#1 University of Louisville
The University of Louisville (UL) is a public institution that provides degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The university also offers fully remote certificates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Some examples of bachelor’s degree programs at UL include communication, criminal justice, psychology, and others. To earn a bachelor’s degree, students typically need to successfully complete at least 120 credit hours, which translates into four to five years of full-time studies. It’s not difficult to get into UL, and 75% of applicants are accepted into their chosen programs. Further, 55% of students graduate.
For remote students, UL uses Blackboard, where they can manage their coursework. Online courses can be either synchronous or asynchronous. Plus, online learners get access to a career center, counseling, home fitness workout videos, and academic advising. Students can request financial aid, and the school also offers a range of scholarships. The student-to-faculty ratio at UL is 13 to one, so students can expect plenty of individualized attention and support. Finally, UL is recognized as one of the leading institutions for Hispanic, Black, and LGBT students.
#2 Northern Kentucky University
Through Northern Kentucky University (NKU), which is a public institution, students can choose to earn a bachelor's or master's degree online. Online bachelor's degree offerings include nursing, general business, health science, psychology, communications studies, and criminal justice. Undergraduate degrees typically require the completion of 120 credit hours, and most full-time students earn their degrees in four to five years. Master's degree offerings include business administration, health administration, and five nursing specializations. Graduation requirements for master's degrees vary.
NKU delivers its online courses through the Canvas learning system. Online students are eligible for several types of federally funded financial aid. They also have access to online tech support and library services.
#3 Sullivan University
Sullivan University is a private, for-profit institution offering 21 online degrees at all levels of higher education. For example, students interested in earning an associate degree online can choose to study accounting, health information management, or computer information technology. Associate degrees typically require 92 quarter hours, and programs are designed to be completed in 18-24 months. Students who want to pursue a bachelor's degree can opt for programs in business administration, hospitality management, or human resource leadership. Bachelor's degrees require 180 quarter hours and typically take four to five years to complete.
Sullivan students use the Blackboard learning platform to access online courses. Online students are eligible for financial aid, including scholarships provided by the university.
#4 Asbury University
Asbury University (AU) is a private, nonprofit, Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate, and online degrees. The latter include bachelor’s degree programs in digital content creation, health promotion and wellness, leadership and ministry, and others. A classic bachelor’s degree requires at least 120 credit hours, which takes a full-time student four to five years on average to complete. Most applicants get accepted into AU, as evident from its 77% acceptance rate. The university’s graduation rate is 61%.
AU’s learning management system is called Discovery. The coursework can be synchronous or asynchronous. Financial aid is available, as well as scholarship opportunities. Additionally, remote learners can join chapel livestreams and access counseling, career assistance, and a library. The university has a student-to-faculty ratio of 14 to one, so students receive plenty of personalized support. Overall, AU is known for its dedication to Christian beliefs and their integration into the coursework.
#5 University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky (UK) is a public institution providing a range of graduate and undergraduate degree programs, as well as certificates. These include a wide selection of online programs as well, such as bachelor’s degrees in communication, general business, information communication technology, and nursing. A bachelor’s degree typically requires 120 credit hours to complete, meaning a full-time student can finish a program in four to five years. With an acceptance rate of 94%, UK accepts almost all applicants. It also has a graduation rate of 65%.
UK remote students use Canvas for their coursework, which can be synchronous or asynchronous. They can also apply for financial aid. The school offers a few internal scholarships and has a platform to help students find vetted external scholarships as well. Other services for online students include academic advising and coaching, a library, GRE prep seminars, a career center, and counseling. Students also receive plenty of personalized attention from their instructors as the school’s student-to-faculty ratio is 16 to one. All in all, UK is recognized as a research university offering a great variety of valuable degree programs.
#6 Union College - KY
Union College - KY is a private, nonprofit, liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church, offering undergraduate and graduate programs. Union also has fully online programs for remote learners, such as bachelor’s degrees in business administration, general management, general studies, and substance abuse, as well as an RN-BSN program. Typically, a bachelor’s degree requires 120 credits, so a student attending on a full-time basis can earn a degree in four to five years. Union can be a somewhat competitive school, accepting only 56% of applicants, while 36% graduate.
The college uses uLearn, a platform where online students can take courses synchronously. Financial aid is available, plus eligible students can receive scholarships. Remote learners also receive access to such services as virtual research guides, tutoring, and career research tools. Union has 13 students per instructor, meaning it should be easy to find personalized support. In conclusion, Union prides itself in its Methodist values and the liberal arts academic experience it strives to offer.
