Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Tennessee 2022

Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Tennessee 2022

Liberal arts colleges are a great option for students seeking a well-rounded education in an intimate campus setting. The best liberal arts colleges in Tennessee offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

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.


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A liberal arts college is a school that puts a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree. We’ve identified 21 liberal arts colleges in Tennessee. To be ranked among the 30 best liberal arts colleges in Tennessee, schools must fully accredited institutions.

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Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Tennessee 2022

  1. Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    6K

    University of Tennessee at Martin’s Online Degrees

    BS in Agricultural Business
    Degree Concentrations
    • Agricultural Business
    • Farm and Ranch Management
    • Veterinary Technology and Management (Completion program)
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Management
    • Information Systems
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS/BA in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS/BA in History
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BIS in Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. #5

    Bryan College

    Dayton , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    1K

    Bryan College’s Online Degrees

    BS in Applied Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Leadership
    • Healthcare Management
    • Human Resource Management
    • Marketing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/21

    Austin Peay State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Computer Information Systems
    Degree Concentrations
    • General Information Systems
    • Information Assurance and Security
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Computer Information Technology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Web and Database
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Computer Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • General Computer Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    Degree Concentrations
    • Homeland Security
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in General Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Education (Non-Licensure)
    • Health
    • Humanities
    • Multi-Disciplinary
    • Organizational Administration and Supervision
    • Social and Behavioral Health Sciences
    • STEM
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health and Human Performance
    Degree Concentrations
    • Health Care Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Leadership and Organization Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Hospitality Administration
    • Leadership Science
    • Organizational Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Marketing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Medical Laboratory Science (MLT-to-MLS)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Political Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Communication
    Degree Concentrations
    • Information Specialist
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Public Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  4. #8

    King University

    Bristol , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1097/22

    King University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Business Management
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication
    • Required Credits: 125
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in English
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Healthcare Administration
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in History
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Information Technology
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Religious Studies
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  5. #9

    Cumberland University

    Lebanon , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $25K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/20

    Cumberland University’s Online Degrees

    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 125
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  6. Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Christian Brothers University known for?

    Christian Brothers University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    Christian Brothers University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Professional Psychology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Criminal Justice
    • Organizational Psychology
    • Public Health
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 122
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  7. #11

    Maryville College

    Maryville , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1141/24

  8. Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    3K

  9. Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/22

    What is Tennessee Wesleyan University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    Tennessee Wesleyan University’s Online Degrees

    Bachelor’s in Professional Leadership in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Management
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • Human Resource Management
    • Industrial Management
    • Healthcare Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing: RN to BSN
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  10. #15

    Welch College

    Gallatin , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Welch College known for?

    Welch College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Welch College’s Online Degrees

    BS in General Christian Ministry
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business
    • Required Credits: 129
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  11. #16

    Bethel University

    McKenzie , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    35%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1024/18

    Bethel University ’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Leadership
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business Management
    • Customer Relationship Management
    • Fire Science
    • Healthcare Management
    • Human Resources
    • Information Technology
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Emergency Services Management
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  12. #17

    LeMoyne–Owen College

    Memphis , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    15%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    825/16

    What is LeMoyne–Owen College known for?

    LeMoyne–Owen College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    98%

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/19

    What is University of Tennessee Southern known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/24

  15. #20

    Tusculum University

    Greeneville , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/20

    Tusculum University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • Entrepreneurship
    • General
    • Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Independent Studies in English major
    Degree Concentrations
    • Creative Writing
    • Literature
    • Communication & Public Relations
    • Education 6-12
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  16. #21

    Daymar Institute

    Nashville , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $22K

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Daymar Institute known for?

    Daymar Institute’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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Tennessee’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Your Area of Interest

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. Rhodes College
  2. Sewanee: The University of the South
  3. Fisk University
  4. Bryan College
  5. Southern Adventist University
  6. Maryville College
  7. University of Tennessee at Martin
  8. King University
  9. Tusculum University
  10. Lee University
  11. Cumberland University
  12. Christian Brothers University
  13. Freed–Hardeman University
  14. Tennessee Wesleyan University

Check out our directory of liberal arts colleges throughout the U.S. for a look at the top liberal arts schools in every state.