East Tennessee State University (ETSU) is a public research university in Johnson City, Tennessee. It was historically part of the State University and Community College System of Tennessee under the Tennessee Board of Regents, but since 2016, the university has been transitioning to governance by a separate institutional Board of Trustees. As of May 2017, it is the fourth largest university in the state and has off-campus centers in nearby Kingsport, Elizabethton, and Sevierville.
ETSU is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity." It hosts the James H. Quillen College of Medicine which is often ranked as one of the top schools in the United States for rural medicine and primary care education; the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, and the recently formed College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences. Unique programs include an accredited program in Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music, America's lone master's degree in Storytelling, and the Appalachian Studies programs, focused on the surrounding Appalachian region.
ETSU was founded as East Tennessee State Normal School in 1911 to educate teachers; the K-12 training school, called University School, operates to this day. East Tennessee State officially became a college in 1925 when it changed its name to East Tennessee State Teachers College, subsequently gaining accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1927. By 1930, the school's name had changed again to East Tennessee State Teacher's College, Johnson City. In 1943, East Tennessee State Teacher's College was expanded into a college with a range of liberal arts offerings, becoming East Tennessee State College. The college became East Tennessee State University in 1963, adopting the name it holds today. In 1973, Shelbridge became the president's official residence.
ETSU announced plans to open a College of Pharmacy in 2005, rapidly receiving local support to secure the approval. Full accreditation was granted in June 2010, shortly after the first class of the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy graduated.