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Best Community Colleges in Tennessee: Admission Requirements, Transfer Options, and Online Degrees

Oghenemairo Omueda - June 28, 2022


Tennessee is widely known for producing country music stars like Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton. Aside from its musical prominence, Tennessee is widely acclaimed for its educational standards. Choosing to attend one of the best community colleges in Tennessee will help you kickstart your career.

This article provides a list of the top community colleges in Tennessee, the best online colleges in Tennessee, financial aid to help with tuition costs, and how to apply for that financial aid. Our detailed list of programs and schools will help you get started on your academic journey.

How Many Community Colleges Are in Tennessee?

There are 13 community colleges in Tennessee , as stated by the Tennessee Board of Regents website. Each of these institutions offers high-quality, affordable education to students across a wide range of disciplines. Each of these community colleges covers a specific service area.

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How Many Community College Districts Are in Tennessee?

There are no community college districts in Tennessee . Tennessee is among several other states that have a state-level board that is responsible for governing tertiary institutions including universities, community colleges, and other two-year campuses.

What Is the Biggest Community College in Tennessee?

The biggest community college in Tennessee is Pellissippi State Community College. Founded in 1974, today the school has about 11,000 students studying across a wide range of disciplines. The college offers online courses and also partners with high schools in the area to offer dual enrollment programs.

What Are the Best Community Colleges in Tennessee?

Ranking Community College Graduation Rate Student-to-Faculty Ratio
1 Motlow State Community College 34% 22:1
2 Walters State Community College 32% 17:1
3 Cleveland State Community College 31% 17:1
4 Pellissippi State Community College 30% 20:1
5 Columbia State Community College 28% 20:1
6 Dyersburg State Community College 27% 20:1
7 Jackson State Community College 23% 19:1
8 Chattanooga State Community College 21% 14:1
9 Nashville State Community College 19% 19:1
10 Southwest Tennessee Community College 13% 17:1

The Best Community Colleges in Tennessee: Explained

Finding the best undergraduate education may be overwhelming, which is why we have made a list of the best community colleges in Tennessee. You will find important information on the tuition, student population, and some of the popular programs at each school in this section.

1

Motlow State Community College

Grad Rate: 34%

Motlow State Community College opened for classes in 1969. It is a top-performing institution in the state of Tennessee that offers certificates and associate degrees. According to its official website, students from Motlow State Community College had an average GPA of 2.89 in fall 2019.

Motlow State Community College Overview

  • Tuition: $211/credit hour (in state); $434/credit hour (out of state)
  • Student Population: 6,616
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 95%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 22:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None for general admission

Best Motlow State Community College Programs

  • Associate of Science (AS) in Accounting. This program is a very good choice for students that are looking to pursue a bachelor's degree in this field at a four-year institution. Students will learn about the basic principles of accounting, macroeconomics, and microeconomics.
  • Associate of Science in Biology. This program prepares students to transfer to any university program in Tennessee. Students will improve their skills in research, writing, communication, and critical thinking. Students can focus on different fields including pharmacology and biotechnology. It’s a 60-credit program.
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Computer Information Technology with a Specialization in Cyber Defense. This program teaches students how to identify security risks and assess the potential for any threats. Students will gain hands-on experience and learn special security techniques and tools. This program prepares students to enter the workforce upon graduation.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Entrepreneurship. This program builds important skills that students need to plan and run a successful business. The program is designed to help students with a certificate or diploma in a technical field. Graduates can become field product specialists, agricultural engineers, or plant breeders.
  • Associate of Science in Mechanical Engineering. This program is the prerequisite to a bachelor's degree in this field at any of the universities in Tennessee. Community college graduates will learn the application of mathematical and engineering concepts in the design and analysis of technical issues in a wide range of industries.

2

Walters State Community College

Grad Rate: 32%

Walters State Community College (WSCC) was founded in 1970 and named after a former US Senator, Herbert Walters. The school offers associate degrees and certificates in various fields. The school’s Expo Center hosts over 60 events annually that all students are welcome to attend.

