Located in the southeastern United States, Tennessee is the country’s 34th largest and 16th most populous state, and its economy is expected to grow faster than average in the coming years. The state’s capital and largest city is Nashville, with Memphis coming in at a close second. Tennessee’s diverse geography includes the Blue Mountains, the Gulf Coastal Plain, and the Appalachian Ridge and Valley.

Higher education opportunities in Tennessee are diverse, with more than 100 colleges and universities. The biggest schools include the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, the University of Memphis, and East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. Vanderbilt University, a private research university in Nashville, is one of the nation’s top schools. Tennessee is leading job growth nationwide in several industries, including vehicle manufacturing, consulting services, and computer systems design. The largest industry in Tennessee is healthcare services. The rapid rise in industry has led to an increased demand for managers with an MBA. Earning an online MBA in Tennessee presents many advantages, including flexible education, job opportunities, and higher salaries.

For students considering an online MBA, Tennessee is alluring. For one thing, tuition is generally less in Tennessee than it is on average in the United States. Tennessee students also save because of the state’s low cost of living compared to the national average. Because of these factors, online MBA programs in Tennessee are more affordable than those in many other states.

Tennessee offers 11 AACSB-accredited MBA programs, including Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University, the University of Memphis, Union University, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and the University of Tennessee at Martin. If you decide to enroll in one of the online MBA programs in Tennessee, it generally does not matter where you live. Earning your MBA online gives you the freedom to live anywhere and log on to class any time that is most convenient for you. Program requirements vary. Most schools require the GMAT, but some, such as at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and Chattanooga, waive GMAT scores for eligible candidates.

Percentage of Students Enrolled by Distance Education
Percentage of students enrolled at Title IV institutions in Tennessee, by distance education enrollment status, Fall 2012

MBA Concentrations for Tennessee Students

Online MBA programs usually offer concentration options that students can choose from in order to offer a more specialized skillset to potential employers. Selecting a concentration can improve your chances of getting a job upon graduation. Although students in Tennessee MBA programs can choose any concentration available, the concentrations below are particularly applicable to the largest industry in the state of Tennessee, healthcare and social assistance.

 

  • Healthcare Administration: A healthcare administration concentration teaches students critical thinking skills that will help them understand how to influence healthcare policy. MBA graduates with this concentration are prepared to work in healthcare facilities, insurance companies, and hospitals.
  • Leadership: A leadership concentration is useful in practically any industry, and can make candidates stand out for their superior understanding of management. The skill of leadership benefits every type and size of business.

Accreditation in Tennessee

It is important that you choose an accredited school when you select your online MBA program. Accreditation is the process that schools undergo to demonstrate that they meet certain minimum educational standards. There are two types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation is more recognized and prestigious than national accreditation, which tends to be used by for-profit schools and is often not accepted as transfer credit at other institutions. Colleges and universities in Tennessee are regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. You’ll also want to see if your online MBA program is separately accredited by the AACSB, an accreditation agency for business schools.

Like many other states in the U.S., Tennessee saw a major decline in manufacturing jobs over the last two decades. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. You’ll also want to see if your online MBA program is separately accredited by the BLS reports the major industry with the highest employment in Tennessee is now healthcare and social assistance. Tennessee is also known globally for its outstanding music scene, particularly in Nashville, nicknamed “Music City,” making tourism and entertainment another major industry. Other important industries include energy, automotive manufacturing, agriculture, and education. Tennessee has a lower than average unemployment rate, reported at just 3% in September 2017. Additionally, reports indicate the state’s economy is projected to grow faster than the nation’s as a whole in the near future. The top area in the state to find a job after graduation is the Nashville metropolitan area, including towns like Cleveland, Murfreesboro, and Franklin.

Top Employers in Tennessee

Company Industry Headquarters City Number of Employees
HCA Healthcare, Inc Healthcare Nashville 35,000
Fedex Shipping Memphis 30,000

Your income and salary earning potential with an MBA is Tennessee willy vary based on your experience level and the type of industry you go into, but holding an MBA will yield higher earnings than an associate or bachelor’s in business.

