Online Schools and Colleges in Kentucky [2022 Guide]

Kentucky schools offer many online degrees. Here, we outline what you need to know when enrolling in an online program.

Updated August 31, 2022 • 6 Min Read

edited by Lequita Westbrooks

Online Schools and Colleges in Kentucky

In 2022, Kentucky published a strategic agenda outlining the state's higher education goals for 2022-2030. Long-term goals include improving college equity, affordability, and graduation rates. The state projects that investing in these initiatives will lead to 60% of residents holding a college degree or certificate by 2030.

Prospective in-state and out-of-state degree-seekers can take advantage of the state government's investment in education by researching the best online colleges in Kentucky. These schools offer career-aligned certificates and degrees. Graduates often secure high-paying positions in the state, such as software developer and nurse practitioner. This guide explores the best online Kentucky schools and typical tuition costs.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in Kentucky

How many colleges are in Kentucky?

Kentucky is home to 75 colleges and universities, many of which offer fully online or hybrid programs.

How long do you need to live in Kentucky to get in-state tuition?

Unlike other states, Kentucky does not require students to have lived in the state for 12 months to qualify for in-state tuition rates. Degree-seekers must provide residency documentation to their school.

Can Kentucky residents go to college for free?

In 2016, Kentucky made community college free for in-state high school graduates. Some public universities offer free tuition to learners with financial need.

Why Get an Online Degree in Kentucky?

Many of the best online colleges in Kentucky provide students with an excellent return on investment. According to a report by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, bachelor's degree-holders earn an average of $1.2 million more over their lifetime than individuals with only a high school diploma. Additionally, tuition costs at Kentucky public institutions rose only 2.2% for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Associate degree-seekers can qualify for high-paying careers by majoring in healthcare or learning a trade. High-paying fields for bachelor's degree-holders include healthcare and education. Individuals in these fields earn median entry-level salaries about 10% higher than college graduates in other industries.

Cost of Attending College in Kentucky

Online Kentucky schools charge varying tuition rates. Some institutions offer discounted in-state tuition rates, while others charge all students the same rates. Online learners often save money by eliminating the need to commute or relocate. Additionally, distance learners may receive free virtual textbooks.

The following sections cover average tuition rates. Individuals should contact their prospective school for specific tuition information. Many institutions raise tuition with little to no warning.

1. In-State Tuition in Kentucky

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in-state students at public four-year schools paid an average of $10,888 in tuition and fees for the 2019-2020 academic year. This figure exceeds many states' average tuition and fees for the same year. The average cost at two-year schools in Kentucky was much lower. Learners often save money by earning an associate degree from a community college and then transferring to a bachelor's program.

2. Out-of-State Tuition in Kentucky

The average cost of out-of-state tuition and fees in Kentucky school was $26,048 for the 2019-2020 academic year, according to NCES data. Although out-of-students pay higher tuition rates at public schools, online learners often save money on room or board. Additionally, some schools charge all distance learners the same tuition rate, regardless of residency status.

3. Public College Tuition

Tuition rates vary by institution type. According to NCES data, the average cost of in-state tuition and fees at two-years schools in Kentucky was $4,395 for the 2019-2020 academic year. Out-of-state students paid an average of $14,826 in tuition and fees for the same year. Although more affordable than four-year institutions, two-year online colleges in Kentucky may offer fewer majors.

4. Private College Tuition

Private on-campus and online Kentucky schools charged an average of $26,928 in tuition and fees for the 2019-2020 academic year, according to NCES data. This rate slightly exceeds that year's average for out-of-state tuition and fees. However, some private schools charge much higher tuition rates. For the 2021-2022 academic year, undergraduate students at Centre College in Danville paid $46,000 in tuition and fees.

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Additional Online Student Fees

Many of the best online colleges in Kentucky provide affordable educational programs. While online learners often save money on expenses, schools often charge a technology fee. Learners pay this fee per credit, class, or semester. Degree-seekers should also budget for textbooks and graduation fees.

Career counselors help degree-seekers identify additional fees for their career goals. For example, teachers and nurses need a state-issued license. Candidates pay an initial licensure fee and a renewal fee. Other professionals may qualify for more jobs by earning a certification.

How to Transfer Credits to Colleges in Kentucky

1. Determine Eligibility

Students with an associate degree or transfer credit can speak with an academic advisor to determine their credit's eligibility for transfer. Many four-year schools post transfer credit requirements on their website.

2. Contact the School

Students preparing to transfer should contact their prospective four-year school to learn about the process. Admissions counselors answer questions and help transfer degree-seekers meet requirements.