#7 Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), a public institution, offers many online programs, including four associate degrees, 28 bachelor's degrees, and 15 master's degrees. Associate degrees in general studies, paramedicine, police studies, and paralegal studies require the completion of 60-64 credit hours. Bachelor's degrees, which typically require 120 credit hours, are available in nursing, emergency medical care, business, homeland security, psychology, and many more subjects. Master's degree requirements vary depending on the subject of study, which may be nursing, education, social work, or business, among others. While many programs are available entirely online, a few have residency requirements.
Online students may be eligible for financial aid, including college-funded scholarships. Enrollees have access to online tech support, tutoring, library services, and career services.
#8 University of the Cumberlands
The University of the Cumberlands (UC), which is a private, nonprofit institution, is a faith-based university affiliated with the Baptist church. The school has a 73% acceptance rate and a 60% graduation rate. UC offers a total of 50 online associate and bachelor's degrees in the following areas of study: business, communications, education, general studies, health and wellness, humanities, information technology, missions and ministry, nursing, and social and behavioral sciences. Most associate degrees require the completion of 61 credit hours, and bachelor's degrees typically require 120 credit hours.
At UC, online students are not eligible for scholarships from the school but may be qualified for other types of financial aid.
#9 Western Kentucky University
At Western Kentucky University (WKU), students can select from more than 80 online programs at all levels of higher education. Some of these include an associate degree in nursing; bachelor's degrees in healthcare administration, social work, organizational leadership, and criminology; and master's degrees in mathematics, history, biology, and speech-language pathology. This public university has a 98% acceptance rate and a 47% graduation rate.
At WKU, students access their online courses through the Blackboard learning platform. Distance education students may also take advantage of a number of online services, such as a writing lab, tutoring, career services, and student success coaching.
#10 Campbellsville University
The Campbellsville University (CU) is a private, nonprofit, Baptist university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees. The school also advertises fully remote degrees, such as bachelor’s degrees in business administration, marriage and family ministry, social work, and others. A bachelor’s degree requires 120 credit hours to complete, meaning the estimated length for a full-time student is at least four years. Since CU has an open admissions policy, all applicants get accepted. Forty percent of students graduate.
CU provides online instruction and coursework through the learning management system called Moodle. Students can apply for financial aid and scholarships. Remote learners can also use CU’s mental health services, career services, life management coaching, academic advising, and other resources. The school has 16 students per faculty member, so students should find it easy to connect with an instructor. To conclude, CU is recognized for providing accessible opportunities for students through flexible online programs.
#11 Morehead State University
Morehead State University (MSU) is a public institution that provides undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Its online programs include bachelor’s degrees in subjects like technology management, history studies, sociology and social justice, and others. A bachelor’s degree normally requires completion of 120 credit hours. For students attending on a full-time basis, that translates into about four to five years of schooling. MSU accepts nine out of ten applicants, and 49% of students graduate.
Online courses at MSU are delivered via Blackboard, a learning management system. The courses can be synchronous or asynchronous. Students can apply for financial aid, as well as various scholarships. Remote learners have access to many of the same recourses available to on-campus students, such as academic advising, and tutoring. Additionally, there are 15 students per faculty member, meaning it should be easy to connect with an instructor and receive personalized support. All in all, MSU stands out for its top-ranked online and in-person programs and a wide selection of majors.
#12 Murray State University
The Murray State University (MSU) is a public university offering degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school also provides online degree options. Undergraduate programs available remotely include bachelor’s degrees in subjects like business administration, computer information systems, human services, and others. Many of these are “2+2” programs offered remotely in partnership with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). This means a student can finish all the lower-level requirements at KCTCS and finish their degree online at Murray State. Getting into MSU isn’t difficult and 85% of applicants get accepted. The school has a 57% graduation rate, which is about average for four-year institutions.
Online students at MSU take courses via Canvas, a learning management system, in a hybrid format. They can apply for financial aid and scholarships offered by MSU, as well as external scholarships. Some recourses online learners have access to include career services, counseling, and disability support. With a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, they can also count on personalized attention from their instructors. On the whole, MSU is known for its affordable programs and high quality education, both in online and in-person formats.
#13 Lindsey Wilson College
The Lindsey Wilson College (LWC) is a private, nonprofit, United Methodist college that offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs. A few online programs are available too, including bachelor’s degrees in business administration, criminal justice, and human services and counseling. A typical bachelor’s degree requires 120 credits, translating into four to five years of studies on a full-time basis. Thanks to its open admission policy, LWC accepts all applications. Further, 49% of students graduate.
