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The Best Tennessee Online Nurse Practitioner Programs and Requirements

June 3, 2020 | Staff Writers

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Written by NurseJournal.org Staff

Nurse practitioners (NPs) in Tennessee help meet the preventative and acute care needs of patients across the state. These medical professionals work under the supervision of physicians to diagnose and treat patients, provide well-child visits, and educate individuals about healthy habits. While Tennessee doesn’t offer independent practice roles for these professionals, nurse practitioner programs in Tennessee prepare learners to provide a higher level of care with greater autonomy than registered nurses (RNs).


Nurse practitioner programs in Tennessee help you fulfill one of the critical steps in becoming an advanced practice nurse.

Tennessee offers advanced practice nursing licensure to candidates who complete a graduate nursing program and earn national certification from a credentialing agency. Once properly licensed, NPs may conduct diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, and counsel patients. Many nurse practitioner programs at Tennessee schools offer specializations in primary care, midwifery, and anesthesiology.

Nurse practitioner programs in Tennessee help you fulfill one of the critical steps in becoming an advanced practice nurse. This guide examines the NP licensing process in Tennessee and also highlights exciting career opportunities across the state. Demand for qualified NPs continues to rise across Tennessee, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting a 40.2% increase in employment through 2026. Several areas in Tennessee also rank among the highest concentrations of advanced practice nursing jobs, with many nurses working in Johnson City, Chattanooga, and nonmetropolitan areas of north and south-central Tennessee.

Best Tennessee Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

1. The University of Tennessee

The UT is made up of a number of different campuses. Indeed, there is a presence in all of the 95 counties that make up Tennessee. They combine education with outreach and research in order to serve their students, schools, industry, business, organizations, government and, most of all, residents of the state. The school offers a full range of affordable educational opportunities. The vision of UT has been clearly set out to be to enhance educational excellence, to expand the capacity for research, to foster engagement and outreach, to make sure all programs are efficient and effective and to advocate the overall UT system.

Campus: Knoxville, Tennessee
Type: Public
Accreditation: CCNE
Tuition: $22,061
Time Commitment: 4 year
Online Availability: Some
Degree Requirements: GPA, formal demonstration of competency, admission test, TOEFL if applicable
Program: Adult health nursing, family practice nurse and nurse anesthetist
School Website: University of Tennessee

2. Middle Tennessee State University

MTSU is a university that is rightfully proud of many different achievements. However, some of their best achievements are their graduates. Indeed, in the Tennessee Bord of Regents system, they are the top producer of graduates. Among public universities, only one other university that delivers more graduates. They also have a strong focus on adult students, as well as those on low incomes. This means that they are the best at enabling a larger proportion of people to become the best they can be, without it costing the earth.

Campus: Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Type: Public
Accreditation: SACSCOC, Fuld Institute for Technology in Nursing Education, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, CCNE and SREB Council on Collegiate Education for Nursing
Tuition: $19,639 in state and $23,338 out of state
Time Commitment: 4 years
Online Availability: No
Degree Requirements: GPA, College preparatory program, admission test score and TOEFL if applicable
Program: Family practice nursing
School Website: Middle Tennessee State University

3. University of Memphis

The University of Memphis wants their students to be dreamers, thinkers and doers. The school was first established in 1912 and it has grown exponentially since then. It is one of the most beautiful universities in the state with a very rich history, which it displays in various locations on campus.

Campus: Memphis, Tennessee
Type: Public
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, CCNE
Tuition: $20,731 in state and $25,937 out of state
Time Commitment: 4 years
Online Availability: Some
Degree Requirements: GPA, college preparatory program, admission test score, TOEFL if applicable
Program: Family Practice Nursing
School Website: University of Memphis

4. Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University is a private university focusing on research. It also has a full medical center, where students can enjoy undergraduate, graduate and professional education. It is a highly esteemed university, which is reflected in its higher than average tuition fees, but mainly in the quality of their education.

Campus: Nashville, Tennessee
Type: Private, not-for-profit
Accreditation: Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Tuition: $56,634
Time Commitment: 4 years
Online Availability: Some
Degree Requirements: GPA, recommendation, formal demonstration of competencies, admission test score, TOEFL if applicable
Program: Adult Health Nurse/Nursing, Clinical Nurse Leader, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Critical Care Nursing, Family Practice Nurse/Nursing, Maternal/Child Health and Neonatal Nurse/Nursing, Nurse Midwife/Nursing Midwifery, Nursing Administration, Pediatric Nurse/Nursing, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse/Nursing
School Website: Vanderbilt University

5. Austin Peay State University

Austin Peay State University wants to ensure that the learning environment for students is of the highest possible quality. The university is fully committed to equality and diversity as well. They work hard to develop and implement personal value systems, human relation skills and strong leadership skills.

