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Registered nurses (RNs) play a crucial role in healthcare. RNs independently administer many healthcare activities, and they often oversee a team of licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants. Aspiring RNs must complete a prelicensure degree program in professional nursing and successfully pass the NCLEX-RN national exam to gain licensure.

Prelicensure programs in Tennessee
Nursing students can select one of three prelicensure pathways in Tennessee: a two-year associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), or a direct-entry master of science in nursing (MSN). The ADN pathway provides the fastest route to initial RN licensure, although many ADN graduates later return to school part-time to earn their BSN degree. Tennessee is home to twenty state-approved ADN programs and 25 prelicensure BSN programs. The state also has a handful of direct-entry MSN programs, which enable bachelor’s degree-holders from non-nursing fields to gain RN licensure efficiently.

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Registered nursing careers in Tennessee
Major Tennessee nursing employers like Tenet Health are frequently hiring newly minted RNs. Outsourced placement firms like MedPro Staffing actively recruit RNs for many of the state’s smaller healthcare providers. The state’s 58,000 RNs earn a competitive median annual salary of $56,000. BSN-educated nurses typically earn top-quartile pay of $66,000 or more annually. MSN-educated nurses can earn $75,000-135,000 per year, depending upon their chosen field of specialization.

To help Tennessee’s aspiring RNs select the best school, we have profiled all of the state’s prelicensure programs. You’ll find them ordered below by their students’ recent performance on the NCLEX exam.

Featured Schools

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Chattanooga

Chattanooga State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 96.8% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 95.5% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Southern Adventist University
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 88.1% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
School Program NCLEX score Time period
Chattanooga State Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing 96.8% 2009 to 2018
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 95.5% 2009 to 2018
Southern Adventist University
Associate's Degree in Nursing 88.1% 2009 to 2018
Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Knoxville

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 94.0% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Pellissippi State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 93.1% NCLEX pass rate (2012 through 2018)
Roane State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 91.9% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Tennessee Wesleyan University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 91.1% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
South College - Knoxville Parkside
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 89.1% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
School Program NCLEX score Time period
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 94.0% 2009 to 2018
Pellissippi State Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing 93.1% 2012 to 2018
Roane State Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing 91.9% 2009 to 2018
Tennessee Wesleyan University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 91.1% 2009 to 2018
South College - Knoxville Parkside
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 89.1% 2009 to 2018

Memphis

University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN: 97.8% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
University of Memphis
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 91.5% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Southwest Tennessee Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 91.3% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Baptist College of Health Sciences
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 89.9% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Concorde Career College - Memphis
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 73.1% NCLEX pass rate (2013 through 2018)
Christian Brothers University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
School Program NCLEX score Time period
University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Accelerated Second Degree BSN 97.8% 2009 to 2018
University of Memphis
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 91.5% 2009 to 2018
Southwest Tennessee Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing 91.3% 2009 to 2018
Baptist College of Health Sciences
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 89.9% 2009 to 2018
Concorde Career College - Memphis
Associate's Degree in Nursing 73.1% 2013 to 2018
Christian Brothers University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Nashville

Vanderbilt University
  • Direct Entry MSN: 93.0% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Columbia State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 92.6% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Fortis Institute - Nashville
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 91.6% NCLEX pass rate (2013 through 2018)
Marian University - Nashville
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN: 91.3% NCLEX pass rate (2015 through 2018)
Nashville State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 91.3% NCLEX pass rate (2012 through 2018)
Belmont University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 91.2% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Middle Tennessee State University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 91.0% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Trevecca Nazarene University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 85.5% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Cumberland University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 84.4% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Lipscomb University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 81.4% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Tennessee State University
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 76.5% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 72.5% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2017)
Volunteer State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
School Program NCLEX score Time period
Vanderbilt University
Direct Entry MSN 93.0% 2009 to 2018
Columbia State Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing 92.6% 2009 to 2018
Fortis Institute - Nashville
Associate's Degree in Nursing 91.6% 2013 to 2018
Marian University - Nashville
Accelerated Second Degree BSN 91.3% 2015 to 2018
Nashville State Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing 91.3% 2012 to 2018
Belmont University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 91.2% 2009 to 2018
Middle Tennessee State University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 91.0% 2009 to 2018
Trevecca Nazarene University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 85.5% 2009 to 2018
Cumberland University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 84.4% 2009 to 2018
Lipscomb University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 81.4% 2009 to 2018
Tennessee State University
Associate's Degree in Nursing 76.5% 2009 to 2018
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 72.5% 2009 to 2017
Volunteer State Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing

Other Tennessee cities

Lee University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 100.0% NCLEX pass rate (2017 through 2018)
University of Tennessee at Martin
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 96.4% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Tennessee Tech University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 96.3% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Austin Peay State University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 95.8% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Motlow State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 95.8% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Jackson State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 95.5% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Bethel University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 95.3% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Lincoln Memorial University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 93.8% NCLEX pass rate (2011 through 2018)
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 93.5% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Union University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 93.4% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Carson-Newman University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 92.3% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
East Tennessee State University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 89.1% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Walters State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 89.1% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Dyersburg State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 88.8% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Northeast State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 88.2% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Freed-Hardeman University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 87.0% NCLEX pass rate (2013 through 2018)
Cleveland State Community College
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 86.2% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Milligan College
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 85.0% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
King University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 84.0% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Tusculum University
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 70.4% NCLEX pass rate (2015 through 2018)
Martin Methodist College
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 70.0% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
School Program NCLEX score Time period
Lee University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 100.0% 2017 to 2018
University of Tennessee at Martin
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 96.4% 2009 to 2018
Tennessee Tech University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 96.3% 2009 to 2018
Austin Peay State University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 95.8% 2009 to 2018
Motlow State Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing 95.8% 2009 to 2018
Jackson State Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing 95.5% 2009 to 2018
Bethel University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 95.3% 2009 to 2018
Lincoln Memorial University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 93.8% 2011 to 2018
Associate's Degree in Nursing 93.5% 2009 to 2018
Union University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 93.4% 2009 to 2018
Carson-Newman University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 92.3% 2009 to 2018
East Tennessee State University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 89.1% 2009 to 2018
Walters State Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing 89.1% 2009 to 2018
Dyersburg State Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing 88.8% 2009 to 2018
Northeast State Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing 88.2% 2009 to 2018
Freed-Hardeman University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 87.0% 2013 to 2018
Cleveland State Community College
Associate's Degree in Nursing 86.2% 2009 to 2018
Milligan College
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 85.0% 2009 to 2018
King University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 84.0% 2009 to 2018
Tusculum University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 70.4% 2015 to 2018
Martin Methodist College
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 70.0% 2009 to 2018