Best Research Universities in Tennessee 2024

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Interested in attending a STEM school in Tennessee? Our ranking of top research universities for bachelor’s degrees displays schools that will best prepare you for STEM careers.

10 Best Research Universities in Tennessee 2024

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  1. Vanderbilt University
  2. University of Tennessee
  3. University of Memphis
  4. Middle Tennessee State University
  5. Tennessee State University
  6. East Tennessee State University
  7. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  8. Belmont University
  9. Lincoln Memorial University
  10. Tennessee Tech
  1. Vanderbilt University
  2. University of Tennessee
  3. University of Memphis
  4. Tennessee State University
  5. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  6. Middle Tennessee State University
  7. East Tennessee State University
  8. Belmont University
  9. Lipscomb University
  10. Lincoln Memorial University
  1. University of Memphis 95%
  2. Belmont University 88%
  3. East Tennessee State University 87%
  4. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 86%
  5. Tennessee Tech 79%
  6. Carson–Newman University 79%
  7. Trevecca Nazarene University 78%
  8. University of Tennessee 75%
  9. Lipscomb University 74%
  10. Lincoln Memorial University 70%
  1. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 18 to 1
  2. Tennessee Tech 18 to 1
  3. University of Tennessee 17 to 1
  4. Middle Tennessee State University 17 to 1
  5. East Tennessee State University 16 to 1
  6. University of Memphis 16 to 1
  7. Lipscomb University 14 to 1
  8. Belmont University 14 to 1
  9. Carson–Newman University 14 to 1
  10. Trevecca Nazarene University 13 to 1
  1. Vanderbilt University $56,966
  2. Belmont University $38,430
  3. Lipscomb University $35,752
  4. Union University $35,510
  5. Carson–Newman University $31,320
  6. Trevecca Nazarene University $26,898
  7. Lincoln Memorial University $24,210
  8. University of Tennessee $11,332
  9. Tennessee Tech $8,520
  10. University of Memphis $8,352
  1. Vanderbilt University $51,600
  2. Belmont University $24,300
  3. Lincoln Memorial University $19,654
  4. Lipscomb University $17,100
  5. Union University $11,618
  6. University of Tennessee $11,468
  7. Trevecca Nazarene University $11,235
  8. Tennessee Tech $10,480
  9. Tennessee State University $9,524
  10. Carson–Newman University $9,432
  1. Trevecca Nazarene University
  2. Carson–Newman University
  3. Union University
  4. Lipscomb University
  5. Tennessee Tech
  6. Lincoln Memorial University
  7. Belmont University
  8. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  9. East Tennessee State University
  10. Tennessee State University
  1. Carson–Newman University
  2. Trevecca Nazarene University
  3. Tennessee Tech
  4. Union University
  5. Lincoln Memorial University
  6. Lipscomb University
  7. Belmont University
  8. East Tennessee State University
  9. Middle Tennessee State University
  10. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  1. Vanderbilt University 7%
  2. Union University 53%
  3. Middle Tennessee State University 68%
  4. Lincoln Memorial University 70%
  5. Lipscomb University 74%
  6. University of Tennessee 75%
  7. Trevecca Nazarene University 78%
  8. Carson–Newman University 79%
  9. Tennessee Tech 79%
  10. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 86%
  1. Vanderbilt University 8 to 1
  2. Union University 10 to 1
  3. Tennessee State University 12 to 1
  4. Trevecca Nazarene University 13 to 1
  5. Lincoln Memorial University 13 to 1
  6. Lipscomb University 14 to 1
  7. Belmont University 14 to 1
  8. Carson–Newman University 14 to 1
  9. East Tennessee State University 16 to 1
  10. University of Memphis 16 to 1
  1. Tennessee State University $7,128
  2. Middle Tennessee State University $7,344
  3. East Tennessee State University $7,486
  4. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga $7,992
  5. University of Memphis $8,352
  6. Tennessee Tech $8,520
  7. University of Tennessee $11,332
  8. Lincoln Memorial University $24,210
  9. Trevecca Nazarene University $26,898
  10. Carson–Newman University $31,320
  1. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga $8,618
  2. East Tennessee State University $8,784
  3. University of Memphis $9,378
  4. Middle Tennessee State University $9,396
  5. Carson–Newman University $9,432
  6. Tennessee State University $9,524
  7. Tennessee Tech $10,480
  8. Trevecca Nazarene University $11,235
  9. University of Tennessee $11,468
  10. Union University $11,618

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.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

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

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

Tennessee's Best Colleges and Universities Badge
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A research university is a great option for students interested in obtaining STEM degrees. Research universities invest heavily in research, which consequently provides meaningful and extensive opportunities for its students and faculty to participate in research. We’ve identified 14 research universities in Tennessee. To be included in our ranking, schools must be a fully accredited universities and must must offer doctoral degrees across the range of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

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Best Research Universities in Tennessee 2023

  1. #1

    Vanderbilt University

    Nashville , TN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1520/34

    Career Outlook for degree at Vanderbilt University

    Cost of Degree: $60,348
    Expenses: $24,064
    Starting Salary: $70,893
    Salary after 4 years: $94,755
    Cost Recoup Time: 15 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
  2. #3

    University of Memphis

    Memphis , TN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/22

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Memphis

    Cost of Degree: $10,056
    Expenses: $18,080
    Starting Salary: $45,563
    Salary after 4 years: $51,900
    Cost Recoup Time: 11 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    University of Memphis’s Online Degrees

