Best Online Colleges in Kentucky

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Kentucky’s membership in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) provides ample resources for students pursuing a nontraditional route to higher education. SREB’s Electronic Campus — which focus on adult learners — makes searching for and choosing the best online colleges in Kentucky easy and stress-free for students. Students can browse through over 2,000 degree programs and 300,000 courses in 16 states, as well as learn more about financial aid for online learning.

Online and distance learning is a top priority for the state of Kentucky and other members of SREB. The SREB Educational Technology Cooperative keeps its members at the forefront of e-learning changes and urges policymakers to designate online education a top priority in the South. With a focus on education technology, the SREB seeks to improve e-learning support and encourages innovation in the instructional technology space. Interest and enrollment in online higher education has been growing across the country. According to the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, nearly 1 million distance learning hours were completed in the state in 2013, up from just 4,475 completed in 2006.

Kentucky’s dedication to online learning makes it ideal for adult learners, full- or part-time job holders, and students with families to pursue advanced degrees. Students experience the flexibility and convenience of studying at their own pace from home, while avoiding traditional course-scheduling conflicts.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1Murray State University71.333/554%Murray, KY

Murray State University is a four-year institution recognized as a top public university in Kentucky and a highly ranked regional university in the United States. Through its six colleges and schools, Murray State offers 245 majors and programs in a variety of disciplines.

Murray State, one of the best online colleges in Kentucky, provides online learning opportunities in an asynchronous and the occasional synchronous format. Murray State offers online bachelor’s degrees, master’s programs, and a variety of certificate programs. In addition, education endorsements, non-credit programs, and a seven-week GRE test prep program are available. Online bachelor’s degrees include business administration, computer information systems, telecommunications systems management, and RN-to-BSN. The bachelor of integrated studies is designed for working adults and allows them to build a flexible degree within a field of study tailored to their professional and personal goals. Murray State is also proud of its award winning online master of business administration (MBA) degree.

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2Midway University70.333/551%Midway, KY

Midway, founded in 1847, is a private, liberal arts college that was created to serve orphaned and disadvantaged women. The school has a catalog of more than 30 majors with programs recognized for excellence in equine studies, business, nursing, and teacher education.

Midway is one of the online colleges in Kentucky offering accelerated undergraduate programs. Online programs are comprised of eight-week courses that are offered five times throughout the year. Students can earn bachelor’s degrees online in disciplines including business administration, education (with several concentration options), criminal justice, and health care. Midway’s Credit for Prior Learning program allows students to earn college credit for work experience and learning. Students transferring from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System have access to course advising and counseling. Midway offers an online MBA, minors programs, and an associate degree in business administration. The school uses Moodle for online learning.

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3Western Kentucky University67.003/550%Bowling Green, KY

Western Kentucky offers nationally recognized academic programs in journalism, engineering, education, and business to over 20,000 students. The school is home to an award-winning speech and debate team and the Gatton Academy for Mathematics and Science for exceptional high schoolers. WKU provides access to its programming through regional campuses and is one of the best online colleges in Kentucky.

Fully online bachelor’s degree programs include criminal justice, RN-to-BSN, sociology, and healthcare administration. The school’s online 2+2 bachelor’s degrees, including business management and manufacturing engineering technology, offer transfer opportunities for students with an associate degree from any one of the schools in the Kentucky Community & Technical College system. Online students have the option of adding an undergraduate certificate to their bachelor’s degree in long term care administration, manufacturing and logistics, or geographic information systems. Distance learners have access to the online writing lab, online tutoring, and other resources.

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4University of Kentucky66.503/558%Lexington, KY

Lexington is home to UK, one of the state's two land-grant universities. Through its 16 colleges and professional schools, UK administers about 200 academic programs to approximately 30,000 students. One of the best online colleges in Kentucky, UK offers a catalog of fully online and hybrid programs in disciplines including arts and sciences, design, education, and engineering.

In addition to online master’s programs, an online bachelor’s program is offered in medical laboratory science (MLS) for students with medical laboratory technicians credentials employed in a hospital lab. Graduates can sit for MLS-level certification. Hybrid programs include the bachelor of health science in clinical leadership management. Distance learners have access to the Distance Learning Library Service and elearning faculty support. Online students are charged Kentucky resident tuition. Online courses are taught through canvas. Through The Distance Learning Library students can access print and electronics materials, research databases, and course specific guides.

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5Eastern Kentucky University66.003/537%Richmond, KY

Eastern Kentucky, founded in 1874, is dedicated to quality instruction, scholarship, and service. The school offers 108 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the liberal arts, sciences, business, and other fields, including pre-professional and professional training.

EKU is one of the online colleges in Kentucky offering bachelor’s degree programs fully online. The programs are delivered through Blackboard with six start dates throughout the year. The BS in Corrections and Juvenile Justice Studies is one of the few programs in the U.S. devoted to adult services and juvenile justice. The Bachelor of Science in Fire, Arson and Explosion Investigations is a unique program that teaches the basics of fire science and how to process a crime scene. Other online bachelor’s include general studies, emergency medicine, homeland security, and paralegal studies. Online resources include library access, including the ability to chat or text with a librarian.

