Kentucky Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2016

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Overview of Kentucky Colleges Online

There was a time when online colleges were mainly private and for-profit, but those days are gone, and the majority of Kentucky colleges feature at least some online courses. Numerous fully online degree programs extend the academic experience to students who might not be able to attend classes otherwise. Kentucky online colleges offer a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as certificates and continuing education opportunities. For online students, the curriculum is typically the same, but self-paced and accelerated online degree programs are also available.

From small colleges nestled in the Appalachian mountains to major universities in the sprawling metro areas, more than 384,000 students were served by Kentucky’s 114 colleges, universities and career schools in 2013, making the state 24th in the nation for the number of colleges and 25th for the number of students enrolled. One way to capture the vibrancy of Kentucky higher education is to examine the college experience in Louisville, along with the city’s distance learning options.

Spotlight on Louisville Colleges

Kentucky’s most populous city maintains a befitting collection of higher education facilities, with five four-year universities, one community college, two theological seminaries, and a handful of technical and business schools. The best-known entity is probably the University of Louisville, a state-supported research university whose Health Sciences Center has received numerous accolades for its work with artificial hearts, hand transplants and failing eyesight treatments. Its faculty contributes to research on crucial subjects like sickle-cell anemia, AIDS, cancer and spinal-cord paralysis.

Jefferson Community and Technical College is the largest of Kentucky’s 16 community colleges and second largest college in the region. With about 15,000 students across six campuses, Jefferson offers more than 70 two-year programs that lead to over 300 associate degree, diploma and certificate options. The popular Workforce Solutions program organizes collaborative projects with businesses and industries to promote customized education and professional development.

Distance Learning Options in Louisville

The University of Louisville offers several programs for those interested in earning their degree online, including both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. These off-campus programs maintain the same integrity as the on-campus experience. Online students can choose from a range of academic fields, such as communication, computer science, data mining, engineering, human resources, leadership, nursing and social work. Alternatively, learners might prefer the online options from Jefferson Community and Technical College, which hosts hundreds of online classes for students in Louisville and all across the state of Kentucky.

College Costs for Kentucky Students

Students choosing to attend college anywhere might be prepared for the sticker shock that comes with higher education today. Tuition at colleges and universities in Kentucky cost an average of $12,000 for in-state residents in 2012, with higher rates for those who were living out of state at the time of enrollment. When compared to other states, Kentucky ranks 27th in the nation for resident tuition affordability.

There are usually fees associated with the college experience, and unfortunately, many students forget to include these in their financial assessments when choosing their educational path. Kentucky colleges averaged $1,200 in fees per student per year in 2012, bringing the average cost of college – tuition plus fees – to $13,273 per year.

Now that tuition and fees are established, what about other college expenses? Things like room and board, and other living expenses, such as school supplies and the like, should also be taken into account. It helps to attend a college where living costs are manageable. Kentucky has a favorable cost of living (COL) calculated at 10 percent below the national average. The following table takes a look at the COL for metropolitan areas in Kentucky, including how they compare to the national average (100%):

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Paducah -12.7% -24.2% -5.2% -3.5% -13.4% -9.7% -8.7%
Louisville -12.3% -21.3% -18.4% -0.9% -3.1% -12.8% -8.1%
Covington -12.2% -23.2% -14.0% 0.2% -0.1% -9.4% -9.7%
Bowling Green -9.3% -21.8% -6.7% 4.3% -3.3% -4.2% -6.0%
Lexington -7.2% -11.3% -13.1% -6.1% -2.4% -6.3% -2.9%

Accreditation Standards in Kentucky

One of the most important considerations for a college student in Kentucky is accreditation. In order to earn accreditation, a college must prove that it meets certain quality standards of education, as set by a regional or national agency. This helps ensure that students are receiving a top-notch education, no matter where they earn their degree. Whether it’s for a certificate or a degree, students should choose among two- and four-year colleges in Kentucky that are fully accredited.

