Top 15 Nonprofit Online Colleges in Tennessee

For students looking to earn an online education from a nonprofit college or university located in Tennessee, we’ve compiled a list of our top picks for online universities and colleges located within the state. These programs have all been selected based upon their average tuition price, as well as the amount and type of programs available.

#1. King University

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A private university, King University was founded in 1867. Established with the motto “For the Church and For Learning”, King University was created when members of the Hoston Presbytery called for the creation of a new institute of higher learning that would serve Northeast Tennessee. Searching for a location for the new school, the members of the church received a gift from Reverend James King that helped make the school possible. Donating a large tract of land just outside of Bristol, Tennessee, Reverend James King provided the Holston Presbytery with the land that they needed to found their new school. Thankful for his donation, the Holston Presbytery decided to name the school in his honor. Dubbed King College, the school began to admit its first class of students in 1867. The early history of King College was slow going. Admitting a few students at the time, King College steadily moved into the 20th century. In 1917, the school moved to a new area within Bristol donated by Reverend Isaac S. Anderson. It wasn’t until after World War II that King College really began to grow. With soldiers returning from the war looking to take advantage of the GI Bill, King College saw a huge increase in enrollment. This surge in enrollment led to the creation of new academic programs resulting in the school’s name being changed to King University. Today, King University now enrolls a student body of over 3,000 students.

Students at King University are able to enroll in a large selection of academic programs made available at the school. As of today, students at King University can choose to enroll in over eighty different undergraduate degree programs as well as four graduate programs. Of these programs, King University offers a selection to students entirely online. By offering these programs online, King University has ranked among the top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. King University is a private institution.

Accreditation: King University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $305/credit

Click here for a list of King University’s online programs.

#2. University of Tennessee at Martin

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Established in 1927, the University of Tennessee at Martin is a public university. Part of the University of Tennessee System, the University of Tennessee at Martin’ motto is “Elevate Your Future at UT Martin”. Before the University of Tennessee-Martin took over the campus, the Hall-Moody Institute was its initial occupant. Operating from 1900, it wasn’t until 1927 that the University of Tennessee at Martin would take over the campus. Originally known as the University of Tennesee Junior College, the University of Tennessee at Martin was able to take over the campus from Hall-Moody Institute just a few months after the school had folded. At the time, the University of Tennesee at Martin functioned as an extension campus for the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Providing junior college educations to students from the Knoxville campus, the University of Tennesee Junior College steadily grew in popularity. By 1967, the University of Tennessee Junior College was granted equal status to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and was renamed to the University of Tennessee at Martin. Today, the University of Tennessee at Martin enrolls a student body of approximately 6,700 students known as the Sky Hawks.

The University of Tennessee at Martin maintains a large selection of academic programs for students to choose from. Currently, students at the University of Tennesse at Martin can choose from over 100 different programs including undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees. A selection of these programs is also made available to students entirely online. By offering these programs online, the University of Tennessee at Martin has ranked among our top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. University of Tennessee at Martin is a public institution.

Accreditation: University of Tennessee at Martin is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $432/credit

Click here for a list of the University of Tennessee at Martin’s online programs.

#3. Lee University

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Located in Cleveland, Tennessee, Lee University is a private Christian university. Established in 1918, Lee University’s motto is “Where Christ is King”. In the early 1900s, the Church of God of Cleveland began discussing plans for a Bible institute that would serve Cleveland and the surrounding areas. After years of planning and fundraising, the group decided to open their Bible Institute in 1918. Quickly, the Bible Institute grew to be quite popular. As more and more students chose to enroll at the Lee Bible Institute, the school began to add additional types of degrees to its academic programming. By 1948, the Lee Bible Institute had added a junior college. Now offering students associate’s degrees, the school was then renamed to Lee College. Lee College continued to attract more students into its ranks. Eventually adding Bachelor’s degrees, this change led to Lee College’s biggest surge in enrollment. Soon thereafter, Lee College added graduate programs to its academic offerings. This led to the school being renamed to Lee University in 1997. Home of the Flames, Lee University has now grown its student population to include over 5,300 students.