Campus: Clarksville, Tennessee
Type: Public
Accreditation: Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Tennessee Department of Health – Board of Nursing and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission
Tuition: $19,603 in state and $24,610 out of state
Time Commitment: 4 years
Online Availability:
Degree Requirements: GPA, admission test score, TOEFL if applicable
Program: master, bachelor, associate, certificate
School Website: Austin Peay State University

Requirements to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Tennessee

Becoming an NP in Tennessee requires nursing experience, advanced education, and national certification.

  • Earn a master of science in nursing from a school recognized by the Tennessee Board of Nursing. Programs may include online and on-campus components that combine clinical practice with classroom instruction. Nurses with valid RN licenses and 1-2 years of work experience often qualify for accelerated graduate programs, requiring as little as one year of graduate study. Your program may include a specialization or concentration.
  • Earn NP certification from a nationally recognized certification board. NPs may also seek certification in a specialty practice area, such as critical care or pediatric care.
  • Requirements vary, depending on the rules of the certifying board. However, most NPs must satisfy work requirements, pass an exam, and adhere to established professional standards. Tennessee needs more primary care providers to meet the demands of its population. A 2015 report from the University of Memphis found that 40% of Tennesseans live in counties without an adequate supply of primary care physicians. The more than 7,000 NPs working in the state can help meet this need. In-demand nursing specializations include:


    Primary Care Nurse Practitioner: Application for an adult gerontology primary care certification requires 500 hours of supervised clinical practice; graduate coursework in physiology and pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology; and an active RN license. Applicants must pass an exam administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Once awarded, the credential is valid for five years.


    Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification: This is not an NP credential and does not meet Tennessee’s NP licensing requirements. However, RNs with this designation demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to gain board certification in medical-surgical roles, and it may enhance NP credentials. Each applicant must possess two years of work experience and 2,000 hours of clinical practice in the medical-surgical specialization. Nurses must complete 30 hours of continuing education and pass the national exam. Certification is valid for five years.


    Emergency Medicine: RNs can seek board certification in emergency medicine. The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing recommends two years of work experience. Applicants must pass the national exam and recertify every four years.
  • An NP who wishes to prescribe medications must enter a collaborative agreement with a supervising physician.
  • Tennessee requires NPs to maintain evidence of certification and ongoing professional training every two years. NPs must renew their national certification and provide proof of competence, such as an employer or peer evaluation, a letter from a patient or family member regarding performance, or a copy of contract renewal for a nursing position.
  • Complete two hours of continuing education for controlled substance prescribing practices, including chronic pain guidelines.
  • In-Demand Nursing Specialty Eligibility Requirements in Tennessee

    Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (AGPCNP-BC)

    Years of Experience: None

    Clinical Hours Required: 500 hours of faculty-supervised clinical practice

    Continuing Education: 75 hours every five years

    Other: Three separate courses covering advanced physiology, health assessment, and pharmacology

    Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification (RN-BC)

    Years of Experience: Two years

    Clinical Hours Required: 2,000 hours of clinical work experience within the past three years

    Continuing Education: 75 hours every five years

    Other: Initial applicants must complete 30 hours of continuing education in the medical-surgical field within the past three years

    Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)

    Years of Experience: Two years recommended

    Clinical Hours Required: None

    Continuing Education: 100 hours every four years

    Other: Requires an active RN license

    Salary and Career Information

    NPs in Tennessee earn a premium salary in exchange for their additional training, with annual mean wages of $95,990, compared to $61,320 for RNs. While both professions earn slightly less than the national average, Tennessee offers an 89.5 cost of living index. The state also projects a growth of 40.2% in NP employment through 2026.

    Tennessee employs about 7,000 NPs to rank among the top 10 states for employment. It also ranks second for the concentration of NP jobs, with 2.37 NPs per 1,000 jobs. Johnson City, Cleveland, Knoxville, and Chattanooga all offer high concentrations of NP jobs.

    Memphis offers the highest mean annual wages for NPs, with these professionals earning $107,210 each year. NPs may also look outside the metropolitan regions for jobs. North and south-central Tennessee reports 320 and 350 NPs working in each area, respectively. NPs in the north-central Tennessee region earn mean annual wages of $104,670. NPs with specialized skills can expect even higher wages. Nurse Journal reports nurse anesthetists lead all nursing specializations in average pay. BLS reports median wages of $167,950 for these specialists.

    RN vs. NP Salary and Projected Job Growth in Tennessee
      Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
    Tennessee Mean Salary $61,320 $95,990
    U.S. Mean Salary $75,510 $110,030
    Tennessee Job Growth 18.9% 40.2%
    U.S. Job Growth 14.8% 36.1%

    Source: BLS, Projections Central

    Tennessee Metropolitan Areas With the Highest Mean NP Wages
      Salary Employment
    Memphis, Tennessee $107,210 1,280
    Chattanooga, Tennessee $105,030 740
    Kingsport – Bristol, Tennessee – Virginia $98,760 270
    Morristown, Tennessee $96,950 60
    Johnson City, Tennessee $95,930 290

    Source: BLS

    Advertisement NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.

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