Accreditation matters for students who want to receive financial assistance as federal funds are only released to schools that have current accreditation. In addition, most colleges only accept transfer credits from accredited schools, and some employers rarely consider applicants who graduate from programs that are not accredited. These are all excellent reasons to verify that the chosen school holds accreditation in good standing. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the primary regional accrediting body for educational institutions in Kentucky.

Best Online Colleges in Kentucky for 2015-2016

Those who want to earn undergraduate or graduate degrees or a certificate from online Kentucky colleges and universities have a great deal to think about before enrolling. This guide is meant to help students begin the journey, with information on the many distance learning programs available. The state’s online colleges are ranked here according to several criteria, including their documented prowess in supporting students and creating innovative degree programs. Setting the standard, the following institutions have been selected as Best Online Colleges in Kentucky for 2015-2016.

RANK COLLEGE ScoreStudent-Teacher RatioFinancial AidCost MORE INFO
1 Eastern Kentucky University 98.6217:197%

Eastern Kentucky University is a regionally accredited institution that is a great options for students looking for online colleges in Kentucky. Many of the university's degree programs can be completed entirely online. Other programs may require students to meet residency requirements. Eastern Kentucky University offers six different start dates for online students.

2 Murray State University 98.4216:199%

Murray State University is one of the many online colleges in Kentucky offering undergraduate degree programs. The university has a transfer agreement with the Kentucky Community and Technical College Systems (KCTCS). Online students complete lower-level online courses for their degree through KCTCS, and then finish their upper-level online coursework through Murray State University.

3 Morehead State University 97.0718:199%

Morehead State University offers online classes and degree programs through Blackboard Learning. Online students may participate in online discussions and chats, watch video conferences and collaborate on group projects. The university's online library services and other academic resources are available to online and traditional students.

4 University of Louisville 94.1811:197%

Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the University of Louisville offers online undergraduate degree, graduate degree and certificate programs. Students can choose from online programs in a number of popular fields, including nursing, computer science and special education.

5 Midway College 93.9013:1100%

Midway College offers a variety of online associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs, as well open enrollment online courses. The open enrollment courses are open to all students and do not require students to be enrolled in certain degree programs. Online degree programs are available in medical assisting, medical coding, business, psychology, healthcare and a variety of other fields.

6 Brescia University 93.5914:1100%

Brescia University offers a wide variety of online programs and courses through BUonline. Some of BUonline's most popular undergraduate programs include associate's degree programs in business, liberal arts, or human's services and bachelor's degree programs in accounting, business and psychology. BUonline also offers a master's degree program in management.

7 Campbellsville University 92.9413:195%

Campbellsville University offers online programs in three different formats. The blended format combines on-campus and online courses, while the partially online format utilizes web applications. Some programs and courses are available entirely online. Associate's, bachelor's and graduate degree programs are available online, as well a certificate program in Christian ministry.

8 Western Kentucky University 90.7417:193%

Western Kentucky University, also known as WKU, is a great choice for students interested in online colleges in Kentucky. WKU offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs that can be completed entirely online. Online students can choose from a wide range of associate's degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate and undergraduate minors.

9 University of the Cumberlands 90.6814:1100%

Drawing upon over 125 years of academic excellence, University of the Cumberlands (UC) is committed to providing convenient, flexible, and affordable online degree and certification programs designed to accommodate the distinct needs of adult learners. Our innovative course delivery provides students with access to cutting-edge technologies, excellent resources, and professional knowledge with real-world applicability while maintaining a traditional and personal approach to education. UC is proud to remain true to its 1888 heritage of delivering quality education that is both affordable and accessible in pursuit of the life-more-abundant.

10 Lindsey Wilson College 90.0415:1100%

Lindsey Wilson College is one of the online colleges in Kansas that is offering criminal justice programs. The college offers an associate's degree program and a bachelor's degree program in criminal justice as well as other online classes in a variety of fields. Online courses are offered during the fall, spring, winter and summer semesters and terms.

