Best Private Colleges in Tennessee 2022

Best Private Colleges in Tennessee 2022

Private colleges, unlike large public institutions, can be a great option for students wanting a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Here is our list of the best private colleges in Tennessee.

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

What is the difference between public and private colleges?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models. Public colleges and universities are owned by the state and receive both state and federal funding to operate. Private colleges and universities are private companies with private funding. If you’re looking at the pros and cons of private vs. public colleges, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a bachelor’s degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. Attending a college in-state is usually the cheapest option. Private universities and colleges can be very competitive with their funding opportunities, so do not simply believe that private colleges are always going to be more expensive. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually. But in the end, the cost of college comes down to each student’s academic and financial situation.

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This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees. We’ve identified 26 private universities in Tennessee. To be included in the list below of the best private universities in Tennessee, schools must be fully accredited, private, non-profit institution, and must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.

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Best Private Colleges in Tennessee

  1. Tuition + fees

    $24K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/22

    Lincoln Memorial University’s Online Degrees

    BSN in Nursing: RN to BSN
    • Required Credits: 122
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. #7

    Lipscomb University

    Nashville , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/26

    Lipscomb University’s Online Degrees

    BA/BS/BPS in Business Leadership
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS/BPS in Customer Experience
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS/BPS in Data Analytics
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS/BPS in Entertainment Management
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS/BPS in Hospitality Management
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS/BPS in Integrated Studies
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS/BPS in Organizational Communication
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS/BPS in Psychology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (LADAC)
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS/BPS in Public Administration
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS/BPS in Strategic Leadership
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS/BPS in Supply Chain and Operations Management
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. #8

    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
  4. #10

    Union University

    Jackson , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/26

    Union University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Christian Leadership
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Organizational Leadership
    Degree Concentrations
    • Organizational Management
    • Project Management
    • Health Management
    • Church Leadership
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  5. #11

    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
  6. #12

    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
  7. 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
  8. #14

    Carson–Newman University

    Jefferson City , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/24

    Carson–Newman University’s Online Degrees

    BBA in Business
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 133
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  9. #15

    Maryville College

    Maryville , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1141/24

  10. Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    3K

  11. 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
  12. Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1179/23

    Trevecca Nazarene University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Christian Ministry
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Care Administration
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Management and Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  13. #20

    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
  14. #21

    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
  15. #22

    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

  16. 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

  17. Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/24

  18. #25

    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
  19. #26

    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 Private Colleges in Your Area 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. Vanderbilt University
  2. Rhodes College
  3. Sewanee: The University of the South
  4. Fisk University
  5. Bryan College
  6. Southern Adventist University
  7. Lincoln Memorial University
  8. Maryville College
  9. Carson–Newman University
  10. King University
  11. Tusculum University
  12. Lipscomb University
  13. Lee University
  14. Cumberland University
  15. Union University
  16. Christian Brothers University
  17. Trevecca Nazarene University
  18. Freed–Hardeman University
  19. Tennessee Wesleyan University
  20. Belmont University

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