Lee University offers students a sizable selection of academic programs for students to enroll in. At this time, students at Lee University can choose to enroll in over 100 different degree programs with the school. Of these degree programs, Lee University offers a large selection of them entirely online. Offering these programs online, Lee University has ranked among our top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. Lee University is a private institution.

Accreditation: Lee University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $454/credit

Click here for a list of Lee University’s online programs.

#4. University of Tennessee

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A public university, the University of Tennessee was established with the motto “You will know the truth and the truth shall set you free”. Established in 1794, the University of Tennesee was created two years prior to Tennesee receiving statehood. During a meeting of the Southwest Territory, the University of Tennesee was chartered as Blount College. An all-male institution, the school initially struggled. Having problems with enrollment the school was rechartered in 1807 as the East Tennesee College. However, things didn’t improve for the fledgling university. Closing its doors in 1809, it wasn’t until 1820 that the school was reopened. Per the advice of Thomas Jefferson, the school then moved to its current location in 1828. Located at Barbara Hill, the new location allowed the school to grow. In 1840, the school was renamed East Tennesee University. The school received an infusion of funding in 1867 through the Morrill Act. Attracting more students to its programming, the school was renamed in 1879 to the University of Tennesee. Soon, the University of Tennesee grew to become the flagship university in the University of Tennesee System. Today, the University of Tennesee is home to a student body of over 28,000 students at its Knoxville campus.

Currently, the University of Tennesee maintains a massive selection of academic programs for students to enroll in. At this time, students at the University of Tennesee can choose from hundreds of academic programs including undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees. A large number of these programs are also made available to students entirely online helping the University of Tennesee to earn a place among the top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. University of Tennesee is a public institution.

Accreditation: University of Tennessee is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $506/credit

Click here for a list of the University of Tennessee’s online programs.

#5. Tennessee State University

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A historically black public university, Tennesee State University was founded in 1912. Established as the Tennesee Agricultural & Industrial State Normal School for Negroes, Tennesee State University has since grown to become the largest state-funded historically black university in Tennesee. Founded in order to provide black students in Tennesee the opportunity for a higher education, the school became immensely popular. As student enrollment surged at the school, the Tennesee Agricultural & Industrial State Normal School for Negroes’ curriculum expanded dramatically. By 1925, the school was renamed to the Tennesee Agricultural & Industrial State Normal College. This name change was in order to better communicate the breadth of academic programming being offered at the school. Just two short years later, the school was renamed again to Tennesee Agricultural & Industrial State College. The school then began to offer its first Master’s degrees in 1941. The school was renamed again in 1968 to Tennessee State University. Eleven years later, the UUniversityof Tennesee at Nashville was merged into Tennesee State University. Today, Tennessee State University enrolls over 9,000 students in Nashville.

Students at Tennessee State University are able to choose from a sizable collection of degrees offered at the school. Currently, Tennessee State University offers almost forty different Bachelor’s degrees, twenty-four Master’s degrees, and seven doctoral programs. A selection of these programs is made available to student entirely online, helping Tennessee State University to rank among the top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. Tennessee State University is a public institution.

Accreditation: Tennessee State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $521/credit

Click here for a list of Tennessee State University’s online programs.

#6. Austin Peay State University

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Established in 1927, Austin Peay State University is a public university. Located in Clarksville, Austin Peay State University was originally located o the site of what was once the Southwestern Presbyterian University campus in Clarksville. Calling for the creation of new junior college and teacher-training institution, the General Assembly of Tennessee decided that the school was to be located in Clarksville. Named after Governor Austin Peay, the Austin Peay Normal School began admitting its first class of students. By occupying the campus that dated back to 1845, Austin Peay Normal School was able to continue the tradition of that site being a place of higher learning making it the longest-running campus of higher-learning in the state. Over the years, Austin Peay Normal School slowly grew to add more students to its student body. While adding more students, the Austin Peay Normal School also expanded its academic offerings. In 1943, the school was renamed to Austin Peay State College after expanding its academic offerings to include Bachelor’s degree programs. The school was renamed again to Austin Peay State University after it started offering graduate degrees. Today, Austin Peay State University enrolls over 10,000 students.

