Business Degrees in Tennessee

Renowned for its culture and cuisine, Tennessee is one of the states that quickly comes to mind when many think of the Old South. But there’s much more to this diverse state than country music and dry-rub barbecue (as good as both of those can be). Tennessee is now a mix of the old and the new: venerable and respected customs and careers now mingle with modern technology and industry. The 16th state to join the United States, and currently 16th in population, Tennessee has a lot to offer, from the Great Smoky Mountains in the west down to the Atlantic coast in the east.

According to National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) statistics, there are 39 public and non-profit schools offering business degree programs. Of these, 19 offer accredited programs at the undergraduate level and 17 at the graduate level. Tennessee also has an interesting feature for the prospective student: it offers 13 community colleges that have an “open admission policy” and don’t require entrance exams. These are accredited schools but do not appear in the NCES stats, so they are in addition to the 19 mentioned above.

We place a great deal of emphasis on accreditation because it prthe ovides you with assurance that the program you select has clearly stated objectives and that the school has proven that its program produces quality outcomes while adhering to national and international standards. Schools with accreditation are also more likely than unaccredited schools to offer ways to get real-world experience through interaction with actual businesses.

All of the schools in this article have been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and/or International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). They are all public or non-profit and regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

This article provides you with the data you need to choose the ideal Tennessee business school for your unique needs based on a variety of key factors: tuition, financial aid, entrance exam scores, acceptance rates, and more. The three sections that follow describe undergraduate programs, graduate schools, and the job prospects for business school graduates in Tennessee.

Undergraduate Business Schools in Tennessee

Tennessee is one of the most inexpensive states for getting a business education, with a wide variety of mid-range and budget options, and only one school that could be considered expensive. In addition, as mentioned earlier, it offers 13 accredited community colleges that are very affordable. We have broken out our undergraduate schools into two tables: one for the 19 regular colleges and the other for the community colleges.

Looking at the “normal” schools, we see an overall average tuition cost of just $18,700. The least expensive school in this list is Tennessee State University at around $7,300, while the priciest is Vanderbilt University at $45,600. Vanderbilt is one of the more famous schools in the state, and it leads the second-place finisher in the tuition list by a considerable margin: Belmont University costs only $31,400. Overall, 8 of the schools are under $10,000 and all but the two already mentioned plus Union University are under $30,000. Financial aid is pretty generous as a percentage of tuition, averaging out at around $12,500 and contributing to this state’s budget-friendly nature.

The community colleges are even more affordable. All 13 are in the $4,000 ballpark for tuition, and also offer around $4,000 in potential financial aid. This means that lack of financial resources never has to stop you from getting a degree in Tennessee.

Going back to the regular colleges, we have acceptance rate data for 15 of our 19 schools. Rates are generally on the high side—with one notable exception! The overall average acceptance rate is 65%, and all of the schools but one accept 49% or more of their students. The exception is Vanderbilt University, and what an exception it is: it takes in just 11% of applicants, less than a quarter of the next most selective school. The most lenient school for which we have data is Freed-Hardeman University at 95%. (The community colleges accept all applicants.)

Graduation rates for undergraduate business degrees in Tennessee tend to be moderate with a wide range. The overall average for the 13 schools for which we have data is 58%, with the lowest Fisk University at 32% and the highest Vanderbilt University at 92%. The other 11 schools graduate 42% to 70% of their students. Belmont University has the best combination of acceptance rate and graduate rate, at 81% and 70% respectively.

We’ve included two tables below. The first shows you all the important data you need about regular undergraduate business schools in Tennessee, including annual in-state tuition costs, average aid per student, acceptance rates, SAT and ACT score ranges of accepted students, and graduation rates. The second lists the 13 open community colleges; test scores and acceptance rates are not generally relevant here, and these schools don’t generally provide graduation rates. You can click any column header in either table to sort it based on its contents.

