The Commonwealth of Kentucky’s education roots run deep, and it has the high-quality colleges and universities to prove it. From distinguished public and private universities to community and technical colleges, all are committed to meeting the needs of a diverse student population. Public options include well-known universities like the University of Kentucky in Lexington and the University of Louisville, plus 28 distinct community and technical colleges. A myriad of private colleges, including non-profit and for-profit institutions, round out Kentucky’s higher education scene. All of these schools serve students in their own way, but those with online classes and degrees offer even greater accessibility.
Distance learning programs make higher education more accessible to all students, including those who live in remote areas, work full-time or have limited local options. Online schools in Kentucky can help these students earn certificates, degrees and even professional development credits online, without ever visiting a classroom. Most public and private institutions offer such programs, but no one school is right for everyone. Programs vary widely in size and scope, so it’s important for prospective students to examine all their options. The following guide summarizes several learning opportunities in Kentucky, including top-ranked online schools.
A large, dynamic pool of high-quality colleges and universities is among Kentucky’s most important legacies. Students have dozens of public and private institutions from which to choose, not to mention several online programs. Let’s review some of them.
There is no shortage of online schools in Kentucky. The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education supports publicly funded online learning initiatives, including Kentucky Virtual Campus (KYVC), a consortium of state universities offering online courses and degree programs, and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) Online, which offers Web-based courses and degrees from community and technical colleges. These programs enable students to complete online courses and degrees in a wide range of areas, like business, communication, history, justice administration and nursing.
According to the Council’s official website, more than 100,000 public students, or about 35 percent of the system’s total student population, enrolled in public distance learning programs in 2011. Public schools are not the only colleges to embrace distance learning; private online schools in Kentucky run the gamut from small liberal arts colleges to targeted career and vocational schools. There are also nearly 50 out-of-state postsecondary institutions licensed to operate in Commonwealth. Together, these programs considerably boost students’ learning options.
The Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS) governs 16 two-year colleges serving more than 90,000 students each year. Some of these students enroll in career-targeted certificate and associate degree programs designed for quick entry into the workforce; others pursue more academic degrees that can serve as stepping stones to four-year institutions. KCTCS also offers non-traditional credit options for students with military service experience, and dual-credit options for high school students.
Because Kentucky community colleges often cater to working professionals, plenty of evening, weekend and online courses are available. Some students can even complete entire programs through KCTCS Online, a system-wide virtual consortium of online courses and degrees.
The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education oversees a two-tiered system of public universities that serve more than 100,000 total students each year. The first tier is comprised of the state’s two top research institutions: the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville. Both schools are known for their medical curricula and selective admissions process. The second tier includes regional universities. Tiers do not necessarily indicate quality; tier 2 schools offer some of the nation’s most respected academic programs, like Eastern Kentucky University’s forestry school and Cave Management at Western Kentucky University’s nationally ranked School of Journalism & Broadcasting. Many Morehead State University Department of Earth and Space Science alums move on to successful careers with NASA and other aerospace agencies.
All public universities in Kentucky, regardless of tier, offer undergraduate and graduate programs designed to meet the needs of the state’s evolving workforce. Popular disciplines include agriculture, business, education, finance, management, marketing, nursing, technology and many more. Most of these public institutions offer online schools in Kentucky, which means some students can complete their educations with little to no classroom work. Visit the Kentucky Virtual Campus online to learn more.
Kentucky has nearly as many private schools as public institutions. The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education licenses more than 30 non-profit, independent or private institutions, which together serve nearly 28 percent of the state’s undergraduate student population. These diverse institutions include private liberal arts schools, highly targeted career colleges and everything in between. Some have religious affiliations or other distinguishing characteristics. Transylvania University, a private liberal arts school in Lexington, is the 16th oldest college in the United States.
KCPE oversees the licensing of private, non-profit institutions, but each has its own governing board. This translates to an impressive degree of variety among these colleges, especially with respect to programs and learning goals. Many offer majors in traditional fields like business, liberal arts, medicine, science and technology, but others feature more specialized programs, like theological studies programs for aspiring ministers. Prospective students should contact individual schools to learn more.
Kentucky Community and Technical College System Online (KCTCS)
The Kentucky Community & Technical College System offers online courses, diplomas, certificates and degrees through KCTCS Online. Students can choose from Web-enhanced, blended, hybrid and fully online courses. Online courses are available in two formats: Learn by Term and Learn on Demand. The Learn By Term program delivers online courses in a traditional, semester-long format; Learn on Demand offers classes in 15-week and accelerated 3-5 week formats. Students in both programs can earn degrees in areas like business administration systems, computer and information technologies, criminal justice and health information technology.