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6University of Louisville65.333/562%Louisville, KY

Louisville, a research university located in Kentucky's largest metropolitan area, has 12 colleges and schools administering educational programs to approximately 22,370 students. UofL offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs, graduate certificates, and teaching endorsements fully online.

One of the best online colleges in Kentucky, UofL Online Learning offers students flexible options to earn bachelor’s degrees in nursing, criminal justice, communications, and organizational leadership and learning. UofL’s OnTrack Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and Learning focuses on healthcare leadership for healthcare professionals to capitalize on their existing experience. UofL Online Learning offers students the ability to study at their own pace and courses in an accelerated format. Distance learners receive one-on-one attention from faculty through phone and email and are expected to collaborate with classmates through forums, discussion boards, and other online tools. Online courses are not self-paced. Louisville uses Blackboard.

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7Asbury University64.834/576%Wilmore, KY

Asbury is a four-year, multi-denominational institution educating fewer than 2,000 students with programming that embraces academic excellence and spiritual vitality. Asbury’s 14 academic departments offer 54 majors at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including several master's degrees in education and an adult degree completion program called Adult Professional Studies.

Asbury is among the online colleges in Kentucky that offers quality elearning. Programs are taught through the school’s own Asbury University Learning Platform. Students receive instruction from distinguished faculty and field-based practitioners as they build skills in areas such as inquiry, analytical practices, and assessment. The Online Degree Completion program for adults awards bachelor’s degrees in organizational management, ministry management, leadership and ministry, and education, which includes two areas of specialization — elementary education and instructional design. High students earn college credit online while still in high school through Asbury Academy’s dual enrollment program.

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8Northern Kentucky University64.672/537%Highland Heights, KY

Northern Kentucky, a growing metropolitan university located seven miles southeast of Cincinnati, has more than 15,000 students. The school offers three associate, 78 bachelor's, 23 graduate degree programs, and three doctoral programs. Its most popular bachelor’s degrees are organizational leadership, elementary education, communication studies, and accounting. Northern Kentucky has a student-faculty ratio of 17:1 and a NCAA Division I athletics program in soccer and basketball.

NKU Online is one of the Kentucky online colleges designed for adult learners, with courses in eight-week and 16-week formats. Online bachelor’s degree options include business information systems, communication studies, criminal justice, health science, and integrative studies. Students with an associate degree in respiratory care can earn a BS in Respiratory Care degree online. Courses are offered through the Blackboard Learning platform. Students at NKU Online receive support through academic advising, access to the online library, and other resources.

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9Brescia University64.173/546%Owensboro, KY

Brescia, founded by the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph in 1950, is a Catholic, liberal arts institution dedicated to the transformation of students through education. The institution offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in various disciplines through its six divisions and schools.

BUonline is one of the Kentucky online colleges offering accelerated course programs for adult learners. Online programs offered in an eight-week format are flexible and affordable because of the institution’s competitive tuition rates and financial aid options. Bachelor’s degrees are offered online in fields including business, psychology, and integrative studies. Notable programs include the BA in theology with emphasis in pastoral studies and the bachelor of social work degree Completion program. The BA in theology is designed for church volunteers and ministers and the degree completion program is designed for students with 45 relevant credit hours and experience in the field.

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10Morehead State University62.333/543%Morehead, KY

Morehead State pursues a mission of fostering student success, scholarship, diversity, and collaboration among its nearly 11,000 students. The school offers 140 undergraduate degree programs in areas including space science, graphic arts, music, and pre-med; Morehead has 70 graduate degree programs.

MSU is one of the Kentucky online colleges providing many online options for transfer students. Online programs include a BS in Computer Information Systems (which can be earned in two years with the appropriate foundation), a Bachelor of Business Administration, and a BS in Technology Management, a two-year program for students with an associate degree in a technology-related field. Students studying business administration can specialize in areas including accounting and marketing. Through MSU’s Center for Student Success, students have access to First Year Programs, tutoring, academic advising, and other services. For online learners interested in campus life, MSU has approximately 100 clubs and organizations.

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11Campbellsville University55.003/544%Campbellsville, KY

Campbellsville, located in South Central Kentucky, is a private Christian liberal arts school dedicated to developing Christian servant leaders prepared for scholarship, lifelong learning, and active participation in a global society. CU offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in fields ranging from the arts and sciences to business majors.

CU, one of the best online colleges in Kentucky, offers five online bachelor’s degrees in social work (BSW), business administration, criminal justice, pastoral ministries, and RN-to-BSN. The BBA online has five areas of emphasis, including management, human resources management, and accounting. The online BSW is a degree completion program that can be earned in two years, depending on transferred credits. CU offers many financial aid programs. The school is Military Friendly Institution, offering reduced tuition to active duty military members pursuing an undergraduate degree online. CU offers online associate degrees and and a certificate in christian ministry.

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12Kentucky State University52.502/514%Frankfort, KY

Kentucky State is a historically black, liberal arts institution with a mission to provide students with quality, student-centered undergraduate and graduate programming that integrates teaching, research, and service. One of the online colleges in Kentucky, KSU offers more than 50 online classes every semester. The school has three bachelor’s programs online: BA in Criminal Justice, BA in Psychology, and BA in Public Administration.