LWC uses Blackboard to provide coursework in a flexible format. Remote students can apply for financial aid, scholarships, and grants. They can also receive personalized support from instructors as the school boasts an excellent student-to-faculty ratio of 15 to one. Overall, LWC is recognized for its commitment to high-impact educational practices, Christian values, and student-focused teaching.
#15 Midway University
Midway University is a private, nonprofit, Christian university providing degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels. There are also fully online programs for students in certain states, such as bachelor’s degrees in accounting, health care administration, criminal justice, and others. A bachelor’s degree requires 120 credit hours, which a full-time student can typically complete in four to five years. Midway accepts 78% of applicants and has a graduation rate of 48%.
Midway uses Canvas as its learning management system, where remote students can manage their coursework on their own schedule. They also have access to such student services as tutoring, a bookstore, career services, virtual workshops and events, and more. Eligible students can receive financial aid. Additionally, Midway provides scholarships, as well as resources for students to search for outside scholarships. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 15 to one and small class sizes, students get plenty of personalized attention from instructors. All in all, Midway stands out for its career-focused majors and dedication to affordable, accessible education.
#16 Georgetown College
Georgetown College is a private, nonprofit, Baptist institution offering degree programs at the bachelor’s level, as well as dual-program degrees and advanced programs. Online programs are also available for bachelor’s degree holders seeking teaching certification and teachers interested in advanced programs. The latter include master’s degrees in education with various specializations. These require between 33 and 42 credit hours or one to three years of full-time studies. With an acceptance rate of 75%, Georgetown isn’t hard to get into. It also has a graduation rate of 52%.
Remote students at Georgetown use Moodle to access their coursework with no in-person class meetings. The college can base assignments and projects on the student’s current or desired employment. Online students can also get access to counseling, IT support, and other services. Qualified students can receive financial aid. Remote graduate students can also seek out grants and scholarships. The student-to-faculty ratio at Georgetown is 13 to one so students can count on individualized attention from instructors. Overall, Georgetown is known for its dedication to Christian values and supporting its students' aspirations and career goals.
#17 Asbury Theological Seminary
The Asbury Theological Seminary (ATS) is an evangelical, multi-denominational institution offering graduate and postgraduate education. It also provides five online master’s degree options requiring some on-campus time. The program which requires the most time offline is Master of Divinity, where students complete the on-campus portion with about 10 campus visits of either one week or intensive weekends, depending on the course plan. Other programs, namely master’s degrees in ministry, leadership, and philosophy and apologetics, require between two and four week-long campus trips. These programs require between 48 and 96 credits or two to four years of studies.
Remote students at ATS use Canvas, a learning management system, to submit assignments and take classes, which can be synchronous and asynchronous. Eligible students can receive financial aid and scholarships. Remote students also have access to a career center, pastoral care, and livestreamed chapel services. Overall, ATS is known for its theological education, egalitarianism, and the strong spiritual community it creates.
#18 Brescia University
Brescia University (BU), a private, nonprofit institution with Roman Catholic affiliation, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees rooted in the Catholic approach. BU also provides online degrees, including such options as a bachelor’s in theology with a focus on pastoral studies, business, or integrated studies. To graduate with a bachelor’s degree, students must accumulate 120 credits, which can take four to five years on a full-time schedule. BU can be somewhat selective as only 53% of applicants get accepted. Further, 36% of students graduate.
To cater to remote learners, BU facilitates both asynchronous and synchronous online education through the Blackboard learning management system. Moreover, online students enjoy access to various support services like disability assistance, career guidance, and counseling resources. Financial aid and scholarships can also be available. Remote learners can also receive plenty of individualized attention from instructors as the school has a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty rate. To conclude, BU is recognized for offering an education grounded in the Catholic liberal arts tradition.
#19 Thomas More University
Thomas More University, or Thomas More, is a private, nonprofit, Roman Catholic institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs. The school also has online degree programs, with options including bachelor’s degrees in business administration, psychology, nursing, and others. Typically, a bachelor’s degree, which requires 120 credits, takes four or more years to complete — but Thomas More provides accelerated programs, which can take as few as 18 months. The university isn’t hard to get into and has a 96% acceptance rate. The graduation rate is 52%.
Remote learners at Thomas More use Canvas to access their courses, which they can take at their own pace. Eligible students can qualify for financial aid, and scholarships are available. Online students can also take advantage of academic advising, counseling, and other services. Plus, the school has a student-to-faculty ratio is 13 to one, so each student can count on personalized attention from instructors. Overall, Thomas More is known for its commitment to Catholic values and academic excellence.
