Online MBA Programs in Tennessee

    Choosing the right online MBA in Tennessee requires careful consideration of several factors. Earning an advanced degree is a multi-year investment that requires time, money, commitment, and work. Often, it forces students to take on debt, reduce overtime hours, ignore hobbies, and forgo vacations, all in the pursuit of a more rewarding career, greater knowledge, and a bigger salary.

    Like all big decisions, choosing the right MBA means understanding both personal motivations and institutional options. Those include how much a program costs, how well it graduates students, how long it will take, and how much debt graduates typically incur.

    That’s where this guide comes in.

    There is no one “best” MBA program. Instead, students must find the program that fits their situation better than any others. Whether that means a Tennessee MBA that can be completely online in just one year that costs less than $20,000, or a program that offers a specialization in marketing and pours resources into ensuring that all students graduate. This guide is designed to make it easy to find the best programmatic fit for each applicant’s unique situation.

    Compare Online MBA Programs in Tennessee

    When choosing the right online MBA program, it can be difficult to keep up with the myriad factors that make up the decision. Weighing vital components such as the likelihood of acceptance, tuition costs, and average graduation rate is important, but it’s also hard to track across multiple programs.

    To make comparisons among online MBA program simple, this guide includes a matrix offering quick glimpses into how each program stacks up against it peers. This way, potential students can easily spot differences and similarities among programs while narrowing their choices.

    SchoolCityAccred.Accept. RateTuitionGPAGMATGraduate Debt(%)
    Bryan CollegeDaytonIACBE71%$59550744%
    Carson-Newman UniversityJefferson City76%$4503.450565%
    King UniversityBristol100%$6053.2
    Lee UniversityClevelandACBSP70%$76459367%
    Tennessee Technological UniversityCookevilleAACSB$7263.4
    Tusculum UniversityGreenevilleACBSP91%$5003.276%
    University of MemphisMemphisAACSB49%$6473.166189%
    University of TennesseeMartinAACSB80%$6203.5
    University of TennesseeChattanoogaAACSB92%$7003.3

    Affordable Online MBA Programs in Tennessee

    One of the most consequential aspects to consider when choosing among online MBA programs in Tennessee is the cost. Every potential student should weigh the cost of tuition against their own budgets and the salary boost they hope to receive after completing an MBA. For students who need to borrow money, quit their current jobs, or have other debts, choosing an affordable option makes a lot of sense.

    Fortunately for budget-conscious students, earning an online MBA in Tennessee costs a good deal less than in most places in the country. On average, a Tennessee online MBA runs students $623 per credit hour, about 25 percent less than the national average of $820. Some programs, however, provide much deeper discounts.

    The most affordable online MBA in Tennessee comes from Carson-Newman University, which charges $450 per credit hour. The program also ties for the fewest number of required credits needed for graduation at 30. An entire MBA program at Carson-Newman will set students back $13,500 in tuition.

    The next most affordable option is the online MBA from Tusculum University. Charging $500 per credit, Tusculum charges just slightly more than the lowest-cost option. Taking 30 hours at Tusculum costs $15,000 – just $1,500 above Carson-Newman’s price.

    The next least-expensive programs have a jump of about $100 from Tusculum. Bryan College charges a budget-friendly $595 per credit hour and requires 36 hours for graduation, leading to an overall tuition cost of $21,420.

    King University pins costs per credit hour at $605, a modest increase from Bryan. It has the same 36-hour required curriculum for students, bring its total to $21,780 — an increase of only $360 over the fare charged by Bryan College.

    The most affordable online MBA programs in Tennessee have a difference $8,280 between the first- and fourth-ranked option, demonstrating the importance of cost factor in choosing the right MBA.