Home of the Governors, Austin Peay State University affords students the opportunity to enroll in a large selection of academic programs. At this time, Austin Peay State University offers over fifty Bachelor’s programs and over twenty Master’s degrees. Students at Austin Peay State University can also choose from dozens of online programs made available at the school. These online offerings have helped Austin Peay State University to rank among our top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. Austin Peay State University is a public institution.

Accreditation: Austin Peay State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $635/credit

Click here for a list of Austin Peay State University’s online programs.

#7. East Tennessee State University

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Founded with the motto “Graduation Begins Today”, East Tennessee State University is a public university. Located in Johnson City, Tennessee, East Tennessee State University was founded in 1911. Originally known as the East Tennessee State Normal School, East Tennessee State University was founded as a teacher training school. Only offering teacher training, East Tennessee State Normal School became a full-fledged college in 1925. This prompted the school to be renamed to East Tennesee State Teachers College. The school was renamed again in 1930 to East Tennessee State Teacher’s College, Johnson City. Proving to be quite popular, students from across the state began to enroll at the school en masse. As more students enrolled with the school, the school steadily began to increase its curriculum. Offering more liberal arts degrees than before, the school reinvented itself as East Tennessee State College in 1943. Twenty years later, the school had begun to offer graduate level degrees to students prompting one final name change to East Tennessee State University. Today, East Tennessee State University enrolls a student body of almost 15,000 students.

Home of the Buccaneers, East Tennessee State University maintains a large catalog of academic programs for students to enroll in. At this time, students at East Tennessee State University can choose to enroll in over fifty different undergraduate degree programs as well as nearly fifty graduate degree programs. Students at East Tennessee State University are also able to enroll in a large selection of online degree programs. This offering of online degree programs has helped East Tennessee State University to rank among our top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. East Tennessee State University is a public institution.

Accreditation: East Tennessee State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $841/credit

Click here for a list of East Tennessee State University’s online programs.

#8. Southern Adventist University

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A private Seventh-day Adventist university, Southern Adventist University was founded in 1892. Founded in Graysville, Tennessee, Southern Adventist University was born out of Graysville Academy. During the 1880s, members of The Graysville Seventh-day Adventist Church began calling for the creation of a school to serve the members of the church. In 1888, the Graysville Academy began teaching students from the church. The school operated in this capacity until 1897 at which point the school was renamed to Southern Industrial School. Along with this name change came an expansion in the scope of programming offered at the school. Students enrolled in the school were given career training in a variety of different subjects. The name of the school was changed again in 1901 to the Southern Training School. Soon, the Graysville location became a limiting factor in the school’s growth. Relocating to Collegedale, the school was also renamed to Southern Junior College. Now offering junior college programs to students, Southern Junior College experienced a surge in enrollment. Experiencing a few more name changes, the school was finally renamed Southern Adventist University in 1996. Currently, Southern Adventist University enrolls approximately 3,000 students.

Students at Southern Adventist University are able to choose from a wide variety of academic programs offered at the school. Currently, students at Southern Adventist University can enroll in over eighty different undergraduate degrees, as well as a large number of Master’s degree programs. Many of these programs are also offered to students entirely online, helping Southern Adventist University to rank among our top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. Southern Adventist University is a private institution.

Accreditation: Southern Adventist University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $890/credit

Click here for a list of Southern Adventist University’s online programs.

#9. University of Memphis

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Founded in 1912, the University of Memphis is a public research university. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the University of Memphis was created by the Tennessee Legislature through the General education Bill. Calling for the creation of three major institutions to serve the three major areas of Tennessee. One of these schools was the West Tennessee Normal School. Admitting its first class of students in 1912, the school actually housed a department known as the University of Memphis. Over the next twelve years, the West Tennessee Normal School provided teacher training to students who would go on to work in the public education system within the state. In 1925, the name of the school was changed to West Tennessee State Teachers College as the school began to confer degrees to students. As more students enrolled at the school, the school began to expand its curriculum beyond teacher education. This change was reflected in a name change to Memphis State College in 1941. After receiving university status in 1957, the school’s name was changed again to Memphis State University. Finally, in 1994 the school was named University of Memphis. Today, the University of Memphis is home to almost 22,000 students.