Walters State Community College Overview

  • Tuition: $171/credit hour (in state); $534/credit hours (out of state)
  • Student Population: 5,742
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 96%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Walters State Community College Programs

  • Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Management. This two-year program prepares students to code and manage medical information. They learn to properly arrange this coded information for reimbursement. Students will receive training both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Associate of Arts in Philosophy. Students in this program can make a smooth transition into a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy at any four-year institution. The curriculum covers the foundations of human beliefs and values. The program can be completed in two years.
  • Associate of Arts in Speech Communication. This program is for students who intend to transfer to a four-year institution to pursue a bachelor's degree. Students will learn communication skills that will help them in business, interpersonal, and professional environments.
  • Associate of Science in Geology. Courses include historical geology, the survey of geology, and world regional geography. Students must take courses in communication, history, mathematics, and natural sciences.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Business - Hospitality Management. The WSCC hospitality management program gives students real-world experiences by offering them internship opportunities with hotels and restaurants in the area. Students will get first-hand knowledge about the different aspects of restaurant and hotel management.

3

Cleveland State Community College

Grad Rate: 31%

Cleveland State Community College was founded in 1965 in Cleveland, Tennessee. The school offers associate degrees in various disciplines. Some third and fourth-year college-level courses are also offered at this school via a partnership with other educational institutions.

Cleveland State Community College Overview

  • Tuition (and fees): $217.25/credit hour (in state); $751.25/credit hour (out of state)
  • Student Population: 3,074
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 98%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Cleveland State Community College Programs

  • Associate of Science in Agribusiness. This program gives students a foundational knowledge of the agricultural industry, business management, and practices in different areas including animal science, plant science, and economics. Students can also choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science in Agribusiness.
  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice. This program prepares students to pursue a bachelor's degree upon graduation. Students are given a foundation for a solid career in different aspects of criminal justice including legal systems, law enforcement, or correction. It’s a 60-credit program.
  • Associate of Science in Chemistry. Students build a foundation to pursue careers in medical, pharmaceutical, and educational fields. Courses include calculus, introduction to psychology, organic chemistry, and art history.
  • Associate of Art in History. Graduates will be able to analyze historical facts and interpretations. Students will be able to analyze and compare cultural, geographical, economical, and religious structures and processes in vast periods of history.
  • Associate of Science in Mass Communication. Students will learn how to communicate effectively via both written and oral modes. They will also be able to display a good understanding of scientific concepts that relate to communication.

4

Pellissippi State Community College

Grad Rate: 30%

Pellissippi State Community College was founded in 1974. The school's main campus is located in West Knox County. Pellissippi State offers associate degrees and certificates across a wide range of disciplines.

Pellissippi State Community College Overview

  • Tuition (and fees): $229/credit hour (in state); $763/credit hour (out of state)
  • Student Population: 9,334
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 95%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 20:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Pellissippi State Community College Programs

  • Associate of Applied Science in Architectural Design Technology. This program helps students start their careers in architecture design and drafting. Some things students will learn include building information modeling, computer drafting, and architectural design concepts.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts. This program gives students the skills and abilities to succeed in the food and beverage sector of the hospitality industry. Students learn the practical applications of cooking theories. Upon graduation, students can either work in food and hospitality establishments or become entrepreneurs.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Electromechanical Technology. This program teaches a combination of skills related to electrical, mechanical, and computerized technologies that work together in manufacturing industries’ systems. Students learn how to work in industrial environments and learn skills such as troubleshooting techniques.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies. Students learn the application of the ethical rules of attorneys and paralegals and how to produce examples of legal communication. They will be able to use both traditional and computerized methods to demonstrate legal and factual research.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design Technology. Students in this program get a solid foundation in design that will propel them to become professional interior designers. Students get training for entry-level jobs in residential design as well as interior design sales positions.

5

Columbia State Community College

Grad Rate: 28%

Columbia State Community College (CSCC) was founded in 1966 as a public college. The school has five campuses and serves nine counties in the Southern Middle Tennessee area. The school offers associate degrees and certificate programs to its students. CSCC is also known for its athletics and is a member of the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association.

Columbia State Community College Overview

  • Tuition: $171/semester hour (in state); $705/semester hour (out of state)
  • Student Population: 5,931
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 86%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 20:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None (some programs require 2.5 or above)

Best Columbia State Community College Programs

  • Associate of Art in Music. This program provides students with a comprehensive arts education and teaches important skills that students require to explore the world of music. Students study the history, performance, theory, and composition of music.
  • Associate of Science in Political Science. Students in this program will understand how the government works as an institution at different levels. Students can use this program as a solid foundation for earning a bachelor's degree and go on to become career politicians, lawyers, or police officers.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Business Management. Students get training that prepares them for employment or advancement in a business setting upon graduation. Graduates can work in offices, retail stores, and hospitality.
  • Associate of Science in Geography. This two-year program is designed for students that plan to complete a bachelor's degree at a four-year school. Students can start a career in a wide range of fields including land use planning, social science research, and computer mapping.
  • Associate of Science in Graphic Design. Columbia State's graphic design program is suitable for students that want to pursue a bachelor's degree at a four-year college. Students will learn how to plan, analyze and create innovative visuals to solve communication problems or uniquely pass across a message.