Higher Education in Kentucky
Kentucky has a rich history when it comes to higher education. Of the state's eight public four-year universities, the University of Louisville is the oldest, dating back to 1798. Today, it's an important research institution with an extensive medical complex. The University of Kentucky, located in Lexington, was founded in 1865, and Frankfort's Kentucky State University, which is the oldest HBCU in the state, was founded in 1886.
In addition to these universities, the state operates the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. With 16 colleges and 70 additional locations, it is the largest provider of associate degrees, online courses, and workforce training in the state. Students often attend one of the community colleges in preparation for transferring to a four-year school, while others pursue vocational training at one of the many technical schools.
Altogether, there are nearly 90 public and private schools in Kentucky. There were approximately 203,000 undergraduates and 60,000 graduate students enrolled in these schools during the 2021-22 academic year.
Online Colleges in Kentucky
Over the past two decades, distance education has become more and more popular. Many colleges in Kentucky now offer online courses and online degree programs. Our list of the best online colleges in Kentucky is ranked by bachelor's degrees. However, you can also earn master's degrees, doctoral degrees, and a wide range of additional options without stepping foot on a college campus.
Although many degree programs can be completed entirely online, others are hybrid programs. In these cases, most coursework is conducted online, but distance learners must come to campus for some learning activities. Online courses may be asynchronous, which means that you can log in at any time. However, some courses are synchronous and require you to stream live lectures and participate in online class discussions at specified times.
Most full-time undergraduates need four to five years to complete an online bachelor's degree. Part-time students may need five to six years. Meanwhile, an online master's program typically takes two to three years of full-time study or three to four years for part-time attendance. If you want to finish your degree more quickly, you might consider attending an accelerated online Kentucky school that is structured around shorter terms of seven or eight weeks.
Admissions requirements are generally the same for Kentucky universities, whether they offer on-campus or online programs. To be accepted at one of the more competitive schools, you must first earn a 2.8 or higher GPA in high school and participate in a number of extracurricular activities. Applicants are typically asked to provide high school and college transcripts, college entrance exam scores, personal essays, letters of recommendation, and resumes when they submit their applications.
To ensure you're enrolling in one of the best online degree programs in Kentucky, you may want to check a school's accreditation status before applying. Enrollment in an accredited college may be required for you to receive financial aid, transfer credits among schools, enroll in graduate school, or obtain a credential or license to practice a specific profession. All of the online Kentucky colleges featured on our rankings list are accredited, most likely by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) — the primary accrediting body for colleges in Kentucky — or the Distance Education Accreditation Commission (DEAC).
Popular Online Degree Programs in Kentucky
For a variety of reasons, many students are drawn to the convenience and flexibility of online degree programs. Graduate students often opt for online master's and doctoral programs so they can pursue a graduate degree without quitting their jobs, relocating, or disrupting their families' lives. Some of the more popular online master's programs include business administration, elementary education, counseling, social work, and accounting.
At the bachelor's level, Kentucky online colleges offer the full range of majors, such as criminal justice, psychology, and information technology. However, they confer more bachelor's degrees in business than in any other subject. Most of the other popular bachelor's degrees in this state involve liberal arts subjects. Many of these undergraduate degrees can be earned through online universities in Kentucky:
To meet your graduation requirements for a Kentucky online degree, you may need to participate in internships, externships, labs, and various kinds of fieldwork. In the distance learning environment, you will need to complete these learning activities at professional facilities near your home. For example, if you're pursuing an online social work degree, you can accrue your practicum hours at a nearby social services agency. Many schools have advisors who can help you make the appropriate arrangements.
Cost of Online Colleges in Kentucky
College tuition fees and other expenses vary widely in Kentucky. Before you apply, you may want to research individual programs because costs can differ by school, field of degree, delivery mode, and residency status. However, the NCES data in the table below provides some average costs for attending Kentucky's colleges:
Aside from choosing to attend one of the more affordable public schools, future Kentucky college students can save money in other ways. For example, many colleges' online tuition fees are lower than their on-campus, in-state tuition fees. Online learners also save money by avoiding the cost of college room and board and reducing transportation costs.
Another way to make your college education more affordable is to enroll in one of the state's many online community colleges. Depending on your goals, an associate degree or vocational certificate from a community college or technical school may be all you need for a successful career. Alternatively, you could complete your general education courses at a community college and then transfer to a bachelor's degree program at a four-year university.