    Affordable online MBA programs in Tennessee:

    • 1. Carson-Newman University – $450
    • 2. Tusculum University – $500
    • 3. Bryan College – $595
    • 4. King University – $605

    Tennessee MBA Programs with Lowest Debt at Graduation

    Of course, tuition cost in only one component of the total price of an online MBA. Thanks to the costs of textbooks, supplies, and opportunity costs like forgoing overtime hours and secondary jobs, most students take out loans to afford post-secondary education. How much each student takes out varies from person to person, but by examining the larger trends around student debt at time of graduation, MBA hopefuls can gauge how much each program will set them back.

    Interestingly, the programs with the lowest cost per credit hour hardly overlap with the programs whose students carry the least amount of debt. In fact, the only program to hold a place in both lists is Carson-Newman University, which offers the most affordable online MBA and boasts a low level of student indebtedness at graduation with only 56% of students still paying off loans by graduation.

    The school with the fewest debt-laden graduates is, by far, Tennessee Technological University. Its online MBA program pushes only 28% of its students into the red — a full 11 points below the nearest competitor. This could mean that more affluent students gravitate toward Tennessee Tech or that more businesses pay for their employees to earn MBAs from this institution.

    Thirty-nine percent of University of Memphis students graduate with student loan debt, which is a jump from the lows achieved by Tennessee Technological, but further away from the third-place program, the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. UTC graduates just over half of its students (52%) with debt.

    It’s important to consider average indebtedness because it speaks to the kind of students and financial aid options available at each college. Schools that graduate students with low average indebtedness might do a good job of connecting students with financial aid options.

    Online MBA programs in Tennessee with Lowest Debt at Graduation:

    • 1. Tennessee Technological University – 28%
    • 2. University of Memphis – 52%

    No GMAT Required

    Standardized test scores have long functioned as gatekeepers for higher education. Admissions offices have traditionally thought that exams like the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) and GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) accurately predict the performance of students at the post-secondary level. However, many schools have begun to buck this trend. The new decisions to forgo standardized testing comes from a re-examination of the predictive functions of these tests as well as a move to expand opportunities to students whose GMAT scores may not accurately reflect their potential.

    Universities have a vested interest in accepting students who will stick with an online MBA through graduation, as higher graduation rates make the program more attractive to future students and create a reliable fundraising base of well-heeled alumni. It’s also appealing to working professionals who may be less eager to earn an MBA degree if the process involves investing time and money into preparing for a standardized test.

    Public schools are more likely to require standardized tests. The University of Tennessee campuses in both Martin and Chattanooga as well as the University of Memphis and Tennessee Tech require scores from the GMAT or GRE as a prerequisite for admission. However, most of these schools provide waivers for certain students (such as those with high undergraduate GPAs or those who already have a master’s degree).

    Even if schools don’t require GMAT scores, many still accept them. This way, students with low GPAs can prove their mettle by doing well on GMAT. However, two institutions — Bryan College and Tusculum University — will not consider standardized test scores at all when making acceptance decisions.

    Highest Graduation Rate

    When choosing the right online MBA program, students should give serious consideration to graduation rates. A high graduation rate typically means the institution pours significant resources toward helping students make it to commencement, while a low rate can signal the opposite.

    A high graduation doesn’t mean the program is easy. Any accredited MBA program will be difficult, which is why the degree is worth the effort. Nationally, only 68% of online MBA students finish their degrees within three years. Luckily, students in Tennessee fare better than average, as a full 80% of Volunteer State MBA students complete their online degrees in the same timeframe.

    The University of Memphis tops the list of Tennessee schools that graduate the most students with fully 100% of their last class graduating within three years. It’s an impressive figure, especially because UM features one of the highest enrollments at 232. After Memphis, there is a 14% drop off in graduation rates.

    In second place is Carson-Newman University, which most recently saw 86% of students finish the program in three years. Following on the heels of Carson-Newman are the University of Tennessee, Martin, and the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Their graduation rates are 79% and 77%, respectively.