6

Dyersburg State Community College

Grad Rate: 27%

Established in 1969, Dyersburg State Community College is the second community college built in Tennessee. It offers associate degrees and certificates across various disciplines to over 2,600 students. The school campus is located in an arboretum with more than 40 species of trees.

Dyersburg State Community College Overview

  • Tuition: $171/credit hour (in state); $534/credit hour (out of state)
  • Student Population: 2,650
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 100%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 20:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Dyersburg State Community College Programs

  • Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology. Radiologic technology combines advanced technology with human compassion. A radiographer receives training to process x-rays that show the internal structure of a patient. Students in the program use these images to diagnose patients. They can apply for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam.
  • Associate of Art in International Affairs. This program is designed for students who have plans of completing a bachelor's degree at a four-year college. International affairs students can find rewarding careers in different areas including politics, economics, and sociology.
  • Associate of Science in Psychology. Students of this program will build a concrete foundation in the science of psychology and explore the challenges in the field of psychology. Students can transfer to a four-year college to pursue a higher degree and become a professional in the field.
  • Associate of Science in Nutrition and Food Science. Students pursuing this degree will learn about personal health, principles of nutrition, safety, and first aid. The program requires 60-credits and takes two years.
  • Associate of Art in Theater Arts. Students pursuing a theater arts associate degree will learn about acting, stagecraft, special topics in theater, and musical drama and speech. Upon graduation, students can pursue a bachelor's degree.

7

Jackson State Community College

Grad Rate: 23%

Jackson State Community College started enrolling students in 1967. With over 4,000 students, the school offers associate degrees and certificate programs in various fields including health sciences, business, humanities, and natural sciences. The school offers online and accelerated programs to suit students’ schedules.

Jackson State Community College Overview

  • Tuition (and fees): $211/credit hour (in state); $745/credit hour (out of state)
  • Student Population: 4,203
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 97%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.6 (for proof of college-level readiness)

Best Jackson State Community College Programs

  • Associate of Art in Mass Communication. This program is for students that plan to earn a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communication. It is suitable for students that want to pursue careers in print or electronic journalism. Students will learn about the best practices that work for communication technologies.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice. This program is for students with plans to pursue a law enforcement career. This degree is also applicable for students who have jobs in law enforcement but need a degree to advance their careers. The program includes two tracks which are law enforcement and correction.
  • Associate of Science in Agriculture - Animal Science. Students can use this program as a stepping stone to earning a bachelor's degree in this field. Building a career in animal science lets graduates work for research firms, agribusinesses, and universities.
  • Associate of Science in Chemistry. This program is designed for students that want to go on to complete a bachelor's degree program after graduation. Students will have access to the science labs in the school and can go on to work as researchers in the field or private industry.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Cyber Defense. This program focuses on topics related to digital forensics and cyber security. Students will learn skills that will enable them to fortify computer networks in the prevention of security breaches.

8

Chattanooga State Community College

Grad Rate: 21%

Chattanooga State Community College was established in September 1965 as Tennessee's first technical college. Chattanooga State currently offers a wide range of programs and degrees including 50 career programs and 20 technical certificate programs.

Chattanooga State Community College Overview

  • Tuition (and fees): $190.40/credit hour (in state); $724.40/credit hour (out of state)
  • Student Population: 7,452
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 97%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Chattanooga State Community College Programs

  • Associate of Applied Science in Digital Media Design and Production. This program prepares students for a career in digital media. Students will learn to design and produce exciting and engaging content for a wide array of digital platforms. The program is for students who plan to enter the labor market upon graduating.
  • Associate of Science in Accounting. Students in this program will learn practical and theoretical accounting principles and concepts. Students will learn about the methods, standards, and procedures of accounting. Career opportunities in this field include working as an accountant or auditor.
  • Associate of Science in Mathematics. This program prepares students to pursue an advanced degree from a four-year college in the mathematical field. Students will have to follow a Tennessee Transfer Pathway to ensure that they can successfully transfer to a Tennessee university after completing the program.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene. Dental hygienists are trained in providing well-rounded dental health services. This program prepares students for the dental board examinations which are necessary for licensure to practice.
  • Associate of Science in Civil Engineering. This program prepares students to pursue an advanced degree from a four-year college in civil engineering. The 66-credit program covers calculus, chemistry, social sciences, and dynamics.

