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Kentucky Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2018

Updated on: 01/04/2018

Online colleges in Kentucky offer hundreds of individual courses and online degree programs, many available to peruse in the Kentucky Virtual Campus database. In fact, more than 60 schools in Kentucky offer online degree programs at the certificate, associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral level. One of the largest online schools is Western Kentucky University, whose WKY On Demand system offers more than 100 fully online programs. Furthermore, at the diploma, certificate, and associate level, Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS) has a multitude of Learn on Demand and Learn by Term programs at its 16 schools spread across 70 campuses.

An important part of selecting the right online college in Kentucky is asking the right questions. Regardless of the program and degree level, most students want to know the cost of an online education and how to make it affordable. This page explores how to qualify for in-state tuition, financial aid and scholarships to lower the overall cost of attending school. Additionally, it discusses how to transfer credits across Kentucky’s online schools, and earn additional credits for prior learning experience, which further reduces costs as well as the time it takes to earn an online degree in Kentucky.

Best Online Colleges in Kentucky: 2018

With so many online colleges in Kentucky from which to choose, how can you narrow them down to right schools for you? Every student is looking for certain factors in the search for his or her perfect school. College rankings are a terrific way to check out the big picture before selecting and investigating the data points that capture your interest. Whether you want to find the best accredited online colleges in Kentucky or the best affordable online colleges in Kentucky, the following ranking will help. Explore our list of the “Best” 2017-2018 online colleges in Kentucky to get started:

  • Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution

  • At least 3 online associate degrees or certificate programs (2-year schools)

  • At least 3 online bachelor’s or master’s degrees (4-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $5,000 (2-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $25,000 (4-year schools)

Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the following categories:

  • Average in-state net price for first-time/full-time undergraduates

  • Count and breadth of online programs available

  • Student-teacher ratio

  • 6-year graduation rate (4-year schools only)

  • % of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college

  • Average $ of financial aid students receive directly from the college

  • Availability of academic/career counseling services

  • Availability of job placement services for students and graduates

  • 3-year loan default rate

  • AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*

*PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.

Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most longstanding and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information.

  • Most recent “Final Release” data available as of October 2017

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Murray State University Murray, KY 100.00 $6,360 15 72% 15:153%yes yes yes
2 Campbellsville University Campbellsville, KY 99.72 $22,342 20 97% 13:141%yes yes yes
3 Midway College Midway, KY 99.57 $22,000 21 86% 15:148%yes yes yes
4 Brescia University Owensboro, KY 99.09 $19,500 11 96% 13:130%no yes yes
5 University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, KY 98.95 $19,640 24 100% 15:143%no no yes
6 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY 98.71 $9,140 31 43% 18:150%no yes yes
7 University of Louisville Louisville, KY 98.10 $10,236 6 55% 13:153%yes yes yes
8 Lindsey Wilson College Columbia, KY 97.99 $22,320 4 98% 16:129%no yes yes
9 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY 97.99 $7,920 29 41% 16:139%no yes yes
10 Morehead State University Morehead, KY 97.95 $7,866 17 68% 18:145%no yes yes
11 University of Kentucky Lexington, KY 97.91 $9,403 3 67% 17:160%yes yes yes
12 Kentucky Wesleyan College Owensboro, KY 97.36 $21,400 3 100% 12:138%no yes yes
13 Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights, KY 95.88 $8,472 17 57% 19:138%yes no yes
14 Kentucky Christian University Grayson, KY 94.68 $16,500 3 97% 12:139%no no yes
Explore Online Degree Programs in Kentucky