Higher academic credentials lead to higher salaries and improved opportunities for career growth. If you get your MBA you’ll earn a higher salary than you would if you have just an associate or bachelor’s in business. The following chart shows the average salary in Tennessee for holders of associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in business. MBA holders earn about $10,000 more than individuals with only a bachelor’s of business and over $20,000 more per year than those who have only an associate degree. Investing in your education by earning your MBA pays off not only in increased wages, but also by increasing your likelihood of advancing to management positions.

Average Salary by Degree
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Careers for MBAs in Tennessee

Medical and Health Services Manager

Managers in medical and health services plan, direct, and coordinate operations in medical facilities, clinics, insurance companies, and hospitals. Because healthcare is the top industry in Tennessee, those with an MBA can find ample employment opportunities in this role. Average salary is $96,540.

Financial Managers

Financial managers take responsibility for managing the financial health of organizations across all industries. MBA holders with a background in finance or accounting will be well prepared to take on this type of management role. Average salary is $121,750 per year.

Top Executives

Top executives are critical in every industry, including all of the top industries in Tennessee. They are responsible for creating and enacting strategies to ensure that organizations meet their goals. On average, top executives earn $103,950 per year, but this number can be much higher.

Administrative Services Managers

Administrative services managers coordinate the overall administrative operations of organizations. Duties include overseeing facilities, bookkeeping, supervising maintenance, and ensuring compliance to government regulations. Average salary is $90,050.

Computer and Information Systems Managers

An MBA graduate with an IT background could easily fill the role of computer and information systems manager. These individuals are responsible for improving company hardware and software, maintaining cybersecurity, and overseeing other IT professionals. Average annual salary is $135,800.

If you want to earn an online MBA, Tennessee offers numerous opportunities. If you are interested in learning about the best online MBA programs in Tennessee, please take time to explore the information gathered here. The following list includes all of the accredited online MBA programs in Tennessee.

Rank School Location Cost Toggle Logo Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid Student Population School Type Description

Bryan College

Location Dayton, TN Tuition Tuition $19,620 % Receiving Financial Aid 52% Student Population 1,489 School Type Private

Bryan College is a non-denominational, Christian-affiliated liberal arts college based in Dayton, Tennessee. The school offers one of the best MBAs in Tennessee. The program allows students to choose between specializations, such as healthcare administration, sports management, ministry, marketing, and human resources. Students generally complete the program's 36-credit curriculum in 18 months. Aiming for flexibility and convenience, the program delivers all coursework asynchronously and offers nine-week accelerated courses.

As a private college, Bryan charges all online learners the same per-credit tuition regardless of location. The MBA program's core curriculum includes studies in key business areas, such as strategic marketing, ethics, and managerial economics. All students must take a course on the biblical worldview as it pertains to management. The curriculum does not include a thesis or a capstone experience. The program holds accreditation from the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.


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Carson-Newman University

Location Jefferson City, TN Tuition Tuition $14,100 % Receiving Financial Aid 65% Student Population 2,528 School Type Private

A Baptist-affiliated liberal arts school based in Johnson City, Tennessee, Carson-Newman University offers multiple distance learning programs, including one of the stronger online MBA in Tennessee. Primarily serving the needs of working professionals, the MBA program offers a 10-course, 30-credit generalist track and a 12-course, 36-credit track that allows students to choose a specialization. Students generally complete the program in 11 to 16 months by taking one course at a time.

Each semester consists of three, five-week courses, and coursework is delivered asynchronously. Students do not need to visit campus to complete the degree. The program allows transfer students to bring up to nine approved credits with them and prefers applicants who earned a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. The program considers GMAT scores optional.


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Cumberland University

Location Lebanon, TN Tuition Tuition $17,100 % Receiving Financial Aid 64% Student Population 1,550 School Type Private

Located less than an hour outside of Nashville in Lebanon, Tennessee, Cumberland University's online MBA in Tennessee earns a spot among the school's distance learning offerings. The program requires students to complete 36 credits, a process that they can complete within a year. The curriculum offers concentrations in healthcare administration, entrepreneurship, services, educational leadership, and general business.

Unlike some other programs, Cumberland's MBA curriculum allows students the option to write a thesis. The program offers some of the curriculum online and asynchronously and some through blended learning. As such, the program typically, but not always, includes some on-campus requirements. All applicants to the program must submit evidence of a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. While the school does not require an undergraduate business background, students with an unrelated degree must complete a foundations MBA course in addition to the rest of the curriculum.


