Here's a brief overview of online colleges in Kentucky:

  • 53 schools in Kentucky offer online associate, bachelor's, and/or master's degree programs.
  • Degrees can be earned at more than a dozen faith-based online colleges in Kentucky.
  • The most online degree programs are available at Western Kentucky University, Sullivan University, and University of the Cumberlands.
  • Online technical and associate degree programs are available at 16 colleges, which are part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
  • Program offerings vary from college to college, but business administration, nursing, accounting, and education majors are available at many online colleges in Kentucky.

One way the state aims to grow educational attainment among residents is through the Kentucky Virtual Campus (KYVC). This system was specifically created to expand residents' access to distance education.

Read on to see which schools are the best online colleges in the state. We've also provided information about scholarships and grants administered by the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority or KHEAA.

What Makes a Good Online College in Kentucky?

This page contains multiple rankings of institutions of higher education in the state of Kentucky. Our rankings only list online colleges that have been accredited by an official Kentucky accrediting body, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. To learn more about accreditation, take a look at our "What is College Accreditation?" page. To learn more about accreditation specifically in the state of Kentucky, visit the Kentucky Board of Education or the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

Students seeking higher education in Kentucky might feel overwhelmed by all the options available to earn a degree, diploma or certificate. That's where our rankings come in. We seek to give online students a clear, concise way to learn the facts about different schools that matter most to them. Some of the data we used included the graduation rate of each institution, how many online programs were offered and the average in-state tuition. Want to know why we chose these factors -- and all the others -- for our rankings? Find out in the "What Makes a Good Online College?" section of our "About Us" page.


Best Online Colleges in Kentucky for 2019-20

There are many different options for distance learners who want to earn a degree online, which can be confusing and counterproductive to actually being able to make a decision. To help narrow down your choices, we have created this list of the 10 best online colleges in Kentucky. Our list was compiled using data gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), analyzed with our proprietary methodology. For more details on how we made this list, see the bottom of the page.


Midway University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is MU like?

Until 2016, MU was the only women's college in Kentucky. It is a private Christian liberal arts university that offers online degree programs in accelerated eight-week formats. (Certain courses are offered in even more compressed four-week or six-week formats as well.) Since there are five start dates each year, it's easy for students to enroll in an online degree program whenever is most convenient for their schedule.

MU took the top spot this year after being ranked No. 2 on last year's list of the best online colleges in Kentucky.

What online programs are at MU?

Working nurses with an associate degree and a current RN license may pursue an online RN to BSN program at MU and earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as little as 12 months. The online criminal justice program here is taught by professors with experience in law enforcement and government and includes courses such as forensic psychology, police ethics and kinesic interviewing. Minors may also be available; students can discuss the possibility with their advisors.

Courses use the Moodle Rooms learning management system.

What online resources does MU offer?

MU offers online tutoring via its online portal, MyMidway, as well as a number of online workshops that cover topics related to academic success and career development. In addition, the school's Little Memorial Library has compiled research guides on subjects such as biology, business and marketing communications to give students a starting point on research-intensive projects, papers and assignments.


University of the Cumberlands

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is UC like?

Originally founded as Williamsburg Institute by a group of Baptist ministers, UC is a private religious college with an emphasis on the liberal arts. The university offers online and hybrid programs that are specifically designed to accommodate the needs of adult learners. UC's online programs have diversified its student population over the last several years -- most of its students had previously come from the surrounding Appalachian Mountain region.

UC has climbed three spots from last year's list of the best online colleges in Kentucky.

What online programs are at UC?

Since UC was founded by Baptist ministers, it's no surprise that the school offers online associate and bachelor's degree programs in missions and ministries. These programs are designed for students who are interested in becoming a children's minister, worship minister, youth minister, professional missionary or a similar career.

However, UC has many other program options if ministry is not your calling. The university's online programs are focused on the undergraduate level, and they cover subjects such as business, public health, criminal justice and human services, to name just a few.

What online resources does UC offer?

