.  At their Knoxville campus, they offer a BSN program.  Online, they offer the RN to BSN program.  Students that are out-of-state are eligible for the RN to BSN program, although clinical experiences must meet certain requirements so not all facilities may be eligible.

Private For-ProfitCampusACME, COASee School Details
79.00 BSNMartin Methodist College23497 PulaskiPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineCCNESee School Details
77.07 BSNTusculum College24504 GreenevillePrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details
70.93 BSNTennessee State University25522 NashvillePublicCampus, OnlineACENSee School Details

Become an Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in Tennessee

RNs who wish to become advanced practice registered nurses will want to pursue any number of avenues to earn Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Earning a Master of Science in Nursing consists of graduate-level coursework and clinical practice for those nurses who wish to direct patient roles such as a nurse practitioner. You can also pursue indirect patient roles such as teaching or leadership roles, or become involved in policy, state-wide health initiatives or community engagement. There are many clinical and non-clinical avenues that an RN with MSN can pursue.

Become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) in Tennessee

Learn how to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) and research schools in Tennessee offering the following high paying nurse practitioner specialties: Learn about Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree.

Tennessee  RN Licensing Requirements

Tennessee State Board of Nursing 710 James Robertson Parkway Nashville, TN 37243 (615) 741-3111 Fees: Initial licensing fee, RN: $100 License renewal (every two years): RN: $100 Continuing Education Requirements: No continuing education hours are required, though license renewal requires proof of continued competence.

RN Licensure by Exams

Candidates who completed an approved nursing program will be automatically presented to the Board for exam eligibility. Fingerprinting will be required in the process and candidates must use the company Identogo. Then, the candidate will register for the NCLEX through Pearson VUE and pay the $200 fee. When the candidate has received authorization to test (ATT), he/she will be able to schedule the exam.

RN License by Endorsement

Applicants who completed a program in one of the other 50 states will be able to apply for endorsement. The candidate must list all positions held in the previous five years and submit a transcript, copy of diploma, and verification of official licensure. There is a $115 fee for license by endorsement and the candidate must include a passport-type photo. The application is to be notarized before submission.

RN License for Nurses Educated Abroad

Candidates who have been trained outside of the United States are encouraged to email the Board for instructions.

RN Salaries in Tennessee

Nurses who are looking to advance their careers can gain positive results from higher education. Baccalaureate-prepared nurses may take advantage of worthwhile areas such as:
  • Nurses in the armed forces with a bachelor’s may receive officer status and receive special benefits and advanced education opportunities
  • Opportunities in physician specialty areas and private practice like cosmetic surgery
Approximately 79,000 registered nurses have obtained licensure. It is predicted that there will be a 30% increase in shortages of nurses in Tennessee by the year 2020. Nurses in Tennessee earn, on average, $56,730. This varies and is dependent on the education and experience level of the nurse.

Tennessee Registered Nursing Salaries

Chattanooga has the highest amount of registered nurses employed across the state. In addition, Chattanooga also has the highest hourly mean wage and annual median wage.
Area nameEmploymentHourly mean wageAnnual median wage
Chattanooga, TN-GA5,850$27.72$57,670
Clarksville, TN-KY1,490$27.70$57,600
Cleveland, TN570$24.95$52,420
Jackson, TN2,000$24.86$49,570
Johnson City, TN2,700$26.63$54,980
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA2,600$24.80$49,900
Knoxville, TN6,970$25.93$54,310
Memphis, TN-MS-AR12,200$28.80$58,900
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN15,850$28.51$58,870
Western Tennessee nonmetropolitan area1,680$25.63$52,190
South Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area2,140$25.79$52,670
North Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area2,120$27.20$56,300
Eastern Tennessee nonmetropolitan area1,910$25.04$51,240
Source: http://www.dol.gov/, 2014 Data