A Master's in Business Administration, or MBA, is a degree focused on giving students the management and financial skills required to help run major companies or even start their own business. Students can choose to focus on finance, human resources, accounting, international business, or a host of other business niches. Many programs have a number of these courses within their core curriculums, meaning that students will be able to innovate and lead in all facets of the business world. In this ranking, our particular interest is online or hybrid programs. Students take classes and complete coursework online, which gives them the chance to continue their careers while gaining new skills. We'll also be focusing on the state of Tennessee, which is home to business hubs like Nashville and Memphis, while also being located close to other major out-of-state hubs such as St. Louis and Savannah. It's a great place to start to build connections, so let's take a look at the 15 Best Online MBAs in Tennessee!
FINDING AN MBA DEGREE
A number of different programs share the initialism MBA, but even with the shared letters programs can vary widely in who they are intended for and what they are geared toward teaching students. Some programs don't require students to have any full-time work experience before entering meaning that students will take introductory courses in accounting, management, and economics while also using case studies and real-world simulations to gain practice in management. These programs generally culminate with capstone experiences that focus on that practical application of the knowledge from the program. Sometimes the capstone will even include an internship or consulting practice that truly takes the classroom away and instead engages the student with a true business environment. Other programs may include options for a thesis or group work, and occasionally these can also include on-campus components which students are required to attend to complete the program.
While some programs do not require work experience, others are intended for more experienced professionals who have already gained full-time experience in a business environment. A number of schools will want to see anywhere between three to 10 years of work experience which they feel gives students a firm basis to build on when they enter the MBA program. There are programs called Executive MBA programs which generally require 10 or more years of experience for students to apply. These programs have curriculums focusing on high-level leadership and management development. Many MBA programs have chosen to go online over the past decade, as online learning platforms allow students a greater amount of flexibility in pursuing their degree. It gives working professionals, in particular, the chance to maintain their job and contacts while still preparing for the next stages of their career.
RANKING THE 15 BEST ONLINE MBA DEGREES IN TENNESSEE
Online MBA Today uses eight metrics to grade each school: Quality of Online Programs from U.S. News, Mid Career Pay from Payscale, Student Review Score from Rate My Professor, aggregate reputation score from other ranking sites, and Percentage of Online Programs, SAT Scores, Average Net Price, and Retention Rate from the National Center for Education Statistics. For a comprehensive breakdown of how we categorize and source data, please visit our methodology page.
#1. UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS
The University of Memphis is a public university located in Memphis, TN. Memphis has an online Master of Business Administration program which is made up of 33 credits. The majority of these credits are dedicated to core courses which include Creativity and Innovation, Corporate Governance and Business Ethics, as well as Seminar in Leadership. Some courses in the program can be taken as three-day, on-campus, residencies at the student's discretion. Students are given the option of taking one elective course as a part of the program, which can either be used to complete an MBA concentration or simply as a general elective. The final course in the program is a Global Strategic Management course, which is designed to prepare students for executing long-term plans aimed at optimizing organizational performance.
There are no prerequisite courses required for the core curriculum for U of M's program. The average student has seven to ten years of work experience when they enter the program, however, students are not required to have any particular measure of experience to apply. Around 67 percent of the students in the program are male, and 28 percent are ethnic or racial minorities. Students tend to have an average GMAT score of 500 and are usually around 33 years of age. In addition to the GMAT test scores students are also required to submit two letters of recommendation and to answer a series of essay questions as a part of the application.
#2. UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AT MARTIN
The University of Tennessee at Martin is a public university located in Northwestern Tennessee. UT Martin has a Master of Business Administration program that most students are able to complete within approximately 18 months. Martin's online MBA program is cohort-based, with cohorts of 20 progressing through the six- to eight-week programs together. The reason classes are run with the cohort structure is because it encourages teamwork and collaboration which are crucial components of any healthy business environment. The program contains nine courses that progress in a pre-set order, which helps to keep cohorts paired together and allows the collaborative element to expand further. Starting courses include Critical Thinking Skills as well as Organizational Theory and Design. The final courses in the sequence focus on Strategic Management and Operations Management.
Students applying to the program are required to have a minimum of two years of full-time work experience. UTM operates a number of satellite centers in West Tennessee, which provide support to students further away from the main campus in Martin. UT Martin's Online MBA program was ranked 30th in the country by U.S. News & World Report. There are two different options for the degree specialization. Students may either choose to get an MBA with a General Business option or they can choose the Agriculture option. The Agriculture emphasis includes four courses of elective work in Agricultural Economics courses. The General Business option requires a total of 30 credits, while the Agriculture option requires a total of 42 credits.
