More than 51,000 students are enrolled in Kentucky’s private colleges, and another 213,000 in Kentucky’s many state and public institutions. To support an even broader range of students, some schools are getting creative to bolster enrollment, including favoring need-based financial aid packages and growing online education offerings, meaning increased higher education accessibility to students around the nation. So which of Kentucky’s online colleges and universities offer a best-in-class experience for online students? Find the answer to this and other frequently asked questions about earning a college degree online in Kentucky below.
Colleges in Kentucky offer a wide range of amenities designed to improve the online college experience. But every student is different—for instance, some might want to find a school that offers interactive video conference classes to help them feel more connected to their peers and professors. Meanwhile, other students may want a college that provides mentors specifically for online students. But before looking for these specific amenities, you also want the peace of mind that a college is meeting certain quality standards to count themselves among the best places for earning an online degree in Kentucky. The following list highlights these top schools:
If you already know your area of focus, the best way to check which colleges offer your desired program is to get online. The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education offers an academic program inventory that displays which licensed and accredited programs students can enter. Many institutions also list their programs online, such as Northern Kentucky University.
If you’re not sure what you’d like to study, many online colleges in Kentucky offer a broad selection of bachelor’s, master’s, post-master’s and certificate program options online, including Western Kentucky University. Colleges and universities with a wide array of programs may be ideal for students who do not yet know which major to pursue.
Accredited colleges and universities in Kentucky generally allow students to transfer credits. However, some courses that transfer to one institution might not transfer to another, so you should contact the school that interests you to find out exactly which credits are accepted, and what the regulations on those credits may be.
EXAMPLE: The University of the Cumberlands lets you transfer credits earned at most regionally accredited colleges within the past five years, however, these credits cannot count toward your grade point average.
The Kentucky Community and Technical College System allows students to see how the credits they earn at any of the system’s ten institutions will transfer to any of the state’s public universities through the KnowHow2Transfer database.
EXAMPLE: if you attend the University of Louisville’s competency-based education program, you may earn as many as 48 credits for professional development, work experience, or military service to use towards a full degree.
Earning a college degree takes a lot of time and money, and many Kentucky students may wonder if an online education is worth the investment. By the numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, yes—careers that require higher levels of education, on average, do pay more than those that require less than a college degree. The table below outlines the average pay that workers in Kentucky earn for careers requiring the following minimum degree levels:
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Kentucky residents who take on roles requiring a master’s degree could earn $38,000 more each year than their counterparts without a formal education. Positions for doctoral degree holders pay $73,000 more per year, which is 2.5 times more than jobs that require only a high school diploma. With every level up in education, careers in Kentucky pay more.
Kentucky's Education and Workforce Development Cabinet released a report projecting growingly grim job prospects for non-college-degree earners in coming years. A recent economic impact reports shows 20 degree-required occupations are projected to provide more than 70 percent of the state’s job openings through 2020:
Ranked by the number of job openings in Kentucky per year, highest to lowest:
Students in Kentucky continue to look for more flexible methods of earning their college education, and as online universities offer more programs to meet the demand, it’s fair to wonder how well educational quality standards are maintained. It’s true, not all online schools in Kentucky offer the same level of quality curriculum and student support. This is why looking for colleges with accreditation is important.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the regional accrediting body for Kentucky’s online colleges. Regulations are based on six core values: educational integrity, continuous quality improvement, peer review, accountability, student learning and transparency. Schools who do not meet their standards on each value will not have their accreditation status renewed.
Besides holding regional accreditation, many online schools in Kentucky also choose to hold accreditation for specific programs that they offer. For example, Northern Kentucky University’s business college holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The business school offers an online business administration bachelor’s degree program with various concentration options.
We’ve shown that college-bound students in Kentucky are giving themselves to best opportunity to claim some of the top jobs in the state. But the financial investment of earning a college degree is still a very real hurdle for students. Fortunately, providing adequate financial aid options is becoming a priority, and colleges in Kentucky are getting more creative when it comes to financially supporting students. Here’s a look at average tuition rates in Kentucky:
In-State Tuition, Public Colleges & Universities: $9,490
Change from 2015 $301
In-State Tuition, Private Colleges & Universities: $24,258
Change from 2015 $1,219
Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
Some online colleges in Kentucky may charge online students the same rate as their in-state students, while others reserve more expensive rates for out-of-state students, both online or on-campus. To counter hefty tuition costs for non-residents, check out the Academic Common Market, where students can pay discounted tuition rates at particular schools in Kentucky and 14 other member states. If you are a resident of these member states, it makes tuition more affordable at more than 1,900 undergraduate or graduate programs, many of which are offered online.
In Kentucky, students generally need to live in the state for a year before they qualify for in-state tuition. In addition, they must demonstrate that they intend to remain in the state permanently. However, students may appeal to the council responsible for final residency decisions for universities and colleges: the Council on Postsecondary Education.
Your state of residency could make a major difference when answering this question. For example at the University of Louisville, in-state students pay $11,000 and out-of-state students pay $26,000 for tuition and fees. This is below average for in-state tuition costs at public universities, but much higher than average for out-of-state students.
For undergraduate students in Kentucky versus other nearby states, here are current tuition costs per credit for 2018-2019 distance learning programs. Keep in mind, this does not include additional fees, which vary from school to school.
Students who plan to attend college in Kentucky might need assistance beyond the federal aid assessed by their FAFSA. While there are loans offered by the federal government, you can also take advantage of scholarship and grant opportunities available to learners studying online in Kentucky.
Gill-Elliott Scholarship: Students graduating from Highlands High School who plan to study education, business, pre-medicine, engineering, math, or the biological or physical sciences may qualify. The scholarship, available through the Blue Grass Community Foundation, offers $2,000 to students.
Kentucky College Access Program Grant: Students in Kentucky in financial need can take advantage of this grant if they plan to attend an eligible private or public institution. The grant offers $1,900.
McConnell Scholarship: This scholarship goes to 10 seniors in high school planning to attend college. Scholarship payouts usually include a book stipend and full tuition, a paid trip to the District of Columbia, and a study abroad experience lasting five weeks in China. Students qualify for this scholarship if they hold at least a 3.5 GPA.
More than 23,000 people in Kentucky took part in adult education programs from 2016 to 2017. These programs often provide a stepping stone for students who need to refresh their academic skills or demonstrate college-readiness before enrolling in a degree program. In Kentucky, this includes:
Adult Education programs can be useful for:
GED programs that allow you to simultaneously earn college credits
Classes for English language to prepare for citizenship tests and/or college enrollment
Advising services to make the transition to college and train for a career
Certifications for professional development and soft-skill building beyond college
In Kentucky, adult education programs predominantly serve aspiring students between the ages of 25 and 44 years old. To find a local adult education campus visit the State of Kentucky’s program directory.