Use our school listings to evaluate costs, curricula, and quality factors. Discover if you’re eligible to apply for online RN to MSN programs in Tennessee. And learn which universities are willing to offer the cheapest Tennessee RN to MSN programs.
If you’re new to the state, you may also want to skim through the discussion on Tennessee’s healthcare landscape and our extensive job section. Here you’ll find ideas for narrowing your job search, links to Tennessee nursing job boards, and data on APRN salaries in the state. We’ve even assembled a list of TN nursing organizations & associations.
Online RN to MSN Programs in Tennessee
Tennessee online RN to MSN programs come in a variety of flavors—some are 100% online, some have campus intensives, and some involve national travel. Our school listings contain specifics on admissions requirements and curricula, but we also suggest you talk to the program coordinator to ensure you’re eligible to apply. Here are a few more points worth mentioning:
- East Tennessee State University: The majority of ETSU’s program is online, but students may be required to be on campus for certain MSN classes or assessments, including clinical competencies. Clinical placement outside of Tennessee is contingent upon approval by the appropriate regulatory bodies and will be evaluated on an individual basis upon admission to the program. Currently, placement in North Carolina and Virginia is allowed. Applicants are also encouraged to determine the eligibility requirements for any state in which they intend to seek licensure post-graduation.
- Union University: At Union, the Nursing Education and Nursing Administration concentrations are 100% online and the NP specialties are blended (a combination of on-site and online coursework). Clinical experiences in education or administration can be scheduled in a place of the student’s preference. Union is a member of NC-SARA, which typically means online programs are usually available to students in almost every state. Check with the program coordinator if you have any questions about certification exams or state eligibility.
- University of Memphis: Applicants to U of M’s online and hybrid nursing programs must be residents of a state in which the Loewenberg College of Nursing (LCON) is authorized to provide distance education. For example, LCON is not authorized to offer distance education in California. Students who reside outside of Tennessee and plan to enroll in an online program of study that leads to advanced nursing licensure should also verify that the program meets requirements for advanced licensure in their state. We also want to point out that the Executive Leadership concentration includes 4 on-campus intensives each year and mandatory attendance at 2 national conferences (Magnet® Conference and AONE).
Keep in mind, too, that some of the other RN to MSN programs are hybrid. Vanderbilt makes a point of mixing on-campus coursework and monthly block classes with online conferencing and recorded lectures (i.e. modified distance learning). Meanwhile, graduate courses in the Nurse Educator emphasis at Southern Adventist University may be taken completely online. If you don’t mind occasional commutes, you don’t have to live near the campus in order to attend the school.
Cheapest RN to MSN Programs in Tennessee
Our ranking of the most affordable Tennessee RN to MSN programs is based on per credit graduate tuition rates. That means it’s just a ballpark! Each program in our school listings has a different number of total credits and different fee structures. In some cases, schools may also accept transfers on selected bridge courses, which can reduce your total number of credits. Put together a budget before making a decision.
- Eastern Tennessee State University: In-State (Out-of-State is higher)—View Tuition Rates
- Union University: View Tuition Rates
- University of Memphis: In-State (Out-of-State is higher)—View Tuition Rates
- Southern Adventist University: View Tuition Rates
You’ll notice that graduate nursing tuition rates for public and private schools in this ranking aren’t that far apart, especially if you live in Tennessee. The most expensive option will be—you guessed it—Vanderbilt.
Tennessee’s Healthcare Landscape
Tennessee is facing an uphill battle in healthcare. According to data from America’s Health Rankings and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the state has a high rate of heart disease & cancer, a high violent crime rate, a high rate of drug overdose and firearm deaths, and a series of problems related to infants (i.e. high rates of pre-term births, infant mortality, and low birthweights). On the BCBS Health Index, the state is often one big mass of red except in the areas around Williamson, Davidson, and Knox counties.
One of the most challenging concerns for Tennessee healthcare providers, especially NPs, is improving rural health:
- Tennessee received an F in the 2018 Rural Health Report Card, a deeply troubling grade for a state in which almost 25% of the population lives in rural counties.
- From 2012-2019, at least ten rural hospitals in Tennessee closed their doors (especially in areas surrounding Jackson) and many others reduced inpatient services.
