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2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee

50 Colleges
$39,096 Avg Salary*
44% Avg 4-Year Grad Rate*

With all of the options you have for higher education today, it can be tough to choose which direction to take. College Factual has developed its Top Tennessee Schools ranking as one item you can use to help make this decision.

After analyzing 50 schools in Tennessee, we came up with our list of those that offered the highest quality education. To come up with this ranking, we look at more than 20 factors that are all objective measurements. These factors include freshman retention, graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, and post graduate earnings, among other things.

Get more details on our ranking methodology.

Custom Rankings

Since one ranking on its own is not enough to give you a complete understanding of your educational options, you can refine this list by location and field of study. We've also developed a number of other tools and rankings based on other factors. These other rankings highlight colleges that excel in other factors such as value or diversity as well as schools that excel in serving different groups of students such as veterans or returnings adults.

You can create your own custom comparison that focuses on the factors most important to you using our tool, College Combat. Test it out by comparing your favorite schools against others you are considering!

Top Colleges in Tennessee

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

Our analysis found Vanderbilt University to be the best school for overall quality in Tennessee in this year’s ranking. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the fairly large private not-for-profit school awarded 4,540 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2019-2020.

With a student-to-faculty rate of 7 to 1, it’s easy to see that the school is committed to helping their undergraduates succeed. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt go into careers with an average salary of $69,000 during the early years of their career.

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#2

Rhodes College

Memphis, Tennessee

A rank of #2 on our Best Colleges in Tennessee list means Rhodes College is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Rhodes College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Memphis, Tennessee that handed out 509 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 2.0%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. During the early years of their career, graduates from Rhodes College make an average of $53,600 a year.

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#3

Belmont University

Nashville, Tennessee

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at Belmont University helped the school earn the #3 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools in Tennessee. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the medium-sized private not-for-profit school handed out 2,382 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.0%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% During the early years of their career, graduates from Belmont make an average of $44,100 a year.

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A rank of #4 on our Best Colleges in Tennessee list means Sewanee - The University of the South is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Sewanee is a private not-for-profit institution located in Sewanee, Tennessee. The school has a small population, and it awarded 523 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 88%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $45,500 during the early years of their career..

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The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at The University of Tennessee - Knoxville helped the school earn the #5 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools in Tennessee. Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, the large public school awarded 7,555 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2019-2020.

The student loan default rate at the school is 4.3%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $45,100 during the early years of their career..

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Southwest Tennessee Community College did quite well in the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #6. This medium-sized public school is located in Memphis, Tennessee, and it awarded 960 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

During the early years of their career, graduates from Southwest make an average of $25,700 a year.

Read full report on Southwest Tennessee Community College

#7

Motlow State Community College

Tullahoma, Tennessee

Motlow State Community College did quite well in the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #7. This medium-sized public school is located in Tullahoma, Tennessee, and it awarded 1,125 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Motlow go into careers with an average salary of $28,700 during the early years of their career.

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#8

Lipscomb University

Nashville, Tennessee

With a ranking of #8, Lipscomb University did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee list. Lipscomb is located in Nashville, Tennessee and has a small student population. In 2019-2020, this school awarded 1,404 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.9%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Lipscomb go into careers with an average salary of $43,200 during the early years of their career.

Full Lipscomb University Report

#9

Tennessee Technological University

Cookeville, Tennessee

Tennessee Technological University did quite well in the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #9. Located in Cookeville, Tennessee, the fairly large public school awarded 2,390 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2019-2020.

The student loan default rate at the school is 4.8%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Tech University go into careers with an average salary of $40,500 during the early years of their career.

Full Tennessee Technological University Report

#10

The University of Tennessee - Chattanooga

Chattanooga, Tennessee

The University of Tennessee - Chattanooga did quite well in the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking, coming in at #10. Located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the fairly large public school handed out 2,563 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

During the early years of their career, graduates from UT Chattanooga make an average of $38,100 a year.

