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Study for in Tennessee, United States

State overview

Located in the United States Southeastern edge, Tennessee is famous around the world for its music, whether that’s the country twangs of Nashville, Memphis rock and roll or the gospel of the Bible belt.

However, there is more for an international student to get their teeth into in Tennessee than just music. The state is really three distinct geographic regions, represented by the three stars on the Tennessee flag – the peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains, the green valleys of the central plateau and the sultry lowlands near Memphis.

Whichever area you decide to study a graduate program in Tennessee in, a warm southern welcome awaits you.

Education profile

Tennessee is home to a wealth of institutions offering postgraduate courses, including two public university systems – the University of Tennessee system and the Tennessee Board of Regents. The state is also home to several religious schools. You can study a graduate program in Tennessee at:

Professional, or ‘terminal’, masters are designed to lead to employment rather than further study. Popular courses include: Master of Business Administration (M.B.A) and Master of Library Science (M.L.S.).

Academic masters, however, are generally designed to lead the way into doctorate/PhD study. Popular courses include: Master of Education (M.Ed.), and Master of Engineering (M.Eng.).

Both last between one and three years, depending on the subject.

Doctoral degrees are the most advanced level of higher education, and usually take between four and eight years to complete, which includes the time it takes to write and present a dissertation. 

Immigration and visas

Before travelling to the USA to study in Tennessee, you will need to apply for a non-immigrant visa.

The most common kind of student visa is the F-1 visa, which entitles the holder to study at any US accredited college or university.
To apply for a student visa for a graduate program in Tennessee, you will need to fill out an application form (found on the US Embassy website) and send appropriate documentation, such as evidence of financial standing and proof of university acceptance and academic qualifications, as well as possibly attending a visa interview at the US Embassy in your home country.

Life in Tennessee

It might be a cliché, but life in Tennessee really does revolve around music. Whether its rhythm and blues, country or rock and roll, you’ll find Tennesseans ready to sing and dance whatever time of day it is.

And why not, when studying in Tennessee is so inexpensive? Compared to other states, Tennessee is cheaper on tuition fees, living costs and rent, making this a perfect destination for international postgraduates looking for a slice of southern American life.

Make sure you explore the cities of Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville, and get to know the musicians who made Tennessee the rocking state it is today. 

Working in Tennessee

Major economies in Tennessee include textiles, cotton, cattle and energy. Tennessee is traditionally farming country, and the state still has more than 82,000 farms, with 50% farming beef and cattle.

Many major corporations also choose to headquarter in Tennessee, particularly in the state’s largest city Memphis or capital Nashville.
As with most of its Southern neighbours, Tennessee is a right to work state, meaning that employers or employees in private companies can end their working relationship without notice or pay.


The best option for new international postgraduate students is to live in university halls of accommodation, as this will be the easiest way to settle into life in Tennessee and meet fellow students. Most universities will have housing departments who can sort out your accommodation for you.

If you decide to look for private accommodation, your first port of call should be the housing department at your chosen university.

Weather and climate

Tennessee generally has hot summers and mild to cool winters with rainfall throughout the year. Summers in Tennessee are hot and humid, with an average temperature of around 30C between June and August. Winters are mild, but get colder the higher up the mountains you get.

What to do next

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