    It’s important to remember that some students purposefully take longer than three years and others have extenuating circumstances that prevent a speedy conclusion to their studies. However, taken as an average, graduation rates are decent reflections of how well institutions choose students who can be successful and give them the support to do so.

    Online MBA programs in Tennessee with the highest graduation rate:

    • 1. University of Memphis – 100%
    • 2. Carson-Newman University – 86%
    • 3. University of Tennessee-Martin – 79%
    • 4. University of Tennessee-Chattanooga – 77%

    Highest Acceptance Rates

    Acceptance rates are another important factor to weigh when considering which online MBA program to choose. It may be tempting to think that the higher the acceptance rate, the easier an institution is to get in. However, that’s not quite true. While potential students with lower GPAs or standardized test scores seeking acceptance to business schools in Tennessee should look hard at institutions with the highest rates, it’s important to remember that even a 100% acceptance rate doesn’t mean the college takes everyone. Most programs have certain prerequisites that potential students must meet before their applications be accepted. It’s important to weigh that information against the acceptance rate to fully gauge King University and Lee University both accept 100% of applicants to their programs. Interestingly, they have similar enrollments as well, with King taking in 173 students last year and Lee admitting 175.

    Just below those offerings are the online MBA programs from the University of Memphis and Bryan College, which both took in 96% of students who applied. Both of those institutions also boast large student cohorts, with Bryan taking 133 students last year and Memphis admitting 232. That means that Memphis rejected about nine students, while Bryan rejected about six.

    After the top four programs, there’s a steep decline in acceptance rates. The fifth most-accepting program is run by a highly acclaimed program at Tennessee Technological University, which accepted only 86% of applicants in its most recent round of admissions.

    Online MBA programs in Tennessee with the highest acceptance rates:

    • King University – 100%
    • Lee University – 100%
    • University of Memphis – 96%
    • Bryan College – 96%

    Tennessee Online MBA Program Profiles

    Below are quick guides to the biggest selling points and drawbacks of each program. These bite-sized writeups are meant to showcase the full spectrum of each online MBA program, highlighting where they along a variety of factors. In addition, admissions requirements, like personal essays and application fees, are included.

    These brief profiles are meant to give potential MBA students a brief, nonpartisan look at each institution offering an online MBA degree in Tennessee. Looking at each college as a whole is a great way to narrow down a list of MBA programs from all available options to the one that is best suited to meet individual needs.

    Bryan College

    Business Administration (M.B.A) – Online

    School Info

    Business Accred:IACBE
    Regional Accred:SACSCOC
    School Type:Private
    Phone:(877) 256-7008
    Email:[email protected]
    Location:Dayton, TN

    Boasting the third lowest-cost tuition and a high 96% acceptance rate, Bryan College delivers an online MBA program that is budget-friendly and welcoming. The online MBA program’s 36 required hours can be finished in just 14 months and completely online. Rooted in a Christian worldview, the college offers the following specialization options: healthcare administration, human resources, marketing, ministry, and sports management.

    Bryan College runs an accelerated program that operates on eight-week cycles. Every eight weeks, new courses begin and students are allowed to enroll in up to two classes at a time. The program does not require standardized test scores or letters of recommendation, or personal essays. The biggest factor in admission in undergraduate GPA, although the vast majority of students also have professional work experience.

    Running three semesters (two two-term sessions during fall and spring and a single term during summer), the average student takes 1.5 years to finish their MBA degree at Bryan College. Class sizes are small, with the average class having 14 students and none exceeding 20. Bryan College also has the lowest the three-year completion rate of the institutions in this list, with only 66% of students finishing their degrees after three years.

    Carson-Newman University

    The Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Carson-Newman University

    School Info


    Business Accred:
    Regional Accred:SACSCOC
    School Type:Private
    Phone:(865) 471-2000
    Email:[email protected]
    Location:Jefferson City, TN

    Carson-Newman University offers an online MBA program rooted in Biblical principles at an affordable price. With the least-expensive tuition of any program on the list at $450 per credit hour, Carson-Newman offers an entirely online education option that is both selective and wallet-friendly.