11 Spalding University 89.3114:199%

Spalding University is a private institution affiliated with the Catholic Church. Liberal arts and professional studies degree programs are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. While enrolled, students engage in a collaborative learning environment that fosters an interdisciplinary learning experience. Undergraduate degree programs are offered in flexible, six week sessions with bachelor's degrees in accounting, business administration, communication, education, natural science, liberal studies, nursing, occupational therapy, psychology, social sciences and studio art. Students enrolled in the School of Business can earn BA degrees online in business management, marketing or human resources. Graduate degree programs are also available in health, natural and social sciences, as well as humanities and education

12 Asbury University 87.9712:199%

Asbury University provides a Christian, liberal arts education to students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels with 52 majors offered across 14 academic departments. Areas of study include arts andsciences, business, communication, education and professional studies. For adult or distance learners,both undergraduate and graduate students can conveniently earn their degrees completely online with Bachelor of Science degrees offered in instructional design, elementary education, leadership and ministry, and organizational management, and Master of Arts degrees offered in communication, education and business administration. Alternative certification, exchange, internship and community service programs are also available.

How to Find Top Online Programs in Kentucky

Kentucky offers public four-year colleges, private universities, community and junior colleges, trade and vocational schools, online colleges and religious institutions, all with the common aim of helping students reach graduation day and their personal goals. Students with busy family and job schedules can turn to flexible, asynchronous degree or certificate programs. Finding the right online program is the first challenging research project for prospective students. Looking for a shortcut? The search tool below can save time in narrowing down potential schools by their cost of tuition, degree offerings, type of school and other key factors.

Degree Level:
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Insiders’ View of Kentucky Online Colleges

What are the defining traits and shared characteristics that make the top online schools unique? How do such colleges provide outstanding service for students? Administrators from Campbellsville University and Morehead State weigh in on the strengths of their online programs.

Online Departments in Kentucky

Campbellsville University

How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

CU Online learning is meant to be convenient and flexible but still maintain the academic rigor one would expect with the Campbellsville University name. We offer our programs at one of the most competitive prices possible.

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

CU Online meshes over 100 years of education experience with all the modern technologies students come to expect. Campbellsville employs the largest open source learning management system in the world, Moodle. CU is unique in that it offers all the academic programs firmly rooted in the Christian experience. Faculty not only try to teach disciplines but they also attempt to help build well rounded students for future success.

Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

CU Online education is on the verge of exponential growth and now is the perfect time to join the program. With more and more programs going fully online ranging from certificates to graduate degrees, CU Online looks to become the regional leader in providing, Christian, non-profit and regionally accredited education.

Morehead State University

How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

Morehead State University offers quality educational programs in an online format utilizing state-of-the art instructional tools and instructional techniques. Faculty at Morehead State University are trained in the development and delivery of online instruction and benefit from a well-staffed online course support team. Faculty content experts partner with instructional designers and instructional technologists to develop and deliver top-notch online programs.

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

Morehead State University provides online students with a quality education at an affordable cost. Student to teacher ratios are low and students benefit from the active involvement of both faculty and classmates in online courses. Online programs at Morehead State University enable busy professionals and place bound individuals the opportunity to participate in a quality educational program that otherwise might not be available to them.

Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

On an ongoing basis, Morehead State University seeks to understand the unique needs of online students. Morehead State University is reviewing program offerings to make sure they meet the needs of online students and is exploring alternative instructional methods, venues and delivery formats in order to meet the needs not only of today’s students, but the needs of tomorrow’s students as well.

Resources for Online Students in Kentucky

Armed with laptops, tablets, smartphones and an Internet connection, online students have access to a wealth of information to further their education and professional development. The following websites can answer questions about college accreditation, veteran’s educational benefits and in-state financial aid programs. The state’s digital library includes college and university repositories, while the virtual library link below leads to a variety of student resources.

Major Kentucky Educational Resources: