Tennessee is one of the best places to visit if you’re looking for a variety of cuisine, high-quality whiskey, and cultural experiences. In addition to its vibrant life, Tennessee is among the best states to pursue higher education. In fact, according to Statista’s latest survey, 19.2 percent of Tennessee’s population are bachelor’s degree holders, while 11.3% have obtained a graduate/professional degree.
Its educated population also contributes to the state’s diverse economy. In 2023, Tennessee’s GDP reached $375.8 billion. Tennessee’s economic growth ranked 16 overall, proving how resilient and competitive the state is.
The dominant sectors are:
- Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
- Healthcare and Social Assistance
Tennessee’s advantageous location, economical operating costs, and infrastructures have drawn companies from various industries. It recently ranked 3rd in CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business.
So, what does this mean for aspiring professionals in the business industry?
With its economic status, business students and professionals alike have a lot of opportunities to grow in The Volunteer State. Tennessee houses ten outstanding business schools offering various programs that prepare students for the cutthroat business industry and prepare them for entrepreneurship.
If you want to take your business acumen to the next level for executive roles, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) education in Tennessee will help you get there. Top MBA programs in Tennessee feature a lot for the prospective student, from flexible and affordable online courses to on-campus collaborative programs.
To create this ranking, we prioritized accreditation to ensure a high-quality education and that employers will acknowledge your degree. These MBA programs offer many real-world experiences that let you engage with seasoned business professionals and businesses from various industries.
Top 10 MBA Programs in Tennessee
Owen Graduate School of Management – Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University is a private research institution designed for high-achieving students. With only a 7.1% acceptance rate, it’s one of the most selective schools in Tennessee. To qualify for admission, you must be at least in the top 10 of your graduating class. For its master’s degree programs, you must have at least three years of professional experience.
The Owen Graduate School of Management is the top-ranking business school in the state. It maintains rigorous academic standards designed to help students build attractive portfolios. There are two MBA options at Owen:
The Owen Traditional and Executive MBAs are highly recognized and accredited by AACSB International. These MBAs allow students to customize their MBA experiences by choosing a concentration and track.
The Owen Traditional MBA is a full-time onsite program for less experienced applicants with nine concentration options. Students can focus on Accounting, Consumer Psychology And Marketing Analytics, Finance, General Management, Healthcare, Human and Organizational Performance (Hop), Marketing, Operations and Analytics, or Strategy. On the other hand, students in the EMBA program can choose between an Executive Edge Track or a Global Immersion Track.
Haslam College of Business – The University of Tennessee at Knoxville
The University of Tennessee at Knoxville is the flagship campus of the UT System. As a public land grant university, students pursuing a degree in this institution have a vibrant campus life and diverse learning environment. UTK is one of the most affordable options in Tennessee.
UTK has ten colleges, including the Haslam College of Business. The college received accreditation from the AACSB in 1941. It’s a competitive business school with a vast alumni network and various student support services. Here are UTK Haslam’s MBA offerings.
- Aerospace & Defense MBA
- Executive MBA – Global Supply Chain
- Executive MBA – Healthcare Leadership
- Executive MBA – Strategic Leadership
- Physician Executive MBA
- Professional MBA
Haslam MBAs, excluding the Professional MBA, can be completed in as fast as one year. However, applicants must have relevant work, internship, and educational experiences to qualify for the MBA. Those with awards and publications in the business industry are often prioritized. Executive MBA students have 12 years of professional experience, on average.
Students will have various networking and real-world opportunities with UTAH’s industry connections, composed of several large-scale businesses.
Jack C. Massey College of Business – Belmont University
Belmont University is the perfect school for those who want to engage in Christian-based learning. Belmont is mainly known as one of TN’s top schools, with a student-focused community and tight-knit learning environment. Belmont’s tuition and fees are surprisingly affordable for a private institution compared to other private universities.
