2022 best colleges in Tennessee

With close proximity to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, one of the largest government-funded laboratories nationwide, the University of Tennessee provides students with extensive research opportunities in energy, biology, security, and more. Vanderbilt University, one of the top schools in the country, also deserves recognition for its health and radiation effects research and its on-campus arboretum, featuring trees as old as the American Revolution. For students interested in hands-on learning, Belmont University, located in the vibrant and musical city of Nashville, boasts leading study abroad and service learning programs.

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Net cost: The median annual cost of all students that receive any aid. This does not refer to the “sticker price”, the price listed by the college.

Earnings: The median earnings of all bachelor-level students 10 years after enrollment. This includes both students that do and do not graduate, across all majors.

Payback: The amount of time in years it takes to pay off the median net cost by the median earnings. For this calculation, the median earning of high school graduates (in the school’s home state) are deducted from the median earnings.

Earningsplus: The difference between the school’s median earnings and the median earnings for all schools in the same state.

Rankings: The ranking order is based on the economic score. The economic score is calculated using a school’s payback and earningsplus performance.

Net cost
Payback
Earnings
EarningsPlus
Rankings
Ranking methodology
#1 in Tennessee | #13 in National Universities

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

Economic score: 0.75

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $19,432

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $79,872

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $36,117

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 12%
Graduation rate: 94%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#2 in Tennessee

Baptist Health Sciences University

Memphis, Tennessee

Economic score: 1.06

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $9,945

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $57,989

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $14,234

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 70%
Graduation rate: 58%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#3 in Tennessee

Christian Brothers University

Memphis, Tennessee

Economic score: 1.40

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $11,900

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.7 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $52,956

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $9,201

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 50%
Graduation rate: 55%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#4 in Tennessee | #13 in Liberal Arts

Rhodes College

Memphis, Tennessee

Economic score: 1.63

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $27,540

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.5 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $66,619

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $22,864

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 52%
Graduation rate: 85%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#5 in Tennessee | #143 in National Universities

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Knoxville, Tennessee

Economic score: 2.22

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $18,825

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.7 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $52,676

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $8,921

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 79%
Graduation rate: 72%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#6 in Tennessee | #181 in National Universities

Middle Tennessee State University

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Economic score: 2.45

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $12,464

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.5 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $44,811

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $1,056

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 95%
Graduation rate: 48%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#7 in Tennessee | #206 in National Universities

The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Economic score: 2.66

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $12,952

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.7 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $43,830

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $75

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 84%
Graduation rate: 49%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#8 in Tennessee

Bryan College-Dayton

Dayton, Tennessee

Economic score: 2.69

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $16,409

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.8 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $46,301

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $2,546

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: N/A
Graduation rate: 48%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#9 in Tennessee | #64 in Liberal Arts

The University of the South

Sewanee, Tennessee

Economic score: 2.78

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $30,474

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $56,404

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $12,649

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 57%
Graduation rate: 83%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#10 in Tennessee

The University of Tennessee-Martin

Martin, Tennessee

Economic score: 2.78

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $10,955

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $40,872

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $2,883

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 65%
Graduation rate: 50%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#11 in Tennessee | #224 in National Universities

Trevecca Nazarene University

Nashville, Tennessee

Economic score: 2.83

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $17,499

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $46,134

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $2,379

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 63%
Graduation rate: 56%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#12 in Tennessee | #236 in National Universities

University of Memphis

Memphis, Tennessee

Economic score: 2.93

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $13,248

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $43,699

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $56

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 86%
Graduation rate: 52%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#13 in Tennessee

Tennessee Wesleyan University

Athens, Tennessee

Economic score: 3.08

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $13,636

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $42,004

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $1,751

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 61%
Graduation rate: 54%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#14 in Tennessee

Maryville College

Maryville, Tennessee

Economic score: 3.34

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $19,886

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.5 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $45,957

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $2,202

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 63%
Graduation rate: 58%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#15 in Tennessee | #279 in National Universities

Tennessee Technological University

Cookeville, Tennessee

Economic score: 3.43

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $15,929

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $43,326

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $429

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 80%
Graduation rate: 60%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#16 in Tennessee

Freed-Hardeman University

Henderson, Tennessee

Economic score: 3.56

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $16,703

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $42,036

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $1,719

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 81%
Graduation rate: 60%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#17 in Tennessee | #287 in National Universities

Carson-Newman University

Jefferson City, Tennessee

Economic score: 3.59

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $17,471

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.5 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $42,546

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $1,209

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 80%
Graduation rate: 53%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#18 in Tennessee

Southern Adventist University

Collegedale, Tennessee

Economic score: 3.62

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $22,661

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $48,003

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $4,248

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 74%
Graduation rate: 60%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#19 in Tennessee | #294 in National Universities

Lipscomb University

Nashville, Tennessee

Economic score: 3.69

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $24,749

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $47,554

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $3,799

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 62%
Graduation rate: 65%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#20 in Tennessee | #299 in National Universities

East Tennessee State University

Johnson City, Tennessee

Economic score: 3.76

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $14,332

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.5 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $40,733

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $3,022

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 79%
Graduation rate: 53%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

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