9

Nashville State Community College

Grad Rate: 19%

Established in 1970, Nashville State Community College currently serves seven counties in the state of Tennessee. The school offers associate degrees in arts, fine arts, science, science teaching, and applied science. The school also offers 32 certificate programs. In the first year of its establishment, its student population was so small that they had their graduation in the parking lot.

Nashville State Community College Overview

  • Tuition (and fees): $199/credit hour (in state); $733/credit hour (out of state)
  • Student Population: 7,064
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 95%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Nashville State Community College Programs

  • Associate of Applied Science in Accounting. This program helps students begin their career path in accounting. Students that are well organized, detailed oriented, and enjoy analyzing financial data will find this program suitable. The accounting program teaches students the concepts of accounting and other important aspects of this field.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management. This two-year program gives students the knowledge that they need to begin a career in the hospitality industry. Students will develop important skills like business management to provide a wide range of hospitality services for guests.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies. This program gives students the training that they need to become paralegals or work as legal assistants. Students will gain important skills such as critical thinking, solid general legal knowledge, and a concrete foundation in ethics.
  • Associate of Science in Management. This program is designed for students that want to pursue a bachelor's degree program in management after graduation. Students will learn the principles of management and take their first steps in a career filled with many opportunities in a wide range of industries.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Healthcare Management. Students will learn about the workings of healthcare facilities like hospitals, rehab centers, and physicians' offices. Nashville State has two concentrations in this program which can prepare students to become certified in medical compliance or medical coding or both.

10

Southwest Tennessee Community College

Grad Rate: 13%

Southwest Tennessee Community College is a two-year school that came into existence in the year 2000 following a merger between two schools. The school offers associate degrees and certificate programs across a wide variety of fields. All of their sports teams are affiliated with the National Junior College Athletic Association.

Southwest Tennessee Community College Overview

  • Tuition (and fees): $236/credit hour (in state); $770/credit hour (out of state)
  • Student Population: 7,371
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 89%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Southwest Tennessee Community College Programs

  • Associate of Applied Science in Accounting. This degree prepares students for employment opportunities in the accounting departments of various types of businesses. Students will get an accounting educational background to advance to a prominent position like a controller or assistant controller of a medium-scale business.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Architectural Design Technology. This program helps students gain important skills that they can use to build a name for themselves in the labor market as architectural design technicians. Courses include architectural drawing, materials and methods of construction, and survey fundamentals.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Communication. Students studying communication will develop the top skills and knowledge required for entry-level jobs. The program covers online, print, and audiovisual aspects of media. Students will learn how to draft press releases and address issues bordering on public relations.
  • Associate of Science in Chemistry. This program is for students that want to pursue an advanced degree at university after graduating. This program will teach students about the fundamentals of chemistry. Courses include organic chemistry and calculus-based physics.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice. This program is for students that want to delve into the criminal justice workforce immediately after graduation. Students of this program will study courses such as introduction to criminal justice, intro to the legal process, and intro to corrections.

Best Online Community Colleges in Tennessee

  1. Motlow State Community College. Motlow State Community College offers 73 online associate degree, transfer, and certificate programs for students. Learning online is a great idea for students who may not have the opportunity to be physically present in classes. Students will still get a quality education but will do so through the school’s D2L portal.
  2. Roane State Community College. Roane State Community College offers five associate degrees and two certificate programs online for students who do not wish to attend regular classes on campus. Students that wish to take just a few courses online can also do so at Roane State.
  3. Northeast State Community College. Northeast State has a wide array of online education for students. Students studying online from a long distance will receive the same quality of education that in-person students enjoy.

Best Online Associate Degrees

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Other Tennessee Community College Rankings

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a community college in Tennessee to attend. If you want to transfer to a four-year institution to pursue a more advanced degree after graduating, it is also important to know which schools offer good bachelor’s degree programs. Take a look at our lists below to help you make an informed decision.