All Web courses are delivered through KCTCS Online, but students must be enrolled with the campuses hosting their chosen programs. Some fully online classes may require students to take proctored exams at a testing site. KCTCS Online maintains partnerships with five public universities, making it easier to transfer to four-year programs upon earning an associate degree.
To learn more about KCTCS Online’s degree programs, visit their website at http://www.kctcs.edu/KCTCS_Online.aspx.
Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) offers online undergraduate and graduate degrees in 15 subject areas, along with several certificate and non-degree options. Some programs have on-campus requirements. Students in the paralegal program, for example, are required to complete a two-week research session on campus, and students in the fire investigation program must complete a two-week fire lab session on campus. Online courses at EKU are delivered through Blackboard in six or eight-week sessions. Technical requirements vary by course, but EKU recommends that all students have computers with high-speed Internet access, Mozilla Firefox and Flash Player.
All online undergraduate programs require applicants to hold at least a high school diploma or GED for admission. Online graduate-level admissions requirements vary by department, and some require students to complete GRE or GMAT exams.
For more information about EKU’s online certificate and degree programs, visit the EKU Online website at http://ekuonline.eku.edu.
University of Louisville
The University of Louisville (U of L) offers online bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a number of academic areas. Undergraduate students can earn online bachelor’s degrees in nursing, organizational leadership and learning, justice administration or communication. This online school in Kentucky also offers online graduate certificate programs in data mining and network and information security. All online degree programs have the same credit requirements as traditional degree programs: bachelor’s degree programs usually require 123 credits, while master’s degree programs require 30.
Online courses at EKU are delivered through the Blackboard learning management system, but students will also need access to Microsoft Office and Java. Some courses may have additional requirements such as QuickTime, RealPlayer or Adobe software.
A full listing of online programs can be found at U of L’s Online Learning homepage at http://louisville.edu/online/programs.
Best Online Schools in Kentucky for Service Members
Almost anyone could benefit from the convenience of online schools in Kentucky, but this flexibility is especially valuable for military service members and spouses who want to continue their studies through deployments, relocations and other major transitions. Many schools offer additional programs to help these students succeed, such as military tuition discounts, special funds and scholarships, and online tutoring and advising.
Students attending online schools in Kentucky with campus-based locations may have access to additional resources, like on-site centers offering academic, financial and civilian transition advising services. Other services that may benefit active and retired military personnel include credit-by-exam options that allow students to earn college credit for established military skills and training.
|Tuition||City||ROTC - Army||ROTC - Navy||ROTC - Air Force|
|Kentucky State University||$5,496||Frankfort||Yes||No||Yes|
|Northern Kentucky University||$7,872||Highland Heights||Yes||No||Yes|
|Western Kentucky University||$8,472||Bowling Green||Yes||No||Yes|
|University of Kentucky||$8,610||Lexington||Yes||No||Yes|
|University of Louisville||$9,466||Louisville||Yes||No||Yes|
Best Online Schools in Kentucky for Personal Attention
Online schools in Kentucky make college accessible to students who otherwise may not be able to attend, but that doesn’t mean they have to sacrifice personalized learning for flexibility. Many distance learning schools integrate technologies into their programs that help students feel connected to instructors and peers. These might include online video conferencing tools like Skype, cloud-based collaboration tools, scheduled chats and virtual office hours. Live-streamed, interactive lectures allow students to ask questions in real-time, and many online schools in Kentucky cap course enrollment to guarantee more personalized feedback. Here are some of the best online schools in Kentucky for students seeking a more personal learning experience.
