Tennessee’s Best Graduate Schools of 2021

Graduate school may be a critical step in your higher education, whether you are interested in expanding your knowledge, learning a specialization, or earning advanced credentials required by your profession. The best graduate schools in Tennessee offer advanced degrees, such as master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as opportunities for independent research, mentorships, and professional networking.

Tennessee’s Best Graduate Schools of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Tennessee

About one third of the higher learning institutes in Tennessee are public schools. Students who attend these schools can expect to pay anywhere between $4,000 to $13,000 in tuition and have the option to pursue degrees in fields such as economics, history, nursing, literature, education, and criminal justice. Tennessee’s largest public school, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, boasts some impressive alumni, including Oprah Winfrey, Kurt Vonnegut, and Cormac McCarthy. The private school alumni are equally as notable. For example, author James Patterson and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus both attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

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Tennessee also offers nearly 30 religiously affiliated schools, the largest being Belmont University in Nashville, located just blocks from the famous Music Row. Here, students can study a wide range of fields including Christian leadership, audio engineering technology, and biophysics. Additionally, Tennessee offers students several loan forgiveness programs. Math and science teachers, minority teachers, and registered nurses interested in becoming teachers or administrators who meet certain requirements may be eligible.

Tennessee is home to mouthwatering barbecues, electrified blues, and the sweeping majesty of the Smoky Mountains National Park. And with access to countless historic sites, unique museums, and lush green spaces, students attending one of the more than 60 colleges and universities in The Volunteer State will have plenty to do and see in their downtime.

Discover more about the top programs and higher education learning opportunities available in Tennessee.


What are Tennessee’s Colleges & Universities?

Tennessee’s Best Overall

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There are 14 doctorate-granting universities in Tennessee, all of which satisfy our criteria. The best graduate schools below are composed of both private and public schools that satisfy the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer doctoral degrees and a broad array of graduate degrees.
  4. It must have a graduation rate greater than 40%.

How do we determine Tennessee's best graduate schools?

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why influence gets at the heart of what is truly best in education. At the undergraduate level, the best colleges and universities are those with the highest concentration of influence. Our Concentrated Influence metric adjusts overall influence by size of undergraduate student body, thus allowing smaller schools to compete with larger schools so long as they have proportionately as strong influential faculty and alums.

But at the graduate level, the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers is the best indicator of academic excellence. Overall influence, and not influence controlled by other variables, thus becomes the best gauge of academic excellence at the graduate level. Where smaller size is an advantage at the undergraduate level (hence Concentrated Influence), graduate studies benefit from a large and vibrant community of graduate students, who promise to become the new generation of academic influencers.

If you are serious about finding the best graduate schools, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our methodology here.

Best Graduate Schools in Tennessee

  1. #1

    Vanderbilt University

    #95 institution's historical influence
    #16 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    12%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1510/34

    Nashville, TN

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    What is Vanderbilt University known for?

    Vanderbilt University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    University of Tennessee

    #216 institution's historical influence
    #1285 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    27K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1240/27

    Knoxville, TN

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    What is University of Tennessee known for?

    University of Tennessee’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • History
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Law
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #3

    Middle Tennessee State University

    #1088 institution's historical influence
    #1328 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    18K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/23

    Murfreesboro, TN

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    What is Middle Tennessee State University known for?

    Middle Tennessee State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Economics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Tennessee State University

    #1098 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Graduation

    26%

    Student body

    7K

    Nashville, TN

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    What is Tennessee State University known for?

    Tennessee State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    University of Memphis

    #558 institution's historical influence
    #787 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/22

    Memphis, TN

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    What is University of Memphis known for?

    University of Memphis’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Law
    • Medical
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

    #1273 institution's historical influence
    #1007 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    Chattanooga, TN

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    What is University of Tennessee at Chattanooga known for?

    University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    East Tennessee State University

    #1345 institution's historical influence
    #564 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/23

    Johnson City, TN

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    What is East Tennessee State University known for?

    East Tennessee State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
  8. #8

    Tennessee Technological University

    #1858 institution's historical influence
    #1420 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/24

    Cookeville, TN

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    What is Tennessee Technological University known for?

    Tennessee Technological University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Lincoln Memorial University

    #2449 institution's historical influence
    #1140 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/22

    Harrogate, TN

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    What is Lincoln Memorial University known for?

    Lincoln Memorial University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Education
    • Business
    • Law
    • History
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Earth Sciences
    • Mathematics
  10. #10

    Carson–Newman University

    #4997 institution's historical influence
    #287 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/24

    Jefferson City, TN

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    What is Carson–Newman University known for?

    Carson–Newman University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Education
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    Lipscomb University

    #1851 institution's historical influence
    #1338 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/26

    Nashville, TN

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    What is Lipscomb University known for?

    Lipscomb University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Law
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. #12

    Union University

    #2445 institution's historical influence
    #1263 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/26

    Jackson, TN

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    What is Union University known for?

    Union University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Philosophy
    • Engineering
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  13. #13

    Trevecca Nazarene University

    #3608 institution's historical influence
    #1267 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1179/23

    Nashville, TN

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    What is Trevecca Nazarene University known for?

    Trevecca Nazarene University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Business
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  14. #14

    Freed–Hardeman University

    #9767 institution's historical influence
    #1059 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/24

    Henderson, TN

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    What is Freed–Hardeman University known for?

    Freed–Hardeman University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

Tennessee’s Best Grad School for Your Interest!

Resources for Prospective Grad Students

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