Best Community Colleges in Tennessee for Transfer

  1. Chattanooga State Community College. Chattanooga State offers transfer pathways across various fields including business, arts, natural sciences, and humanities. Upon graduation, students who meet the requirements can transfer to a four-year school such as the University of Tennessee, Tennessee Technological University, and the University of Memphis.
  2. Dyersburg State Community College. Students who meet the requirements for graduation can transfer across various fields including business, health science, and natural sciences. Transfer schools include Tennessee State University, Freed-Hardeman University, and Johnson University.
  3. Columbia State Community College. Columbia State students’ can transfer across a variety of fields including arts, humanities, and health science. Students can transfer to four-year schools such as Austin Peay State University, East Tennessee State University, and Tennessee State University.

Best Community Colleges for Accounting in Tennessee

  1. Chattanooga State Community College. Students in the accounting program at Chattanooga State will receive training in both the practical and theoretical knowledge of accounting principles and concepts. Students will also learn about accounting procedures, methods, and standards.
  2. Motlow State Community College. The accounting program at Motlow State allows students to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program after graduation. Students will learn about the basic principles of accounting, macroeconomics, and microeconomics. Students may also choose the business accounting concentration, which prepares them for entry-level jobs after college.
  3. Nashville State Community College. Students may pursue an AS, AAS, or various Certificates in Accounting at NSCC. They learn about accounting concepts and other general knowledge in the field. Candidates that are highly organized, detailed oriented, and hold strong interests in analyzing financial data will find these programs suitable.

Best Tennessee Community Colleges That Offer Bachelor’s Degrees

  1. Motlow State Community College. Motlow State works with some universities and colleges to run bachelor’s degree programs on its campuses. Referred to as the “two plus two agreements,” students can complete another two years of study after completing their associate degree program. The student will complete the bachelor’s degree on Motlow’s campus.

Best Associate Degrees

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Best Community College Programs in Tennessee

A group of happy graduating students throwing hats in the air. Best Community Colleges In Tennessee
Studying at a community college in Tennessee is a great way to start a promising career.

The best community colleges in Tennessee have a wide range of quality academic programs that students can pick from. These programs cover a variety of different interests and specializations so you can be sure to find something that suits you. Check out some of the top programs that are popular with students across the state that may also pique your interest.

Accounting

Different community colleges in Tennessee have accounting programs. Students will get to learn about the principles of accounting, microeconomics, and macroeconomics. They also pick up skills such as critical thinking and data analysis. Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science degrees are usually awarded, though some institutions also have certificate programs.

Paralegal Studies

These programs are for students who want to become paralegals or legal assistants. Students can head straight into the workforce after graduation, but most boost their knowledge in the field by pursuing a more advanced degree. There are associate degrees and certificate programs for paralegal studies.

Hospitality Management

Students in a hospitality management program gain real-world experience through internship opportunities with hotels and restaurants within the state. Students gain first-hand knowledge about the different components of restaurant and hotel management. Aspiring hospitality managers can get an associate degree or a certificate.

Nursing

Students who want to work in healthcare can enroll in nursing programs across the state. Many of these programs prepare students for the National Council Licensing Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Passing this exam means a nurse is ready to head straight into the labor market.

Mass Communication

Many students who hold an interest in mass communication will find reputable institutions to build their foundation on in Tennessee. Students learn about the best practices to ease communication technologies. Many Tennessee colleges offer associate degrees and certificates in this field.

Tennessee Community College Admission Requirements

The admission requirements to attend a community college in Tennessee include filling out the school application form, submitting letters of recommendation, and getting a high school diploma or equivalent. Students may also be required to submit standardized test scores and have an acceptable high school GPA.

Tennessee Community College GPA Requirements

Most community colleges in Tennessee do not have any specific high school GPA requirement for admission. Some colleges may require a specific GPA for admission to specialized programs. While many community colleges do not have a GPA requirement for students generally, some institutions have set a GPA of 3.20 for high school students taking community college classes for credit.

Residency Requirements for Community Colleges in Tennessee

Individuals who reside in Tennessee are classified as in-state residents, while individuals who do not are classified as out-of-state. Students must have lived in Tennessee for up to one year before applying to be classified as in-state residents.

In-state residents usually have the advantage of paying lesser tuition than out-of-state residents. To borrow an example from Motlow State Community College, in-state residents pay $211/credit hour while out-of-state residents pay $534/credit hour as annual tuition.