|Western Kentucky University||19 to 1||21,080||$8,472||Public||Bowling Green|
|Morehead State University||18 to 1||10,758||$7,284||Public||Morehead|
|Northern Kentucky University||18 to 1||14,912||$7,872||Public||Highland Heights|
|University of Kentucky||18 to 1||21,861||$8,610||Public||Lexington|
|University of Pikeville||17 to 1||1,618||$17,050||Private not-for-profit||Pikeville|
|Alice Lloyd College||16 to 1||640||$8,500||Private not-for-profit||Pippa Passes|
|Saint Catharine College||16 to 1||1,197||$17,976||Private not-for-profit||Saint Catharine|
|Murray State University||16 to 1||9,972||$5,880||Public||Murray|
|Eastern Kentucky University||16 to 1||16,064||$7,320||Public||Richmond|
|Kentucky Mountain Bible College||15 to 1||81||$6,300||Private not-for-profit||Vancleve|
|Kentucky Christian University||15 to 1||568||$16,448||Private not-for-profit||Grayson|
|Brescia University||15 to 1||830||$18,500||Private not-for-profit||Owensboro|
|Thomas More College||15 to 1||1,927||$25,390||Private not-for-profit||Crestview Hills|
|Kentucky State University||15 to 1||3,214||$5,496||Public||Frankfort|
|Asbury University||14 to 1||1,592||$25,140||Private not-for-profit||Wilmore|
|University of the Cumberlands||14 to 1||1,853||$18,640||Private not-for-profit||Williamsburg|
|Midway College||14 to 1||2,021||$20,700||Private not-for-profit||Midway|
|Lindsey Wilson College||14 to 1||2,370||$21,000||Private not-for-profit||Columbia|
|Kentucky Wesleyan College||13 to 1||803||$19,640||Private not-for-profit||Owensboro|
|Campbellsville University||13 to 1||3,782||$21,100||Private not-for-profit||Campbellsville|
|University of Louisville||13 to 1||17,692||$9,466||Public||Louisville|
|Bellarmine University||12 to 1||2,895||$31,990||Private not-for-profit||Louisville|
|Union College||11 to 1||917||$19,990||Private not-for-profit||Barbourville|
|Transylvania University||11 to 1||1,054||$28,645||Private not-for-profit||Lexington|
|Centre College||11 to 1||1,328||$35,000||Private not-for-profit||Danville|
|Georgetown College||11 to 1||1,375||$30,770||Private not-for-profit||Georgetown|
|Spalding University||11 to 1||1,576||$20,550||Private not-for-profit||Louisville|
|Berea College||11 to 1||1,734||$20,900||Private not-for-profit||Berea|
|Clear Creek Baptist Bible College||9 to 1||209||$5,482||Private not-for-profit||Pineville|
|Simmons College of Kentucky||8 to 1||122||$4,320||Private not-for-profit||Louisville|
Best Online Schools in Kentucky for Women in Tech
The technology industry is growing quickly, but studies suggest that women represent a smaller percentage of students in tech degree programs and the field at large. Some online schools in Kentucky focus on attracting and supporting young women in tech. They might staff more seasoned female professors to serve as role models, or host mentorship programs connecting new and graduating students. Some distance learning programs host professional and networking events specifically for women in technology. Student organizations for women in tech with a strong virtual presence are also helpful. Here are some of the best online schools in Kentucky for women pursuing tech careers.
|TUITION + FEES||CITY||WOMEN IN TECH DEGREES AWARDED||TOTAL ENROLLMENT||TYPE|
|Murray State University||$6,840||Murray||118||7,543||Public|
|University of Kentucky||$9,676||Lexington||106||24,269||Public|
|University of Louisville||$9,662||Louisville||81||16,044||Public|
|Eastern Kentucky University||$7,320||Richmond||46||11,968||Public|
|Morehead State University||$7,284||Morehead||36||5,869||Public|
|Western Kentucky University||$8,472||Bowling Green||22||14,890||Public|
|Asbury University||$25,311||Wilmore||17||1,388||Private Not for Profit|
|Northern Kentucky University||$8,064||Highland Heights||11||10,699||Public|
|Berea College||$21,880||Berea||6||1,619||Private Not for Profit|
|Bellarmine University||$33,270||Louisville||5||2,594||Private Not for Profit|
|Kentucky State University||$6,096||Frankfort||5||2,096||Public|
Best Online Colleges in Kentucky Fighting for Families
Social science degrees can be a catalyst to careers in helping families, children and other citizens in need. Many online schools in Kentucky offer high-quality certificate and degree programs for students in these disciplines, but some extend their support even further. For example, programs that offer supervised, for-credit internship opportunities within students’ local communities provide practical knowledge and experience that could never be conveyed through courses alone. Some Web-based programs offer student and professional clubs for aspiring social services professionals that have a strong virtual presence, or special scholarships and grants specifically within this discipline. Optional campus-based seminars, career fairs and professional and networking conferences can also prove beneficial. Here are some of the top online schools in Kentucky for future community service professionals.
|CITY||SOCIAL DEGREES AWARDED||WOMEN||MEN||TUITION & FEES||TOTAL ENROLLMENT|
|University of Louisville||Louisville||274||219||55||$9,662||16,044|
|University of Kentucky||Lexington||242||182||60||$9,676||24,269|
|Western Kentucky University||Bowling Green||226||162||64||$8,472||14,890|
|Morehead State University||Morehead||140||107||33||$7,284||5,869|
|Murray State University||Murray||72||56||16||$6,840||7,543|
|Northern Kentucky University||Highland Heights||62||54||8||$8,064||10,699|
|Eastern Kentucky University||Richmond||57||51||6||$7,320||11,968|
|University of Pikeville||Pikeville||15||13||2||$17,050||1,495|
|Kentucky State University||Frankfort||9||9||$6,096||2,096|
|Kentucky Christian University||Grayson||8||7||1||$16,778||549|
|Thomas More College||Crestview Hills||7||6||1||$26,595||1,402|