10 Best Colleges in Tennessee

What’s Covered:

 

With its mild weather, vibrant cities, and low cost of living, it’s easy to see why Tennessee’s population is rising—it’s currently ranked as the 16th most populous state in the country. The state’s world-class dining scene, famous Appalachian Mountain range, and diverse cities make it the perfect place to settle down for four years and attend college. 

 

Our Ranking Methodology

 

Below is our list of the 10 best colleges in Tennessee. The list was constructed with a focus on school quality, outcomes, and return on investment (ROI), along with considering a host of other factors such as retention rate, selectivity, endowment per student, student-faculty ratio, median earnings, and cost of attendance. You can check out CollegeVine’s rankings in their entirety if you are curious about schools outside of Tennessee.

 

Best Colleges in Tennessee

 

1. Vanderbilt University

 

Location: Nashville, Tennessee 

Acceptance Rate: 10% 

Middle 50% SAT: 1450-1560

Middle 50% ACT: 33-35

Undergrad Enrollment: 12,686

 

Vanderbilt University is a private institution that was founded in 1873. Set in the urban Nashville setting with over 333 acres of space for students to explore, Vanderbilt has plenty of off-campus offerings to enjoy. This includes dining, shopping, music, and entertainment. Greek organizations play a significant role on campus, with approximately 40 percent of students affiliated with Greek life. In terms of academics, Vanderbilt is comprised of 10 schools and colleges covering disciplines from the humanities to music to engineering. The school is known for its close-knit residential education and experiential learning in the classroom and beyond. Vanderbilt University is ranked the #14 National University in the country, so the academics are challenging but well worth it. 

 

Learn more about Vanderbilt University and what it takes to get accepted.

 

2. Rhodes College

 

Location: Memphis, Tennessee 

Acceptance Rate: 45% 

Middle 50% SAT: 1240-1410

Middle 50% ACT: 28-31

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,840

 

Rhodes College is a private institution that was founded in 1848. It is an ideal environment for students to explore experimental learning. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the Rhodes campus is close to the heart of the city where many Fortune 500 companies have headquarters, offering students an abundance internship opportunities. For fun, students often venture into downtown Memphis to experience the city’s famed music scene, dining, professional sporting events, and museums. Greek life is a huge part of campus social life as nearly half of all students are involved in the school’s 15 fraternities and sororities. Rhodes also boasts over 100 student organizations for students not as interested in Greek life. The school’s biggest priorities are intellectual engagement and service to others. Rhodes College is ranked #54 in National Liberal Arts College in the country. 

 

Learn more about Rhodes College and what it takes to get accepted.

 

3. Sewanee: The University of the South | Sewanee

 

Location: Sewanee, Tennessee 

Acceptance Rate: 65% 

Middle 50% SAT: 1200-1390

Middle 50% ACT: 25-30

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,695

 

The University of the South is a private institution that was founded in 1857 and has multiple time-honored traditions that students take part in. One of which is the dress code in place that requires men to wear coats and ties and women to wear dresses or skirts to class. Southern Tennessee is known for its vast wilderness and wildlife, so students have the opportunity to rock climb, mountain bike, and explore caves at their fingertips. The campus is home to over 100 student organizations, including more than 20 Greek organizations. The University of the South has about three dozen majors and is ranked as the #50 National Liberal Arts College in the country.

 

Learn more about Sewanee: The University of the South | Sewanee and what it takes to get accepted.

 

4. University of Tennessee

 

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee 

Acceptance Rate: 78% 

Middle 50% SAT: 1150-1330

Middle 50% ACT: 25-31

Undergrad Enrollment: 24,254

 

The University of Tennessee is a public institution that was founded in 1794. It is a public research institution in Knoxville, one of the state’s largest cities, and it’s the flagship campus for the state school. It has more than 40 fraternities and sororities for students to join and is also known for its sports teams which compete in the NCAA Division I Southeastern Conference. The university helps to manage the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where students and faculty tackle research and other projects. The University of Tennessee is ranked as the #103 National University in the country. 

 

Learn more about the University of Tennessee and what it takes to get accepted.