Tennessee Community College Age Requirements

The minimum age for application to a community college in Tennessee is 18. Some schools have selective services to allow certain candidates under 18 to apply, with permission from a parent or guardian.

Tennessee Community College Admission Requirements: A Summary

  • Submitting application form
  • High school transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • Respectable high school GPA

Why Study in Tennessee?

You should study in Tennessee because the state has excellent schools for students that cover a variety of interests. Tennessee students get to enjoy a cheaper cost of living, the natural environment, and many educational opportunities.

Cost of Living

According to Statista, Tennessee has the ninth-lowest composite cost of living index in the United States as of 2020. Housing, groceries, transportation, and healthcare were among the factors used to calculate these statistics.

Natural Environment

The state of Tennessee has a moderate climate that is cool but not cold. It snows during the winter and the summertime is quite warm. Entertainment like country music and football are popular in Tennessee. There are also natural attractions like lakes, mountains, and rivers that community college students can enjoy.

Educational Opportunities

Tennessee has 13 community colleges and many technical colleges to help students take the first step toward starting a career. Graduates can attend any of the private and public universities in the state to complete a bachelor’s degree. Students who wish to attain a more advanced degree can also do so.

Tennessee Employment Outlook for Community College Students

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the unemployment rate in Tennessee reduced by 1.6 percent in April 2022. There was an increase of 4.7 percent in the employment rate as 145,600 new jobs were created in the state. Students emerging from community colleges in Tennessee can expect to find a job easily after graduation as employment opportunities continue to rise.

5 In-Demand Tennessee Jobs

The best community colleges in Tennessee prepare students to jump straight into the labor force. Some very popular career paths for graduates in the state of Tennessee include food service management, public relations, nursing, accounting, and paralegal services. Let us discuss these career choices below.

1

Food Service Manager

Average Salary: $51,320

Food service managers oversee the daily operations of restaurants or other establishments in the business of food and beverage preparation. They guide the work of staff to ensure that customers derive maximum satisfaction with their dining experience. They manage everything about the business to ensure that things run efficiently and successfully.

  • Average Salary in Tennessee: $51,320
  • Employment in Tennessee: 8,870
  • Overall Job Growth: 15%
  • Best Tennessee Community College Program: Associate of Applied Science in Business - Hospitality Management at Walters State Community College

2

Public Relations Officer

Average Salary: $104,930

Public relations officers plan campaigns and publicity strategies. They write and produce press releases and presentations. They handle any inquiries that the public or men of the press may have about their clients or the organizations for which they work. Publicists also manage promotional events such as press conferences, exhibitions, and tours.

  • Average Salary in Tennessee: $104,930
  • Employment in Tennessee: 490
  • Overall Job Growth: 13%
  • Best Tennessee Community College Program: Associate of Science in Mass Communication at Cleveland State Community College

3

Paralegal

Average Salary: $50,260

Paralegals help lawyers carry out their various legal duties. Some of the duties of a paralegal include drafting legal documents, conducting factual and legal research, managing cases, and working with clients.

  • Average Salary in Tennessee: $50,260
  • Employment in Tennessee: 5,720
  • Overall Job Growth: 12%
  • Best Tennessee Community College Program: Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies at Pellissippi State Community College

4

Nurse Practitioner

Average Salary: $95,120

Nurses provide care for individuals irrespective of their age, family, groups, and community. They work primarily with sick patients but can also take care of people that are in good health. The job includes prevention of illnesses, health promotion, and taking care of sick and disabled people.

  • Average Salary in Tennessee: $95,120
  • Employment in Tennessee: 11,360
  • Overall Job Growth: 9%
  • Best Tennessee Community College Program: Associate of Applied Science in Healthcare Management at Nashville State Community College (licensing exams also required)

5

Accountant

Average Salary: $69,480

Accountants prepare and maintain important financial reports. They take care of financial responsibilities like tax returns and ensure that taxes are paid as at when due. They evaluate financial operations sourcing for the best practices. They also identify issues and provide solutions to help the company that they work for to run smoothly.

  • Average Salary in Tennessee: $69,480
  • Employment in Tennessee: 19,320
  • Overall Job Growth: 7%
  • Best Tennessee Community College Program: Associate of Science in Accounting at Chattanooga State Community College

What Community Colleges in Tennessee Have Dorms?