SchoolCityTuitionAidMedian SATMedian ACTAccept. RateGrad. Rate
Belmont UniversityNashville$31,390$11,9891040-125024-2981.0%0.7%
Bryan CollegeDayton$24,450$14,418495-60519-2654.0%0.6%
Cumberland UniversityLebanon$21,210$12,412830-103019-2349.0%0.6%
East Tennessee State UniversityJohnson City$8,341$7,854
Fisk UniversityNashville$21,480$19,622820-101017-2278.0%0.3%
Freed-Hardeman UniversityHenderson$21,500$13,917485-58521-2895.0%
Lee UniversityCleveland$15,770$8,947500-62019-2785.0%
Lincoln Memorial UniversityHarrogate$21,050$10,824490-57518-2550.0%0.6%
Lipscomb UniversityNashville$29,756$15,427990-126822-2861.0%0.6%
Middle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboro$8,280$7,803
Southern Adventist UniversityCollegedale$21,150$8,747
Tennessee State UniversityNashville$7,256$9,929
Tennessee Tech UniversityCookeville$8,203$9,030960-119021-2767.0%0.5%
Union UniversityJackson$30,330$16,5411020-130023-3063.0%0.7%
University of MemphisMemphis$9,125$6,732900-116018-2557.0%0.4%
University of Tennessee at ChattanoogaChattanooga$8,544$7,128920-119021-2678.0%0.4%
University of Tennessee at KnoxvilleKnoxville$12,724$8,5191040-125024-3077.0%0.7%
University of Tennessee at MartinMartin$9,088$8,216975-117020-2567.0%0.5%
Vanderbilt UniversityNashville$45,610$39,0811420-159032-3511.0%0.9%
Chattanooga State Community CollegeChattanooga$4,063$3,833
Cleveland State Community CollegeCleveland$4,043$3,739
Columbia State Community CollegeColumbia$4,015$4,171
Dyersburg State Community CollegeDyersburg$4,229$3,608
Jackson State Community CollegeJackson$4,029$3,645
Motlow State Community CollegeTullahoma$4,051$4,302
Nashville State Community CollegeNashville$3,969$4,320
Northeast State Community CollegeBlountville$4,056$3,902
Pellissippi State Community CollegeKnoxville$4,084$4,276
Roane State Community CollegeHarriman$4,047$4,467
Southwest Tennessee Community CollegeMemphis$4,059$4,291
Tennessee State UniversityNashville$7,256$9,929
Volunteer State Community CollegeGallatin$4,037$4,378
Walters State Community CollegeMorristown$4,032$3,834

Graduate Business Schools in Tennessee

We have data for 17 accredited colleges for graduate-level business study in Tennessee. MBA tuition in Tennessee is among the lowest in the nation; the overall average is just $29,500, but even this doesn’t really tell the whole story. Excluding the two most expensive schools—Vanderbilt at $108,300 and Belmont at $58,310—drops that average to just $22,300. In fact, 13 of the 17 schools are between $17,000 and $22,500, making this a very cost-effective state to get a master’s in business.

We have average admission GMAT scores for 9 of these schools. All of them fall into a fairly typical range of 491 to 603, again, with one exception: Vanderbilt’s 687. We have data on the percentage of full-time faculty with doctorate degrees for 9 schools (though these are not all the same as the schools for which we have GMAT data). All of these figures are near or above 80%, with the highest Tennessee State University at 97%.

There are several options for online MBA programs in Tennessee that are ideal for those who want to further their educations while continuing their careers. Tennessee Technological University offers a highly rated program with concentrations in International Business, HR Management, Accounting, Marketing, and Finance. Middle Tennessee State University offers a hybrid MBA that is mostly online but requires in-person attendance for some of the coursework; this school has some unusual concentrations not often seen in other schools, such as Healthcare Management, Concrete Industry Management, and the very-state-appropriate Music Business. Other schools offering online or hybrid programs include the University of Memphis, Union University, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and the University of Tennessee at Martin. Most online programs offer the same basic curriculum and courses as their offline equivalents.

The table that follows shows graduate business school tuition costs, average accepted applicant GMAT scores, the percentage of faculty with a doctorate degree, and student-to-faculty ratios. Click any column header to sort the table based on its contents.

