Tennessee Promise

Tennessee Promise is both a scholarship and mentoring program focused on increasing the number of students that attend college in our state. It provides students a last-dollar scholarship, meaning the scholarship will cover tuition and fees not covered by the Pell grant, the HOPE scholarship, or state student assistance funds. Students may use the scholarship at any of the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology to obtain and associates degree.

We welcome transfer students and work with the Tennessee Community College system through the Pathways.  However, understand that it can be difficult to complete a BFA program within two years after completing an Associates  degree at a community college.  BFA programs rely on foundational studio classes which are completed in the freshman and sophomore year. Most students do not receive the correct amount of foundational studio courses in a community college program.  Therefore, students entering from a community college will be behind in studio and will need to take those missed classes upon entering.  This may result in extending graduation into a fifth year.  This only applies to the BFA. If the student comes in seeking our BA in Art, it can be completed in two years.


Dual Enrollment Option

If your goal is to study the visual arts and ultimately get a BFA degree, this program will allow you to start accumulating the studio credits that will be required for the BFA degree but not necessarily available at your community college.  By enrolling in selected classes at Watkins (see the list of eligible classes below) as a special status student, you will be able to get a jump-start on your BFA degree while taking advantage of the Tennessee Promise. This is a program only for students enrolled in the Tennessee Promise program. This is an exciting and innovative way to maximize using the Tennessee Promise program while staying on-track to potentially earn a BFA degree in four years.


Guaranteed Admission

If you maintain at least a 3.0 GPA at Watkins and at least a 2.6 GPA at your community college, you will be guaranteed admission when you apply to transfer to Watkins, if you transfer immediately after attending a Tennessee community college.

Instant Scholarship

Since you will be using your financial aid benefits at community college, you will pay regular tuition at Watkins for each class you take (currently $2,310 in tuition and fees). Any tuition paid for up to 3 classes will be returned to you as a scholarship upon enrollment as a degree-seeking Watkins student. The scholarship will be applied over the number of semesters matching the number of special status classes taken, not to exceed 3 classes.

Program Details:

Under this program a student can take up to 3 classes as a special status student at Watkins.  Eventual admission as a degree-seeking student is guaranteed for those who complete at least 2 classes at Watkins and achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above for all Watkins classes taken.  The student must also have a 2.6 or above GPA at the community college level.  Those with less than 2 classes or those with a cumulative GPA at Watkins and/or the community college below the stated requirements will be required to apply for admission through the regular process but, if accepted, all credits accumulated at Watkins with a “C” or higher will be credited to the BFA degree.  These students will be evaluated for scholarship but are not guaranteed an award equal to tuition paid.

Eligible Classes:

(Additional classes will be available based on pre-requisite completion, including AP credits)


Elements of Film Art

Graphic Design:

Graphic Design I
Hist. of Graphic Design
Computer Studio I

Fine Art:  

Drawing I
2-D Design
3-D Design
4-D Design
Art History I
Art History II

Interior Design:

Design Fundamentals
Architectural Drawing
Building Construction


Photography I
Photography: A Cultural Lens

How to Apply:

Download the application below