Top Nursing Schools in Kentucky

Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 West Kentucky Community and Technical College 98.00 $$$$$ 14:1 1 37%
2 Owensboro Community and Technical College 98.00 $$$$$ 13:1 1 31%
3 Maysville Community and Technical College 97.75 $$$$$ 11:1 1 29%
4 Henderson Community College 97.25 $$$$$ 10:1 1 25%
5 Madisonville Community College 97.00 $$$$$ 14:1 1 29%
6 Hazard Community and Technical College 97.00 $$$$$ 15:1 1 31%
7 Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College 96.25 $$$$$ 15:1 1 29%
8 Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College 95.50 $$$$$ 15:1 1 25%
9 Ashland Community and Technical College 95.00 $$$$$ 14:1 1 20%
10 Gateway Community and Technical College 94.50 $$$$$ 12:1 1 30%
11 Somerset Community College 94.25 $$$$$ 18:1 1 25%
12 Elizabethtown Community and Technical College 93.50 $$$$$ 18:1 1 24%
13 Big Sandy Community and Technical College 93.00 $$$$$ 18:1 1 20%
14 Hopkinsville Community College 92.50 $$$$$ 19:1 1 21%
15 Bluegrass Community and Technical College 89.75 $$$$$ 16:1 1 17%
16 Jefferson Community and Technical College 89.50 $$$$$ 16:1 1 13%
Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 University of Louisville 95.50 $$$$$ 12:1 4 54%
2 Murray State University 93.50 $$$$$ 16:1 7 52%
3 Eastern Kentucky University 93.00 $$$$$ 15:1 4 42%
4 Bellarmine University 92.25 $$$$$ 12:1 7 68%
5 University of Kentucky 92.00 $$$$$ 18:1 3 61%
6 Western Kentucky University 91.75 $$$$$ 18:1 2 44%
7 Kentucky State University 91.50 $$$$$ 12:1 9 20%
8 Northern Kentucky University 91.00 $$$$$ 16:1 4 36%
9 Morehead State University 90.50 $$$$$ 18:1 9 43%
10 Kentucky Christian University 90.50 $$$$$ 12:1 9 34%
11 Berea College 90.50 $$$$$ 10:1 17 62%
12 Spalding University 90.25 $$$$$ 14:1 1 38%
13 Saint Catharine College 90.00 $$$$$ 10:1 9 31%
14 Midway College 90.00 $$$$$ 15:1 9 43%
15 University of Pikeville 89.25 $$$$$ 16:1 9 40%
16 Campbellsville University 89.25 $$$$$ 13:1 9 39%
17 Union College 87.25 $$$$$ 13:1 9 32%
18 Thomas More College 87.00 $$$$$ 15:1 17 46%
19 University of the Cumberlands 86.00 $$$$$ 16:1 17 36%
20 Lindsey Wilson College 85.00 $$$$$ 16:1 17 35%

Exploring Nursing Schools in Kentucky

To increase the number of practicing nurses in Kentucky, college nursing programs have made it easier for students to transition into jobs. For example, one community college worked in conjunction with the local health system to recruit nursing students as entry-level hires via an accelerated program. Another community college increased enrollment through a partnership with the Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board, from which it received additional funding to expand its nursing program. With so many educational initiatives behind nursing in the state, all that’s left for potential students to do is choose the right school. The search tool below helps you do just that:

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Kentucky’s Licensure Process

The Kentucky Board of Nursing provides licenses for nurses in the state. It is charged with enforcing state laws that govern the nursing profession, so the board imposes stringent rules when issuing licenses for practice. The agency also oversees Kentucky’s nursing education programs.

Steps to Licensure in KY

Graduates of a board-approved nursing degree program can apply for initial licensure by examination. In Kentucky, this process includes:

  • Submitting an application and paying the required $125 fee to the Kentucky Board of Nursing
  • Completing a criminal background check
  • Filling out a fingerprint card after paying a $14.75 fee to the Kentucky State Police
  • Paying $9 to take and pass a 35-question state jurisprudence exam covering Kentucky’s nursing regulations
  • Arranging for their college to submit a certified list of graduates to the Kentucky Board of Nursing
  • Registering to take the NCLEX-RN with Pearson VUE testing center and paying $200

After receiving an authorization to test (ATT) from Pearson VUE, applicants must schedule the exam within 90 days. Applicants who pass the test will be issued a license by the state. Those who do not pass will have to start the process over, except the jurisprudence exam. Background reports remain valid for six months from the date they were run.