#3. TENNESSEE TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY
Tennessee Technological University is a public university located in Cookeville, TN. Tennessee Tech has a Hybrid Industry-Immersed Master of Business Administration program that is designed for working professionals. Students in the program are paired with a team of professionals working in the industry and continue to progress through the coursework of the program with that team. Students progress through seven foundational business courses and three elective business courses in lockstep fashion. It takes only five semesters, or roughly one and a half years, for students to complete the program. Most of the course content is delivered online, but there are a few residency days in Nashville (referred to as "Super Days"), during which faculty and students meet in-person, attend seminar sessions, listen to keynote speakers, and learn to apply course concepts in the real world.
The shared-industry cohort structure employed in the program is termed an "industry immersion" and is designed to give students opportunities for industry networking, career opportunities, and project collaboration throughout the MBA. Both of the past two cohorts have featured industry professionals from the healthcare industry, and future cohorts are likely to focus on this industry as well. The "Super Days" in the program are scheduled for weekend days during the semester and are generally scheduled once a month. In addition to the hybrid industry immersed MBA program, Tennessee Tech also offers a traditional MBA program, which requires ten courses (30 credits) of coursework. Students may transfer in up to nine credit hours of coursework toward the traditional degree.
#4. UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AT CHATTANOOGA
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is a public university located in Chattanooga, TN. UTC offers a fully online Master of Business Administration program, which requires 36 credit hours of coursework. This is divided between eight core courses such as Economics for Managers and Information Technology for Business. Students also take three elective courses, which can lead to either a General Business MBA or an elective concentration. The available concentrations in the program are Business Analytics, Healthcare Administration, and Finance. The final course is a Strategic Management capstone course which helps students to investigate strategy and its role in management. Students will also use computer simulations to run companies head-to-head in competition with other students in the class.
Students admitted to the program who lack academic experience in business foundation areas are required to complete prerequisite courses. The program previously had a Human Resources Concentration, however, it is no longer being offered as of Fall 2018. In addition to the fully online MBA, there is also a Flexible MBA program that allows students to include on-campus courses or elements into the program. There are four start dates available for the program throughout the year: fall, spring, and two different options in the summer. UTC is a Yellow Ribbon friendly school and offers veteran support services including a Student Veteran Association and the UTC Salutes Veterans Honor Society.
#5. UNION UNIVERSITY
Union University is a private university located in Jackson, TN. Union offers a Master of Business Administration program, which can be completed fully online. Courses are delivered once a week over a series of eight weeks. Students who attend the program full-time can complete their degree in 12 months while part-time students generally take either 18 or 24 months to complete the program. Introductory courses include Social Issues in Management and Ethical Management. Union emphasizes integrating Christian values and principles into the curriculum of its courses in an effort to supplement the student's decision-making abilities. Toward the end of the program, students may pursue one of the following options to complete their degree requirements: internship, independent study, study abroad, thesis, or a course in operations management.
Best College Reviews ranked Union University's online MBA program as the best in Tennessee, and the 12th best in the country in 2017. Union is specifically affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention and related to the Southern Baptist Convention. Students with five or more years of significant business experience can have the GMAT/GRE score requirement waived for their application. The program has four available concentrations for students to pursue during their elective coursework: Accounting, Human Resource Management, Leadership, and Marketing. There are five different start times available for the program, which includes two options each for fall and spring, as well as an option for summer. The MBA program can be completed as a dual degree program with a Master of Science in Nursing program or a Master of Science in Social Work.
#6. KING UNIVERSITY
King University is a private university located in Bristol, TN. King offers a Master of Business Administration through its King Online learning service. The online MBA is a total of 36 credits, which is designed for students with a minimum of two years of work experience. The program covers fundamental topics in business management, such as problem-solving, policy development, and statistics analytics. Students are able to choose from a number of different concentration options including Marketing, Human Resources Management, and Healthcare Management. The program is designed to last 16 months, which includes elective and specialization courses. The program involves learning methods such as team-based learning and professional skill development. These are paired with intensive case analysis and small groups discussions.
King University is independently operated but has covenant affiliations with the Presbyterian Church and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. In addition to the previously listed concentrations, there are also available concentrations in Management, Management Information Systems, and Project Management. King's program centers around the usage of the "Case Method", where students use a four-step learning process to read and analyze case data and then plan a course of action. Students also engage in a retrospective analysis of how their critical thinking process influenced the outcome of the case analysis and their decisions.
#7. LEE UNIVERSITY
Lee University is a private university located in Cleveland, TN. Lee University offers an online Master of Business Administration, which can be completed in 20 months. The program requires 32 credit hours of coursework, which is delivered through an experimental learning model that helps students apply their learning directly to their current job. Students take one class at a time with classes lasting for a period of seven weeks. First-year courses include Management Philosophy and Ethics, Business Analytics, and Organizational Theory. Second-year courses build on these foundations through advanced topics such as Legal Environment of Business and Strategic Management. In addition to the online version of the program, there is also a hybrid option that students may choose to pursue.
