Tennessee’s Educational System

Knox County Public School District has 88 schools, including 50 elementary, 16 middle, 16 high and 11 special schools. It employs over 8,300 people and serves over 60,000 students. In addition to the public schools, Knoxville has a large number of private schools.

The Knox public school system is organized as follows: Elementary school: kindergarten through 5th grade. Middle school: 6th grade through 8th grade. High school 9th grade through 12th grade.

High schools in the Knox public school system offer advanced placement programs help studnets receive credit for college before attending undergrad. All high schools in the system are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The Knoxville County School system has special programs suited to the academically disadvantaged and physically handicapped.

TENNESSEE SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF – A state supported residential school (kindergarten through twelfth grade) serves students with severe hearing loss. The school was organized in 1844 and has been at its historic Island Home location since 1924.

SPECIAL EDUCATION – Bearden Adaptive Learning Center is available for EMR, SMR, and physically handicapped children (kindergarten through twelfth grade). Bus and van service with lifts and special equipment are also available.

PRIVATE EDUCATION – Knoxville has several excellent accredited private schools, which include:

  • Knoxville Montessori School (Grades Pre-5th)
  • Montessori International (Grades 3 – 6th)
  • Laurel High School (Grade 9 – 12th)
  • Thackston School (Grades K – 6th)
  • Tate’s School of Discovery (Grades Pre – 5th)
  • Webb School (Grades 5 – 12th)

Knoxville’s also has several denominational schools, which include:

  • Berean Christian School (Grades K – 8th)
  • Joseph School (Grades 1 – 8th)
  • Knoxville Catholic High (Grades 9 – 12th)
  • Episcopal School of Knoxville (Grades K – 8th)
  • First Lutheran School (Grade K – 8th)
  • Knoxville Christian School (Grades Pre – 10th)
  • Knoxville Baptist Christian (Grades K – 12th)
  • Temple Baptist Academy (Grades Pre – 12th)
  • Christian Academy of Knoxville (Grades Pre- K – 12th)


Tennessee offers all residents who graduate from a Tennessee high school free tuition to any of its community colleges. Tennessee was the first state in the country to offer free tuition to high school graduates. The Tennessee Department of Education is working towards increasing the number of students that obtain post-secondary degrees.

Tennessee also has a tuition free program to help adults go back and finish their degrees called the Tennessee Reconnect. For more information click here.

There are 6 colleges in the Knoxville but the largest is The University of Tennessee.

The University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee was the first co-educational institution of higher learning in the state. Chartered in 1794 as Blount College, a land grant institution, the college officially became the University of Tennessee in 1879. UTK offers over 360 undergrad programs and 540 graduate programs. The main campus, off Cumberland Avenue, is a 550 acre complex composed of about 220 buildings.

Johnson University is a Christian university that offers associate, bachelors, and graduate programs in various fields. Founded in 1893, it is the second oldest continuing Bible College in the United States.

Knoxville College is one of the South’s oldest and most respected predominately black institutions of higher learning. Founded in 1875, Knoxville college is a four-year undergraduate college.

Pellissippi State is a community college located on 144 acres in the scenic foothills of West Knoxville. It offers a wide variety of career, technical and college transfer associate degree.

South College is a private educational institution that offers over 100 programs and concentrations, including doctoral, educational specialist, master’s, bachelor’s, associate, and certificate programs. Originally known as Knoxville Business College, South College has been part of Knoxville’s business community since 1882.

Other colleges within a 100-mile radius of Knoxville:

  • East Tennessee State University, Johnson City
  • Tusculum College, Greenville
  • Maryville College, Maryville
  • Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City
  • King College, Bristol
  • Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate
  • Tennessee Wesleyan College, Athens
  • Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville

Community colleges near Knoxville offering two-year programs:

  • Roane State Community College, Rockwood
  • Walter State Community College, Morristown
  • Cleveland State Community College, Cleveland
  • Hiwassee College, Madisonville