The best universities in Kentucky offer engaging curricula, internships, financial aid, and research opportunities. These factors help determine the quality of education students receive. Finding the best colleges in Kentucky can be challenging, which is why we’ve compiled a list of Kentucky universities ranked to ease your transition into the workforce.
Keep reading to find out what the top 10 universities in Kentucky are, how Kentucky universities are ranked on sites like US News and Times Higher Education world rankings, and the programs these schools offer to help you get high-paying jobs postgraduation.
What Are the Best Universities in Kentucky?
The best universities in Kentucky include both private and public institutions. Some of them include University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, University of the Cumberlands, Northern Kentucky University, and Western Kentucky University.
How Many Universities Are in Kentucky?
Kentucky has 75 colleges and universities. Many of the institutions are public schools, while others are private institutions. You can also find for-profit and not-for-profit private universities. The university you choose should be accredited and fulfill your needs to meet personal and professional goals.
What Are the Biggest Universities in Kentucky?
The biggest universities in Kentucky can be ranked by their student population from highest to lowest. The top five largest universities are listed below, alongside their population. The information was sourced from NCES.
Largest Kentucky Universities by Enrollment
- University of Kentucky | 29,986
- University of Louisville | 22,211
- University of the Cumberlands | 19,110
- Western Kentucky University | 17,517
- Northern Kentucky University | 16,211
Kentucky University Rankings: What Are the Top 10 Universities in Kentucky?
|1||University of Kentucky||Lexington||66%|
|3||University of Louisville||Louisville||60%|
|4||Murray State University||Murray||53%|
|5||Western Kentucky University||Bowling Green||52%|
|6||Northern Kentucky University||Highland Heights||47%|
|7||Eastern Kentucky University||Richmond||45%|
|8||Morehead State University||Morehead||43%|
|9||University of the Cumberlands||Williamsburg||40%|
How We Defined Kentucky University Rankings
Our ranking of the 10 best Kentucky universities is based on the graduation rates of top schools in the state, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). In coming up with our list of 10 Kentucky universities, we also consulted rankings conducted by US News & World Report and Times Higher Education, which you can reference in the expanded list below.
The Best Colleges and Universities in Kentucky, Explained
This section discusses the best universities in Kentucky in more detail. The information in this section was sourced from the NCES website and other credible sources such as Times Higher Education rankings.
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Kentucky University Admission Requirements
The admission requirements to attend a Kentucky university include transcripts, a satisfactory GPA, a letter of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Many schools require standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT.
Admission Requirements for Universities in Kentucky
- ACT and SAT
- Satisfactory GPA
- Statement of purpose
- Letters of recommendation
How to Apply to Kentucky Universities
The application process is typically done online. Some schools provide admission advisors to guide you through the process. In most cases, you can start by completing the application, paying the application fee, sending your transcripts and standardized test scores, and reviewing your application to verify everything is correct.
Kentucky Universities Admissions Process
- Complete application online
- Pay the application fee
- Send transcript to the school
- Send supporting documents
- Review application and verify the credentials
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Why Study in Kentucky?
The main reasons to study in Kentucky are the affordable tuition and low cost of living. However, the state offers much more. One of the non-traditional benefits of studying here is the beautiful agrarian countryside in the Bluegrass state and the historic urban centers for you to explore.
Low Cost of Living
The cost of living in Kentucky is lower than the national average. College is expensive, but a reduced cost of living could make it doable. Many students choose to study in Kentucky to reduce their overall cost of living and potential student debt.
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Kentucky universities have lots of affordable programs. Many universities charge an average of less than $20,000 per year for undergraduate programs. In some cases, there is an abundance of grants and scholarships to support the tuition payments.
Kentucky is a hub of rich farmlands and extravagant scenery, including forests, rivers, and mountains. It is also known for its farmers’ markets. If you love green living, then Kentucky is an excellent place to study.
More Kentucky University Rankings: What Other Universities Are the Best in Kentucky?
Kentucky university rankings are high compared to many other states in the US. To explain further, the sections below highlight the top three Kentucky state universities to give you a clearer idea of their rankings.
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Top Kentucky Universities by Major
Top Kentucky universities by major include Eastern Kentucky University, Murray State University and University of Kentucky, among others. This section highlights the best computer science, nursing, engineering, and education universities.
Tuition Costs for Kentucky Universities
The tuition costs for Kentucky universities are reasonably affordable. According to the NCES, tuition costs an average of $10,888 and $26,928 for annual tuition in public and private schools, respectively. Below are some of the most affordable universities in the state.
Most Affordable Universities in Kentucky
- Murray State University | Tuition: $385.50/Credit. MSU is the cheapest university on this list. Students are only required to pay $385.50 per credit.
- Eastern Kentucky University | Tuition: $394/Credit. EKU is also quite affordable, with students generally paying only $394 per credit hour. Some programs may cost slightly more, depending on the subject and degree level.
- Northern Kentucky University | Tuition: $417/Credit. Residents of Kentucky are required to pay $417 per credit hour and this makes it affordable considering the services the school offers.