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#11

Trevecca Nazarene University

Nashville, Tennessee

Trevecca Nazarene University landed the #11 spot on the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking. TNU is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Nashville, Tennessee. It awarded 1,094 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from TNU is $40,500 during the early years of their career.

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#12

Middle Tennessee State University

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Middle Tennessee State University ranked #12 on this year’s Best Colleges in Tennessee list. Located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the large public school awarded 4,874 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2019-2020.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University go into careers with an average salary of $38,700 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Middle Tennessee State University

#13

Union University

Jackson, Tennessee

Union University landed the #13 spot on the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking.Jackson, Tennessee is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 928 students in 2019-2020.

The low student loan default rate of 4.1% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1% Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Union make an average of $43,200 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Union University

#14

Lincoln Memorial University

Harrogate, Tennessee

Lincoln Memorial University landed the #14 spot on the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking.Harrogate, Tennessee is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 1,488 students in 2019-2020.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.8%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from LMU make an average of $38,200 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Lincoln Memorial University

#15

Milligan University

Milligan College, Tennessee

Milligan University came in at #15 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking.Milligan College, Tennessee is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 368 students in 2019-2020.

The student-to-faculty rate of 9 to 1 is a sign that students will have more opportunities to engage with their professors one-on-one.

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#16

Freed-Hardeman University

Henderson, Tennessee

Freed-Hardeman University landed the #16 spot on the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking. FHU is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Henderson, Tennessee. It awarded 498 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

During the early years of their career, graduates from FHU make an average of $37,100 a year.

Full Freed-Hardeman University Report

#17

Pellissippi State Community College

Knoxville, Tennessee

Pellissippi State Community College came in at #17 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking.Knoxville, Tennessee is the setting for this medium-sized institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 1,651 students in 2019-2020.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Pellissippi State Community College go into careers with an average salary of $29,500 during the early years of their career.

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#18

Jackson State Community College

Jackson, Tennessee

Jackson State Community College ranked #18 on this year’s Best Colleges in Tennessee list. This small public school is located in Jackson, Tennessee, and it awarded 620 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

During the early years of their career, graduates from JSCC make an average of $28,400 a year.

Full Jackson State Community College Report

#19

King University

Bristol, Tennessee

With a ranking of #19, King University did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee list. Located in Bristol, Tennessee, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 785 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2019-2020.

During the early years of their career, graduates from King make an average of $43,500 a year.

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#20

Maryville College

Maryville, Tennessee

Maryville College landed the #20 spot on the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking. Maryville College is located in Maryville, Tennessee and has a small student population. In 2019-2020, this school awarded 249 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

During the early years of their career, graduates from Maryville College make an average of $39,000 a year.

Full Maryville College Report

#21

Volunteer State Community College

Gallatin, Tennessee

Volunteer State Community College landed the #21 spot on the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking. Located in Gallatin, Tennessee, the medium-sized public school awarded 1,229 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2019-2020.

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from VSCC make an average of $32,000 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Volunteer State Community College

#22

Lee University

Cleveland, Tennessee

Lee University came in at #22 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking. Located in Cleveland, Tennessee, the medium-sized private not-for-profit school awarded 1,061 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2019-2020.

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Lee University make an average of $34,200 per year during the early years of their career.

Full Lee University Report

#23

Nashville State Community College

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville State Community College ranked #23 on this year’s Best Colleges in Tennessee list. Nashville State Community College is a medium-sized public school located in Nashville, Tennessee that handed out 934 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

During the early years of their career, graduates from Nashville State Community College make an average of $30,500 a year.

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#24

Columbia State Community College

Columbia, Tennessee

With a ranking of #24, Columbia State Community College did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee list. Columbia State Community College is a medium-sized public school situated in Columbia, Tennessee. It awarded 881 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $31,500 during the early years of their career..

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#25

Tennessee Wesleyan University

Athens, Tennessee

Tennessee Wesleyan University landed the #25 spot on the 2022 Best Colleges in Tennessee ranking. Located in Athens, Tennessee, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 322 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2019-2020.

The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from TWU is $38,500 during the early years of their career.

Full Tennessee Wesleyan University Report

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Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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