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A public college or university is one that is primarily funded by public means, specifically the state and federal governments. The state of Tennessee is home to a number of public schools with nursing programs.

Benefits of attending a public school
Public colleges and universities offer a number of benefits for nursing students. One of the most significant advantages is lower tuition for local state or county residents. Public schools also tend to be larger than private schools, enabling greater student diversity and a wider breadth of degree programs.

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Nursing programs at Tennessee’s public colleges and universities
There are roughly 40 public colleges and universities in Tennessee with accredited nursing programs, occupying at least 30 different cities. Memphis alone has four public schools with nursing programs: University of Memphis, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Southwest Tennessee Community College, and University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Nashville has three public schools with nursing programs and Knoxville has two. This broad network of public schools offers affordable local education to aspiring nurses throughout the state.

Tennessee nursing salaries
Tennessee’s healthcare providers pay their nurses very competitive wages. The state’s nursing assistants earn a median annual salary of $22,520, while licensed practical nurses earn $35,820. Both positions require only a short certificate program. Registered nurses, who must hold a professional nursing degree, earn $56,000 per year on average. Those with a bachelor’s degree typically earn top-quartile pay of $66,000 or more. Registered nurses with a master’s degree may qualify as nurse practitioners, who typically earn $90,000 annually.

To help Tennessee’s aspiring nurses find affordable education, we have compiled a list of the state’s best public colleges and universities with nursing programs. You’ll find them listed below by major city.

Featured Schools

Chattanooga

Chattanooga State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • MSN: Nurse Anesthesia
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Baccalaureate DNP
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Nurse Anesthesia
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
School City Programs offered
Chattanooga State Community College Chattanooga
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Chattanooga
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • MSN: Nurse Anesthesia
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Baccalaureate DNP
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Nurse Anesthesia
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion

Knoxville

Pellissippi State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Plateau Valley Regional Practical Nursing Program
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Roane State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Knoxville
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Direct Entry MSN
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
  • MSN: Nurse Anesthesia
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Baccalaureate DNP
  • Post-Baccalaureate PhD
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Nurse Anesthesia
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Nursing Education
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
School City Programs offered
Pellissippi State Community College Friendsville
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Plateau Valley Regional Practical Nursing Program Harriman
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Roane State Community College Harriman
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Knoxville Knoxville
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
University of Tennessee, Knoxville Knoxville
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Direct Entry MSN
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
  • MSN: Nurse Anesthesia
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Baccalaureate DNP
  • Post-Baccalaureate PhD
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Nurse Anesthesia
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Nursing Education
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion

Memphis

Southwest Tennessee Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Memphis
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
University of Memphis
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • DNP: Nurse Anesthesia
  • Direct Entry MSN
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
  • MSN: Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Baccalaureate DNP
  • Post-Baccalaureate PhD
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
School City Programs offered
Southwest Tennessee Community College Memphis
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Memphis Memphis
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
University of Memphis Memphis
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
University of Tennessee Health Science Center Memphis
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • DNP: Nurse Anesthesia
  • Direct Entry MSN
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
  • MSN: Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Baccalaureate DNP
  • Post-Baccalaureate PhD
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion

Nashville

Columbia State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Middle Tennessee State University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
Nashville State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Dickson
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Hartsville
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Nashville
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee State University
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
School City Programs offered
Columbia State Community College Columbia
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
Nashville State Community College Nashville
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Dickson Dickson
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Hartsville Hartsville
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Nashville Nashville
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee State University Nashville
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion

Other Tennessee cities

Appalachian Regional Practical Nursing Program
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Austin Peay State University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
Cleveland State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Dyersburg State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
East Tennessee State University
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
  • LPN-to-BSN Bridge Program
  • MSN: Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Baccalaureate DNP
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Nursing Administration
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Nursing Education
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
Four Rivers Practical Nursing Program
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Jackson Regional Practical Nursing Program
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Jackson State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Motlow State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Northeast State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
South Central Regional Practical Nursing Program
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Athens
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Elizabethton
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Hohenwald
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
  • Nursing Assistant Certificate
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Livingston
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Morristown
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Paris
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee Technological University
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • MSN: Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
Tennessee Valley Regional Practical Nursing Program
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
  • Nursing Assistant Certificate
University of Tennessee at Martin
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
Walters State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
School City Programs offered
Appalachian Regional Practical Nursing Program Huntsville
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Austin Peay State University Clarksville
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
Cleveland State Community College Cleveland
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Dyersburg State Community College Dyersburg
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
East Tennessee State University Johnson City
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
  • LPN-to-BSN Bridge Program
  • MSN: Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Baccalaureate DNP
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Nursing Administration
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Nursing Education
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
Four Rivers Practical Nursing Program Ripley
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Jackson Regional Practical Nursing Program Jackson
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Jackson State Community College Jackson
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Motlow State Community College Tullahoma
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
Northeast State Community College Blountville
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
South Central Regional Practical Nursing Program Pulaski
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Athens Athens
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Elizabethton Elizabethton
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Hohenwald Hohenwald
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
  • Nursing Assistant Certificate
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Livingston Livingston
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Morristown Morristown
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Paris Paris
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
Tennessee Technological University Cookeville
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • MSN: Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
Tennessee Valley Regional Practical Nursing Program Shelbyville
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing
  • Nursing Assistant Certificate
University of Tennessee at Martin Martin
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
Walters State Community College Morristown
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
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