This career-focused university hosts an online system called Biginterview, a database of thousands of interview questions with tips on how to answer them. The system also gives students the chance to enroll in video training that can guide them through the process of earning a job. UC also offers access to GoinGlobal, an online resource that can connect students to a variety of job and internship opportunities.


Asbury University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is AU like?

Formerly known as Asbury College, this four-year, multi-denominational institution improved by five spots from its ranking on last year's list of the top online universities in Kentucky. Online education at Asbury is part of the Adult Professional Studies program, and the degree programs it offers are accelerated, career-focused programs designed for adult learners who want to finish their college degrees after spending some time away from school.

What online programs are available at AU?

The online programs at AU are primarily available at the bachelor's level and are designed to be transfer-friendly, allowing up to 75 credits to be transferred into them. The university also offers an online Associate of Science program, which can help students who have completed less than 30 college credits to get their college education started up again.

Online courses at AU are eight weeks long and delivered via the Discovery learning management system. The online social work program requires students to complete two practicums at social service agencies, while its online organizational management program focuses on management with Christian virtues and ethics in mind.

What online resources does AU offer?

Chapel services for students at AU are livestreamed a few days a week by WACW, the university's radio station, helping even students living far away from the university campus to feel in touch with their school and their faith. Considering the university's focus on career education, it's not surprising that AU also offers a range of career services. This includes job postings submitted by alumni and supporters, the "What Can I Do with This Major?" career exploration website, and "Resume 101," a PDF document on how to write a resume.


Murray State University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is MSU like?

This public university knows that the way to offer quality education to its students is by attaining quality in its faculty: MSU has been recognized as a "great place to work" by the Chronicle of Higher Education for seven of the last nine years. The efforts of its faculty are certainly one of the reasons MSU has moved up three spots from its position on last year's ranking of the best online colleges in Kentucky.

What online programs are available at MSU?

The catalog of online degree and certificate programs offered here includes fields of study such as business and nursing. Online courses at MSU are delivered in an asynchronous format through the Canvas platform.

Some of MSU's online programs are offered in a "2+2 program" format in collaboration with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. These programs are taught online at KCTCS schools for the first two years; then the final two years are completed online at MSU. 2+2 programs are available for telecommunications system management, computer information systems and more.

What online resources does MSU offer?

MSU keeps both its on-campus and online students informed of school-related events and opportunities through its monthly Blue & Gold Digital Magazine. For academic assistance, students can access MSU's University Libraries online and download e-books, research guides and journals. They can also schedule an online consultation at the Racer Writing Center, which strives to help students become better writers and assists with various writing projects such as college essays, narratives, literature reviews and personal statements.


Eastern Kentucky University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is EKU like?

EKU was founded as a teaching school on the campus of the old Central University in 1906. The school offers online degree programs in accelerated eight-week terms, with six start dates throughout the year. This flexible scheduling, coupled with flat tuition rates, makes EKU a convenient option for working teachers or nurses who are looking to go back to school in order to enhance their career prospects.

What online programs are available at EKU?

True to their roots, EKU has a strong focus on teaching-oriented degree and certificate programs, and this is true of its online programs as well as those on-campus. In particular, the school features a large number of certification and endorsement programs to help teachers specialize in different areas of teaching, such as librarianship, special education, literacy or ESL.

EKU is also a prominent college for healthcare practitioners. In fact, the school has at least one online healthcare-focused program at every degree level, from the associate paramedic program all the way up to the Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

What online resources does EKU offer?

EKU offers a Microsoft Office subscription for online students at no additional cost, as well as one-on-one online tutoring through the online tutoring platform Smarthinking. The Center for Career and Co-op hosts many of its services online, such as the Handshake database of job and internship positions and multiple online workshops and webinars. Online students can also join the Omega Nu Lambda National Honor Society, an online-exclusive honor society that offers opportunities for recognition, financial aid and networking.


Northern Kentucky University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is NKU like?

The idea for NKU began in 1946 at the Trailways Bus Station in Covington, Kentucky, when a handful of students and professors engaged in classes via the University of Kentucky's educational extension services. In 1976, NKU became a full-fledged university, and in the years since, it has come to offer online degree programs in Kentucky through the Canvas learning system.

What online programs are available at NKU?