Home of the Tigers, the University of Memphis offers a massive selection of academic programs. Students at the University of Memphis can choose from Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees adding up to a total of over 250 different fields of study. Many of these programs are also offered to students entirely online. By offering these programs online, the University of Memphis has ranked among our top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. University of Memphis is a public institution.

Accreditation: University of Memphis is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $908/credit

Click here for a list of University of Memphis’ online programs.

#10. Cumberland University

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Located in Lebanon, Tennessee, Cumberland University is a private university. Founded in 1842, Cumberland University was founded by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Receiving its charter in 1843, Cumberland University soon added a law school in 1847. At the time, this was the first law school to be established in Tennessee as well as the first law school west of the Appalachian Mountains. Throughout the 1800s, Cumberland University grew its reputation, especially in regards to its law program. The Cumberland School of Law quickly became renowned for its quality to students in Tennessee and beyond. During the Civil War, Cumberland University was nearly destroyed. However, the community rallied around the school and it was reborn. This resurrection also helped to inform the school’s mascot, the Phoenix. In 1946, the school was taken over by the Tennessee Baptist Convention. This change of power resulted in a consolidation of some of the degrees and curriculum within the school. However, this decision was reversed in 1982 and the school recontinued the full scope of its curriculum. Today, Cumberland University has grown to enroll approximately 1,500 students.

Cumberland University has created a large catalog of academic programs for students to choose from. As of this writing, Cumberland University offers its students over 100 different areas of study as well as eight graduate programs. Cumberland University offers many of these programs entirely online helping the school to rank among the top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. Cumberland University is a private institution.

Accreditation: Cumberland University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $910/credit

Click here for a list of Cumberland University’s online programs.

#11. Union University

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A private evangelical Christian university, Union University is located in Jackson, Tennessee. Founded in 1823, Union University’s motto is “Religio et Eruditio“. Established as the Jackson Male Academy, Union University was established just five years after the land was purchasable from the Chickasaw Indians who inhabited West Tennessee. By 1907, the school had grown beyond its initial ambitions of being a boy’s school to a full-fledged university. Known as Southwestern Baptist University, Union University. Around this time, Dr. T.T. Eaton donated over 6,000 books to the college’s library. To honor this great contribution to the school, the school was renamed to Union University due to Dr. T.T. Eaton having originally taught at Union University at Murfreesboro. In 1925, Union University was chartered by the Tennesse Baptist Convention. Attracting more students each and every day, Union University began to expand its academic programs beyond its initial offerings. Having grown in size, Union University moved to its current location in downtown Jackson, Tennessee in 1975. This move has allowed Union University to grow into the 21st century. Currently, Union University enrolls a student population of almost 4,300 students.

Students at Union University are able to enroll in a large selection of academic programs offered at the school. At this time, Union University offers over 100 different academic programs across its undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate offerings. A large portion of these academic programs is also made available to students entirely online. This dedication to online learning has earned Union University a place among our top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. Union University is a private institution.

Accreditation: Union University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $1,015/credit

Click here for a list of Union University’s online programs.

#12. Tennessee Technological University

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Established in 1915, Tennessee Technological University is a public university. Located in Cookeville, Tennessee, Tennessee Technological University has a history dating all the way back to 1909. Prior to the chartering of Tennessee Technological University, there was a school known as the University of Dixie. Known to the students as Dixie College, the University of Dixie was created in order to help serve the people near Cookeville. However, the school quickly floundered and the government seized control of the school.  Wanting to help the new institution succeed, the University of Dixie was rechartered as the Tennessee Polytechnic Institute. They hoped that by shifting the curriculum towards science and engineering that the school would be able to attract more students. This shift proved to be fruitful and Tennessee Polytechnic Institute grew to be very popular. In 1929, Tennessee Polytechnic Institute began offering students Bachelor’s degree programs which helped increase enrollment dramatically. This addition to the curriculum led to Tennessee Polytechnic Institute receiving university status in 1965 and being renamed to Tennessee Technological University. Today, Tennessee Technological University enrolls nearly 11,000 students.

Home of the Golden Eagles, Tennessee Technological University maintains a large selection of academic programs for students to choose from. At this time, Tennessee Technological University offers students almost forty-five different Bachelor’s degrees, twenty graduate programs, and a number of doctoral degrees. Dedicated to online learning, Tennessee Technological University offers a selection of these programs to students entirely online helping it to earn a place among our top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. Tennessee Technological University is a public institution.