Only two community colleges in the state of Tennessee have dorms for students. Although the rest do not have dormitories, some schools like Roane State Community College offer support to students for finding suitable living quarters during their studies.

Students that reside on campus have the benefit of socializing more with other students and do not have to worry about transportation. However, students do not have as much privacy and their freedom may be restricted. In some cases, living on campus can also be very expensive.

Tennessee Community Colleges With Dorms

  1. Nashville State Community College
  2. Southwest Community College

What Community Colleges Offer Winter Intersession in Tennessee?

Intersession classes are short classes that are held for about three to four weeks during the winter period. These courses are very beneficial for students who wish to slightly accelerate their studies. Some of the community colleges in Tennessee that offer intersession classes are listed below.

Tennessee Community Colleges With Winter Intersession

  1. Dyersburg State Community College
  2. Roane State Community College
  3. Southwest Community College

What Community Colleges in Tennessee Have Summer Classes?

Some community colleges in Tennessee offer summer classes for students. Taking summer classes may be beneficial to students as fewer students will be in school during that period, meaning each student will get more personal attention from professors. It can also allow the student to build good grades and catch up on courses.

Tennessee Community Colleges With Summer Classes

  1. Motlow State Community College
  2. Nashville State Community College
  3. Roane State Community College

How to Apply to Community College in Tennessee

You can apply to a community college by going online to fill out and submit the application form for the school that you wish to attend. After, you must submit any essential documents that may be requested. High school transcripts are mandatory. It is a good idea to review your financial options and apply for financial aid right away.

Tennessee Community College Application Steps

  1. Complete the online application.
  2. Submit all official transcripts.
  3. Submit ACT, SAT, or college placement exam scores if applicable.
  4. Submit other documentation like an immunization form.
  5. Apply for financial aid.

Cost of Community Colleges in Tennessee

According to the National Center for Labor Statistics, attending a two-year community college in Tennessee costs $4,379 for in-state students. For out-of-state students, the cost of a community college is $16,937. These costs will vary depending on your program and its format.

Are Community Colleges Ever Free in Tennessee?

Yes, community colleges can be free in Tennessee. Tennessee Promise allows Tennessee high school graduates from high school students to attend a community college or technical college without paying tuition and any mandatory fees.

The program provides a last-dollar scholarship to students, so all tuition and fees not covered by the HOPE scholarship, Pell grant, or TSAA funds will be covered. The scholarship applies to all community colleges in Tennessee.

Which Community Colleges Are Free in Tennessee?

While free education is not directly accessible in any community college in Tennessee, the Tennessee Promise program ensures that beneficiaries can attend any of the 13 community colleges in Tennessee free of all tuition and fee charges. Applicants must meet the requirements and apply to be considered eligible.

Who Qualifies for Free Community College in Tennessee?

High school seniors from a Tennessee high school or students who have completed a home school program can qualify for free community college through the Tennessee Promise program. The program is open to students of all socioeconomic statuses but students at risk of not getting an education will be specially targeted.

How to Apply for Free Community College in Tennessee

  1. Prospective students must participate and ensure that all requirements of a Tennessee Promise partnering organization are met.
  2. Apply during their senior year and meet the application deadlines.
  3. Attend all scheduled team meetings and take part in the mandatory college orientation.
  4. Maintain a minimum of 12 hours each semester.
  5. Maintain acceptable academic progress which is the equivalent of maintaining a 2.0 GPA each semester in most schools.

Scholarships for Community Colleges in Tennessee

There are different types of scholarships for community colleges in Tennessee. Each of these opportunities is unique and helps students in varying capacities. Some of these scholarships include the TN HOPE scholarship, General assembly merit scholarship, and Dual enrollment grant.

How to Get a Scholarship for Community Colleges in Tennessee

  1. Check for eligibility status from an appropriate high school official.
  2. Fill out and complete the FAFSA application so that your financial status will be obtained.
  3. Submit your high school transcripts.
  4. Expect a reply from the scholarship program.
  5. If successful, you will receive the award either in a private account or it will be sent to your school to cover the cost for which it’s meant.

Tennessee Community College Scholarships List

  • TN HOPE Scholarship | Amount: $1,600. This scholarship is funded from the net proceeds of the Tennessee state lottery. Community college students will receive $1,600 per full-time semester during their freshman and sophomore years.
  • Middle College Scholarship | $Amount: $2,000. Funded from proceeds obtained from the Tennessee state lottery, students will get a total of $2,000 each semester. It will be given out in two semesters for a total of $4,000.
  • Tennessee HOPE Access Grant | $Amount: $925. This scholarship is awarded to school freshmen per full-time semester, including summer. It is funded from the proceeds of the state lottery.