Online students at NKU may take traditional 16-week courses or seven-week accelerated online courses. There are also courses that can be completed in five weeks in the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. In addition to online undergraduate and graduate degree programs, NKU hosts certificate programs and minors in fields such as business informatics, emergency management and cybersecurity.

What online resources does NKU offer?

NKU helps online students succeed by offering multiple forms of online tutoring, including PLUS Online, the Writing Center Online, and the third-party NKU NetTutor program. The university is also accepting of transfer students, holding dual admission partnerships with multiple other colleges and a reverse transfer program that can help students to complete an unfinished associate degree program.

Students of Gateway Community and Technical College may be interested in the Gateway2NKU program. This program helps students who earn an AA or AS at Gateway to transfer to NKU, offering academic advising and access to NKU resources. Participants can even take up to four NKU classes at the Gateway tuition rate while they complete their program.


Morehead State University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is MSU like?

MSU was founded in 1887 as Morehead Normal School, a private institution sponsored by the local church. Though the university began as a teaching school, it has evolved a specialty in science and technology -- MSU may be most well-known for its radio telescope/ space tracking system, which was built in partnership with NASA.

What online programs are available at MSU?

Approximately half of the online bachelor's degree programs at MSU can be taken fully online through the Blackboard system, while the other half must be taken on-campus for the first two years of the program but can be moved online for the last two years of coursework. Meanwhile, graduate students have a much broader range of online programs, as well as several options to pursue online certifications or Rank I programs.

Many of the online programs at MSU are focused on teaching, in accordance with the school's origins, but there are also online STEM programs such as the M.S. in engineering and technology management, the bachelor's in computer information systems and the certification in instructional computer technology.

What online resources does MSU offer?

At MSU, students have access to round-the-clock online tutoring through Blackboard, as well as a tutoring page with subject forums that allows students to get help on specific topics. The school also participates in the Project Graduate initiative, a statewide collaborative effort with the Council on Post-Secondary Education (CPE) that focuses on helping returning students who have already earned more than 80-credit hours to complete their degree. Students who qualify for Project Graduate may apply to MSU at no charge, receive assistance with tuition and benefit from individual advising services.


University of Kentucky

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is UKY like?

Established by the state in 1865 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of the Kentucky University, UKY climbed up two spots from where it stood in last year's rankings of the best online colleges in Kentucky. The Lexington-based institution offers online learning through its UKOnline portal, delivered via the Canvas learning management system.

What online programs are available at UKY?

While some of the online programs at UKY can be completed entirely online, many others are taught in a hybrid format. This gives students options as to how much they want to learn online versus on-campus. In addition to its degree programs, the school has a dizzying range of graduate certificate programs that cover many nontraditional subjects, including digital mapping, professional and technical writing, next generation teaching and more.

Courses at UKY are designed to be flexible for working professionals; many of them have four start dates per year and accelerated 10-week terms.

What online resources does UKY offer?

UKY's Distance Learning Library Services strive to provide access to information resources for online students and is staffed by a full-time librarian. Students also enjoy free tutoring services via Zoom video conferencing, and confidential online counseling services can help them talk through personal issues or concerns.


Kentucky State University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is KSU like?

KSU is a public historically black institution (HBCU) that was founded in 1886. Since its inception, KSU has steadily grown to the point where, during a typical academic year, the composition of its students and faculty stands out as one of the most diverse populations in the Commonwealth. To accommodate its diverse student body, the university offers online programs, allowing students to meet their education and career goals from home or abroad.

What online programs are available at KSU?

KSU's list of fully online degree programs may be short, but it is also buttressed by a surprisingly large number of online courses that can be taken semester from semester. With these classes, students can turn many of the university's normally on-campus programs into hybrid options in order to fit them into their schedules. Whether part of a fully online program or not, the online courses at KSU are delivered through the Blackboard online learning system.

What online resources does KSU offer?

KSU's Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) supports online students by helping with career exploration, resume writing, interview preparation, graduate school admissions preparation and more. Students also receive a subscription to Microsoft Office 365 at no additional cost and access to the WorldShare Management Services online catalog, where they can search for articles, books, videos and other digital materials.