- Due—in part—to a lack of access and a higher rate of uninsured residents, the age-adjusted mortality rate in rural Tennessee can be 16% higher than the rate in urban counties.
- Meanwhile, new rural health clinics have been grappling with high start-up costs and wrangles with TennCare moratoriums.
But even urban centers like Memphis are fighting hard. The opioid epidemic has had a devastating effect on the area. In 2019, the Memphis Area Prevention Coalition reported that Shelby County was averaging nine overdoses a week, with three being fatal. Memphis also accounts for a substantial portion of the state’s firearm deaths, a statistic exemplified by The Commercial Appeal’s Homicide Tracker. You can see how APRNs might be needed in the areas of psychiatry, neonatal health, primary care, and midwifery.
All of this comes at a time when Tennessee is looking at a potential nursing shortage. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, Tennessee is one of 33 states nationwide expected to have fewer nurses working than needed by 2030. A higher acuity of hospitalized patients and increasing nurse-patient ratios also means nurses are being asked to do more with less.
In response, the TNA has been advocating for the removal of a law that requires nurse practitioners to have a supervising physician. As of 2019, NP-led clinics must have a physician review 20% of their charts, review prescriptions for controlled substances, and visit the clinic once per month. A change in the law would give primary care APRNs more flexibility to practice, especially in rural areas where physicians are scarce.
Jobs for Tennessee RN to MSN Graduates
Career Outlook for RN to MSN Graduates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) keeps track of employment and wage data for Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary. We especially like the maps on these pages, which will give you a bird’s-eye-view of job opportunities in various parts of Tennessee.
- For instance, it’s a given that Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville are large employment hubs for NPs. But it may surprise you to hear that Johnson City, Cleveland, and Chattanooga have a particularly high concentration of these jobs (a figure that takes into account population numbers).
- Of those cities, Memphis and Chattanooga frequently offer the best annual mean wages for nurse practitioners. However, wages in rural areas can be quite low.
- Thanks to the presence of Vanderbilt, TSU, and other schools, the real hub for Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary is Nashville. It often employs over three times the number of nursing instructors that Memphis or Knoxville might.
If you’re interested in a hospital job, you may want to consult U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the Best Hospitals in Tennessee and ANNC’s list of Magnet Facilities in Tennessee. Vanderbilt University Medical Center and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are always going to be premier places to work, but there are plenty of other well-respected options. Think of the UT Medical Center in Knoxville, St. Thomas hospitals in Nashville, Methodist Hospitals Memphis, and the CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga.
Eager to help rural patients? Remember that the Tennessee State Loan Repayment Program (TSLRP) provides educational loan repayment to qualified primary care practitioners in exchange for an initial 2-year service obligation to practice full-time or part-time at an ambulatory public, non-profit or private non-profit primary care site located in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).
Career Resources for Future APRNs
Tennessee Nursing Job Boards
- TNA Career Center: Job listings for Tennessee nurses, including NPs, nurse administrators, and nurse educators
- TNNPA Career Center: Job listings for Tennessee NPs
Tennessee APRN Salary & Wage Data
- Annual Mean Wages for Tennessee Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: Listed under “Nurse Practitioners” and “Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary”
- AANP National Compensation Survey: Available to AANP members
Tennessee Nursing Organizations
State Board of Nursing
TN Nursing Associations & Coalitions
- National Black Nurses Association (NBNA): Tennessee Chapters
- Tennessee Hospital Association (THA)
- Tennessee Nurses Association (TNA)
- Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Association (TNNPA)
TN Nursing Specialty Organizations
- American College of Nurse-Midwives – Tennessee Affiliate (Tennessee ACNM)
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association – Tennessee Chapter (APNA Tennessee)
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses – Tennessee (AWHONN – Tennessee)
- Tennessee Association of Nurse Anesthetists (TANA)
- Tennessee Association of School Nurses (TASN)
- Tennessee Organization of Nurse Executives (TONE)
- Tennessee Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (TSPAN)
- Tennessee State Council Emergency Nurses Association (TN-ENA)
- Tennessee Student Nurses Association (TSNA)