Belmont’s Jack C. Massey College of Business is one of its 12 colleges. It is accredited by the AACSB and offers plenty of opportunities to enhance students’ business acumen and connections via the Graduate School of Business. There are three tracks available for an MBA:
The Healthcare MBA is specifically designed for students with healthcare experiences. These MBA programs play important roles in TN’s leadership base. In addition to its rigorous core curriculum, these MBAs offer extensive networking opportunities. To encourage more students to apply for a Massey MBA, the Graduate School of Business established a Corporate Partners Program that aims to provide students with additional tuition aid.
College of Business – Tennessee State University
Tennessee State University is a top state-funded historically black university known for its excellence in programming, academic programs, and community engagement. With more than 120 programs across nine schools and colleges, TSU offers a first-rate educational experience.
Aspiring business leaders who want affordable learning experiences often pursue TSU’s College of Business. In addition to low-cost courses, TSU COB houses some of the state’s best financial aid officers who meticulously help students land financial assistance. The TSU COB offers two MBA pathways:
These MBAs are accredited by the AACSB. While both programs can be completed in 12 months, the Executive MBA is designed to be more attractive to working professionals. Unlike the accelerated format, the EMBA program allows students to move at their own pace.
Furthermore, the EMBA offers hybrid weekend and online courses, while the Accelerated MBA is purely online. The EMBA offers study-abroad opportunities where students spend ten days abroad. This opportunity allows mid-level professionals to broaden their understanding of global leadership.
College of Business Lipscomb University
Lipscomb University is another of TN’s low-cost private universities offering faith-infused programs. Compared to Belmont, Lipscomb University is cheaper but has a tighter admissions process and lower acceptance rates. Lipscomb faculty members are internationally-inclined professionals with diverse expertise in their respective fields.
The Lipscomb College of Business is locally and nationally renowned for producing exceptionally qualified and reliable business executives. The COB offers several undergraduate and graduate programs accredited by the AACSB, including two MBAs:
Both programs follow the same curriculum but with different formats. The Fast-Track MBA is for business professionals who want to graduate faster, preferably those without full-time jobs. On the other hand, the Professional MBA is dedicated to helping full-time mid-level professionals.
Students in the PMBA degree program can complete their degrees online or in a hybrid learning format and can pursue Data Analytics and Entrepreneurship stackable certificates. Another requirement for the TSU MBAs is the Global Business experience that involves a week-long business trip to other countries.
Jennings A. Jones College of Business – MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University)
Middle Tennessee State University is a large public institution offering over 300 academic programs. Mainly popular for its aerospace, concrete industry management, and recording majors, MTSU is also a growth leader in business professionals.
The MTSU Jones College of Business is a comprehensive AACSB-accredited college that offers flexible MBA curriculums. Its MBA students can complete their degrees via online, hybrid, or on-campus learning. Here’s a link to the MTSU Jones MBA:
As an MBA student at MTSU Jones, you have various concentration options. Students can pursue an MBA emphasizing Concrete Industry, Health Care, Music Business, and Strategic Marketing Analytics. You can also pursue a General Management track where you’re allowed to customize your electives.
Students will have access to nearly 30,000 alumni in middle Tennessee, networking, career fairs, mentoring, internships, and job placements. Another outstanding feature of this MBA is its participation in the IGNITE Professional Development program.
College of Business and Technology – East Tennessee State University
East Tennessee State University is TN’s “adventure campus” and is popularly known for providing students with experiences beyond traditional education. ETSU students are encouraged to participate in an education that blends learning, exploration, and community engagement.
ETSU offers over 100 academic programs, including ones in business, through the College of Business and Technology. ETSU’s CBT is a top-ranking college sought after by students who want to develop proficiency in the intersection of business and technology. There are two pathways to earn an MBA at ETSU:
Both ETSU CBT MBA formats are reviewed and accredited by the AACSB, ensuring that students receive the same treatment and rigor in whichever format they choose. These MBAs are also customizable. Students can concentrate on Business Analytics, Cybersecurity Management, Healthcare Marketing, or General Management/No Concentration MBA.