Over 90 percent of students in the MBA program are employed full-time while they are pursuing the degree. Lee emphasizes that its courses are "less about lecture and more about engagement." Students pursue a number of case studies and course projects, working with their classmates to help put theories into practice. The curriculum of the MBA includes an emphasis on values-based decision-making, meaning that students seek more than simply profit maximization. Students are taught not only how to lead, but also how to give their businesses long-term, sustainable value during both prosperous or turbulent times. Students applying to the program are required to submit two recommendation forms and GMAT test scores.
Format: Online or Hybrid
#8. BRYAN COLLEGE
Bryan College is a liberal arts college located in Dayton, TN. Bryan College offers a Master of Business Administration in General Management, which can be completed in as few as 14 months. Classes are delivered in a nine-week accelerated format, and students are required to complete 36 hours of coursework to graduate. Coursework begins with fundamentals such as Biblical Worldview Principles of Management and Quantitative Methods for Business. Later courses include Managing Human Resources, Business in a Global Environment, and Integrated Strategic Management. Students also complete courses concerning further legal or ethical issues that they may face in business. Elective courses may also be taken in pursuit of a given specialization.
Bryan College's program focuses on character aspects, such as service commitment, technological proficiency, and global perspective. Students may choose from a number of specializations based on their career goals, with options including Marketing, Human Resources, Healthcare Administration, Sports Management, and Ministry. Students must complete a minimum of 30 out of 36 hours of coursework at Bryan College, as well as maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher to be able to graduate. Students may take up to two courses at a time, and the semi-monthly start times are designed to give students maximum flexibility in pursuing their degree. The next three available start dates are March 12, May 14, and August 19.
#9. BETHEL UNIVERSITY
Bethel University is a private institute of higher education located in McKenzie, TN. Bethel has a Master of Business Administration program, which includes 36 credit hours of coursework. Students choose between one of four concentrations to pursue: Academic Practitioner, Executive Concentration, Healthcare Administration, or Human Resource Management. It is a cohort-based program, which is offered through a blended format of online and face-to-face components. Students receive technology from the program to facilitate their learning process, and a number of different start dates for the program are offered throughout the year. Core courses from each of the programs include Organizational Behavior, Statistical Analysis, and Managerial Economics. The MBA program is a fully writing-based program, meaning that students take no tests or exams.
The program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum of three years of professional work experience to apply. Students are not required to report/submit GRE or GMAT scores as a part of the application process. Textbooks are provided to students at no cost to them. New classes begin each month. Students' grades are solely dependent on their individual work, as group projects or coursework are not graded. During the program, students will be offered seminars by subject matter experts that may be used to satisfy some of their elective credit requirements. Students may transfer in up to 6 credit hours of graduate coursework into the program.
#10. CUMBERLAND UNIVERSITY
Cumberland University is a private university located in Lebanon, TN. Cumberland offers a Master of Business Administration program, which includes a hybrid delivery method of both online and on-campus courses. The program's vision focuses on Cumberland's role in contributing to organizational leadership in the Middle Tennessee area, as well as throughout the entire state. It is a 36 credit hour program, which is divided between nine core courses and three elective courses. Students complete the same set of core courses, and must then select from one of six track options for their elective courses. These include subject-matter options, such as Entrepreneurship, Education Leadership Services, Healthcare Administration, and General Business. There is also a sixth option for students interested in completing a thesis as a part of the program.
To complete the thesis option, students will take all of the normal core courses, but will not take any elective courses. Instead, students will complete at least nine credit hours of thesis work, which will be supervised by a full-time MBA faculty member. The thesis will also be approved by a committee of at least three credentialed faculty members. Core courses from the program include Organizational Theory & Analysis, Applied Statistics, and Computer Information Systems. Start dates for the program are available in the Fall, Spring, or Summer. A student can complete the program in as few as three consecutive semesters of full-time study. Students have a maximum of seven years to complete the program before they may be required to retake courses.
#11. FREED-HARDEMAN UNIVERSITY
Freed-Hardeman University is a private university located in Henderson, TN. Freed-Hardeman offers a 30-hour program that can be achieved completely online. As part of the program requirements, students must participate in program assessment activities scheduled near the end of the coursework. The requirements are integrated into the capstone course Strategic Decision Making. Courses are divided between 24 credit hours of core courses, such as Leading Teams and Organizations and Economic Thought. Elective options are then available for the final six credit-hours of study. Elective options include Fraud Examination, Principles of Taxation II, and Business Law and Ethics. Students who are planning on pursuing a CPA licensure are recommended to take the Fraud and Tax courses.
