The Best Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs

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Updated February 14, 2023

Interested in becoming a nurse practitioner? Check out this guide to the best Tennessee nurse practitioner programs and learn more about how these programs work.
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Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) trained to provide an array of healthcare services to patients across the lifespan. A registered nurse (RN) interested in becoming an NP must complete a graduate degree in nursing and the training required for certification. Graduates of Tennessee nurse practitioner programs can look forward to expanding employment opportunities and high salaries.

This guide introduces you to the top-ranked NP programs in the state, along with important information about admission requirements, accreditation, and certification.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best Tennessee nurse practitioner programs, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

At a Glance: The Top Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs

  1. Tusculum University
  2. Carson-Newman University
  3. Union University
  4. Southern Adventist University
  5. Vanderbilt University

Featured Online NP Programs

How Do Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs Work?

Most Tennessee nurse practitioner programs admit students with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), a valid and unencumbered RN license, and at least one year of clinical experience. NP programs take 1.5-3 years to compete, depending on curriculum requirements. Some schools offer online formats, part-time study plans, and bridge or accelerated programs, which impact the time needed to finish the degree.

The typical NP curriculum comprises evidence-based coursework, population-focused classes, and clinical experiences designed to prepare graduates for national certification and state licensure. While every NP degree requires clinical experience, each program determines where students can fulfill their placements and the number of hours required.

Applying to a Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Program

When applying to any of Tennessee's nurse practitioner programs, pay attention to specific entrance requirements. In addition to holding an undergraduate degree from an accredited school, you can complete specific prerequisites. Depending on the program, you may have to submit GRE scores. In general, nurse practitioner programs accept applicants who demonstrate the following:

  • Admission Requirements

    An unrestricted Tennessee RN license; an associate or a BSN degree from an accredited school; at least one year of clinical experience
  • Admission Materials

    Official transcripts from previously attended schools; 2-3 letters of recommendation; a resume; a personal essay; an in-person or online interview
  • GPA Requirement

    3.0 GPA or higher
  • Prerequisites

    Each program establishes its own prerequisites consisting of undergraduate courses in subjects, such as chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and statistics.

Why Is Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Program Accreditation Important?

Aspiring nurse practitioners should consider nursing programs offered at regionally accredited colleges and universities. Within a regionally accredited college or university, nursing programs should also receive programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Accreditation establishes the academic quality of the program, ensuring that graduates have adequate preparation to practice as nurse practitioners. Students who attend an unaccredited program may not qualify for federal financial aid and may not be able to transfer credits to an accredited school. Doctoral programs and prospective employers generally look for applicants who hold a degree from accredited institutions.

All Tennessee nurse practitioner programs in this ranking have received programmatic accreditation.

Learn More About the Best Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs and Schools

See our methodology to learn more about how we create our rankings.

#1 The Best Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs

Tusculum University

  • Greeneville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Tusculum University offers an MSN-to-FNP program on campus in Greeneville. The degree ranks among the best in its class and is one of the school's four master's programs.

Applicants with a bachelor's in nursing or a related field should explore this curriculum. Other qualified degree-seekers can also apply. The program examines advanced concepts and includes opportunities for original research. In a tight job market, master's graduates may gain access to more job opportunities and higher pay than those with just a bachelor's degree.

The cost of attendance is around $7,200 annually. The program becomes more affordable for learners who use financial aid like grants and scholarships. Many degree-seekers receive loans to help cover all or part of their tuition.

Average Tuition
In-state
$24,860
Out-of-state
$24,860
Retention Rate
62%
Admission Rate
72%
Students Enrolled
1,717
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 The Best Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs

Carson-Newman University

  • Jefferson City, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in nursing may want to consider Carson-Newman University's MSN-to-FNP program. Learners apply to this program to expand their knowledge and gain skills that will help them pursue next-level career opportunities. Graduates leave the program equipped for management, development, and research careers.

The private college in Jefferson City offers more than 30 master’s degrees, including the MSN-to-FNP program. Degree-seekers value the research opportunities, faculty mentorship, and strong network-building they can pursue.

