Tennessee State University ( Tennessee State, Tenn State or TSU ) is a public land-grant university located in Nashville, Tennessee , United States. Founded in 1912, it is the largest and only state-funded historically black university in Tennessee. It is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund . Tennessee State University is a comprehensive urban institution offering 38 bachelor’s degrees , 24 master's degrees , and seven doctoral degrees . Tennessee State is the only public university in Nashville.


The university was established as the Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State Normal School for Negroes in 1912. [90] [91] Its dedication was held on January 16, 1913. [90] It changed its name to Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State Normal College in 1925. [90] Two years later, in 1927, it became known as Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State College . [90]

In 1941, the Tennessee General Assembly directed the Board of Education to upgrade the educational program of the college. Three years later the first master's degrees were awarded and by 1946 the college was fully accredited the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools . [92]

In 1968, the college officially changed its name to Tennessee State University . And in 1979, the University of Tennessee at Nashville merged into Tennessee State due to a court mandate. [92]

Today, Tennessee State University is divided into eight schools and colleges and has seen steady growth since its inception. The university's health science program is the largest in the state and one of the largest in the nation. [93]

Aligned with the Tennessee Board of Regents, it is currently governed by an institutional Board of Trustees.


The 500 acres (2.0 km 2 ) main campus has more than 65 buildings, and is located in a residential setting at 3500 John A. Merritt Blvd in Nashville, Tennessee . Tennessee State's main campus has the most acres of any college campus in Nashville. The Avon Williams campus is located downtown, near the center of the Nashville business and government district. Tennessee State offers on-campus housing to students. There are on-campus dorms and two apartment complexes for upperclassmen. On-campus facilities include dormitories Wilson Hall, Watson Hall, Eppse Hall, Boyd Hall, Rudolph Hall, Hale Hall, as well as the Ford Complex and New Residence Complex, TSU's two on-campus apartment complexes.


The university is currently accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award 38 baccalaureate degrees , 24 master's degrees , and doctoral degrees in seven areas (Biology, Computer Information Systems Engineering, Education, Psychology, and Public Administration ), as well as the two-year Associate of Science degree in nursing, and dental hygiene .

Tennessee State is classified as a "Doctoral University with Moderate Research Activity."

The University Honors College (UHC) is an exclusive academic program founded in 1964 that caters to select academically talented and highly motivated undergraduate students. [2]

The College of Business is accredited by AACSB, the Association of Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International or AACSB International; the first in Nashville to earn dual accreditation of both the undergraduate and graduate programs in 1994. The Psychology program is accredited by the American Psychological Association and the Teacher Education program by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

The College of Engineering has developed corporate partnerships with NASA, Raytheon and General Motors. The School of Nursing boasts a 100% first-time pass-rate for students taking licensure examinations. The College of Health Sciences (formerly the School of Allied Health) has recently added much-in-demand programs such as the Masters in Physical Therapy and the Bachelor of Health Sciences. The College of Engineering is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and the National Association of Industrial Technology (NAIT).

College of Engineering

  • Aeronautical and Industrial Technology
  • Architectural Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer and Information Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

College of Business

  • Accounting
  • Business Administration
  • Business Information Systems
  • Economics and Finance

College of Liberal Arts

  • Art
  • Communications
  • Criminal Justice
  • History, Political Science, Geography, and Africana Studies
  • Languages, Literature, and Philosophy
  • Music
  • Sociology

College of Education

College of Health Sciences

College Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences

  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Family and Consumer Sciences
  • Pre-veterinary Medicine
  • Applied Geospatial Information Sciences

College of Public Service and Urban Affairs

  • Public Administration
  • Social Work
  • Urban Studies
  • Professional Studies

Student activities


Tennessee State University sponsors seven men's and eight women's teams in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sanctioned sports. [2] The school competes in the NCAA's Division I Football Championship Subdivision and is a member of the Ohio Valley Conference . Tennessee State is the only Division I HBCU school who is not a member of the MEAC or SWAC .

Student Organizations

Notable alumni


Name Class year Notability References
U. L. "Rip" Gooch Commercial Pilot (20,000+ hours) and Certified Flight Instructor; FAA-Designated Flight Examiner; Owner/President, Aero Services, Inc., Wichita, Kansas; regional distributor (Kansas and adjacent), Mooney Aircraft ; Member, Wichita Airport Authority; Member, Aviation Advisory Committee, Kansas Dept. of Transportation ; 1993 Kansas Governor's Aviation Honor Award; Inductee, Black Aviation Hall of Fame [11] [12] [13] [16] [17] [19] [20] [21]

Civil rights

Name Class year Notability References
Xernona Clayton 1952 Civil rights activist [22]
U. L. "Rip" Gooch Civil rights activist; Commissioner, Kansas Commission on Civil Rights ; (also see : "Politics" below) [11] [13] [16]


Name Class year Notability References
Dr. Glenda Glover 1974 Eighth president of Tennessee State University [3]


Name Class year Notability References
Jimmy Blanton jazz musician [3]
Young Buck hip hop star
Hank Crawford jazz musician [3]
Moses Gunn actor [3]
Lee Summers 1980 Broadway Original Dreamgirls/actor/writer [3]
Carla Thomas singer
Leon Thomas jazz singer
Rufus Thomas singer (attended one semester)
Key Wane 2012 hip hop record producer [3]
Oprah Winfrey 1987 talk show host/actress/entrepreneur [2]


Name Class year Notability References
James Clayborne, Jr. 1985 Member of the Illinois Senate [2]
Harold Ford, Sr. Member of the U.S. Congress [2]
John Ford Member of the Tennessee Senate
Mark Funkhouser Former mayor of Kansas City , Missouri [2]
Howard Gentry, Jr. politician [2]
U. L. "Rip" Gooch Member, Kansas Senate (oldest serving Kansas state senator at 2004 retirement); Member, City Council of Wichita , Kansas; (also see : "Civil Rights" above) [11] [13] [16] [34] [35]
Thelma Harper Member of the Tennessee Senate [2]
Harvey Johnson, Jr. Mayor of Jackson , Mississippi [2]
Dr. C. O. Simpkins, Sr. Dentist in Shreveport , civil rights activist, and member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1992 to 1996
A C Wharton Mayor of Memphis , Tennessee [40]


Name Class year Notability References
Dorothy McClendon American microbiologist who developed methods to protect stored goods, notably fuel, from degradation due to biological agents.


Name Class year Notability References
Joe Adams CFL football player [3]
Brent Alexander NFL football player [4]
Hubbard Alexander American football player
Bennie Anderson 1999 NFL football player [5]
Dick Barnett 1959 NBA basketball player [2]
Ralph Boston Olympic athlete; three time medal winning long jumper [45]
Sam Bowers Gridiron football player [2]
Waymond Bryant NFL football player [47]
Chandra Cheeseborough Olympic runner; gold and silver medalist
Robert Covington 2013 NBA Basketball Player
Dave Davis NFL football player [15]
Richard Dent NFL football player and member of Pro Football Hall of Fame [49]
Lamar Divens NFL football player [50]
Larry Tharpe NFL football player [51]
Cleveland Elam NFL football player [52]
Charley Ferguson AFL football player [53]
Sean Foley golf instructor to PGA Tour players [54]
Ryan Fann Paralympic Runner [3]
Randy Fuller NFL football player [56]
Rogers Gaines NFL football player [57]
Joe Gilliam NFL football player [58]
W. C. Gorden 1952 former head football coach at Jackson State University from 1976 to 1991. Member of College Football Hall of Fame [109] [59]
Mike Hegman NFL football player [60]
Jarrick Hillery American football player [61]
Claude Humphrey NFL football player and member of Pro Football Hall of Fame [62]
Daniel Johnson NFL football player
Ed "Too Tall" Jones NFL football player [63]
Joe "Turkey" Jones NFL football player [64]
Larry Kinnebrew NFL football player [65]
Anthony Levine NFL football player [66]
Madeline Manning Olympic runner; gold medalist [93]
Anthony Mason NBA basketball player [93]
Edith McGuire Olympic runner; gold and two silver medalist [93]
Steve Moore NFL football player [93]
Lloyd Neal NBA basketball player [93]
Brian Ransom NFL football player [93]
Leonard "Truck" Robinson NBA basketball player [93]
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie NFL football player [93]
Carlos Rogers (basketball) 1994 former NBA basketball player [93]
Wilma Rudolph Olympic runner; first woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympics [93]
Simon Shanks NFL football player [9]
Nate Simpson NFL football player [9]
Ahmaad Smith American football player [9]
Ollie Smith NFL football player [9]
Wyomia Tyus Olympic runner; first person to retain the Olympic title in the 100 m. [9]
Charlie Wade NFL football player [9]
Carl Wafer NFL football player [9]
Javarris Williams NFL football player [9]

See also