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The Best Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs 2023

NurseJournal Rankings Team
Updated September 22, 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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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

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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. South College
  2. Southern Adventist University
  3. Union University
  4. Vanderbilt University

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.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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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:

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    Admission Requirements

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

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

    3.0 GPA or higher
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    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 2023

South College

  • Location-markerKnoxville, TN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$16,450
  • Out-of-state$16,450
  • Retention Rate60%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled5,171
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment77%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Best Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs 2023

Southern Adventist University

  • Location-markerCollegedale, TN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$22,060
  • Out-of-state$22,060
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate74%
  • Students Enrolled2,730
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment43%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 The Best Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs 2023

Union University

  • Location-markerJackson, TN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$22,080
  • Out-of-state$22,080
  • Retention Rate87%
  • Acceptance Rate58%
  • Students Enrolled3,071
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment46%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 The Best Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs 2023

Vanderbilt University

  • Location-markerNashville, TN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$52,781
  • Out-of-state$52,781
  • Retention Rate96%
  • Acceptance Rate12%
  • Students Enrolled13,537
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment83%
  • AccreditationYes

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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