Explore HBCU – Tennessee State University

Staff Writer
August 2, 2022

Tennessee State University is a public, land-grant, historically black university located in Nashville, Tennessee.


After the Tennessee State General Assembly moved to form three normal schools in 1909, Tennessee State University was founded in 1912 as the Agricultural and Industrial Normal School. Ten years later, the Agricultural and Industrial Normal School was granted the capacity to grant bachelor’s degrees in 1922, evolving to become a four-year teachers’ college. By 1924, the school’s name changed to reflect the change, and became the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal College; the “Normal” was removed from the school name in 1927, and by 1941, the school was authorized to offer graduate studies that resulted in master’s degrees. 

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools granted the institution accreditation in 1946, just a few years before the Tennessee State Board of Education approved university status for the school. With the name Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State University, the institution received full land-grant university status, with additions that included the School of Agriculture & Home Economics, the Graduate School, the Division of Extension and Continuing Education, and the Department of Aerospace Studies.

Ten years later, the state legislature would officially change the name of the school to Tennessee State University. Then, in 1979, TSU would merge with what was originally the University of Tennessee at Nashville due to a court ruling intended to combat dual systems of higher education in Tennessee based on race.

Today, Tennessee State University is a two-location campus, with a 500-acre main campus located in a residential neighborhood along the Cumberland River, and a downtown Avon Williams campus that lies near Nashville’s business and government district. The university is recognized worldwide for its excellence, having engaged in the Tennessee Campus Compact, received national awards for community service and engagement, received millions for Race to the Top Funds by Barack Obama, obtaining Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and remaining a pillar of support in the community.

Programs & Opportunities

Tennessee State University is a comprehensive institution with an extensive offering of degree programs. Through the college and schools of Agriculture, Business, Education, Engineering, Graduate & Professional Studies, Health Sciences, Liberal Arts, Life and Physical Sciences, Public Service as well as Online Degree Programs, TSU is able to offer nearly 150 individualized and traditional degree pathways for undergraduate and graduate students.

In order to create a holistic approach to education, Tennessee State also offers an array of social, professional, and civic clubs for students. Through student activities, student services, community engagement, and music & art opportunities, the Tennessee State student body shares time and talents as well as connect with other fellow Tennessee tigers.

Learn more about Tennessee State University here.

Alumni Affairs

Tennessee State University strives to inspire students to innovatively transform the environments they inhibit.  

Some notable alumni from Tennessee State University include, but are not limited to:

  • Media mogul Oprah Winfrey majored in Speech Communications and Performing Arts at Tennesse State University before graduating in 1986.
  • Chemist Dr. Solomon Wesbrook—recognized as an expert in the development of polymers (plastics), stabilizers, desensitizers and phlegmatizersearned—both a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science from TSU.
  • Dr. Edith Peterson-Mitchell is a clinical professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology and graduated from Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry.

Financial Information

The Office of Financial Aid at Tennessee State University works to properly inform students and guardians about the various types of financial aid available to assist with securing the necessary financial resources to help students reach their educational goals. 

For undergraduate students, in-state tuition totals to $358 per credit hour compared to an $888 cost per credit hour for out-of-state tuition. For graduate students, in-state tuition totals to $533 per credit hour compared to an out-of-state tuition of $1,115 per credit hour.

Tennessee State offers federal, state, institutional and private sources of aid in accordance with federal and state laws.


At Tennessee State University, the vision remains to be one of aspiration for national and international prominence. With a rich legacy and heritage, Tennessee State University prepares leaders for a global society.

Learn more about Tennesse State University here.