KSU offers Interactive Videoconference Courses that are accessible at classroom sites in many schools, technical schools, colleges, and government offices in the state. The courses are regularly scheduled using two-way interactive videoconferencing technology where students can interact with professors on the KSU campus. Online services include Smarthinking continuous online tutoring services through Blackboard, an online bookstore, and online library. Distance learners can use the online library to search databases for articles, books, and journals, and get more familiar with Blackboard through the Blackboard UNV 101 library instruction course.

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13Union College38.334/536%Barbourville, KY

Union, a small liberal arts college located in the Appalachian Mountains, offers students a liberal arts education that embraces service and the community and homages to the school’s Methodist affiliations. The undergraduate liberal arts curriculum covers a number of fields ranging from the applied sciences and humanities to social and natural sciences.

One of the smaller Kentucky online colleges, Union offers online bachelor’s degree programs including business administration, general management, and law enforcement. Programs are delivered through the uLearn Learning Management System with convenient class schedules and academic advisors available for student success. Union notes the school’s affordability with all students receiving some form of financial aid; in most cases, online students get access to textbooks and class materials at no additional cost. Union offers online master’s programs in psychology, business, and education, and an online chemical dependency counselor certificate.

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14Kentucky Wesleyan College38.003/536%Owensboro, KY

Kentucky Wesleyan works in partnership with the United Methodist Church to bring its students a liberal arts education that prepares them “intellectually, spiritually, and physically” to live successful lives. The school offers 29 majors and 13 pre-professional curriculums in classrooms with a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Kentucky Wesleyan, one of the online colleges in Kentucky, has asynchronous distance learning options designed for adult learners. Online courses are offered in a seven-week format enabling students to graduate at a faster pace. Three degrees are offered at KWC fully online: BS in business administration, BS in criminal justice & criminology, and BS in general studies. The General Studies online program gives students the flexibility to choose courses that meet their professional goals and teaches skills needed in the workplace, including communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and technological savviness. Program entry dates are offered year-round, every two-months.

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15Lindsey Wilson College32.173/532%Columbia, KY

Lindsey Wilson, located in columbia and sitting on more than 200 acres, is a four-year liberal-arts college offering baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. The school, affiliated with the Kentucky Conference of The United Methodist Church, offers programming in disciplines ranging from biology and psychology to business and communications.

Lindsey Wilson is one of the online colleges in Kentucky offering flexible adult education options in various fields. Online bachelor’s degree programs include business administration, criminal justice, human services and counseling, and RN-to-BSN. The bachelor’s degree in User Experience Design has students research, design, prototype, and test interactive products as they develop innovative solutions needed in the workplace to solve some of society’s challenges. The online BA in Sustainability & Energy Applications prepares the next generation of sustainability leaders through project-based education focused on energy sustainability and its applications. Lindsey has online master’s programs.

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More About Online Colleges in Kentucky

Tuition costs in Kentucky have increased recently. In-state tuition in public 4-year schools has jumped by 38.2% over the past five years, while state spending on education fell by 1.5%. Accordingly, college students have increasingly turned towards online education options, where tuition and auxiliary costs are considerably lower.

Browse our list of the best online colleges in Kentucky for more insight into distance learning programs in this state.

NCES Report

According to an NCES report from 2012, 56,067 of Kentucky’s postsecondary students (19.7%) were enrolled exclusively in distance education programs or courses. Additionally:

  • 79.4% of distance learners were undergraduates
  • 21.3% were in public, four-year institutions
  • 12.9% of online students were at private, not-for-profit schools
  • 85.9% of students were living in Kentucky while enrolled

Online Education in Kentucky

Online learning in Kentucky has become significantly more popular in recent years, and online enrollments should grow throughout the decade. In response to the demand for web learning options, over half of the state’s accredited colleges and universities now offer online programs of some kind.

To help bridge the gap in college graduation rates and the professional workforce, Kentucky’s educational department is working to make online education more accessible. The Kentucky Virtual Campus (KYVC) helps by offering affordable college credit and professional program training to recent high school graduates and adult workers alike. This allows students to earn academic or continuing education credit online through the KYVC.

Best Online Colleges in Kentucky of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Midway University Midway, KY
2 Asbury University Wilmore, KY
3 Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights, KY
4 University of Louisville Louisville, KY
5 Murray State University Murray, KY
6 University of Kentucky Lexington, KY
7 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY
8 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY
9 Morehead State University Morehead, KY
10 Brescia University Owensboro, KY
11 Campbellsville University Campbellsville, KY
12 Kentucky Wesleyan College Owensboro, KY
13 Kentucky Christian University Grayson, KY
14 Bellarmine University Louisville, KY
15 University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, KY
16 Thomas More College Crestview Hills, KY
17 Kentucky State University Frankfort, KY
18 The Southern Baptist Theological Society Louisville, KY
19 Union College Barbourville, KY
20 Lindsey Wilson College Columbia, KY