College of Business – Tennessee Technological University
Tennessee Technological University is focused on equipping students with 21st-century skills to compete in a technologically driven world. Tennessee Tech has one of the lowest student debt ratios in the United States. It offers affordable education and various financial aid opportunities to its students.
Tennessee Tech’s College of Business is one of the state’s leaders in online business education. It houses several business programs accredited by the AACSB International. Among its offerings is an
This MBA format gives way to working professionals with busy schedules. The Tennessee Tech MBA program covers core business courses like accounting, finance, marketing, and data analytics, with services marketing and entrepreneurship electives. Students can also add an industry-focused Graduate Certificate, such as Cyber Management and Analytics, Banking and Financial Services, Health Care Informatics, and Agribusiness Certificate.
McAfee School of Business – Union University
Union University is known as the best private liberal arts college in the South. It offers a top-rated Christian-based community and education. UU is best for students who thrive in small learning environments, as the university strictly focuses on individualized learning opportunities. It’s also an inexpensive university, with tuition and fees lower than the national average.
UU’s McAfee School of Business is one of Tennessee’s top MBA providers. The school’s MBA curriculum is accredited by the AACSB and is designed to help students master business and leadership. It offers experiential learning opportunities and small class sizes.
Students will have one-on-one sessions with an academic advisor in choosing which of the following MBA concentrations best aligns with their goals:
- Business Analytics
- Digital Marketing
- Healthcare Management
- Human Resource Management
- Supply Chain Management
Fogelman College of Business & Economics – University of Memphis
The University of Memphis is a major research institution. It is one of the most preferred college campuses for those who want to study in a quiet campus. The university’s mission is centered on academic achievement, and its research initiatives are multidisciplinary.
UofM’s Fogelman College of Business & Economics is an AACSB-accredited college that houses award-winning degree programs. Fogelman caters to busy schedules and geographical locations, offering online, on-ground, and hybrid courses. Designed by renowned faculty, they provide quality education at a fraction of competitors’ prices.
There are two MBA options available at Fogelman College of Business:
UofM holistically evaluates its MBA applicants to ensure that the selected candidates possess strong academic backgrounds and a diverse set of skills, experiences, and characteristics that align with the program’s values. Most students accepted into the MBAs have seven to 10 years of working experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Tennessee a good place for business professionals?
Tennessee is one of the best places in the US to pursue your dreams. With ten Fortune 500 companies and over 500,000 small businesses, business experts have a lot of growth and job stability opportunities in the state. With its right-to-work repetitions and pronounced pro-business ethos, it has attracted major corporations to build headquarters within the state.
Corporate relocations in Tennessee have strengthened the state economy by creating thousands of job opportunities and offering multiple prime business cities like Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville, ensuring stable and affordable living costs.
What should I know before relocating to Tennessee?
Tennessee is considered to be a great place for business. However, it’s not perfect. For instance, Tennessee has a 6.5% corporate income tax rate. Although this is lower than other states like New York or New Jersey, it is still not the most economical.
Main point: If you’re a businessman whose primary motivation for moving is to lower your income tax, Tennessee may not be the best state for you. But if you’re a business expert seeking job opportunities, you have various options in the state.
What’s the job outlook for MBA grads in Tennessee?
The job outlook for MBA grads in Tennessee is promising. The state’s Finance and Insurance sector had a 5.1% growth in just five years. This rise is a sign of a healthy economy, which is driving demand for qualified individuals with advanced knowledge of business and management.
Another important industry in Tennessee’s economy, the healthcare sector, is also proliferating. MBA graduates concentrating on healthcare management or administration will likely have promising career opportunities.
Before you go, see the following:
- Best Online MBA in Startups and Small Business Schools
- Best Online MBA in Real Estate
- Best MBA in Supply Chain Management Programs