Best Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Programs

Updated November 18, 2022

NPs complete nurse practitioner programs, Tennessee licensing checks, and national certification to begin their careers. Read on to learn about the education and training necessary to enter this fast-growing, highly rewarding profession.
mini logo
NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Credit: Malcolm MacGregor | Moment | Getty Images

The demand for qualified nurse practitioners (NPs) continues to rise across Tennessee, offering opportunities for fulfilling, lucrative careers. Working under the supervision of physicians, NPs in Tennessee help meet patient healthcare needs in every part of the state.

Explore the top-ranked MSN programs in Tennessee with this guide. Read on to learn how long it takes to become an NP, what to look for in a nurse practitioner program, job outlook statistics, and salary data.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best acute care nurse practitioner programs, making it easier to find a program that works for you. We base our methodology on metrics that matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

Keep reading to learn more about nurse practitioner programs, or go straight to our list of the best NP programs in Tennessee.

What Can You Do With a Nurse Practitioner Degree?

Anurse practitioner degreeprepares graduates to pursue employment in one of the fastest growing and highly paid nursing careers. Thesegraduate-trained advanced practice registered nurses(APRNs) address chronic, acute, and preventive healthcare needs for patients of all ages. They can diagnose medical conditions, order tests, and prescribe medications.

While NPs possess more autonomy and offer a higher level of care than registered nurses, their responsibilities depend on their specialty, population areas, and state license requirements. While some states authorize independent practice roles for these nurses, NPs in Tennessee must work under the supervision of physicians.

  1. 1

    Family Nurse Practitioner

    FNPs provide primary care to patients throughout the life span with an emphasis on preventive healthcare. As one of the most popular and in-demand nurse practitioner roles, FNPs earn anaverage base salary of over $98,000, according to May 2022 Payscale data.

  2. 2

    Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

    ACNPs care for acutely and critically ill patients with serious conditions that require medical or surgical intervention. Despite the long shifts and challenging conditions, ACNPs find their work professionally fulfilling, with an average base salaryof more than $105,000, as of May 2022.

  3. 3

    Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    PNPs specialize in caring for children from birth through the age of 21. These NPs focus on well-child care and the treatment and prevention of pediatric acute and chronic conditions. As of May 2022, Payscale data indicates that nurses working in this high-demand specialty earn anaverage base salaryof $93,360, with top earners making over $119,000 a year.

Featured Online MSN Programs

What To Look For in a Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Program

What should you look for when evaluating nurse practitioner programs in Tennessee? The key indicators described below can help you find the school that best fits your personal needs and career goals.

  1. 1

    Admission Requirements

    Each NP program sets specific eligibility requirements. Make sure that you have the necessary degrees, test scores, licenses, and work experience to qualify for admission.

  2. 2

    Program Curriculum

    Take some time to explore core and elective courses, required credit hours, available specializations, and course delivery formats. Does the curriculum reflect your interests and allow you enough flexibility?

  3. 3

    Clinical Experience

    While every NP degree requires clinicals, each program determines where students can fulfill clinical placements and the time spent in clinical rotations. Find out where enrollees perform their clinical experiences, the expected time commitment, and whether the program assists with placement.

  4. 4

    Accreditation

    Aspiring nurse practitioners should only consider programs at regionally accredited colleges and universities. They should also select NP programs that hold programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing(ACEN). Accreditation establishes the quality of the program and ensures that graduates have adequate preparation to practice as NPs.

  5. 5

    Program Length

    MSN programs in Tennessee can take 1.5-3 years, depending on curriculum requirements and clinical experience. Some schools offer online formats, along with bridge and accelerated programs, which can degree timelines.

  6. 6

    School NCLEX Pass Rate

    This figure tells you what percentage of a program's graduates passed the National Council Licensure Examination on the first try. Use this metric to receive an indication of overall program quality and teaching practices. Consistently high pass rates serve as a benchmark for the instructional quality of a nursing program.

