The Best Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs 2023

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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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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.

Explore Featured Online NP Programs

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

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 2023

South College

  • Knoxville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Founded in 1882, South College offers one of the best NP programs in Tennessee with a focus on family nursing that you can complete fully online in 18 months. You can choose from BSN-to-MSN, RN-to-MSN, or RN-to-MSN tracks that take 18-36 months. 

The program prepares you for an advanced nursing practice with core courses in pathophysiology, healthcare informatics, pharmacology, health assessment, and research methods. The family nursing concentration focuses on primary care of infants, children, adolescents, and adults.

  • Program: Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $3,950/quarter (1-9 credits); $5,500/quarter (10-20 credits)
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's in nursing degree or associate in nursing degree from an accredited college, depending on the program; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA; official transcripts; personal statement; resume
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 18 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021): 89% first-time pass rate
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$16,450
Out-of-state
$16,450
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$27,025
Out-of-state
$27,025
Retention Rate
60%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
5,171
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
77% 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 2023

Southern Adventist University

  • Collegedale, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Southern Adventist University offers an NP program rooted in Seventh-day Adventist principles. You can choose from concentrations in nursing education, acute care-adult gerontology, and primary care for families, adult gerontology, or psychiatric mental health.

The 51-credit MSN degree with an emphasis on nursing education is fully online. You can study full or part time and complete clinical placements in your state of residence. Courses cover healthcare technology, Christian leadership management, healthcare policy, and health assessments. 

  • Program: Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Collegedale, Tennessee
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
  • Tuition: $715 per credit for North Carolina residents and out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Associate degree or diploma in nursing from an accredited school; minimum 3.0 GPA; current RN license; two years of nursing experience; official transcripts; three recommendations; written statement; resume; interview. 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021): 87% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $92,277 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$22,060
Out-of-state
$22,060
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,700
Out-of-state
$11,700
Retention Rate
81%
Acceptance Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
2,730
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
43% 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 2023

Union University

  • Jackson, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Union University provides a Christian-based nursing education that you can complete in 16 months. 

Offered by the 1960s-established college of nursing, the program lets you choose from tracks in family nursing or psychiatric mental health nursing. You can take courses online or at the campuses in Jackson, Germantown, and/or Hendersonville. 

The program requires 560 clinical hours and courses in nursing statistics, health assessments, theoretical and ethical concepts, nursing evidence, informatics and healthcare, pharmacology, and psychopharmacology. 

  • Program: Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Jackson, Tennessee
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $685 per credit for Tennessee residents and out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's in nursing degree from an accredited school; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 16 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021): 93% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $90,412 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$22,080
Out-of-state
$22,080
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,625
Out-of-state
$10,625
Retention Rate
87%
Acceptance Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
3,071
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
46% 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 2023

Vanderbilt University

  • Nashville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Vanderbilt University's school of nursing dates back to 1908 and offers a hybrid nurse practitioner program that only takes one year. 

The MSN program, with an emphasis on family nursing, requires viewing pre-recorded lectures and web conferences, plus 10 on-campus visits. Students can choose from part time or full time options. Courses explore advanced pathophysiology, health assessments, pharmacotherapeutics, and clinical decision-making. 

To earn a degree, you also must complete 630 clinical hours.

  • Program: Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Nashville, Tennessee
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $1,939 per credit for Tennessee residents and out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited school; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA; statement of purpose; admission essay; three letters of recommendation; official transcripts; completed prerequisites
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021): 95% first-time pass rate for master's students
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$52,781
Out-of-state
$52,781
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$50,082
Out-of-state
$50,082
Retention Rate
96%
Acceptance Rate
12%
Students Enrolled
13,537
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
83% 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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