The Memphis City Schools is the largest school system in the state of Tennessee and the 21st largest metropolitan school system in the nation. All Memphis City Schools are accredited; in comparison, 60 percent of elementary and 62 percent of secondary schools statewide are accredited. Shelby County schools have the largest PTA membership in Tennessee. Through Memphis' Adopt-A-School program, recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor as the best program of its kind in the nation, local businesses "adopt" a school to provide special support. All Memphis public schools are partnered with area businesses, and the program is so successful that many schools have numerous adopting sponsors.
Memphis City Schools offers gifted and talented programs, alternative schools for students who have problems in a regular school environment, and optional school programs that focus on such areas as college preparation, creative and performing arts, aviation, travel, tourism, health sciences, banking and finance, international studies and a variety of approaches to education.
The following is a summary of data regarding Memphis's public schools as of the 2004–2005 school year.
Total enrollment: 120,162
Number of facilities elementary schools: 112
junior high/middle schools: 25 middle, 4 junior high
senior high schools: 31
other: 6 vocational, 6 charter schools, 7 alternative/specialty schools
Student/teacher ratio: 15:1
Teacher salaries average: $38,000
Funding per pupil: $6,326
Residents of Memphis and Shelby County also support a network of 70 private elementary and secondary schools. Premier among the list are St. Mary's Episcopal School, a school for girls in grades junior kindergarten through graduation, and Memphis University School, an all-boys preparatory school. Both are located within scenic surroundings in the eastern section of Memphis. Others often considered stepping stones to National Merit Scholarships are the Briarcrest Christian School System, Presbyterian Day School, and Harding Academy.
Public Schools Information: Memphis City School System, 2597 Avery Avenue, Memphis, TN 38112; telephone (901)416-5300
The University of Memphis (U of M) is the largest college campus in Shelby County, both in size and student enrollment (more than 20,000). The U of M offers 15 bachelor's degrees in more than 50 majors, master's degrees in more than 45 subjects, and doctoral degrees in more than 20 disciplines. Set on 1,160 acres, its sprawling campus includes a College of Arts and Sciences, Fogelman College of Business and Economics, College of Communication and Fine Arts, College of Education, Herff College of Engineering, University College, Loewenberg School of Nursing, Humphreys School of Law, and Graduate School.
Rhodes College, recognized by Time magazine as "one of the nine colleges challenging the nation's elite schools for prominence" is the oldest four-year liberal-arts school in the city. Founded before the Civil War (in 1848) in Clarksville, Tennessee, the college was moved to Memphis in 1925 and quartered in ivy-covered Gothic buildings, 13 of which are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
LeMoyne-Owen College, a four-year liberal-arts college, was founded in 1862 as LeMoyne to educate emancipated slaves; it later merged with Owen College and offers majors in 21 areas of study leading to three degrees: bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of business administration. The Memphis College of Art is an independent professional college of artistic study that offers bachelor's and master's of fine arts degrees in a number of visual arts disciplines.
Future doctors, pharmacists, dentists, research academicians, and others interested in the medical field flock to Memphis to attend and graduate from the University of Tennessee (UT) Memphis. Among the colleges of the system are those of Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Health Science Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy, in addition to the UT Graduate School. UT is ranked among the largest and most progressive health science centers in the country.
Christian Brothers University is one of only a few private colleges in the nation to offer degrees in mechanical, electrical, civil, and chemical engineering. Chrichton College awards bachelor's degrees through its schools of arts and sciences; bible and theology; education and behavioral studies; and business.
Vocational schools such as State Technical Institute at Memphis provide a further dimension to educational opportunities available in Memphis and Shelby County.
The Memphis/Shelby County Public Library and Information Center has an annual circulation of more than 3.3 million books. Its special collections focus on Memphis history, art and architecture, and business and management. The system maintains 23 branches and a bookmobile. Its Central Library, designed by Memphis architect Frank Ricks, opened in 2001; it is more than twice the size of the previous Main Library. The University of Memphis Libraries hold more than 1.1 million books, more than 10,000 periodical subscriptions, and many special collections, such as Confederate history, Lower Mississippi Valley history, and blues and jazz oral histories.
There are more than 40 research centers in Memphis. Research activities at the University of Memphis focus on such areas as business and economics, substance addiction, earthquakes, child development, neuropsychology, women, anthropology, ecology, oral history, educational policy, communication disorders, and genomics. Research conducted at centers affiliated with the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences in Memphis focuses on fields such as neuroscience, vascular biology, genomics, and a variety of diseases and disorders. Christian Brothers University supports the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital studies pediatric diseases and abnormalities and is the only independent pediatric research center supported by a National Cancer Institute support grant.
Public Library Information: Memphis-Shelby County Public Library, 3030 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111; telephone (901)415-2700