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Freed-Hardeman University

Location Henderson, TN Tuition Tuition $17,700 % Receiving Financial Aid 57% Student Population 1,828 School Type Private

A private, Churches of Christ-affiliated college based in Henderson, Tennessee, Freed-Hardeman University primarily focuses on undergraduate and residential programs. The school offers some of its programs through distance learning; however. including an MBA. FHU's MBA program offers an accelerated format, with each course lasting eight weeks. Students can complete the program's 30-credit curriculum within a calendar year; including a capstone in strategic management and coursework in finance, economics, accounting, and decision-making.

The program delivers all online coursework asynchronously and never requires students to visit campus. The MBA curriculum prepares graduates for the CPA exam. Students who do not hold an undergraduate degree may also enroll in a dual BBA/MBA program at FHU. As a private university, FHU charges all online students the same tuition regardless of location.


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Johnson University

Location Knoxville, TN Tuition Tuition $19,800 % Receiving Financial Aid 59% Student Population 1,171 School Type Private

Based outside of Knoxville in Kimberlin Heights, Tennessee, Johnson University offers a Christ-centered education, as the school maintains an affiliation with the Christian Restoration Movement. Johnson's online MBA in Tennessee includes both missional concerns and biblical teachings. The MBA program's 36-credit curriculum allows students to choose concentrations in leadership, nonprofit administration, and business administration. Regardless of concentration, students never need to visit campus in Knoxville or attend classes at set times, since the program delivers all coursework asynchronously.

Johnson University of Tennessee's MBA cost also holds up to the competition, as the school offers the same low, per-credit tuition rate to all students regardless of location. The program offers several merit-based and need-based scholarships in addition to sustainable financial aid opportunities, such as work-studies and federal grants.


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King University

Location Bristol, TN Tuition Tuition $21,780 % Receiving Financial Aid 69% Student Population 2,920 School Type Private

A private, Evangelical Presbyterian-affiliated university based in Bristol, on the Tennessee/Virginia border, King University specializes in graduate programs in education, nursing, and business. As such, King's graduate business program awards a great online MBA in Tennessee. The program prefers applicants with two years of professional business experience. As a result, the program focuses on advanced studies in topics such as project management, problem solving, and business communications. All students choose a concentration in either project management, management information systems, marketing, healthcare management, general management, or human resources management.

The program delivers all online coursework asynchronously and never requires students to visit campus. The program differentiates itself from its peers through its use of the case method, a four-step process that involves reading a case study, proposing action, discussing with peers and a professor, and evaluating the critical thinking that went into the decision.


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Lincoln Memorial University

Location Harrogate, TN Tuition Tuition $17,460 % Receiving Financial Aid 56% Student Population 3,983 School Type Private

Located in the city of Harrogate, Tennessee, just outside of the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Lincoln Memorial University takes its name from the 16th U.S. president. The school primarily focuses on professional and graduate education and offers one of the strongest MBAs in Tennessee. The MBA program allows students to choose between completing the program entirely online, asynchronously, and without in-person requirements or completing the program through blended learning. Regardless of completion method, graduates complete between 30 and 36 credits and choose between a generalist track or specializations in marketing, management, or sport management.

LMU also offers dual degree options for students who want to pursue degrees in veterinary or osteopathic medicine while earning their MBA. While the MBA program does not list standardized test requirements, all applicants must earn a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75.


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University of Memphis

Location Memphis, TN Tuition Tuition $18,900 % Receiving Financial Aid 62% Student Population 20,585 School Type Public

One of the Volunteer State flagship schools, the University of Memphis, now locally governed, primarily focuses on research. Nevertheless, the school offers several professionally-focused programs, including an online MBA degree. The MBA program has a generalist approach and the 33-credit curriculum does not include any concentrations. The curriculum includes coursework in foundational areas such as finance, management, and economics.

The program delivers coursework through both synchronous and asynchronous methods. The MBA admissions committee accepts students for the spring, summer, and fall terms. All applicants must submit GRE or GMAT scores. The university does not list a minimum GPA for applicants. The MBA program holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a distinction conferred upon less than one out of every 20 business schools worldwide.