Around 69% of all applicants to the college receive acceptance, though graduate programs are often more selective. Enrollees study advanced concepts and can often choose electives. Beyond the school's tutoring and academic advising resources, the career services department provides networking opportunities that students can use to make professional contacts.

Average Tuition
In-state
$27,600
Out-of-state
$27,600
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
2,725
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 The Best Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs

Union University

  • Jackson, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Union University's master of science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner track may appeal to graduates with a bachelor's degree in nursing. Learners receive a rigorous education in that is ranked among the nation’s best, qualifying them for an array of job opportunities. The degree and graduates' work experience may qualify them for managerial and leadership careers.

The Jackson-based private school is recognized for a strong graduate program. One of the attractions at this college is a catalog of 20 master’s programs, including a master of science in nursing. Faculty focus on student success with strong academics and mentorship opportunities.

About 53% of applicants receive acceptance letters, although numbers vary across graduate programs. Enrollees study in courses that focus on advanced topics. They receive training that prepares them for more specialized jobs. The career services department and networking opportunities are useful resources as students begin to prepare for life after college.

Average Tuition
In-state
$21,600
Out-of-state
$21,600
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
53%
Students Enrolled
3,172
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 The Best Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs

Southern Adventist University

  • Collegedale, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master of science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner emphasis at Southern Adventist University is a well-established program that attracts many students interested in this field. The top-ranked program delivers academic rigor from its Collegedale campus. The school excels at graduate education, offering about 30 master's programs.

Applicants with a bachelor's degree in nursing or a related field usually pursue this degree. However, learners with other majors can also apply. Enrollees  study advanced nursing concepts and conduct original research. Many employers want candidates with advanced credentials such as a master’s degree.

Students can expect to pay $11,700 in graduate tuition. Comprehensive financial aid opportunities like scholarships and grants help learners lower degree costs. Enrollees can also take out loans to help cover all or part of their tuition.

Average Tuition
In-state
$21,650
Out-of-state
$21,650
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,834
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 The Best Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs

Vanderbilt University

  • Nashville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Affordable, top-ranked degrees set Vanderbilt University apart from many other institutions. The Nashville-based college offers a master of science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner specialty that features high-quality instruction and career preparation. Various financial aid programs make this degree more affordable.

Tuition costs $48,624 annually. About 68% of degree-seekers offset degree costs by using scholarships and other financial aid. Loans are another option accepted by 13% of enrollees.

A bachelor’s program alone cannot provide students with advanced career preparation, which is why many degree-seekers turn to a master’s. Graduates can pursue leadership roles, and some may choose a research-related profession. Master's degree-holders may also pursue a doctorate in their field.

Average Tuition
In-state
$50,800
Out-of-state
$50,800
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
9%
Students Enrolled
13,131
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Frequently Asked Questions About Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs

Can a nurse practitioner work independently in Tennessee?

Tennessee is one of 11 states with the highest level of restrictions for advanced practice registered nurses, including NPs. State law requires Tennessee NPs to work under collaborative practice agreements with a physician. The supervising physician must be available for consultation, but does not need to be physically present or in the same practice location.

How do I become a nurse practitioner in Tennessee?

Before you can work as a nurse practitioner in Tennessee, you must obtain your RN license, complete undergraduate and graduate nursing degrees, and fulfill all state requirements for licensure. After earning either an MSN or a doctor of nursing practice degree that includes APRN concentrations, NPs must successfully pass a certification exam to receive state licensure.

How much do Tennessee nurse practitioners make?

According to May 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, NPs in Tennessee earn an average annual salary of $95,120, compared to the nation average salary of $118,040. The state ranks fifth in the U.S. for NP employment, providing over 11,300 jobs. High-demand NP specialties include cardiology, emergency nursing, and orthopedics, which can result in higher salaries.

Is a nurse practitioner degree worth it in Tennessee?

Graduates of Tennessee nurse practitioner programs will find ample career opportunities as the NP job market continues to expand. The aging population, primary care physician shortages, and nurse retirements and turnovers are among factors driving the demand for NPs across the state. Tennessee projects a 57.2% increase in NP jobs between 2020 and 2030, adding over 1,000 openings for these nurses each year.


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