    Despite its low price, admission standards are high. Only 63% of applicants receive admission. While no essays, letters or recommendation are required, the school asks every potential student to submit a professional resume. The average accepted student has a 3.4 undergraduate GPA. Standardized tests, like the GMAT, will be considered in applications but are not necessary or common — last year, only 3% of students submitted scores. Carson-Newman also boasts a very high finish rate, with 86% of students having completed their MBA within three years.

    Carson-Newman’s program is run on three tracks. Both the traditional MBA and Nonprofit Leadership MBA required 10 courses, while earning an MBA with a specialization requires two additional classes. Specializations offered are leadership, marketing, human resources, operations management, and sports management. Importantly, each specialization begins in a different semester. Students interested in leadership and human resources begin in the spring, those who wish to specialize in sports management and operations management start in spring, and marketing specialists join in the summer. Students can complete the regular MBA degree in a short 12 months or 15 for an MBA with a specialization.

    Carson-Newman University has the lowest indebtedness of graduates, with the average being $16,195. And only 56% of graduates finish the program with debt.

    King University

    King University Master of Business Administration Online Program

    School Info

    Business Accred:
    Regional Accred:SACSCOC
    School Type:Private
    Phone:(888) 511-0742
    Email:[email protected]
    Location:Bristol, TN

    Offering a budget-friendly and customizable MBA that may be completed entirely online, King University has high requirements for application, but a 100% acceptance rate.

    To apply, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 from an accredited undergraduate institution, supply two letters of recommendation from either professional or academic sources, send in a professional resume, write a personal statement of 750-1,000 words, and interview with an MBA Program Coordinator. Applicants also need to have completed certain undergraduate business class requirements. Standardized test scores are not required.

    King University offers concentrations in healthcare administration, human resource management, management, marketing, project management, and small business management and social entrepreneurship. Each concentration requires nine credit hours of specialized courses. The MBA degree is completed in 36 credit hours and may be finished in just a year and a half. Each credit hour costs $605.

    Although King University has a 100% acceptance rate, only 74% of students complete a degree within three years. King graduates also have the highest debt, with 79% of graduates finishing with debt and that debt load being $43,645.

    Lee University

    Lee’s 32-hour online MBA program

    School Info

    Business Accred:ACBSP
    Regional Accred:SACSCOC
    School Type:Private
    Phone:(423) 614-8694
    Email:[email protected]
    Location:Cleveland, TN

    Offering small classes taught from a Christian worldview, Lee University offers a completely online MBA program geared toward working professionals that can be completed in 20 months.

    Although it boasts a 100% acceptance rate, Lee University also holds the top spots among online MBA programs in Tennessee for both highest price per credit hour and lowest enrollment. In addition, there are not specializations or concentrations in the MBA program.

    Students who wish to apply to Lee University are required to submit undergraduate transcripts and may submit standardized test scores, but can choose to forego them. In addition, MBA hopefuls must also send in a personal essay, two letters of recommendation, and sit for an interview with admissions officers from the institution. Finally, all applicants must have met certain prerequisites, such as having completed certain undergraduate business courses. Outside work experience, however, is not required. Lee University places a high premium on the character and personal qualities of their applicants.

    The $764 rate per credit hour is the highest on the list. Completing a 32-hour MBA degree costs $24,448 in tuition.

    Tennessee Technological University

    The 100% online MBA program at Tennessee Tech

    School Info

    Business Accred:AACSB
    Regional Accred:SACSCOC
    School Type:Public
    Phone:(931) 372-3888
    Email:[email protected]
    Location:Cookeville, TN

    The online MBA program at Tennessee Technological University is high on customization and convenience. The program requires 30 credit hours of instruction and can be completed in as little as one year or as many as six years. It also has this list’s largest enrollment at 260.

