MTSU named among nation’s best by Princeton Review...

MTSU named among nation’s best by Princeton Review [+VIDEO]

Middle Tennessee State University has been named one of the best places to earn an undergraduate degree in the nation by The Princeton Review, which called it “a go-to choice for those wishing to receive a quality and affordable education.”

It marks the first time MTSU was awarded a coveted spot in the review’s renowned guide, “The Best 385 Colleges,” an honor given to roughly 13 percent of the nation’s 3,000 or so four-year institutions.

Only one other public institution in the state, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, made the unranked list.

Dr. Mark Byrnes, university provost

Dr. Mark Byrnes

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee

Dr. Sidney A. McPhee

“We are pleased that The Princeton Review recognizes the great quality and value of our academic programs and the wonderful quality of life and facilities found on our campus,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee.

Added Provost Mark Byrnes, the university’s chief academic officer, “This reflects the hard work of our faculty and staff in helping our students succeed, as well as the almost $1 billion in improvements and new construction put forward on our campus.”

In past years, MTSU has been included in the review’s list of top schools in the Southeast. The university remains on the regional list by virtue of its inclusion on the review’s top national list.

MTSU wordmark“We chose the 385 colleges for this edition as our ‘best’ overall, academically, based on data we gathered in 2018–19 from more than a thousand school administrators about their schools’ academic programs and offerings,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and lead author of the book.

The book also gleans insights based on its surveys of 140,000 students attending the 385 selected colleges in 2018-19 or in the previous two academic years.

MTSU students included as part of the review’s survey weighed in with their thoughts about the university’s academic offerings, student body and campus life.

Cover of the 2020 editor of Princeton Review's "The Best 385 Colleges" in the nation. (Courtesy of The Princeton Review)

Cover of the 2020 editor of The Princeton Review’s “The Best 385 Colleges” in the nation. (Courtesy of The Princeton Review)

The guide reported, “Overall, students agree: ‘This school is amazing, and it is such a hidden gem.’”

Comments offered by students about academics included:

• Students find MTSU’s “highly specialized programs are closely tied to their industry, which means really good job placement.”

• Students have access to a “staggering amount of resources” that range “from research programs to counseling services to 3D printing.”

• Professors “like to be on a first name basis” with students and often “make it a point to get to know you.”

• “Advising is top notch,” and MTSU fosters “an environment of care for each and every student.”

Student comments also included the campus population:

• The campus is “a mixed bag of fresh-out-of-high-school students, … parents, … returning military veterans, and foreign students.”

• The campus was called “extremely friendly and inclusive,” “pretty laid back,” and “nice, courteous and really helpful.”

• Said one student, “Though everyone is different here, it is still easy to find people like yourself (who are) studying the same things or taking similar classes.”

And, on campus life itself, student comments included:

• “The campus is big” but feels like a “comfortable and home-like school” environment where people “sit on the quad by the library and talk with their friends, play music and skateboard.”

• A good balance of on-campus activities, plus off-campus options found in downtown Murfreesboro, less than a mile from campus, and nearby Nashville.

• “Overall, students find themselves to be quite busy, but the good kind of busy — as one student puts it: ‘Despite how busy I am, I am happy doing it.’”

You can read an online summary of MTSU’s entry on “The Best 385 Colleges” here:

In addition to MTSU and UT-Knoxville, other Tennessee institutions included in the review’s list were Vanderbilt University, Rhodes College and the University of the South.

— Andrew Oppmann (

In this file image, art faculty Tanya Tewell teaches a figure drawing class working with “Stanley the skeleton” on the Jones Hall lawn. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

In this file image, art faculty Tanya Tewell teaches a figure drawing class working with “Stanley the skeleton” on the Jones Hall lawn. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)