2-Year Best College Rankings

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 West Kentucky Community and Technical College Paducah, KY 100.00 $3,528 27 N/A 18:1N/Ano yes yes
2 Bluegrass Community and Technical College Lexington, KY 99.86 $3,528 33 2% 19:1N/Ayes yes yes
3 Owensboro Community and Technical College Owensboro, KY 99.49 $3,528 25 7% 17:1N/Ayes yes yes
4 Madisonville Community College Madisonville, KY 99.01 $3,528 27 27% 19:1N/Ano yes yes
5 Somerset Community College Somerset, KY 98.35 $3,528 27 9% 20:1N/Ayes yes yes
6 Maysville Community and Technical College Maysville, KY 98.28 $3,528 23 8% 16:1N/Ayes yes yes
7 Gateway Community and Technical College Florence, KY 98.08 $3,528 30 8% 16:1N/Ayes yes yes
8 Jefferson Community and Technical College Louisville, KY 97.99 $3,528 21 N/A 18:1N/Ayes yes yes
9 Henderson Community College Henderson, KY 97.95 $3,528 12 21% 13:1N/Ayes yes yes
10 Hopkinsville Community College Hopkinsville, KY 97.33 $3,528 25 9% 20:1N/Ayes yes yes
11 Ashland Community and Technical College Ashland, KY 96.91 $3,528 21 6% 18:1N/Ayes yes yes
12 Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College Cumberland, KY 96.77 $3,528 18 15% 19:1N/Ano yes yes
13 Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College Bowling Green, KY 96.30 $3,528 14 2% 17:1N/Ayes yes yes
14 Hazard Community and Technical College Hazard, KY 95.80 $3,528 24 15% 17:1N/Ayes no yes
15 Elizabethtown Community and Technical College Elizabethtown, KY 93.96 $3,528 30 4% 20:1N/Ayes no yes
16 Big Sandy Community and Technical College Prestonsburg, KY 93.32 $3,528 23 19% 23:1N/Ano no yes

Paying for College in Kentucky: Tuition & Financial Aid

Where students live before enrolling in college can have an enormous impact how much they pay in tuition. As is the case in most states, tuition rates are usually lower for residents of Kentucky than for those who reside outside the state. Generally, students must live in Kentucky for 12 months prior to enrollment to qualify for the reduced rates, but they can appeal to the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), which is responsible for all final decisions for public colleges and universities. Below are the 2016-2017 in-state and out-of-state average tuition costs in Kentucky:

In-state tuition: $18,702

Out-of-state tuition: $24,258

Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2017

Explore Online Degree Programs in Kentucky

Do non-resident online college students in Kentucky pay in-state or out-of-state tuition?

The rising number of virtual learners in the U.S has helped change the college student population in Kentucky. As a result, tuition prices have shifted, often permitting online students to pay the same whether or not they live in the state, as witnessed by tuition rates at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). At Western Kentucky University (WKU), only fully online students pay in-state tuition; taking one or more courses as part of a hybrid program will result in paying out-of-state rates for non-residents. Since residency requirements vary among schools, it’s important for students to carefully review an institution’s policy before committing to a program.

Kentucky is a member of the Academic Common Market (ACM), which allows students to pay discounted tuition at select schools within 15-member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida (graduate only), Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas (graduate only), Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. As part of the ACM, Kentucky residents can enroll in more than 1,900 programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Additionally, students from other ACM member states have access to programs at seven schools in Kentucky at a reduced cost.

Quick summary on tuition:
  • 1. Students enrolled in some online programs in Kentucky pay the same tuition regardless of residence.

  • 2. The Academic Common Market permits students in Kentucky to pay in-state tuition at participating schools in 16 states.

Explore Online Degree Programs in Kentucky

How do I apply for financial aid in Kentucky?

To receive federal financial aid, students must fill out the FAFSA application form and submit it as soon as possible after the October 1 start date. Each school has a six-digit code to include on the application. FAFSA forms are accepted through June 30, but many colleges set earlier priority deadlines to cover separate scholarship deadlines. For example, applicants to the TOPDollar Scholarship Source at Western Kentucky have a FAFSA deadline of February 1.