    The program does not have specializations, but requires nine hours of elective courses, which are used to develop managerial competencies that can function in much the same way as specializations.

    To gain acceptance to Tennessee Tech, students must achieve 10 points from a formula based on a matrix of professional and academic options. For example, one year of professional work experience nets applicants three points, while five or more years of work experience translates into five points. A 2.5 GPA is good for three points, a 3.0 earns five points, and a 3.5 means seven points. In addition, standardized test scores (which are usually required, but are waived right now due to the pandemic) can boost scores up to seven points and graduate degrees can raise scores another seven. In addition, two additional points can be earned through a strong resume and statement of purpose. One professional letter of recommendation is required.

    The school boasts a high 86% acceptance rate and a high tuition cost of $726 per credit hour. The average undergraduate GPA for accepted students is 3.4 and the average GMAT score is 500. Tennessee Tech also has the lowest percentage of students who graduate in debt at 28%, and those who do have debt have the lowest average amount at $16,125.

    Tusculum University

    The Pioneer MBA

    School Info

    Business Accred:ACBSP
    Regional Accred:SACSCOC
    School Type:Private
    Phone:(423) 636-7312
    Email:[email protected]
    Location:Greeneville, TN

    The 30-hour online MBA program offered by Tusculum University is one of the most affordable and exclusive offered in Tennessee.

    At just $500 per credit hour, students can earn MBAs from Tusculum for $15,000 and within one year of starting. The school runs on a semester system, with 12 credit hours being offered in both fall and spring terms while the summer term is reserved for a comprehensive business project that’s worth six credit hours toward degree completion. Students may begin their MBA journey at the start of either the fall or spring semesters.

    Tusculum also boasts one of the smallest enrollments at just 25, and in part because of the small size it accepts only 69% of applicants. To be admitted, students must submit undergraduate transcripts that show a minimum GPA of 3.0, a personal essay, proof of professional employment, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. Student also must sit for an interview and complete the Inbound Peregrine exam (the Outbound exam is required for graduation).

    In lieu of specializations, Tusculum requires all students to complete a graduate research requirement, which can be completed in following areas: managerial accounting and decision making; management and marketing; managerial economics and finance; law, ethics, and strategy.

    University of Memphis

    The Fogelman College Online MBA

    School Info

    Business Accred:AACSB
    Regional Accred:SACSCOC
    School Type:Public
    Phone:(901) 678-2111
    Email:[email protected]
    Location:Memphis, TN

    The Fogelman School of Business at the University of Memphis is a highly acclaimed and well-known public institution offering a completely online program for earning an MBA.

    Despite a high enrollment size of 232, the University of Memphis graduates an astounding 100% of enrolled students within three years. And, although it typically requires standardized test scores, all GRE and GMAT scores have been waived for the next fall semester due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, applicants must write an essay, supply two letters of recommendation, and deliver transcripts from their undergraduate institution. Its price per credit hour is $647, roughly in the middle of the pack.

    The online MBA program at the University of Memphis is 36 hours, and combines both asynchronous and synchronous learning, meaning that students will have the opportunity to learn live from instructors during their studies. The program does not offer specialization but includes six credit hours of electives that allow students to concentrate more closely in specific areas.

    University of Tennessee-Martin

    UT Martin Online MBA

    School Info

    Business Accred:AACSB
    Regional Accred:SACSCOC
    School Type:Public
    Phone:(731) 881-7208
    Email:[email protected]
    Location:Martin, TN

    The University of Tennessee-Martin runs an online MBA program geared toward full-time workers. The program can be completed 100% online and is usually finished in 18 months.

    A typical student in the online MBA program takes two courses per semester, which equates to six to eight hours of credit. The courses run between six and eight weeks, and most students take only one course at a time.

