Kentucky is widely known for horse racing and bourbon distilleries, but the Bluegrass State also engages in major industries like automotive, manufacturing, aerospace, logistics, and healthcare. Residents enjoy a relatively low cost of living, although Kentucky's unemployment rate of 4.4% (as of November 2019) is higher than the national average (3.5%).
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a positive correlation between educational attainment and income. Obtaining a college certificate or degree can help you advance in your career or gain entry into a new field. Thanks to online learning, you can also acquire new skills and knowledge without ever stepping foot into a classroom.
Top 10 Online Colleges in Kentucky
- Midway University - Midway, KY
- Asbury University - Wilmore, KY
- University of Louisville - Louisville, KY
- Northern Kentucky University - Highland Heights, KY
- Eastern Kentucky University - Richmond, KY
- Western Kentucky University - Bowling Green, KY
- Morehead State University - Morehead, KY
- Murray State University - Murray, KY
- University of Kentucky - Lexington, KY
- University of the Cumberlands - Williamsburg, KY
Distance education programs offer a variety of benefits. They provide the flexibility for students to mold their academic schedules around work, family, or other responsibilities. This is especially true of asynchronous courses, which typically enforce certain due dates for assignments but require no set login times or webcam meetings.
Continuing your education can help you gain entry into or advance within a career. However, for many students, living on campus or regularly commuting to and from class is not feasible. Online programs, however, offer you the flexibility to balance a college education with personal and professional obligations. Through asynchronous coursework, students can watch lectures, participate in class discussions, and complete assignments on their own schedules. Synchronous classes require students to log in at set times each week, but still allow learners to review lessons and materials from any location with an internet connection.
Our ranking of the best online colleges in Alabama can help you decide which distance education program is right for you. For each of the schools profiled below, we provide information such as admission requirements, the types of degrees and majors available, support services for online learners, and financial aid opportunities. Finally, unless otherwise noted, all of these colleges hold regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges -- a key indicator of academic quality.
2020 Best Online Colleges in Kentucky
|Midway, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
Originally a school for orphaned and disadvantaged women, Midway University is a liberal arts university that is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Interdenominational in scope, Midway serves more than 1,500 students of diverse beliefs and backgrounds. The college offers more than two dozen program options for distance learners.
Education is the most well-represented discipline in Midway's online catalog. Students can pursue a bachelor's in six academic areas (with or without teacher certification), providing pathways to immediate workforce entry or graduate study. Midway also offers a master of education for teachers who want to enhance their professional skills.
Other available areas of study for online learners include business administration, criminal justice, marketing communication, and sports management.
Prospective online undergraduates must provide a completed application, official high school transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores if they are under the age of 24. Admission requirements vary for online master's programs.
|Wilmore, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
Located in Wilmore, Asbury University is a multidenominational Christian liberal arts university. Approximately 2,000 students from around the world enroll each year. An assortment of adult professional studies programs help make Asbury one of the best online colleges in Kentucky.
Students without prior college experience can earn an online associate of science degree. This credential can be applied toward any of Asbury's eight online bachelor's programs, which include social work, organizational management, leadership and ministry, elementary education, and instructional design. Eight-week classes and four annual start dates increase flexibility.
Asbury does not charge an application fee. The school also covers the cost of applicants' college transcript orders. Every online student pays the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of their state of residence.
University of Louisville
|Louisville, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
The University of Louisville is a public research university located in the state's largest metropolitan area. More than 22,000 students attend UofL each year, pursuing certificates and degrees at three campuses. The school also serves as one of the best online colleges in Kentucky.
UofL's extensive online learning catalog offers teacher endorsements (for teaching additional subjects), certificates, and bachelor's and master's degrees. More than 40 programs are available in 25 diverse interest areas, including communication, data science, healthcare, humanities, and project management.
One notable degree option is a competency-based bachelor's degree in healthcare leadership. Designed specifically for healthcare professionals who lack credentials for advanced pay or promotions, this program allows students to apply up to 48 tuition-free credits to their degree plan based on prior learning experiences.
Admission requirements vary according to student status and program. As a military-friendly institution, UofL offers a discounted tuition rate to active-duty servicemembers.