Western Kentucky University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is WKU like?

Founded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1906, WKU is a university with a long and storied history. The school earned over 35 recognitions for its academic programs from various sources during the 2017-18 school year. The same year, WKU also won three Pacemaker Awards for its College Heights Herald and Talisman student publication. If that wasn't enough, the university is also known for its diversity; the number of first-generation and ethnic minority students sent abroad by the university was recognized by the inaugural Gilman Top Producing Institutions list.

What online programs are available at WKU?

The online offerings at WKU encompass just about every degree level a student could want, across both the graduate and undergraduate level. Several of the bachelor's programs at the school use a "2+2" format, designed for students who have completed credit requirements for an associate degree.

Students interested in teaching have a particular amount of freedom at WKU, with online teaching programs going all the way up to the doctoral level. There is also a unique online pre-speech language pathology post-baccalaureate program. It's designed for bachelor's degree-holders who have limited background on communication sciences and disorders, but would still like to enter the speech-language pathology field.

What online resources does WKU offer?

WKU's student resource portal features resources such as live online tutoring; an online writing lab where students can submit their papers online and receive feedback; and presentation coaching, which offers feedback on the structure, flow and delivery technique of student presentations. There is also an archive of "Road to Success" webinars that offer advice on various topics, from how to cite sources to negotiating salary in job offers.

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics,

Affordable Online Colleges in Kentucky for 2019-20

The following list features schools in Kentucky that offer online degree programs at low tuition costs. Tuition figures are sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics and reflect in-state tuition (when available) for all students, including online students.

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics,

Financial Aid Resources in Kentucky

What Grants and Scholarships are Available in Kentucky?

Source: Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of CollegeXpress, a division of Carnegie Dartlet. Copyright © 2020 by CollegeXpress.

Student Loans in Kentucky

The state of Kentucky does not provide students with loans for college, preferring instead to offer assistance through scholarships and grants administered by the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA). Before acquiring a federal or private loan, students are encouraged to apply for these state-specific awards, as well as other scholarships, grants, work-study programs and tuition waivers for which they are eligible. At that point, if you are still in need of additional funding for college, you can look into federal and private student loan programs. To qualify for federal aid, you will need to fill out the FAFSA and supply information about your family's financial situation.

Get more in-depth information about how to qualify for student loans by checking out the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Kentucky

  • KHEAA Real Cost of College is a resource for Kentucky students to get an idea of how much of their tuition will actually need to be paid by them or their family. Often, the cost is less than families might think. There is also a handy link to a list of Kentucky Schools' Net Price Calculators for students to get an even more specific idea of what they might be expected to pay for their education at their Kentucky school of choice.

Costs for Out-of-State Students in Kentucky

Unlike some states, Kentucky offers a number of options for non-residents to minimize out-of-state tuition costs. While programs can vary by institution, out-of-state students should look for the following:

  • Tuition reciprocity agreements: Kentucky maintains agreements with five border states, and these allow non-resident students to enroll in certain schools at in-state tuition rates.
  • Academic Common Market: Out-of-state students from 15 states may be able to avoid non-resident tuition thanks to the Academic Common Market. This program gives students access to in-state rates in Kentucky if their home state doesn't have their chosen degree program.
  • Scholarships: A number of colleges have scholarships specifically for out-of-state students. For instance, Eastern Kentucky University offers four awards with four-year values ranging from $14,000 to $52,000. Meanwhile, the University of Kentucky has a Legacy Tuition program that offers reduced rates to children of alumni.

And the opportunities to minimize out-of-state tuition don't end there. You could be eligible for in-state tuition if you are a military member, veteran or school employee. Check with your school's admissions office to learn more about what's available to you.

You can also read about the options mentioned above at the following links.

