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2023 Best Online Nursing Programs in Tennessee

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 9/1/2023

Review our list of the best online nursing degrees in Tennessee for 2023 to find the right program for you. Tennessee schools offer online programs for nursing at every degree and certification level, from a certified nursing assistant (CNA) to a master's in nursing (MSN). Online nursing programs continue to grow in popularity due to their flexibility and convenience, allowing students to pursue a higher education while balancing other commitments.

Our 2023 list includes Tennessee colleges that offer online nursing programs and have NCLEX data available, so you can determine which programs offer the best pass rates.

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2023 Best Online Nursing Programs in Tennessee

School NCLEX Pass Rate Online Enrollment
Bethel University - TN 100.0% 1,747
Cleveland State Community College 98.0% 499
Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences 96.0% 181
The University of Tennessee - Chattanooga 96.0% 1,090
Lincoln Memorial University 94.0% 346
King University 93.0% 752
The University of Tennessee - Knoxville 93.0% 1,869
Union University 93.0% 589
Lipscomb University 92.0% 522
Austin Peay State University 89.0% 2,415
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Becoming a Nurse in Tennessee

Applicants in Tennessee must earn certain credentials to become a nurse. The Tennessee Board of Nursing grants nursing licenses in the Volunteer State. Only graduates of approved schools are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), one of the main requirements for getting a license.

Tennessee recognizes several types of nurse, including licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), and advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) licenses, or certified nurse aid (CNA) certificates.

Pursuing a nursing career in Tennessee can pay relatively well. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2022, RNs make an annual mean wage of $72,480, compared to a $52,820 average over all occupations in the state. The annual mean wage for LPNs is $46,540, while NPs earn an average of $99,330.

Read on for more information about obtaining the different types of Tennessee nursing licenses.

To learn about online nursing programs and requirements in other states, explore our list of accredited nursing degrees by state below:

Nursing Degrees by State

How To Get CNA Certification in Tennessee

To work as a CNA in Tennessee, candidates must be certified and registered with the Tennessee Nurse Aide Registry. Applicants seeking certification must complete an approved CNA education program and apply for registration within 24 months. The applicant must then pass an exam — part skills assessment, part written exam — and apply for registration with the Tennessee Department of Health.

CNA Certification Renewals

Nurse aides may view their certification status through the Tennessee Department of Health's website or by calling the department. Every two years, CNAs in Tennessee must recertify in order to stay on the registry. Recertification does not require a fee, but CNAs must prove that they worked at least one shift of eight hours or more during the previous two years in order to qualify.

How To Get an LPN License in Tennessee

Students who have completed an approved online program can apply for an LPN license. Obtaining an LPN license requires a similar application process to obtaining an RN license in the state. Applicants submitting for initial LPN licensure can apply through the examination process. Applicants will submit to a criminal background check and fingerprinting six weeks before graduation, and they must register with Pearson VUE for the PN-version of the NCLEX two weeks before graduation from their approved LPN training program. 

LPN License Renewals

Individuals must renew their LPN licenses every two years. Active nurses must complete 5 hours of continuing education, while inactive nurses will need 10 hours of continuing education to renew. LPNs who have exceeded the renewal period will require reinstatement of their licenses at a higher fee.

How To Get an RN License in Tennessee

Online RN programs in Tennessee are designed to prepare students for obtaining a license. There are alternative paths to licensure as well, including online LPN to RN programs and holding a registered nursing license from another state. 

Students applying for a Tennessee RN license by examination must submit to a criminal background check as well as fingerprinting six weeks before their graduation date from an approved nursing program. Two weeks before their graduation date, they must register with Pearson Vue to take the NCLEX. After graduation, students must submit their official transcripts to the board, upload a declaration of citizenship and proof of citizenship, provide a form of government ID, and pass the NCLEX to receive a license.

RN License Renewals

RNs must renew their licenses every two years in Tennessee. During the renewal period, active nurses must complete 5 hours of continuing education and inactive nurses must complete 10 hours. The administration office of the Tennessee Nursing Board sends a renewal notice to RNs at least 45 days before their licenses expire.

How To Get an APRN License in Tennessee

To become an APRN in Tennessee, candidates must hold an advanced nursing degree at the master's level or higher. Applicants must also have an active Tennessee RN license and certification in an APRN specialty through a certifying body, such as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB), or the National Certification Corporation (NCC). Alternatively, it is possible to obtain a Tennessee RN license and a Tennessee APRN license at the same time.

To apply, candidates must have official transcripts sent directly to the board, fill out the online application, and provide their official national certification number as well as their declaration of citizenship. Finally, they must upload a copy of their RN license and submit to a criminal background check.

APRN License Renewals

APRN license holders must renew their licenses every two years. Nurses who are actively practicing in Tennessee must complete 5 hours of continuing education, while inactive nurses will need to complete 10 hours to renew.

FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in Tennessee

How Many Nursing Schools Are in Tennessee?

There are 28 nursing schools in Tennessee. Tuition rates can be drastically different from school to school, ranging from around $4,000 all the way up to $52,000. 

How Long Is a Nursing Program in Tennessee?

The length of a nursing program depends on the type of program and whether you're studying on a full- or part-time schedule. LPN to RN programs in TN may take anywhere from two to four years. BSN degrees generally take four years to complete, while CNA programs can be completed in as little as 12 weeks. 

How Much Does it Cost to Take the NCLEX in Tennessee?

According to the NCLEX website, the exam requires a $200 registration fee. This cost can vary for international students. There will also be an additional $50 fee if applicants need to change their nursing regulatory body after they apply.

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