Northern Kentucky University
|Highland Heights, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
Located in Highland Heights -- a quiet suburb less than 10 miles from Cincinnati, Ohio -- Northern Kentucky University is one of the fastest-growing institutions of higher education in Kentucky. More than 14,500 students attend each year, pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Students can choose from more than 30 comprehensive online programs at NKU. A variety of scheduling options are also available: traditional 16-week courses, accelerated seven-week courses, and five-week courses (exclusive to the MBA program). A few available areas of study include business and leadership, education, library informatics, and sociology.
NKU offers extensive opportunities for nursing professionals, including an RN-to-BSN pathway, six concentration options within the MSN program, and a doctor of nursing practice.
Prospective students must supply a completed application and official transcripts. Prerequisites and admission requirements vary by program. Online students all pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.
Eastern Kentucky University
|Richmond, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Eastern Kentucky University is a public university located in Richmond. The school has a history dating back to the 1920s. EKU's 40 online certificate, associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs feature the same professors and curricula as its on-campus degrees.
Distance learners can choose from six start dates throughout the year to begin their studies. Available academic areas include child and family studies, risk management and insurance, and nursing. All programs are completely online and feature asynchronous courses, except for the paralegal program and the fire, arson, and explosion investigation program.
Undergraduate admission requires one of the following: a minimum 2.5 high school GPA, a score of at least 20 or 950 on the ACT or SAT, or at least 24 transferable college credits. Graduate admission requirements vary by program. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of where they live.
Western Kentucky University
|Bowling Green, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Serving more than 18,000 students, Western Kentucky University operates a main campus in Bowling Green and regional campuses in Glasgow, Owensboro, and Elizabethtown-Fort Knox. WKU Online offers more than 100 fully online, asynchronous program options, including 20 undergraduate degrees, 30 master's degrees, and 45 certificates at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
WKU also hosts dozens of flexible, hybrid programs, which combine classroom courses and online learning. Available areas of interest include arts and sciences, business management, education, healthcare, technology and information systems, and human services. All online learners receive comprehensive academic support, gaining access to an online math lab, online tutoring, and presentation coaching.
Prospective undergraduates must provide a completed application and official high school transcripts. Applicants under the age of 21 must also submit ACT or SAT scores. Graduate admission requirements vary by program.
Morehead State University
|Morehead, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Morehead State University is a comprehensive public university situated in the foothills of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Rowan County. Regional campuses in Ashland, Mt. Sterling, and Prestonsburg -- along with extensive online programs -- expand the school's academics to more than 10,000 learners.
MSU's distance education environment is designed to support working adults. Online students receive access to the same academic and technical services provided to on-campus learners. MSU offers eight online undergraduate programs, 20 online graduate programs, seven certificate/endorsement programs, and two special programs: a post-baccalaureate certificate in special education and a post-licensure BSN program.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis before the start of each semester. Undergraduates must supply test scores and official transcripts. Graduate admission requirements vary. Out-of-state students enrolled exclusively in online courses pay in-state tuition rates.
Murray State University
|Murray, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Murray State University serves approximately 9,500 students each year from a main campus in Calloway County and four extension campuses. It also represents one of the best online colleges in Kentucky. This public institution boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 16-to-1 and an average class size of just 18 students.
Online learners can choose from more than three dozen fully online, asynchronous programs in diverse fields like agriculture, logistics and supply chain management, and music education. The school's catalog offers certificates; associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees; and two education endorsements for Kentucky teachers in ESL and instructional computer technology.
Murray State reviews applications on a rolling basis. Admission requirements vary according to program selection and student status. Prospective students must supply official transcripts and standardized test scores.
University of Kentucky
|Lexington, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
The University of Kentucky is the largest institution of higher education in the state. Located on 784 acres in Lexington, UK is one of only eight universities in the country that offers liberal arts, engineering, professional, agricultural, and medical disciplines on one contiguous campus. More than 29,000 students attend the school each year.
UK offers over 30 fully online degree programs. Students can earn certificates as well as bachelor's and master's degrees in health sciences, education, library and information science, and engineering. A 30-credit master's in retailing and tourism management program allows candidates to specialize in hospitality management/tourism or merchandising, apparel, and textiles.
Undergraduate admission decisions are made on a rolling basis after a holistic review of an applicant's academic performance, test results, and essay submission. Graduate school applicants must possess a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA and meet additional, program-specific requirements.
University of the Cumberlands
|Williamsburg, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
Located in Williamsburg, the University of the Cumberlands is a private school with an annual enrollment of approximately 12,000 students. Though not directly affiliated with any particular denomination, Cumberlands is grounded in Christian principles and leadership through service.