3. Fill Out Transfer Credit Forms

Transfer students complete transfer credit forms and provide official undergraduate transcripts. Transfer policies vary by school. Institutions often enforce deadlines and transfer credit maximums.

4. Wait to Hear From the School

Online Kentucky schools review transfer students' forms and transcripts before accepting transfer credit. If the school does not offer adequate transfer credit, degree-seekers can explore other educational opportunities.

Fastest-Growing Careers in Kentucky By Degree Level

The best online colleges in Kentucky offer majors that prepare degree-seekers for high-paying positions. Kentucky features many lucrative positions for associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree-holders. Higher salaries often translate to a better quality of life, and they allow professionals to save for the future.

The Kentucky Center for Statistics publishes hiring projections for 2016-2026. Students can use this information to make an informed decision regarding their undergraduate or graduate degree.

Associate Degree
Career Average Mean Wage Annual Openings
Occupational Therapy Assistants $57,017 840
Physical Therapist Assistants $55,528 2,839
Respiratory Therapists $49,143 1,888
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians $30,926 1,592
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers $63,533 638
Bachelor's Degree
Career Average Mean Wage Annual Openings
Software Developers, Applications $80,322 5,567
Operations Research Analysts $74,216 901
Software Developers, Systems Software $86,915 1,835
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors $39,594 1,851
Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate $42,980 475
Master's Degree
Career Average Mean Wage Annual Openings
Statisticians $72,242 112
Physician Assistants $101,649 953
Nurse Practitioners $95,988 2,679
Marriage and Family Therapists $40,313 397
Orthotists and Prosthetists $64,910 114
Doctorate or Professional Degree
Career Average Mean Wage Annual Openings
Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary $72,829 2,828
Physical Therapists $84,322 1,817
Veterinarians $90,317 704
Business Teachers, Postsecondary $102,479 704
Physicists $146,316 27

Source: KY Occupational Outlook

Five In-Demand Kentucky Job Industries

The following table highlights the five most in-demand career fields for Kentucky residents who have completed a college degree or an apprenticeship. The state government projects some careers to add thousands of positions over the next few years. Many of these jobs feature average salaries exceeding the national median for all occupations.

Learners can use the following links to learn about each industry's top occupation. The Kentucky government website details each job's education and experience requirements.

Five In-Demand Kentucky Job Industries

The following table highlights the five most in-demand career fields for Kentucky residents who have completed a college degree or an apprenticeship. The state government projects some careers to add thousands of positions over the next few years. Many of these jobs feature average salaries exceeding the national median for all occupations.

Learners can use the following links to learn about each industry's top occupation. The Kentucky government website details each job's education and experience requirements.

Most In-Demand Career Fields
Top Industries Top Occupations Within the Industry
Advanced Manufacturing Maintenance, Installation, and Repair Production
Business and IT Information Management
Operations Management
Construction Design and Pre-Construction
Skilled Trades and Construction
Healthcare Diagnostic and Therapeutic Services​
Direct Care
Transportation Logistics, Planning, and Management​
Transportation Operations


General and Operations Manager

General and operations managers need at least a bachelor's degree and five years of relevant experience. Qualifying for the position does not require on-the-job training. These professionals work in the information systems, software, and customer support fields. Typical responsibilities include overseeing software developers, computer programmers, and database administrators.


Aspiring electricians must graduate high school or pass the GED. They complete an apprenticeship program lasting approximately four years. Apprentices earn a salary while receiving extensive hands-on training. Many licensed electricians work in Kentucky's industrial maintenance sector. Typical responsibilities include installing and maintaining electrical equipment.


Architects must earn a master's degree and complete an internship. These professionals need at least five years of work experience. Architects work alongside civil engineers, surveyors, and cost estimators. They visit worksites and use specialized software to create blueprints.

Physical and Occupational Therapy Assistants

Physical and occupational therapy assistants need an associate degree, professional certification, and advanced interpersonal skills. They work alongside licensed physical and occupational therapists. These assistants maintain records, recommend exercises, and help patients increase mobility. The career features specialization options including sports medicine and gerontology.

Accountants and Auditors

Accountants and auditors need a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Some positions require a master's degree and a certified public accountant credential, which can lead to more job opportunities and higher earning potential. Accountants and auditors often review financial records, prepare clients' tax returns, and help their employer reduce costs.

Online Schools and Colleges in Kentucky

  1. University of Kentucky

    Lexington, KY



    The University of Kentucky is the state's largest university and the flagship of its public university system. UK offers a substantial number of fully online and hybrid degrees and certificates through its UK Online program. Fields of study include agriculture, communications, education, engineering, fine arts, nursing, physical therapy and social work, among many others. Students can also find 17 graduate-level certificate programs offered. Non-resident students taking only online courses during the spring and fall semesters pay the same tuition rates as Kentucky residents.