Financial Aid for Students in Kentucky
One of the most significant ways to reduce how much you spend on your college degree is to obtain grants and scholarships. These types of financial aid are better because they generally don't have to be repaid, unlike student loans that have to be repaid with interest. However, you should still consider taking out student loans if they're going to help you complete your education. To determine your eligibility for federal, state, and school-sponsored financial assistance, submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
Kentucky's state government provides both grants and scholarships for in-state college students. For instance, the Kentucky Tuition Grant provides awards of $3,200 per academic year to Kentucky residents with financial needs who are enrolled in one of the eligible two-year or four-year schools. Similarly, the College Access Program Grant offers up to $5,300 per academic year for residents attending one of the qualifying schools.
Among the state-sponsored scholarship programs are:
- The Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship: This merit-based program awards funding to graduates of Kentucky high schools who've earned a GPA higher than 2.5 and scored well on ACT, SAT, or AP exams.
- The Early Childhood Development Scholarship: Students who are majoring in early childhood education can receive up to $6,430 per academic year, provided they agree to a service commitment.
- The Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship: This program supports Kentucky residents who are enrolled in their first associate degree program. To qualify, applicants for the 2022-23 academic year must be pursuing a degree in one of the following high-demand fields: healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, business services, information technology, or construction.
Active-duty military members, veterans, and their family members may be entitled to education-related financial benefits through the GI Bill®. Service members may also qualify for a tuition discount at military-friendly Yellow Ribbon schools in Kentucky, such as Eastern Kentucky University and Morehead State University.
Job Outlook for Kentucky College Graduates
In general, salaries in Kentucky tend to be slightly lower than the national mean of $61,900. For example, the annual mean salary in Louisville is $55,970, in the Lexington-Fayette area $53,160, and in northern Kentucky near Cincinnati, Ohio, $58,720. However, Kentucky's cost of living index is 82.3 — as compared to the national index of 100 — which may help paychecks stretch a bit further.
From an economic standpoint, Kentucky has seen exciting growth in new businesses and expansion projects recently. Just in the last year, these developments brought in investments of nearly $10.5 billion and created 16,000 new full-time jobs. Employment opportunities for Kentucky graduates appear in all industries, including electric vehicle production, healthcare, logistics and distribution, and many types of manufacturing operations.
With this in mind, we've identified several occupations in Kentucky that feature lots of job openings and are projected to grow. These jobs — with salary data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — require only a bachelor's degree:
Elementary School Teachers
Elementary school teachers are an integral part of the education system. They work with children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Teachers develop lesson plans, communicate information, and assess each child's progress. In addition to a bachelor's degree, teachers need a state-issued teaching credential to work.
General and Operations Managers
General and operations managers typically oversee the day-to-day operations of large departments or perhaps an entire organization. They perform many of the more common managerial tasks, such as monitoring budgets, planning how to use resources, and creating schedules.
Project Management Specialists
Big projects often require the work of project management specialists. After meeting with other stakeholders, these professionals develop the overall plans for a project, including objectives, costs, schedules and milestones, and staffing needs. They also monitor the project as it unfolds to ensure everything stays on track.
Registered nurses can find jobs in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. Among their many responsibilities, they work directly with patients to determine their needs, record relevant information, and communicate with doctors to develop and implement a plan of care.
FAQs About Online Colleges in Kentucky
How Many Colleges Are in Kentucky?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are 87 postsecondary colleges in Kentucky. Among the 24 public schools, there are Eastern Kentucky University, Western Kentucky University, Northern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, and Murray State University. Private colleges include Midway University, Asbury University, and the University of the Cumberlands.
How Do I Get a Nursing Degree in Kentucky?
There are many ways you can get a nursing degree in Kentucky. Many schools in the state offer on-campus and online nursing programs, giving you several options for earning an associate degree in nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or a related degree. Just make sure you select a program that prepares you to pass the nursing exam and meet other licensing requirements in Kentucky or whichever state you plan to work in.
How Many People in Kentucky Hold a Bachelor's Degree?
According to the most recent U.S. census, 25.7% of Kentuckians hold a bachelor's degree or higher.
Are Online Colleges Worth It in Kentucky?
Yes, many Kentucky residents find earning an online degree to be worth the investment of money, time, and energy. Data from the BLS confirms that getting a college education typically leads to higher lifetime earnings and less unemployment for most people. Pursuing a degree through distance education may make it easier to accomplish this goal, and it may cost less, which increases your return on your investment.
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