As one of the best online colleges in Kentucky, Cumberlands offers a variety of online programs, including 16 associate degrees, 19 bachelor's degrees, and an RN-to-BSN track. The school's undergraduate options offer transfer- and career-ready paths to fit a variety of needs.
For graduate students, Cumberlands boasts an extensive catalog of 24 master's degrees and nine doctoral degrees. Represented fields include business, counseling, education, ministry, medical science, and information technology.
Specific admission requirements vary by program. The admission and scholarship committee reviews each prospective student individually, with evaluations based on grade trends, courses taken, extracurricular involvement, and essay quality. All online students pay the same tuition rates.
Kentucky State University
|Frankfort, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
Kentucky State University is a public, land-grant institution located in the state capital of Frankfort. KSU serves a diverse student body numbering approximately 2,200 each year and boasts the lowest student-to-faculty ratio among public colleges in Kentucky.
Online offerings at KSU include seven fully online programs and more than 50 individual classes. The online doctor of nursing practice program prepares baccalaureate RNs for careers as adult gerontological primary care practitioners in just three years of study plus practicum work. Students interested in aquaculture can pursue a certificate in aquaculture/aquatic sciences.
Undergraduate admission requirements to KSU include a 2.5 minimum GPA and qualifying test scores (at least 18 on the ACT or 960 on the SAT). Graduate admission requirements vary by program, but all applicants must provide a resume, three references, and graduate test scores.
|Owensboro, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 39%||
Originally founded as a junior college for women, Brescia University currently serves a coeducational community of approximately 1,300 undergraduate and graduate students. Located in Owensboro, this Catholic university is consistently ranked as one of the best online colleges in Kentucky.
The school's online catalog features individual general education courses, four associate degrees, six bachelor's degrees, a post-bachelor's certificate in accounting, and three master's degrees. Integrated studies programs are available at the associate and bachelor's levels, offering students the opportunity to engage in an individualized curriculum according to their specific personal and professional goals.
Online applications are accepted year round. There is no fee to apply, and accepted online students can begin taking classes at any time. Many online courses utilize an accelerated eight-week format, creating a quick and efficient path to graduation. Specific admission requirements vary by program and student status.
|Louisville, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Spalding University is a Roman Catholic university that is affiliated with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. In addition to in-person offerings at its urban campus in downtown Louisville, SU offers 12 online degrees -- evenly split between undergraduate and graduate programs.
Undergraduates can pursue options that include an RN-to-BSN pathway, an associate in business administration, and a bachelor's in psychology. Graduate degree-seekers can earn a doctor of nursing practice, master's in business communication, or post-bachelor's certificate in accounting.
SU offers six convenient start dates throughout the year, and its six-week block schedule makes it easy for students to progress quickly while taking just one or two courses at a time.
Prospective students must submit official transcripts and complete an application. Additional prerequisites and admission requirements may apply depending on a student's program.
|Campbellsville, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is a Christian institution that offers noncredit technical programs; certificates; and associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. CU's extensive distance learning catalog helps secure its position as one of the best online colleges in Kentucky.
Students at CU can select from many online programs, including 10 certificates and endorsements, six associate degrees, eight bachelor's degrees, and 28 master's degrees. Available areas of graduate study include business, computer science, criminal justice, ministry and theology, nursing, social work, and education, which accounts for 12 of the 28 program options.
Prospective students apply online and submit official transcripts. Additional admission requirements, including minimum GPAs, letters of recommendation, and/or personal essays, vary by program. A generous transfer policy allows incoming students to apply up to 72 credits to any of CU's online bachelor's degrees and up to 12 credits to any graduate degree.
|Barbourville, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
The final school on our list of the best online colleges in Kentucky is Union College -- a liberal arts institution located in Barbourville and affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Approximately 1,000 undergraduates and 200 graduates attend on-campus and online classes each year.
Union's Division of Online and Graduate Studies offers six bachelor's degrees and seven master's degrees entirely online. Available areas of study include substance abuse counseling, business administration, and information systems management. One notable, nondegree offering is a chemical dependency counselor certificate program, which prepares eligible professionals for certification by the state.
Union's online programs are organized into accelerated eight-week courses, with six possible start dates each year.
Prospective undergraduates and graduates must meet minimum GPA requirements of 2.0 and 2.5, respectively. Graduate admission also requires two recommendation forms and a statement of goals and objectives.