Education in Tennessee
Because of the state’s commitment to educational attainment, Tennessee is home to a wide range of institutions of higher education, ranging from four-year universities to trade schools and small community colleges. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) counts 187 schools active in the state as of 2014.
Here’s a breakdown of degree-granting schools in Tennessee, by type:
- Public 4-year: 9
- Public 2-year: 39
- Private 4-year, nonprofit: 48
- Private 2-year, nonprofit:6
- Private 4-year, for-profit: 21
Much like in other states, institutions of higher education that offer postsecondary certificates and career diplomas are also represented in Tennessee. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 50 less-than-two-year institutions call Tennessee home. While many of these schools are barber and beauty colleges, trade schools, technical schools and career centers can also fall into this category. Most of the time, the training offered by these schools takes just a few years to complete, and leads to postsecondary credentials, certification, or a diploma in lieu of a traditional degree.
A 2014 report from the NCES reveals more about the educational landscape in Tennessee, including the number of recent graduates. According to the report, federal financial aid-eligible colleges and universities in Tennessee granted 86,625 degrees and certificates to 82,181 students during the 2011-2012 school year. Breaking those numbers down further reveals that 61 percent earned their degrees at four-year institutions and 35 percent earned a two-year degree. What’s left, the remaining 4 percent, or 3,208 completers, earned certificates or career diplomas from less-than-two-year colleges in Tennessee.
With so many students graduating from universities in Tennessee each year, we wanted to put total enrollments in the state into perspective. Here are some total student enrollment numbers collected from the major public universities in Tennessee, current as of fall 2013:
- Austin Peay State University: 10,399
- East Tennessee State University: 14,691
- Middle Tennessee State University: 23,881
- Tennessee State University: 8,883
- Tennessee Technological University: 11,118
- The University of Tennessee – Chattanooga: 11,674
- The University of Tennessee – Knoxville: 30,030
- The University of Tennessee – Martin: 7,423
- University of Memphis: 21,480
Online Education in Tennessee
As colleges and universities in Tennessee continue to roll out new online degree programs and hybrid programming, students have taken notice. While it was once difficult for students to earn a degree while working full-time or raising a family, online degree programs have made degree attainment much easier to achieve. With online schools and programming, students are able to complete their studies and work at their own pace, often at any time or place of their choosing. Because of the flexibility online education offers, workers who want to remain in their jobs and continue building seniority while bettering themselves are able to do so. Meanwhile, colleges and universities in Tennessee that offer online degrees have opened the floodgates for stay-at-home parents, rural residents that don’t live near a college or university and home-bound students to earn degrees.
Because of the high quality education they offer, many colleges in Tennessee have been recognized for their online and hybrid degree programs. Here are a few of the well-regarded online degrees offered by universities in Tennessee, alongside their national rank as calculated by U.S. News & World Report:
Austin Peay State University
- Best Online Graduate Business Programs (2015): No. 86
Tennessee Technological University
- Best Online MBA Programs (2015): No. 69
University of Memphis
- Best Online MBA Programs (2015): No. 66
- Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs (2015): No. 70
University of Tennessee – Martin
- Best Online Bachelor’s Programs (2015): No. 98
- Best Online MBA Programs (2015): No. 18
- Best Online Graduate Education Programs (2015): No. 148
University of Tennessee – Chattanooga
- Best Online MBA Programs (2015): No. 47
- Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs (2015); No. 7
Although this list is impressive, it’s important to note that not all types of programs are ranked by U.S. News & World Report or other ranking agencies. In addition to these excellent programs, Tennessee schools of all shapes and sizes – including technical schools and community colleges — offer their own online and hybrid programming that is excellent in its own right.
Top Jobs and Careers in Tennessee
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 2,749,480 individuals made up Tennessee’s workforce in 2014. Among those workers, the annual mean wage worked out to $40,650, or around $19.55 an hour.
While having a broad workforce is something to be proud of, plenty of jobs and careers in the state offer something more — both in terms of excellent job prospects and in terms of high pay. With that in mind, we used data from the U.S. Department of Labor to create this list of top jobs and careers in Tennessee:
|Occupation||Top Regions||Why It’s Hot||Necessary Skills||Relevant Degrees|
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants||Nashville – Murfreesboro – Davidson – Franklin, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis||The fact that paralegals and legal assistants may only need an associate degree to get started in this career is one factor that contributes to its popularity. With two-year degree programs, students are able to get through school and enter the workforce quickly.Associate|
Because of the state’s continued need for legal services, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment for paralegals and legal assistants could increase by as much as 49 percent in Tennessee through 2022.
|Communication skills, interpersonal skills, attention to detail, computer skills, organizational skills, research skills||As the BLS notes, most paralegals and legal assistants begin their careers by earning an associate degree in Paralegal Studies. However, some workers start off with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, then learn the required skills on the job.|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||Nashville – Murfreesboro – Davidson – Franklin, Knoxville, Memphis||Because of the growing demand for diagnostic medical services using ultrasound technology, careers in diagnostic medical sonography are expected to grow in number during the coming decade. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment for these workers in Tennessee could increase by as much as 42 percent from 2012 to 2022.||Technical skill, attention to detail, manual dexterity, compassion, interpersonal skills, listening skills||Diagnostic medical sonographers usually get their start with an associate degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Some, however, opt to earn a bachelor’s degree in Sonography instead.|
According to the BLS, workers in related fields are often able to work as a diagnostic medical sonographer after completing on-the-job training.