    Students who wish to apply to UTM’s program must send in a transcript of undergraduate work, but may forego standardized testing if their cumulative GPA is above 2.75 or if their senior year GPA is over 3.0. Students must also have completed one year of professional work as well as undergraduate-level financial accounting and statistics & probability courses. If applicants do not have these credits before beginning their MBA, they must finish them within their first two semesters at UTM.

    UTM provides a close-knit experience. Last year, the institution accepted 71% of applicants and boasts a 55-student enrollment. Students at UTM hold the highest undergraduate GPAs with a 3.5 average and 77% graduate within three years of starting. However, 58% of student graduate with debt (which average $35,876) and tuition costs $620 per credit hour for the 30-hour program.

    University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

    The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s 100% online MBA

    School Info

    Business Accred:AACSB
    Regional Accred:SACSCOC
    School Type:Public
    Phone:(423) 425-4313
    Email:[email protected]
    Location:Chattanooga, TN

    Run by the Gary W. Rollins College of Business, the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga’s online MBA program offers a well-known and highly customizable educational experience.

    Students can complete the 36-hour program completely online and choose from four start dates that include the fall, the spring, and two options in the summer. It also features a general MBA track or allows students to concentrate in the areas of business analytics, finance, or healthcare administration. Students can also choose to attend full- or part-time.

    To apply, students must have earned an undergraduate degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.70 or a 3.0 for the last two years of academic coursework. UTC also requires students to submit standardized test scores, but grants waivers for those who have either completed other graduate degrees with a 3.0 GPA or higher, have a 3.25 cumulative undergraduate GPA and five years of professional work experience, or have an undergraduate business degree from UTC with a 3.0 cumulative GPA and a 3.2 GP within upper-level business courses. Otherwise, students must submit standardized test scores above 450 for the GMAT or above 146 on verbal and 144 on quantitative for the GRE. In addition, students must write an essay and pay a one-time $35 application fee.

    The most selective school on the list, UTC accepts only 57% of applicants to join its 193-member enrollment ranks. UTC also makes financial sense. Although earning an MBA costs $700 per credit hour, only 52% or students graduate with debt — and that debt is a mid-range $31,474.

    Tennessee Career and Job Outlook for MBA Graduates

    Tennessee has a thriving agricultural industry with a focus on manufacturing plants. The industries experiencing the most growth in Tennessee include automotive manufacturing, energy production, film production, healthcare, and manufacturing. Tennessee has a relatively low cost of living and taxes compared to other states. It is also experiencing an increase in job opportunities, making the state an attractive destination for job-seekers. Currently, the state of Tennessee is experiencing economic growth due to low business costs.

    Many institutions of varying sizes need MBA professionals. Regardless of the field, companies hire managers from Tennessee to improve efficiency. Small and medium-sized businesses are the driving force of Tennessee’s economy, but the state also hosts some Fortune 500 companies. Popular management occupations also include food service managers, operations managers, property managers, and sales managers. There are an estimated 44,000 general and operations managers in Tennessee alone. There are over 13,000 financial managers, the second most popular management occupation. Following is a list of managerial jobs commonly held by MBA grads, along with the average annual salary for each job in Tennessee.

    • Advertising and Promotions Managers: $81,870
    • Architectural and Engineering Managers: $118,000
    • Chief Executives: $158,000
    • Construction Managers: $90,570
    • Financial Managers: $105,530
    • Funeral Service Managers: $11,300
    • General and Operations Managers: $109,340
    • Human Resources Managers: $95,300
    • Marketing Managers: $99,040
    • Natural Science Managers: $11200
    • Public Relations and Fundraising Managers: $97,750
    • Sales Managers: $103,880

    1. National Center for Education Statistics:
    2. AACSB, Best Business Schools:
    3. ACBSP, Business Schools:
    4. IACBE, Business Schools:
    5. US Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Outlook Handbook, Business and Financial Occupations:
    6. US Bureau of Labor Statistics – Employment and Wage Estimates California:
    7. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Tennessee