    BA in African and African American Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Anthropology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Communication
    Degree Concentrations
    • Communication Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in English
    Degree Concentrations
    • African American Literature
    • Professional Writing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Sciences major in Healthcare Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Health Sciences
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Healthcare Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Healthcare Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Hospitality and Resort Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • Business Information and Technology
    • Management
    • Marketing Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Liberal Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Business Administration in Business Information and Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Business Administration in Finance
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business Finance
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Business Administration major in Finance
    Degree Concentrations
    • Real Estate
    • Finance
    • Insurance
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Health Services
    • Child Life Specialist
    • Legal Studies
    • Early Care and Learning
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Organizational Leadership
    • Information Technology
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Public Relations
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Sociology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in History
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Philosophy
    Degree Concentrations
    • Applied Ethics
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/23

    Career Outlook for degree at Middle Tennessee State University

    Cost of Degree: $9,232
    Expenses: $15,322
    Starting Salary: $40,427
    Salary after 4 years: $49,916
    Cost Recoup Time: 10 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
  4. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Graduation

    30%

    Student body

    6K

    Career Outlook for degree at Tennessee State University

    Cost of Degree: $8,336
    Expenses: $15,556
    Starting Salary: $44,366
    Salary after 4 years: $51,386
    Cost Recoup Time: 10 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    Tennessee State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Health Information Management
    Degree Concentrations
    • Utilizing Technologies in Healthcare Organizations
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Nursing
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Professional Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Health Administration
    • Information Technology
    • International Organizational Leadership
    • Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Social Work
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Sociology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  5. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/23

    Career Outlook for degree at East Tennessee State University

    Cost of Degree: $9,438
    Expenses: $17,323
    Starting Salary: $40,477
    Salary after 4 years: $52,125
    Cost Recoup Time: 10 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    East Tennessee State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business Administration
    • Marketing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
    BS in Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Early Childhood Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
    BS in General Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Humanities
    Degree Concentrations
    • English
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
    BS in Social Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Human Services
    • Sociology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Dentistry
    Degree Concentrations
    • Dental Hygiene
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Medical
    Degree Concentrations
    • Allied Health Leadership
    • Respiratory Therapy
    • Radiologic Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing
    Degree Concentrations
    • Nursing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/23

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

    Cost of Degree: $9,848
    Expenses: $14,950
    Starting Salary: $47,958
    Salary after 4 years: $56,897
    Cost Recoup Time: 9 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Online Degrees

    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 48
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
  7. #8

    Belmont University

    Nashville , TN

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    Career Outlook for degree at Belmont University

    Cost of Degree: $39,850
    Expenses: $20,630
    Starting Salary: $44,493
    Salary after 4 years: $57,665
    Cost Recoup Time: 17 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
  8. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $24K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/22

    Career Outlook for degree at Lincoln Memorial University

    Cost of Degree: $25,180
    Expenses: $16,540
    Starting Salary: $54,615
    Salary after 4 years: $65,492
    Cost Recoup Time: 12 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Lincoln Memorial University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    Lincoln Memorial University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 122
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  9. #10

    Tennessee Tech

    Cookeville , TN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/24

    Career Outlook for degree at Tennessee Tech

    Cost of Degree: $9,802
    Expenses: $17,182
    Starting Salary: $43,114
    Salary after 4 years: $53,289
    Cost Recoup Time: 10 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    Tennessee Tech’s Online Degrees

    BS in Medical Laboratory Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
  10. #11

    Lipscomb University

    Nashville , TN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/25

    Career Outlook for degree at Lipscomb University

    Cost of Degree: $37,152
    Expenses: $19,536
    Starting Salary: $49,148
    Salary after 4 years: $58,307
    Cost Recoup Time: 16 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    Lipscomb University’s Online Degrees

    BA/BS in Customer Experience
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Data Analytics
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Entertainment Management
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies in Psychology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (LADAC)
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Integrated Studies
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Psychology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (LADAC)
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 33-60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Business Leadership
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Organizational Communication
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies in Customer Experience
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies in Data Analytics
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies in Entertainment Management
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies in Integrated Studies
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies in Public Administration
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies in Strategic Leadership
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies in Supply Chain and Operations Management
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies in Technology Management
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Public Administration
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies in Organizational Communication
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Strategic Leadership
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Supply Chain and Operations Management
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Technology Management
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  11. #12

    Union University

    Jackson , TN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1200/26

    Career Outlook for degree at Union University

    Cost of Degree: $19,363
    Expenses: $19,460
    Starting Salary: $66,326
    Cost Recoup Time: 14 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Union University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    Union University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Christian Leadership
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Organizational Leadership
    Degree Concentrations
    • Organizational Management
    • Project Management
    • Health Management
    • Church Leadership
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Nursing
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  12. #13

    Carson–Newman University

    Jefferson City , TN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1040/22

    Career Outlook for degree at Carson–Newman University

    Cost of Degree: $33,000
    Expenses: $14,964
    Starting Salary: $44,569
    Salary after 4 years: $50,964
    Cost Recoup Time: 15 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Carson–Newman University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    Carson–Newman University’s Online Degrees

    BBA in Business
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  13. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1146/22

    Career Outlook for degree at Trevecca Nazarene University

    Cost of Degree: $28,500
    Expenses: $12,410
    Starting Salary: $48,634
    Salary after 4 years: $64,396
    Cost Recoup Time: 12 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Trevecca Nazarene University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    Trevecca Nazarene University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Health Care Administration
    • Required Credits: 36
    • 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: 36
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Management and Leadership
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
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Find the Best Research Universities in Tennessee for 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 utilized 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. University of Tennessee
  3. Tennessee State University
  4. Middle Tennessee State University
  5. University of Memphis
  6. Lincoln Memorial University
  7. Carson–Newman University
  8. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  9. Lipscomb University
  10. Union University
  11. Tennessee Tech
  12. East Tennessee State University
  13. Trevecca Nazarene University
  14. Belmont University

Check out our directory of research universities throughout the U.S. for a look at the top research institutions in every state.

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