SchoolCityTuitionAvg. GMATFaculty
with Doct.
Belmont UniversityNashville$58,310560
Cumberland UniversityLebanon$17,640
East Tennessee State UniversityJohnson City$19,24253586%2.07
Fisk UniversityNashville$21,756
Freed-Hardeman UniversityHenderson$17,700
Lee UniversityCleveland$20,224
Lincoln Memorial UniversityHarrogate$18,000
Lipscomb UniversityNashville$43,200530
Middle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboro$18,03687%1.35
Tennessee State UniversityNashville$17,06497%2.18
Tennessee Tech UniversityCookeville$18,66089%5.38
Union UniversityJackson$22,140603
University of MemphisMemphis$22,40855087%5.45
University of Tennessee at ChattanoogaChattanooga$19,34049185%
University of Tennessee at KnoxvilleKnoxville$38,94459780%2.81
University of Tennessee at MartinMartin$20,44451991%2.87
Vanderbilt UniversityNashville$108,30068792%9.18

Job Outlook for Business Graduates in Tennessee

Total growth of at least 5% is predicted in 32 of 37 business and management occupations across the US between 2016 and 2026, according to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. The highest growth will be for market analysts and marketing specialists, at 22.8% over ten years, with financial managers next at 18.7%.

Tennessee’s economy tends to track that of the nation as a whole, and the state currently has an unemployment rate of 3.4%, slightly below the national average. About 373,000 people were employed in the business and management sector in Tennessee in 2016. The largest subgroup was general and operations managers; with 74,300 employed, this category more than double the size of the next largest, accountants and auditors at 35,000.

According to BLS data, the overall average annual wage in 2016 across all occupations in Tennessee was $48,547, which ranks the Volunteer State 44th out of 51 states plus the District of Columbia. Business and management occupations had a weighted average annual salary of around $115,500 in that year—nearly 2.4 times the overall average—making business occupations particularly lucrative here relative to other pursuits. Chief executives were the highest-paid subgroup, like their counterparts in other states, with an average salary of $215,600. This was followed by a variety of management positions ranging from $125,000 to $155,000. Meeting, convention and event planners were the lowest-paid group but still came in at a respectable $58,000.

Accountants and Auditors13-201135,260$39$80,28010.0%
Administrative Services Managers11-301113,060$52$108,38010.1%
Advertising and Promotions Managers11-20111,330$69$144,2605.8%
Agents and Managers of Artists and Athletes13-10110,350$33$69,0404.9%
Architectural and Engineering Managers11-90417,680$72$150,4605.5%
Budget Analysts13-20311,880$39$81,0606.5%
Business Operations Specialists13-119913,240$41$85,0208.8%
Chief Executives11-10119,790$104$215,6308.0%
Benefits Managers11-31110,810$64$132,2105.0%
Compensation and Job Analysis Specialists13-11411,850$35$71,8908.5%
Compliance Officers13-10417,300$40$83,4208.2%
Information Systems Managers11-302116,310$74$153,83011.9%
Construction Managers11-90216,460$52$107,68011.4%
Cost Estimators13-10515,670$37$76,24010.6%
Credit Analysts13-20411,990$40$82,3208.4%
Credit Counselors13-20711,460$29$60,04013.9%
Financial Analysts13-205111,750$47$97,69010.8%
Financial Examiners13-20611,370$50$104,2009.8%
Financial Managers11-303130,610$68$142,3700.187
Operations Managers11-102174,260$64$133,9509.1%
Human Resources Managers11-31215,660$65$134,9708.9%
Human Resources Specialists13-107115,940$36$74,9407.1%
Insurance Underwriters13-20533,190$43$89,200-5.2%
Labor Relations Specialists13-10752,710$30$62,750-7.8%
Loan Officers13-20725,640$45$93,82011.5%
Management Analysts13-111123,230$54$112,92012.0%
Market Research Analysts and Specialists13-116119,900$37$77,52022.8%
Marketing Managers11-202112,770$70$146,24010.0%
Meeting and Event Planners13-11212,920$28$58,07010.2%
Public Relations11-20314,840$63$130,13010.4%
Purchasing Managers11-30612,890$60$124,3305.6%
Sales Managers11-202215,820$73$151,3807.4%
Tax Examiners and Revenue Agents13-20811,600$33$67,960-0.6%
Tax Preparers13-20821,750$30$62,30010.8%
Training and Development Managers11-31311,680$64$132,81010.3%

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:
7. Tennessee State Board of Education:
8. US News & World Report, 2018 Best Business Schools: