The 10 Best College Towns In Tennessee For 2021


Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our fourth time ranking the best college towns in Tennessee.
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Believe it or not, America has the best colleges in the world. It's been proven by data (and surveys) that the U.S. educational system is of the highest quality

It's actually not even close and Tennessee is home to a handful of them.

While we could debate which colleges within the are the 'best,' that's not the goal of this post.

Instead, ride along with us as we determine which college towns in Tennessee are the best.

You know, the type of places where there's energy and stimulation, but the type of place you can walk around at night. The happiest, chillest, most downright fun places where you can send your kids off to college where you won't break the bank, or worry about their well being.

Without further ado, here are the best college towns in Tennessee for 2021.

The 10 Best College Towns In Tennessee For 2021

  1. Knoxville, TN
  2. Martin, TN
  3. Collegedale, TN
  4. Memphis, TN
  5. Cookeville, TN
  6. Murfreesboro, TN
  7. Franklin, TN
  8. Greeneville, TN
  9. Chattanooga, TN
  10. Pulaski, TN

While some of these may not seem like a 'real' college town per se, when you look at the numbers, it's hard to argue against.

And for those who live in Knoxville, Martin and Collegedale - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Knoxville ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Read on to find out more or for more on Tennessee check out:

The 10 Best College Towns In Tennessee For 2021

Knoxville, TN
Overall SnackAbility
4
/10

Population: 185,429
% Undergrad Pop.: 11.5% (6th best)
Median Rent: $815 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 592.8% (8th best)
Crime Rank: 16th best
More on Knoxville: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: The University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Pellissippi State Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Knoxville

Martin, TN
Overall SnackAbility
4
/10

Population: 10,721
% Undergrad Pop.: 51.0% (best)
Median Rent: $631 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 548.5% (7th best)
Crime Rank: 5th best
More on Martin: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: The University of Tennessee-Martin

Collegedale, TN
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 11,256
% Undergrad Pop.: 17.2% (4th best)
Median Rent: $954 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 389.2% (best)
Crime Rank: 2nd best
More on Collegedale: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Southern Adventist University

Memphis, TN
Overall SnackAbility
3
/10

Population: 653,248
% Undergrad Pop.: 3.2% (16th best)
Median Rent: $884 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 927.7% (17th best)
Crime Rank: 19th best
More on Memphis: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: University of Memphis, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Christian Brothers University

Cookeville, TN
Overall SnackAbility
4
/10

Population: 32,894
% Undergrad Pop.: 20.9% (3rd best)
Median Rent: $700 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 830.8% (15th best)
Crime Rank: 15th best
More on Cookeville: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Tennessee Technological University, Fortis Institute-Cookeville, Mr Wayne's School of Unisex Hair Design

Murfreesboro, TN
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 130,968
% Undergrad Pop.: 13.2% (5th best)
Median Rent: $997 (17th best)
Unemployment Rate: 546.8% (5th best)
Crime Rank: 9th best
More on Murfreesboro: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Murfreesboro, Paul Mitchell the School-Murfreesboro

Franklin, TN
Overall SnackAbility
9
/10

Population: 75,366
% Undergrad Pop.: 0.2% (19th best)
Median Rent: $1,428 (19th best)
Unemployment Rate: 402.4% (2nd best)
Crime Rank: best
More on Franklin: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: O'More College of Design, Williamson Christian College

Greeneville, TN
Overall SnackAbility
4
/10

Population: 14,896
% Undergrad Pop.: 9.2% (7th best)
Median Rent: $557 (best)
Unemployment Rate: 714.9% (13th best)
Crime Rank: 11th best
More on Greeneville: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Tusculum College

Chattanooga, TN
Overall SnackAbility
4
/10

Population: 177,365
% Undergrad Pop.: 3.9% (13th best)
Median Rent: $827 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 670.9% (11th best)
Crime Rank: 17th best
More on Chattanooga: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Chattanooga State Community College, The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Chattanooga College Medical Dental and Technical Careers

Pulaski, TN
Overall SnackAbility
5
/10

Population: 7,652
% Undergrad Pop.: 7.6% (9th best)
Median Rent: $628 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 596.0% (9th best)
Crime Rank: 13th best
More on Pulaski: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Martin Methodist College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Pulaski

How'd we figure out the best college towns in Tennessee?

To crunch our data on Tennessee's best college towns, we had to first decide which qualities (or rankings) make sense to use in the data, and then crunch the numbers for our rankings.

First off, we firmly decided that only cities with a 4 year college should make the cut -- so there has to be at least one college granting bachelors degrees in town.

You might be surprised to hear that there are only 19 places in Tennessee with an institution of higher learning with that criteria.

Source of data include OpenStreetMaps, the College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and FBI reporting data to include the following factors:

  • Students Make Up Large % of the Population
  • College-specific Factors
    • Graduation rate
    • Tuition Cost
    • Student Body Diversity
  • Town Characteristics
    • Safety
    • Affordability
    • Income and Employment Opportunities
  • Things to Do
    • Bars
    • Museums & Libraries
    • Population Density

We ranked each city across each of the criteria, with one being the best.

We rolled up the individual scores into the category and ranked them again based on the category.

Finally, we took the average rank across each category, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best College Town In Tennessee For 2021".

And it looks like Knoxville placed Summa Cum Laude.

There You Have It -- The Best College Towns In The

If you're looking for the best college towns in Tennessee, you came to the right place.

These places all have great college sports programs, tons of stuff to do, and are great places to raise a family.

For more reading, check out:

19 Best College Towns In Tennessee

Rank City Population
1 Knoxville, TN 185429
2 Martin, TN 10721
3 Collegedale, TN 11256
4 Memphis, TN 653248
5 Cookeville, TN 32894
6 Murfreesboro, TN 130968
7 Franklin, TN 75366
8 Greeneville, TN 14896
9 Chattanooga, TN 177365
10 Pulaski, TN 7652
11 Maryville, TN 28520
12 Nashville, TN 660062
13 Henderson, TN 6247
14 Dayton, TN 7340
15 Clarksville, TN 150602
16 Jackson, TN 66878
17 Lebanon, TN 31592
18 Bristol, TN 26766
19 Athens, TN 13752

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?