Best Careers in Kentucky

EmploymentEmployment GrowthMedian High School SalaryMedian Bachelor's Salary

Top Kentucky Industries

*Industry rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Top IndustriesEmploymentProjected GrowthAverage Salary
Ambulatory healthcare services1,349,8009%$58,308
Hospitals; state, local, and private1,468,9708%$56,919
Monetary authorities-central bank344,2409%$63,247
Lessors of nonfinancial intangible assets (except copyrighted works)496,3407%$62,458
Educational services; state, local, and private1,637,2507%$54,300
Pipeline transportation521,8905%$64,314
Postal service497,2907%$59,311
Data processing, hosting, and related services698,2105%$59,631
Insurance carriers and related activities1,082,9706%$55,306

Kentucky is home to a number of hospitals, including Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Harrison Memorial Hospital, KentuckyOne Health Jewish Hospital and Frankfort Regional Medical Center. In order to provide patients with the quality care they deserve and keep operations running smoothly, medical professions -- especially nursing -- top the list of hot jobs in Kentucky.

However, Kentucky is facing a nursing shortage that has led hospitals in the state to find creative ways to attract nurses. KentuckyOne Health is offering $6,000 sign on bonuses in exchange for a two-year commitment, while Appalachian Regional is training nurses at Eastern Kentucky University and reimbursing them for their tuition.

In addition to a nursing shortage, Kentucky is coping with a shortage of teachers who can provide state, local and private educational services. To address the teacher shortage some Kentucky school districts are facing, Western Kentucky University has created the Teacher Reform Initiative, which involves surveying teachers in regional school districts and designing curriculums to show students that teaching positions are good jobs to have in Kentucky.

The fact that Kentucky's affordability in higher education ranks low may be one reason there is a shortage of personnel at hospitals and educational institutions in the state. A report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) discovered just seven other states ranked lower than Kentucky in college affordability. To combat this issue, institutions such as Eastern Kentucky University are awarding students the maximum amount of federal student loans possible and expanding their merit scholarship programs.

Let's dive deeper into which of the top jobs in Kentucky might be right for you by exploring three different metro areas in the Bluegrass State.

High Demand Jobs in Louisville/Jefferson County

Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

The University of Louisville Hospital, Norton Hospital and Baptist Health Hospital are all based in Louisville. Therefore, it's no surprise that the list of high demand jobs in this Kentucky city include surgeons, nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists.

In addition, Yanfeng Automotive, a global supplier of interior automotive equipment, and Raytheon, a major U.S. defense contractor, are often on the lookout for mechanical engineers. Their need has created several high paying jobs in Louisville, and is likely to create even more in the near future.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$105,250900
Nurse AnesthetistsMaster's degree$156,490N/A
Transportation, Storage, and Distribution ManagersHigh school diploma or equivalent$93,600810
Surgeons, Except OphthalmologistsDoctoral or professional degree$277,340130
Mechanical EngineersBachelor's degree$86,1702,250

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

High Demand Jobs in Lexington-Fayette

Lexington-Fayette, KY Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

Veterinarians are needed to fill jobs at Lexington's numerous animal health facilities, such as Southland Veterinary Hospital, Sheabel Veterinary Hospital and Gainesway Small Animal Clinic.

Since Lexington is also home to University of Kentucky, Transylvania University and a number of other postsecondary institutions with veterinary medicine, dentistry and pharmacy programs, there's also a high demand for teaching jobs in Lexington, particularly at the postsecondary level.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$96,180600
Industrial Production ManagersBachelor's degree$97,840N/A
Mechanical EngineersBachelor's degree$85,530700
Health Specialties Teachers, PostsecondaryDoctoral or professional degree$59,860770
VeterinariansDoctoral or professional degree$86,640340

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

High Demand Jobs in Bowling Green

Bowling Green, KY Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

Knorr-Bremse North America, the world's leading manufacturer of braking systems, is one example of a company that's hoping to fill various high paying jobs in Bowling Green with general and operations managers who can oversee departments like purchasing, warehousing and manufacturing.

Registered nurses are also in high demand at the area's many healthcare facilities, such as the Greenwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital and Signature Healthcare of Bowling Green.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Industrial EngineersBachelor's degree$78,060610
Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$102,190130
Industrial Production ManagersBachelor's degree$93,020240
General and Operations ManagersBachelor's degree$86,0301,250
Registered NursesBachelor's degree$59,2401,620

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.