Applicants who graduated from an out-of-state program have an additional requirement: Within three years of their initial licensure, they must complete three hours of continuing education in domestic violence and one and a half hours in pediatric head abuse trauma.

Nurses who have practiced out of state and who are transitioning to Kentucky have a slightly different set of licensure steps to follow:

  • Submitting an application and paying a $165 fee to the Kentucky Board of Nursing
  • Completing a criminal background check
  • Filling out a fingerprint card after paying a $14.75 fee to the Kentucky State Police
  • Paying $9 to take and pass a 35-question state jurisprudence exam
  • Verifying their original license
  • Sending an official transcript from the nursing program to the Kentucky Board of Nursing (if they graduated from a school in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Pennsylvania or Washington)

Steps to Renewing a KY License

Kentucky licenses must be renewed annually for $65. In the year leading up to renewal, RNs must have completed one of the following to keep up-to-date in the field:

  • Fourteen contact hours of continuing education
  • Seven contact hours and a nursing employment evaluation
  • National certification
  • Research project
  • Publication of a nursing article
  • Nursing presentation
  • Preceptor service
  • Specified college coursework

Steps to Advanced Practice Licensure in Kentucky

Advanced practice licensure in Kentucky is applicable to four groups: nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists.

Nurses licensed in Kentucky or a compact state who are nationally certified by a board-approved body can become licensed as both an RN and an APRN by submitting a $330 fee for the upgrade. Additionally, they must:

  • Complete post-basic nursing education
  • Complete state and federal criminal background checks
  • Fill out a fingerprint card
  • Arrange for their official transcripts to be sent to the Kentucky Board of Nursing
  • Show proof that they are nationally certified
  • Verify their original RN license
  • Pass the state jurisprudence exam

In order to renew an APRN license, advanced practice registered nurses need five hours of continuing education contact hours in pharmacology. In addition to paying the $65 to renew their RN license, they must pay $55 for each APRN specialty they are renewing.

More details on APRN licensure can be found at the Kentucky Board of Nursing.

Nursing Numbers: Pay & Employment in Kentucky

It pays to be a registered nurse in Kentucky, but salary and employment opportunities can vary from city to city. For a closer look at how nurses across Kentucky fare, as well as how they compare to nurses across the nation, review the tables below:

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Kentucky

Area Hourly Median Wage Annual Median Wage
Louisville-Jefferson County KY-IN $29.18 $60,690
Elizabethtown $28.67 $59,640
Lexington-Fayette $28.23 $58,720
Bowling Green $26.89 $55,930
South Central Kentucky nonmetropolitan area $26.70 $55,540
West Central Kentucky nonmetropolitan area $26.26 $54,630
East Kentucky nonmetropolitan area $25.30 $52,620
Owensboro $25.21 $52,430
West Kentucky nonmetropolitan area $23.35 $48,570

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Kentucky vs. National Numbers

Salary
  • Kentucky
  • National
  • Annual Salary (25th percentile)
  • Annual Salary (median)
  • Annual Salary (75th percentile)

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Employment
Total Employment (2014)
2022 occupational outlook
Avg. annual openings (2012 – 2022)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central

Kentucky Nursing Resources

Kentuckiana Holistic Nurses Association

Nurses interested in the mind-body approach to wellness can join the Kentuckiana Holistic Nurses Association. This regional branch of the American Holistic Nurses Association has RN members who are also reiki masters, BodyTalk practitioners, aroma therapists and experts in multiple other holistic health practices.

Kentucky Board of Nursing

The Kentucky Board of Nursing provides licenses for nurses in the state. The website is designed to facilitate the licensure process for new and veteran nurses alike.

Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Midwives

KCNPNM provides continuing education, professional publications and a career center to its members. It is also heavily involved in legislative advocacy, pushing for advanced practice nurses to play a stronger role in providing healthcare services to citizens.

Kentucky Emergency Nurses Association

The Kentucky Emergency Nurses Association represents the needs of emergency nurses around the state. KYENA’s national body is the Emergency Nurses Association.

Kentucky Nurses Association

The Kentucky Nurses Association is a full-service professional nursing organization that has existed since 1906, offering credentials, career services and continuing education to members. Its national body, the American Nurses Association, plays a strong role in advocating for healthcare policy; the Kentucky Nurses Association does the same on the state level.

Kentucky School Nurses Association

Nurses who work in schools can become members of the Kentucky School Nurses Association. Scholarships and continuing education courses are available to members.