- Western Kentucky University | Tuition: $458/Credit. WSU charges Kentucky residents $458 per credit. For out-of-state students, the tuition is $1,125 per credit.
- University of Kentucky | Tuition: $512.50/Credit. This university is one of the most affordable in the state. The general rate is $512.50 per credit. However, some professional programs can be more expensive.
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Financial Aid Options for the Best Universities in Kentucky
The financial aid options for students at Kentucky universities include scholarships, grants, work-study and loans. Each of these methods can be used to cover your tuition in part or in full and often require certain criteria to be awarded.
Financial Aid for Kentucky Universities: A Summary
- Scholarships. Scholarships are awarded to students to support their tuition payments. These students often need to meet criteria such as background, merit, and need. Since the funds are gifted to the student, you do not need to pay them back.
- Grants. Grants are similar to scholarships but are given to students who lack funds to sponsor themselves in school. Grants also do not need to be repaid and may cover all or some of your tuition fees, campus fees, and other living expenses per year. It may not cover the entire cost of attendance.
- Work-Study. This option involves working part-time on campus to earn money and support your tuition payments. Schools hire students to fill roles on a part-time basis to help them meet their financial needs.
- Loans. This option is often the last resort. There are two types of student loans, including federal student loans and private student loans. The former has a low-interest rate, while the latter does not.
Kentucky University Eligibility Requirements: Who Qualifies for Financial Aid at Kentucky Universities?
- Be a US citizen or legal resident in the country
- Have a GED or high school diploma
- Register for selective service
- Maintain good grades
- Be enrolled in a program
Private Kentucky Universities With Good Financial Aid
- Transylvania University. The average grant or scholarship awards at Transylvania University are $27,901. According to US News & Report, around 71 percent of full-time students receive need-based financial aid.
- Bellarmine University. This university provides need-based financial aid, with an average grant or scholarship award of $28,033. 75 percent of full-time undergraduate students have gotten financial aid.
- Campbellsville University. This university also offers need-based financial aid to its students. In 2019, around 83 percent of first-year undergraduate students received aid. The average grant was $19,978.
Universities in Kentucky That Provide Financial Aid to Out-of-State Students
- University of Kentucky. University of Kentucky offers financial support to out-of-state students through scholarships and grants. It allows undergraduate students to stack their awards to cover tuition.
- Western Kentucky University. This university offers a border scholarship to out-of-state students bordering Kentucky. First-time freshmen in full-time programs can pay the in-state tuition rate to reduce the cost of their education by 60 percent.
- Kentucky State University. KSU offers scholarships to out-of-state students as long as they meet the eligibility requirements. Students are rewarded for academic excellence regardless of their location.
How to Apply For Financial Aid and Scholarships for Kentucky State Universities
- Complete your FAFSA form and prepare the required documents
- Review the financial aid report
- Respond to the financial aid offer
- Receive your financial aid
- Renew your FAFSA form each academic year
Demographics of Universities in Kentucky
The demographics of universities in Kentucky reveal that most of the students are of white ethnicity. Black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians make up the remaining percentage of the Kentucky university populace.
Diversity Statistics for Universities in Kentucky
- White: 79.7%
- Black: 9.1%
- Hispanic: 4.7%
- Asian: 2.6%
- Pacific Islander: 0.1%
- American Indian: 0.2%
- Two or More Races: 3.5%
Kentucky Employment Outlook for University Students
According to the Kentucky Center for Statistics, there is a positive employment outlook for university students in Kentucky. In the coming year, the report predicts 96,166 openings, with 12,893 openings coming from economic growth. It also predicts a total employment increase of 128,934 jobs, meaning there is a 6.5 percent annualized growth rate of the total employment.
5 In-Demand Kentucky Jobs
Kentucky has many enterprises, which is why its most in-demand jobs are centered around health care and business fields. Some in-demand jobs in Kentucky are operations analysts, web developers, physical therapy assistants, certified nurse assistants, and financial advisors.
Is a University in Kentucky Right for You?
Yes, a university in Kentucky is right for you if you want to study in a serene environment with lots of scholarship opportunities. The region has affordable universities and programs with an abundance of online and flexible programs. This makes it easier for everyone and anyone to enroll, regardless of their schedule.
However, if you want to enter the workforce as quickly as possible, a university in Kentucky may not be right for you. Shorter programs like online coding bootcamps serve as an alternative to university degrees. Although bootcamps don’t compare to the level of education of college degree programs, they do prepare students for careers that don’t require a degree.
How to Get Into the Best Colleges and Universities
Best Universities in Kentucky FAQ
University of Kentucky is the highest-ranked university in Kentucky. Its graduation rate is 66 percent, as reported by the NCES, and offers several programs with experiential learning opportunities for students.
Yes, Kentucky is a good place to live, especially if you are a student. It offers a low cost of living, affordable housing, beautiful sights, a rich heritage, and several state and national parks.
University of Kentucky is the largest university in Kentucky. It is both the largest and highest-rated public university in the state. It has a large student population of 29,986 students and a plethora of facilities including 15 libraries, laboratories, and other amenities.
University of Kentucky is known for research, teaching styles, clubs, excellent academic programs, and student support, despite having a full house each year.
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