  7. 7

    School Graduation Rate

    This metric tells you what percentage of enrollees have completed their programs. Graduation rates may indicate the level of support available to students, the competitiveness of the program, and the ease of fulfilling curricula requirements.

Applying to a Nurse Practitioner Program in Tennessee

Nurse practitioner schools in Tennessee typically require each applicant to have completed a BSN degree, pass the NCLEX-RN exam, and hold an unencumbered RN license. Some programs admit ADN graduates directly into MSN programs. Almost all MSN programs require applicants who have at least one year of clinical experience as an RN.

  • Admission Materials

    Most NP programs require prerequisites in statistics. An applicant typically must hold an ADN or BSN degree and submit official transcripts, a resume, and 2-3 letters of recommendation. In some cases, a candidate completes a personal essay or interview.

  • GPA Requirement

    Most nurse practitioner programs in Tennessee require an overall minimum 3.0 GPA. Some schools waive GRE score requirements for applicants with high GPAs.

Why Is Nurse Practitioner Program Accreditation Important?

As the single most important factor to consider when choosing a degree, accreditation demonstrates that a school's programs, faculty, and support services meet appropriate quality standards.

Regionally accredited schools have undergone formal reviews by one of the six regional accrediting bodies approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Nursing schools also seek programmatic accreditation from either the CCNE or ACEN to ensure their graduates meet quality standards for professional practice.

Accreditation also affects educational and employment opportunities. Students who attend unaccredited programs may not qualify for federal financial aid or receive consideration for admission to accredited graduate programs in the field.

Coursework completed at an unaccredited school may not be transferable. Most employers will not hire graduates of unaccredited nursing programs. State nursing boards only authorize licenses for graduates of accredited programs.

Paying for a Nurse Practitioner Program in Tennessee

The cost of a nurse practitioner degree depends on several factors. Before enrolling in an MSN program, research the overall length of time needed to complete the degree, along with any residency and clinical requirements. Consider how these factors will affect living expenses and any personal or professional commitments.

Some programs may restrict students from working while enrolled in school. Out-of-state students may pay higher tuition rates than Tennessee residents.

Funding sources include federal subsidized loans or private loans, work-study programs through schools, or tuition remission from employers.

Learn More About the Top NP Programs in Tennessee

#1 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 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 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 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 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

Common Questions About Nurse Practitioner Programs


How much do nurse practitioners make in Tennessee?

According to May 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, NPs in Tennessee earn an average annual salary of $95,120. The state employs over 11,360 nurse practitioners, ranking among the top five states for NP employment. Nurse practitioners with DNPs or in-demand specializations such as psychiatry, geriatrics, or obstetrics/gynecology can expect to earn higher salaries.

Are nurse practitioners in high demand in Tennessee?

Projections Central places Tennessee among the top ten states for nurse practitioner job growth, with a projected 34.7% increase from 2018-2028. Northwest Tennessee, East Tennessee, and the upper Cumberland regions are projected to have the greatest overall job growth for NPs. Job growth has been driven primarily by the increase in the aging population experiencing chronic diseases, nurse retirement and turnover, and a primary care physician shortage.

How long does it take to become a nurse practitioner in Tennessee?

While the length of time varies depending on an individual's educational path, most NPs spend approximately six years becoming NPs. Earning an ADN and/or BSN and passing the NCLEX-RN exam takes 2-4 years. Most NPs work for 1-2 years as RNs before returning to school to pursue two-year MSN degrees. Students who enroll in accelerated direct-entry programs can earn their degrees in as little as three years.

Can nurse practitioners practice independently in Tennessee?

Tennessee is one of 11 states with the highest level of restrictions for advanced practice registered nurses, including NPs. The state requires an NP to work under collaborative practice agreements with a physician. However, while nurse practitioners cannot work with full autonomy, their supervising physician does not need to be present or at the same practice as the NP.


Related Resources

Popular Resources

Resources and articles written by professionals and other nurses like you.