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Southern Adventist University

Location Collegedale, TN Tuition Tuition $22,500 % Receiving Financial Aid 58% Student Population 3,125 School Type Private

A private college affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Southern Adventist University operates its central campus just outside of Chattanooga in Collegedale, Tennessee. The school serves students across the state and the nation through its online MBA degree. The MBA program curriculum consists of 36 credits, including studies in foundational business, such as financial management, organizational behavior, and leadership. Students who enroll in the program's accounting, management, and healthcare specializations can earn their degree without visiting the campus through asynchronous coursework.

All applicants to the MBA program must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Students with a GPA of 3.25 or five years of work experience can be exempt from the program's GMAT requirement. In addition to business, SAU excels in healthcare. The school's dual MSN/MBA degree is a good option for students interested in both fields.


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Tennessee Wesleyan College

Location Athens, TN Tuition Tuition $15,000 % Receiving Financial Aid 67% Student Population 1,027 School Type Private

A private, Methodist-affiliated liberal arts school based in Athens, Tennessee, Tennessee Wesleyan University excels in programs for working professionals. The school currently offers an online MBA in Tennessee. The MBA program allows students to earn their degrees without ever visiting any of Wesleyan's campuses, although students interested in blended learning or a hybrid format can also opt to take some evening courses at the school's Knoxville campus.

The program's curriculum offers concentrations in management and accounting. The accounting concentration integrates with the Becker Professional Education CPA review program. The MBA curriculum consists of 30 credits, about 10 courses, and delivers coursework asynchronously. Core coursework includes studies in strategic management, sustainability, and marketing theory. Full-time students in the program earn their degrees within a year, while part-time students generally finish in about two years.


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The University of Tennessee - Chattanooga

Location Chattanooga, TN Tuition Tuition $28,944 % Receiving Financial Aid 61% Student Population 11,387 School Type Public

One of the three campuses of the University of Tennessee system, UTC offers several distance learning options, including one of an online MBA in Tennessee. Catering primarily to working professionals, the MBA program never requires students to visit campus and delivers all coursework asynchronously. Students in the program can choose a generalist track or a concentration in business analytics or healthcare administration. Regardless of the concentration, students in the program typically finish in 24 months. Core coursework in all tracks includes marketing, accounting, organizational behavior, and decision-making.

The program boasts accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a distinction that only five percent of business schools earn nationwide. UTC is one of the only schools in the region to hold that honor.


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The University of Tennessee - Martin

Location Martin, TN Tuition Tuition $21,736 % Receiving Financial Aid 56% Student Population 6,827 School Type Public

One of three schools in the University of Tennessee System, UT Martin is one of the only institutions of higher learning in West Tennessee. Students everywhere can benefit from the UT Martin MBA program, a great online MBA in Tennessee. The program caters to working professionals and all applicants must demonstrate two years of post-bachelor's work experience for admission. For that reason, the program delivers coursework asynchronously and eliminates in-person requirements so students may stay employed while in school.

The program runs on a cohort model, with each cohort graduating in 20 to 21 months. Program coursework includes studies in managerial economics, marketing strategy, and operations management, among other core business areas. Prospective students with seven years of work experience and an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 receive a waiver from the program's GMAT or GRE scores requirement.


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Tennessee Technological University

Location Cookeville, TN Tuition Tuition $10,640 % Receiving Financial Aid 45% Student Population 10,900 School Type Public

Based about an hour and a half outside of Nashville in Cookeville, Tennessee, Tennessee Technological University offers a good option for an online MBA in Tennessee. The school's "Hybrid, Industry Immersed MBA program" combines online, asynchronous coursework with monthly "superdays" in which students spend time learning at local businesses, including redpepper in Nashville. The program runs on a cohort model, with students completing the same sequence of coursework with the same group of peers.

The school also offers entirely online and entirely on-campus tracks for their MBA program, though these options do not include the industry immersion days. In all cases, the MBA curriculum consists of 30 credits of foundational business courses, including financial management, strategic marketing, and organizational leadership. Students can also choose a concentration in human resources management, international business, and finance.