Accreditation: Tennessee Technological University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $1,048/credit

Click here for a list of Tennessee Technological University’s online programs.

#13. University of Tennesse at Chattanooga

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Located in Chattanooga, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is a public university. One of the three universities that make up the University of Tennessee System, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was established with the motto “We shall achieve”. Founded in 1886, the University of Tennesse at Chattanooga was originally founded as Chattanooga University. Initially a racially exclusive campus, Chattanooga University was soon merged with the Grant Memorial University. Grant Memorial University would go on to become Tennessee Wesleyan University, but at the time the university was merged with Chattanooga University in order to form U.S. Grant Memorial University. In 1907, the school was renamed to the University of Chattanooga. Proving to immensely popular, the University of Chattanooga attracted students from across the state which helped fuel its growth. By 1964, it was decided that the University of Chattanooga was to merge with Zion College. Continuing on its path of growth, it was then decided by the state that the University of Chattanooga would be absorbed into the University of Tennessee System. Renamed in 1969, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has since continued to be a shining member of the University of Tennessee System. Today, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is home to the Mocs, a student body of almost 13,000 students.

Students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga are able to select from a large number of academic programs offered at the school. At this moment, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is offering its students the opportunity to enroll in over 140 different undergraduate degree programs, almost 100 different graduate programs, and numerous doctoral programs. A large selection of these programs is also offered to students entirely online helping the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to rank among our top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is a public institution.

Accreditation: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $xxx/credit

Click here for a list of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s online programs.

#14. Lipscomb University

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Established in 1891, Lipscomb University is a private university. Located in Nashville, Lipscomb University was founded with the motto “The Truth Shall Make You Free”. Founded by David Lipscomb and Jams A. Harding, Lipscomb University is located on what used to be David Lipscomb’s estate. Having donated to the school at the end of his life, David Lipscomb had grand ambitions for Lipscomb University. Wanting it to be more than just a seminary, David Lipscomb envisioned Lipscomb University as a full-fledged Christian liberal arts university. From the very outset, Lipscomb University’s course catalog made special note of the importance of liberal arts courses. Originally named the Nashville Bible School, the name was quickly changed to David Lipscomb College. Soon renamed to David Lipscomb University, the school had grown beyond offering solely a junior college education. Now offering students the entire range of college programs, David Lipscomb University began to really take off. in 2005, the school’s name was simplified to Lipscomb University. Today, Lipscomb University enrolls over 4,600 students known as the Bisons.

At this time, students at Lipscomb University are offered the ability to select from a large number of courses offered at the school. To date, Lipscomb University offers almost eighty different Bachelor’s programs to its students as well as almost fifty graduate degree programs. Lipscomb University also maintains a large catalog of online degrees helping it to place among our top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. Lipscomb University is a private institution.

Accreditation: Lipscomb University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $1,240/credit

Click here for a list of Lipscomb University’s online programs.

#15. Vanderbilt University

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A private research university, Vanderbilt University was established in 1873.  Following the Civil War, the Methodist Episcopal Church South started making plans to open a university that would serve their region. The school would be founded in order to provide training for ministers who would then travel throughout the region the Methodist Episcopal Church South served. The plan was to found a school known as The Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South in the town of Nashville. However, these plans were delayed due to a lack of funding. However, funding was not too far. After a chance meeting with Cornelius Vanderbilt, the planners of The Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church were able to convince him to provide the funding needed to open the university. In 1875, the initial campus buildings had been constructed and the first class of students was enrolled. If not for the generosity of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University would not have been able to be established. Naturally, the school was dedicated to him to honor his contributions. Today, Vanderbilt University has grown to become a renowned research university that is home to around 12,600 students.

Vanderbilt University maintains a very large catalog of academic programs for students to choose from. Offering undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees, Vanderbilt University current offers hundreds of different programs. A large quantity of these programs is also made available to students entirely online. By offering these programs online, Vanderbilt University has placed among our top online universities and colleges in Tennessee. Vanderbilt University is a private institution.

Accreditation: Vanderbilt University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $1,828/credit

Click here for a list of Vanderbilt University’s online programs.