Other Tennessee Community College Financial Aid Options

Students can access other Tennessee community college financial aid options apart from scholarships to help them ease tuition costs. Some of these options include federal and state grants, student loans, loans from private organizations, and work-study jobs.

Federal Grants

The federal government provides several federal grants to ease the costs of education for students. Applicants must fill out the FAFSA form every school year to qualify for these grants. The Federal Pell Grants and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are both solid options.

Tennessee Grants

The Tennessee Office of Finance in conjunction with the US government has provided over $17 million in government grants to students. The Tennessee office has also set aside more than $10 million in other forms of financial aid for students. Students who reside in Tennessee and have citizenship or a permanent resident certificate are eligible for these grants.

Student Loans

A student loan is money that is borrowed to support the educational needs of a student. Recipients of student loans are expected to pay them back. Ensure that you read the terms and conditions of a loan before signing it. You can apply for different types of federal loans including direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, direct PLUS loans, and direct consolidation loans.

Work-Study Jobs

Work-study jobs provide part-time employment to students that are enrolled in school. It is available to full-time and part-time undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in need of financial aid. Check if your school is a participant in the federal work-study program so that you can apply for a job while schooling.

School and Private Scholarships

Some schools administer their own scholarship programs for students. Nashville State is a good example as the school runs scholarship programs that cut across several disciplines. There are also private organizations that run scholarship programs that cover community college students.

Private Loans

Students can get access to educational loans from private institutions in addition to that offered by the government. Institutions that offer private student loans include banks, credit unions, and state-based or state-affiliated organizations. Private student loans usually come with terms and conditions and are more expensive than federal student loans.

The Best Financial Aid for Your Situation

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What Are the Financial Aid Requirements for Community Colleges in Tennessee?

The financial aid requirements for community colleges in Tennessee include having financial needs and having legal citizenship or a residential permit for non-citizens. Other requirements include enrollment in an accredited program from a recognized school and maintaining a good academic record.

Tennessee Financial Aid Requirements: Overview

  • Proof of financial need.
  • Students must be US citizens or legal non-citizens.
  • Students must have a valid social security number.
  • Students must be enrolled in an eligible program of study and maintain a good academic standard.

Should You Attend Community College in Tennessee?

Yes, you should attend a community college in Tennessee. These top-quality schools provide two-year education across various fields to prepare you for advanced degrees or a job role in the labor market. If you seek a faster education, you can consider going to the best Nashville coding bootcamps , which are convenient and quick.

Tennessee Community College Rankings: Methodology

Our ranking of Tennessee community colleges is based mainly on graduation rate. If graduation rate statistics were not available, we used data on student-to-faculty ratios to rank the remaining schools. These figures, sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), best reflect a student’s chances of getting the education and help they need to succeed.

Best Accelerated Degrees

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Best Tennessee Community Colleges FAQ

How are Tennessee community colleges funded?

Community colleges and other tertiary institutions in Tennessee receive funding through different means such as tuition and fees. Other sources of revenue include auxiliary services like bookstores, dormitories, and school medical facilities.

Can you lose out on the TN Promise program that offers free education?

Yes, a student can lose out on the TN Promise program if they fail to attend the team meeting to which they have been assigned. That student will become ineligible permanently unless they complete an excuse form before 72 hours of the meeting.

What is the difference between TN HOPE and TN Promise?

Tennessee Promise offers two years of tuition-free financial aid to Tennessee students in a community college or a technical college. TN HOPE scholarship is a four-year scholarship program funded by the state lottery and it covers all tertiary schools in the state. It is also not completely tuition-free as recipients will only receive a fixed amount of money every semester.

Can you be successful if you go to a Tennessee community college?

Yes, you can be successful by attending a Tennessee community college. It may be challenging to find your way through the community college system and transfer to a four-year college, but students that do so usually perform as well as those who started at these four-year schools. You can build a successful career and earn a decent living.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Oghenemairo Omueda

About the author: Oghenemairo is an expert content writer who has been published on Opera News and Medium. He holds a degree in microbiology from the University of Abuja. He also has a Facebook Certificate in Digital Journalism and a Google Digital Marketing Skills Certificate.

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