 

5. Union University

 

Location: Jackson, Tennessee 

Acceptance Rate: 57% 

Middle 50% SAT: 1110-1360

Middle 50% ACT: 23-30

Undergrad Enrollment: 2,096

 

Founded in 1823, Union University is the oldest university affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Union seeks to be Christ-centered in all areas of University life. With more than 100 programs of study, Union University offers the opportunity to further your knowledge in the arts, science, business, health care, and education. The school is highly ranked for its dorms—every student gets a private room in apartment-style residence halls with a kitchen and laundry facilities in the apartment. The university is recognized as the #187 National University in the country. 

 

Learn more about Union University and what it takes to get accepted.

 

 

6. Lipscomb University

 

Location: Nashville, Tennessee 

Acceptance Rate: 60% 

Middle 50% SAT: 1060-1320

Middle 50% ACT: 22-29

Undergrad Enrollment: 2,997

 

Lipscomb University is a top-tier Christian liberal arts institution located in the heart of Nashville committed to developing students’ academic excellence and Christian faith. With top academic programs, small class sizes, dedicated faculty, Lipscomb University is committed to providing you with a top-tier education that integrates faith into the curriculum. Offering 176 undergraduate majors and minors, 60 master’s degree programs, and three doctoral degree programs, Lipscomb University is recognized as the #213 Nation University in the country. 

 

Learn more about Lipscomb University and what it takes to get accepted.

 

7. Belmont University

 

Location: Nashville, Tennessee 

Acceptance Rate: 82% 

Middle 50% SAT: 1120-1300

Middle 50% ACT: 24-29

Undergrad Enrollment: 6,626

 

Belmont University is a private institution that was founded in 1890. It is a Christian school just two miles southwest of Nashville, right in the heart of the “Music City.” When students aren’t enjoying the vibrant music and nightlife Nashville has to offer, they are cheering on Belmont’s sports teams, the Bruins, that compete in the NCAA Division I Ohio Valley Conference and are an essential part of the school. Another defining feature of the university is the high-caliber education it provides. The school has over 80 undergraduate degrees and 20 graduate programs for students to choose from and is ranked the #162 National University in the country. 

 

Learn more about Belmont University and what it takes to get accepted.

 

8. Milligan College

 

Location: Johnson City, Tennessee 

Acceptance Rate: 83% 

Middle 50% SAT: 1070-1310

Middle 50% ACT: 22-28

Undergrad Enrollment: 941


Milligan University is a private institution that was founded in 1866 and is a Christian-affiliated college located in northeastern Tennessee. Students can choose their field of study from over 100 majors. More than 70 percent of the student body lives on campus, and every student is permitted to have a car on campus, letting them participate in more than 40 different student clubs and organizations. Students interested in the outdoors are only steps away from southern Appalachian activities, which include boating, water skiing, snow skiing, white water rafting, fishing, and hiking.

 

Learn more about Milligan College and what it takes to get accepted.

 

9. Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences

 

Location: Memphis, Tennessee 

Acceptance Rate: 59% 

Middle 50% SAT: 970-1110

Middle 50% ACT: 19-23

Undergrad Enrollment: 971

 

Baptist Health Sciences University, formerly Baptist College of Health Sciences, is a private, coeducational, specialized college in Memphis, Tennessee, operated by Baptist Memorial Health Care. This university prepares graduates for careers of service and leadership in health sciences through an environment of learning and Christian principles. 

 

Learn more about Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences and what it takes to get accepted.

 

10. Christian Brothers University

 

Location: Memphis, Tennessee 

Acceptance Rate: 56% 

Middle 50% SAT: 1080 – 1280

Middle 50% ACT: 21-27

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,548

 

Christian Brothers University was founded in 1871 and is a four-year, private university affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Although the school upholds the Lasallian teachings of faith, service, and community both inside and outside of the classroom, students from 30 different religious backgrounds attend this university. CBU gives scholarships and financial aid to 97% of the student body. It’s a small, liberal arts school with nationally renowned STEM programs.

 

Learn more about Christian Brothers University and what it takes to get accepted.

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

Wondering what your odds are of admission at one of these great Tennessee schools? CollegeVine can help. Our free chancing engine uses quantitative data like your grades and standardized test scores along with qualitative factors like extracurricular activities, awards, and achievements to predict your odds of acceptance at hundreds of schools both in Tennessee and across the country.


Short Bio
Angelica is 2020 grad of the University of Minnesota with a degree in quantitative economics. She is a Founder and CEO of a strategic business consulting firm that helps startups, small enterprise and entrepreneurs with their goals. In her free time, she likes to read and travel.

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