Traditional and online colleges in Kentucky follow federal and state regulations for monitoring all students’ Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to maintain financial aid eligibility. SAP policies set boundaries for qualitative and quantitative progress as students work toward completion of their degree programs. School SAPS in Kentucky may vary slightly, but most require students to meet the following criteria to keep their federal and state aid:

  • GPA

    2.0 undergraduate degrees, 3.0 graduate degrees

  • Time commitment

    Earn a minimum of 67% of all attempted hours to be considered on pace to completion NOT including class drops, repeats, fails and withdraws.

  • Max credit load

    Federal aid maxes out after a maximum number of credits per each degree program: Certificate (45), Diploma (72), Associate’s (90), Bachelor’s (180), Graduate (varies) or 150% of total degree program hours.

Kentucky Scholarships & Grants for College Students

Each year community groups, professional organizations, and other institutions offer hundreds of thousands of dollars to students in Kentucky. Whether need-based or merit-based scholarships, students are not usually expected to pay back they receive. Each scholarship targets a specific type of student and their guidelines vary, so it is critical to review each potential award. The following questions explore common questions asked by Kentucky students beginning the application process:

What scholarships and grants can I apply for?

Fortunately, there are hundreds of available scholarships available to online and on-campus students in Kentucky each year. The key to getting the most money for college is to select the most relevant opportunities. Kentucky Scholarships from the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority lists hundreds of county and statewide awards, potentially saving students hours of research. TOPDollar Scholarship Source, another great resource, is a searchable database designed specifically for Western Kentucky University students. Just one application covers every scholarship students choose to pursue. Students can also search a database like niche.com, which has a page for Kentucky residents.

How do I apply for Kentucky scholarships and grants?

Once you develop a list of opportunities that match your needs, take a close look at the requirements for each award. While the specifics can vary, it’s safe to assume you will need one or more of the following materials: high school transcript, written essay, resume and income tax information. Deadlines will also vary, so keep track of each due date, so you don’t run out of time. It can be helpful to have someone read over your applications to catch any misspellings or typos before you send them off.

Explore Online Degree Programs in Kentucky

Finding the Kentucky Online College for You

Many factors can go into determining what makes a college stand out from the competition, such as great online resources, a stellar faculty or a top-level program. It really depends on what a student wants most. For this reason, we polled students across Kentucky to find out what matters most to them in the college search and the reasons why. We selected three of the most common questions and answered them, so students have the information necessary to choose the right online college in Kentucky.

Which Kentucky colleges accept transfer credits and work/life experience?

It would be tough to find an accredited college or university in Kentucky that doesn’t let you transfer credits. The question is which course credits they will accept and which they won’t. A course which transfers to one school may not transfer as easily at another, so it is essential to find out early on. For instance, the Kentucky Community & Technical College System lets students check out how credits earned at their 10 schools will transfer to public universities in the state by searching the KnowHow2Transfer database. The University of the Cumberlands’ policy allows students to transfer credits earned during the previous five years from most regionally-accredited schools if approved. The credits, however, don’t count toward a student’s GPA.

Some Kentucky colleges also award credit for life, work, and professional experiences. At the University of the Cumberlands’ School of Lifelong Learning students must submit a portfolio to earn credit for prior learning. The Competency-Based Education (CBE) program at University of Louisville is geared toward professionals in the workforce. It’s possible to earn up to 48 credits for work experience, professional development, military service and more during the beginning of the program through a Prior Learning Assessment.

Am I supposed to pick an online college in Kentucky since I live in the state?

No. As a Kentucky resident, you can attend online college in-state or out-of-state. Depending on the school, you may even pay in-state tuition outside of Kentucky.

How do I pick an online college in Kentucky?

First, consider some of the most common questions students ask when choosing an online college in Kentucky. For example, how long will it take to earn your degree? How much will it cost? Is the school accredited? Does it offer plenty of resources for online students like 24/7 access to an advisor? The ranking on this page will help you develop additional questions. Then, use the search tool below to find colleges and universities that offer the answers you’re looking for. For example, search for all accredited schools and all schools with the tuition range you need. Filter your list until you have a handful of schools you’d like to investigate further. A good place to start is by visiting a campus in person or calling an enrollment counselor who can assist you in making a final decision.