|Medical Equipment Repairers||Nashville – Murfreesboro – Davidson – Franklin, Knoxville||Since this career usually only requires an associate degree, many people see earning this degree as a fast way to enter the workforce. And because of the huge expansion we are currently experiencing throughout all areas of healthcare, this career is in demand as well. As the BLS notes, employment of medical equipment repairers in Tennessee could surge by as much as 33 percent from 2012 to 2022.||Technical skill, the ability to read manuals and follow complex instructions, physical stamina, time management skills, mechanical skills||Medical equipment repairers usually get their start by earning an associate degree in Biomedical Technology or Engineering. However, some workers in this field may need a bachelor’s degree, depending on their specialization.|
|Interpreters and Translators||Nashville – Murfreesboro – Davidson – Franklin, Knoxville||As Americans continue to embrace other languages, the need for interpreters and translators is expected to surge. Pent-up demand could actually cause employment for these workers to increase by as much as 44 percent through 2022, notes the BLS.||Cultural sensitivity, computer skills, interpersonal skills, listening skills, attention to detail, compassion||As the BLS notes, a bachelor’s degree is the typical educational requirement for this career. Most of the time, interpreters and translators focus on earning a bachelor’s degree in a foreign language.|
However, since the most important requirement for this career is absolute fluency in two languages, both written and verbal, degree requirements can vary widely. In some cases, a bachelor’s degree in an entirely different field will suffice.
|Biomedical Engineers||Nashville – Murfreesboro – Davidson – Franklin, Knoxville||With the technical side of health care growing just as quickly as the service side, employment for science and technical workers should surge in the coming decade. As the BLS notes, job openings for biomedical engineers are expected to increase by as much as 35 percent during the decade leading up to 2022.||Analytical skills, communication skills, attention to detail, ingenuity, math skills, listening skills, problem-solving skills||In order to secure an entry-level position, most biomedical engineers need a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from an accredited school. Sometimes, however, candidates earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field before earning a master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering.|
Even though earning a degree cannot guarantee you a job in a particular profession, pursuing a related two-year or four-year degree is almost always the best way to get your foot in the door. Meanwhile, having an idea of which career you want to end up in can help you target your educational goals, which will ultimately help you spend less time in school.
Financial Aid in Tennessee
One factor that should weigh heavily on all students’ minds is the cost of their education. Unfortunately, this is one area where students often have little control aside from choosing a program that is affordable for them from the start. Further, the costs of a college education continue to rise slightly with each passing year, making the ongoing costs of an education hard to predict and plan for.
Relying on a 2014 report from College Board, we compiled this list of average tuition figures at colleges and universities in Tennessee, and how prices have changed since 2005 (All figures are in current dollars):
- Public 2-year in-state
- 2004-05: $2,197
- 2013-14: $3,948
- Public 4-year in-state
- 2004-05: $4,306
- 2013-14: $8,541
- Private 4-year nonprofit
- 2004-05: $16,471
- 2013-14: $25,686
Although those figures might seem staggering, it’s important to note that you may qualify for federal and state student aid. To find out, most students who enroll at colleges and universities in Tennessee are asked to fill out a Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The information provided on this form helps state and federal agencies determine whether students qualify for financial aid, and if so, how much.
The Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, an affiliate of TN.gov, also offers a wealth of resources and information on different types of state aid available to students. In addition to details on various scholarship and grant opportunities available in Tennessee, they also offer links to a variety of state-funded programs that offer their own resources.
Some of the financial aid opportunities available in Tennessee:
- Tennessee HOPE Scholarship
- General Assembly Merit Scholarship (GAMS)
- Aspire Award
- Tennessee HOPE Access Grant
- Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant
- Tennessee HOPE Scholarship – Nontraditional
- Dual Enrollment Grant
- Tennessee HOPE Foster Child Tuition Grant
- Tennessee Student Assistance Award
- Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant
- Tennessee HOPE Access Grant
- Tennessee HOPE Foster Child Tuition Grant
- Dual Enrollment Grant
- Helping Heroes Grant
In addition to these opportunities, the state of Tennessee also offers its share of loan forgiveness programs geared to people who are willing to meet certain work-related criteria.
To find out more about some of the schools and programs available in Tennessee, be sure to check out the ones featured in our school listings below.
- “Austin Peay State University,” Online Programs, U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/austin-peay-state-university-219602
- “Biomedical Engineers,” Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers
- “Biomedical Engineers,” Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172031
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, Tennessee, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=TN
- “Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists,” Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/diagnostic-medical-sonographers
- “Diagnostic Medical Sonographers,” Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292032
- “Interpreters and Translators,” Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/interpreters-and-translators
- “Interpreters and Translators,” Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes273091
- “Medical Equipment Repairers,” Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/medical-equipment-repairers
- “Medical Equipment Repairers,” Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes499062
- “Paralegals and Legal Assistants,” Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants
- “Paralegals and Legal Assistants,” Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011
- “Postsecondary Completers and Completions: 2011-12,” Web Tables, U.S. Department of Education, March 2014, http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014033.pdf
- Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, http://tn.gov/collegepays
- “Tennessee Technological University,” Online Programs, U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/tennessee-technological-university-221847
- Top 50 Fastest-Growing Occupations, CareerOneStop, http://acinet.org/oview1.asp?next=oview1&Level=edu3&optstatus=&jobfam=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=47&ShowAll=
- “Tuition and Fees by Sector and State over Time, Trends in Higher Education, The College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-and-fees-sector-and-state-over-time
- “University of Memphis,” Online Programs, U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/university-of-memphis-220862
- “University of Tennessee – Martin,” Online Programs, U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/university-of-tennessee-martin-221768
- “University of Tennessee – Chattanooga,” Online Programs, U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/university-of-tennessee-chattanooga-221740