Freed-Hardeman is a Christian university, specifically affiliated with the Churches of Christ congregation. The College of Business also offers a dual BBA/MBA program that allows students to earn both an undergraduate and graduate degree in business, with concentrations available in marketing, management, finance, or accounting. They also have an MBA program that is specifically geared around Healthcare Management, as well as a graduate certificate program in Healthcare Management. Undergraduate senior students with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 who are within nine semester credit hours of graduation can receive special admission to the program, which allows them to take up to nine MBA credit hours before matriculating as a graduate student.
#12. MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY
Middle Tennessee State University is a public university located in Murfreesboro, TN. MTSU has a Master of Business Administration program, which requires 36 credit hours of study, divided between 33 core credits and one approved elective course. Core courses begin with Accounting Information for Managers and Decision Making in Accounting and Finance. Students then advance through to other topics, such as Applied Business Analytics, Marketing Strategy, and Leading Organizations. Students then complete the core of the program with an Integrated Marketing and Management Decision Making course. Students may also substitute their approved elective course with an internship or study abroad course. Core course may not be satisfied by taking an independent study, and students must submit a degree plan before entering the program.
The MBA program also offers seminar courses during the program, which can be used to substitute some of the core course requirements. Seminars cover topic areas such as Professional Development and are generally taken in multiple stages. Most courses in the program are three-credit courses but because they are done in stages, seminar courses are worth either one or two credits. In addition to the general MBA program, MTSU also has two other separate MBA programs that are focused on specific business industries. These programs are focused on either Healthcare Management or Music Business. These two programs require the same 36 core credits as the standard MBA program, while also requiring an additional 12 units of study in their concentration area.
#13. CARSON-NEWMAN UNIVERSITY
Carson-Newman University is a liberal arts university located in Jefferson City, TN. Carson-Newman has a Master of Business Administration program, which includes two different options for completing the degree. Students may either take a 10-course or 12-course program, the latter of which allows students to take extra courses and garner an area of specialization. The core courses shared by both paths include Leadership, Managerial Economics, and Business Law and Ethics. All students also complete their degree program with a capstone Organizational Behavior course in their final semester. Both programs are intended to be completed within four semesters of study. Available specialization areas for the 12-course program include Human Resources, Leadership, Marketing, Operations Management, and Sports Management.
Carson-Newman is a Christian University, specifically affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Applicants to the program are expected to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5. Students are not required to have a minimum amount of work experience to enter the program, but the breadth and depth of an applicant's work experience is a factor considered for admission into the program. Sample courses from some of the specialization areas include Brand Management (Sports Management), Business Modeling (Operations Management), and Social Media Management (Marketing). The program's main learning outcomes are communication skills, analytical and problem-solving skills, and understanding of functional areas of business law, accounting, and other relevant disciplines.
#14. LINCOLN MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY
Lincoln Memorial University is a private liberal arts college located in Harrogate, TN. Lincoln Memorial has an online Master of Business Administration program, which requires either 30 credit hours or 36 credit hours of coursework. Students completing the General MBA program will complete 30 credit hours while students who wish to add on an area of concentration will need to complete the additional six units. The available areas of concentration are as follows: Management, Marketing, Sport Management, Healthcare Administration, and Operations Management. The Healthcare and Operations specializations have been newly added for the Fall 2019 semester. There is also a dual degree program option for students to earn a Doctor of Osteopathic or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine along with their Master of Business Administration.
Applicants to the program are required to submit three letters of recommendation, as well as responses to the program admissions essay questions. Students should also have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75. There is no GRE or GMAT requirement; however, students will be required to take the Peregrine Entrance Exam during their first semester. In addition to the fully online version of the program, Lincoln Memorial also offers an evening version, for students who wish to complete their studies on-campus or who are local to the Harrogate area. The evening program can also be completed at the Knoxville campus.
#15. SOUTHERN ADVENTIST UNIVERSITY
Southern Adventist University is a private liberal arts college located in Collegedale, TN. SAU has a Master of Business Administration program that requires students to complete 36 credit hours of coursework. The first 24 units are core courses, which include Management in a Changing World and Accounting for Control and Decision Making. Students then continue to integrate Southern Adventist's faith-based curriculum into their studies with classes such as Integrating Faith and Business. The final 12 units of study are chosen from a series of elective options based on a student's degree emphasis. All of the various degree programs end with the same capstone course, Strategic Decision Making. There are six different specialties available for students to choose, which include options such as Accounting or Finance.
There are two application periods available for the program, which are July 1 for Fall and November 1 for Spring. The application dates are slightly earlier for international students. Students who lack undergraduate business equivalents may be required to take up to four additional prerequisite courses in Financial Accounting and Principles of Finance. In addition to the specialties listed above, the program also offers tracks that focus on Healthcare Administration, Management, Marketing Management, and Customized. For the customized track, students may select elective courses from any of the other tracks. Ideally this allows students to gear their electives toward their specific business interests, for instance, Accounting and Nonprofit Management.