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Trevecca Nazarene University

Location Nashville, TN Tuition Tuition $18,720 % Receiving Financial Aid 68% Student Population 2,640 School Type Private

Located in Nashville's Chestnut Hill neighborhood, Trevecca provides a liberal arts education grounded in Nazarene values. The school now offers several of its programs online, including an online MBA in Tennessee. Trevecca Nazarene University's online MBA program provides flexibility by delivering coursework asynchronously and eliminating application fees, in-person requirements, and standardized testing requirements. Students may choose a specialization in healthcare administration, project management, information technology, human resources, or management and leadership.

The curriculum consists of 13 total courses and includes core studies in business ethics, marketing management, and business analytics, among other topics. The program runs on a cohort model, providing each student with peer support. Students complete one course at a time. The MBA degree also features a professional mentoring program where students connect with successful businessmen and businesswomen in the Nashville area.


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Union University

Location Jackson, TN Tuition Tuition $20,700 % Receiving Financial Aid 52% Student Population 3,583 School Type Private

Located in Jackson, Tennessee, Union University is a Baptist-affiliated Evangelical Christian school. The school operates satellite campuses in the Tennessee cities of Hendersonville and Germantown and offers several programs online, including an online MBA in Tennessee. Union's MBA program delivers coursework synchronously, with students in each cohort meeting online once a week for virtual courses. Each course lasts for eight weeks, and students can complete the program in 12, 18, or 24 months depending on how many courses they complete per term. The program does not include in-person requirements.

Students in the program can choose a concentration in marketing, leadership, human resources management, or accounting. All applicants to the program must submit GMAT scores. The program offers five start dates throughout the academic year. Union's MBA program holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, an award earned by less than five percent of business schools worldwide.


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Lee University

Location Cleveland, TN Tuition Tuition $20,224 % Receiving Financial Aid 53% Student Population 5,302 School Type Private

Affiliated with the Pentecostal Church of God, Lee University operates a central campus in Cleveland, Tennessee. The university also offers several degrees through distance learning, including an option for an online MBA in Tennessee. Lee's hybrid MBA degree allows students to choose between on-campus or asynchronous online courses. The program does not include any on-campus or in-person requirements and students may earn their degrees entirely online. Students typically finish the 32-credit curriculum in 20 months, which includes studies in organizational theory, management, and accounting.

Ninety percent of students in the program continue to work full time while pursuing their degree. All applicants must submit GMAT scores and evidence of an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Transfer students may bring up to six approved credits with them.


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There are many important considerations to make before settling on an online MBA program in Tennessee. These include factors discussed above like cost, accreditation, and available specializations. The following list includes some key steps to follow during the program research process for MBA options in any state.

  • Compare student outcomes data

    Student outcomes include graduation rate, year-to-year retention rate, the average debt for a graduate from that school, and overall student satisfaction with their degree program. Student outcomes do not guarantee you will be satisfied with a particular program, but can be useful for pinpointing a school’s strengths and weaknesses.

  • Estimate the expected costs of your programs

    Virtually every accredited college or university posts tuition rates online. Additionally, you should research other college-related costs like living accommodations and meal plans (if you plan to live on-campus), administrative fees, and technology fees (for online students). You should also look into scholarships, grants, and other forms of institutional financial aid that can offset some of the costs.

  • Check that classes will fit in with your schedule

    Scheduling is critical for students with other important commitments, such as childcare or full-time employment. Many online programs are asynchronous, or self-paced; students in these tracks are free to complete course requirements on their own schedule. Synchronous programs, on the other hand, require weekly online meetings with teachers and fellow students.

  • Look for partnerships with local businesses

    A large number of online MBA programs include internship and/or capstone practicum requirements ― and in many cases, students are able to gain on-the-job training and real-world office experience. You should look into the school’s business partnerships, particularly in regard to the industry you plan to enter after earning your MBA.

  • Make sure the program is accredited

    Accreditation status should always be available and easily accessible on a school’s website. In addition to regional or national accreditation, some MBA pathways receive programmatic accreditation. Recognized programmatic accreditors for MBA programs include the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the International Accreditation Counsel for Business Education (IACBE).

  • Talk to current students and/or recent alumni

    You should contact the alumni office at each school you are considering and ask to be connected with former students. These individuals can be good sources of information about education costs, life on- and off-campus, local business tips, and other important details for aspiring MBA students.