  2. Morehead State University

    Morehead, KY



    Nearly 40 degrees and certificates can be earned through distance learning at Morehead State University. A wide range of study fields is offered, including education, business administration and health care. Rank 1 programs in career & technical education and educational technology are also available. Programs of note include a Master of Arts in sport management and a nursing BSN post-licensure program. Most MSU distance-learning programs can be completed fully online, although some bachelor's degree programs are presented in a 2+2 degree-completion format requiring students to have completed their non-major coursework prior to beginning their online studies.

  3. Murray State University

    Murray, KY



    Murray State University offers a wide range of online learning options, including 8 bachelor's degrees, 15 master's degrees, 2 certificates and 3 teaching endorsements. 2 doctoral degrees and a general studies associate degree are also available. Fields of study include agriculture, business administration, education, information systems, nursing, public administration and many others. Degree and certificate completion times vary by program, but students should expect to devote a minimum of 6 to 8 hours per week participating in the online learning environment.

  4. University of Louisville

    Louisville, KY



    The University of Louisville's Online Learning program offers 9 bachelor's and 10 master's degrees, as well as 6 certificates and 3 teaching endorsements, all of which feature coursework that can be completed 100% online. Fields of study include communications, computer science, criminal justice, education, engineering, social work and many more. Length of time required to complete a UL online degree, certificate or endorsement varies by program, but many bachelor's degrees can be completed in as little as 2 years, and some master's programs require as little as 3 semesters. Active-duty military are eligible for tuition discount rates, and tuition assistance is available for both active military and veterans.

  5. Bellarmine University

    Louisville, KY



    Bellarmine University offers online master's programs in Education, Higher Education Leadership and Social Justice, and Health Science (Health Promotion and Social Change track or the Healthcare Leadership track). Educators can also choose Rank 1 post-master's programs to enhance their career prospects. Students complete courses in Moodle and follow the typical semester schedule. Small classes of no more than 25 students highlight the interaction among peers and professors. Online student services include academic and tech support, library and learning resources, and any other services available to on-campus students.

  6. Northern Kentucky University

    Highland Heights, KY



    Online options abound at Northern Kentucky University, including programs in business, healthcare, nursing and sociology. Full bachelor's degrees require 120 hours, but might be completed in less than four years, depending upon a student's chosen schedule. Many master's programs require between 30 and 38 credit hours, leading to completion in as little as one year. Multiple start dates and 7-week terms add even more flexibility. Student services offer assistance with advising, tutoring and more, and the Veterans Resource Station helps ensure those who have served can enjoy a streamlined online experience.

  7. Eastern Kentucky University

    Richmond, KY



    Students at Eastern Kentucky University can choose from online degrees in dozens of fields, including some more unique options, such as those in police studies, social intelligence, veterans studies and fire science. Six start dates throughout the year allow for more flexibility, while eight-week courses through the Blackboard learning platform help build a quick, solid educational foundation. Online tutoring and robust resources, as well as dedicated student advisors, round out the assistance offered to distance learners.

  8. Western Kentucky University

    Bowling Green, KY



    With over 100 online degree options, Western Kentucky University covers almost every academic field at the bachelor's and master's degree levels, as well as both undergraduate and graduate certificates. Award-winning online support includes online math and writing labs, tutoring, presentation and success coaching, and much more. This robust support helps students through the rigorous accelerated courses that allow for scheduling flexibility and completion of degree programs in anywhere from two to three years, depending upon the degree level and previous credits brought to WKU.

  9. Asbury University

    Wilmore, KY



    Through the Office of Adult and Professional Studies at Ashbury University, students can complete their bachelor's degree in education, business, ministry or social work. The fully online programs offer start dates in August, October, January or March. Courses are delivered in an eight-week accelerated format. A generous transfer credit policy helps ensure prior learning is applied to the degree completion, helping students complete their program in two years or less. Set tuition rates plus many scholarship options help bring college within reach for online learners.

  10. Lindsey Wilson College

    Columbia, KY



    Undergraduate students at Lindsey Wilson College can opt for online degrees in business administration, criminal justice, human services and counseling, and nursing (RN to BSN), while graduate students can choose the MBA, counseling and human development or Teacher as Leader programs. Accelerated, eight-week courses allow for flexibility, and the time to completion can be shortened with the application of generous prior learning credits. LWC Online is one of the many reasons Lindsey Wilson College is considered a military-friendly school.

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Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

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