To be included in our ranking of the best colleges for online degree programs, all colleges had to meet the following five criteria:
- Be an accredited U.S. institution
- Offer either 2- or 4-year degree programs
- Have at least 1 percent of students taking at least some of their classes via distance education
- Be active in the 2015-16 school year
- Report data for all 15 specific ranking variables included in our methodology
We then ranked the remaining 2,169 colleges and universities and scored each on a 100-point scale on these specific. Our data points include:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The average amount of federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Full-time Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Open admissions policy for all or most entering first-time undergraduate-level students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Offers credit for military training
- Academic Common Market, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, http://cpe.ky.gov/ourwork/acm.html, accessed September 2018
- Academic Program Review, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, http://cpe.ky.gov/ourwork/academicprogramreview.html, accessed September 2018
- College Admission Criteria, Kentucky Higher Assistance Authority, https://www.kheaa.com/website/kheaa/plan_admcriteria?main=1, accessed July 2018
- College Affordability Diagnosis: Kentucky, Institute for Research on Higher Education, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, 2016,http://www2.gse.upenn.edu/irhe/affordability-diagnosis
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/, accessed July 2018
- Creating the Most Pro-Business State In America, Think Kentucky, January 2018,http://thinkkentucky.com/kyedc/pdfs/kybc.pdf?07132017
- Education, Kentucky, DataUSA,https://datausa.io/profile/geo/kentucky/#education, accessed September 2018
- Educational Attainment in Kentucky, Statistical Atlas, https://statisticalatlas.com/state/Kentucky/Educational-Attainment, accessed September 2018
- Getting the Facts, Kentucky Higher Assistance Authority, https://www.kheaa.com/website/kheaa/CCR.htm, accessed July 2018
- Kentucky Occupational Outlook to 2024, Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, Labor Market Information, June 2016, https://kcews.ky.gov/Content/Reports/2014-2024%20KY%20Occupational%20Outlook.pdf
- Kentucky Virtual Campus, Council on Postsecondary Education, https://kyvc.org/, accessed July 2018
- Kentucky Virtual Library,http://www.kyvl.org/?b=p, accessed July 2018
- Kentucky's Workforce Progress and Challenges, Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center, January 2018,https://www.kychamber.com/sites/default/files/Kentuckys%20Workforce%20Progress%20and%20Challenges%202018%20Final%20NEW.pdf
- Living in Kentucky, Think Kentucky, Cabinet for Economic Development, http://www.thinkkentucky.com/Locating_Expanding/Living_In_Kentucky.aspx, accessed July 2018
- National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, Welcome KY and PA to SARA, November 2016, http://nc-sara.org/content/welcome-ky-and-pa-sara
- Online college students 2018: Comprehensive data on demands and preferences. Louisville, KY: The Learning House, 2018, Inc, https://49hk843qjpwu3gfmw73ngy1k-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/OCS-2018-Report-FINAL.pdf
Our Work, Kentucky Virtual Campus, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, http://cpe.ky.gov/ourwork/virtualcampus.html, accessed July 2018
- Percentage of Population with Bachelor's or Higher, Kentucky Chamber, https://www.kychamber.com/node/2384, accessed September 2018
- Profile, Kentucky Skills U, http://www.kyae.ky.gov/ourwork/kyaeprofile.pdf, accessed July 2018
- Quick Facts, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, http://cpe.ky.gov/data/quickfacts.html, accessed September 2018
- Regional Report, Southern Regional Education Board, Southern Regional Education Board and Member States, June 2018, https://www.sreb.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/2018june_regional_report.pdf
- Search for Programs, Southern Regional Education Board, http://home.sreb.org/acm/SearchResult.aspx?state=KY, accessed September 2018
- SREB and Kentucky, Southern Regional Education Board, https://www.sreb.org/sreb-and-kentucky, accessed July 2018
- Stronger by Degrees: Kentucky's Progress toward Postsecondary & Adult Education Strategic Agenda Goals, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, April 2018, http://cpe.ky.gov/data/reports/2018progressreport.pdf
- Understanding Accreditation and Licensures, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, http://cpe.ky.gov/campuses/accreditation_licensure.html, accessed July 2018
Kentucky recognizes how important it is to attract new employers. New businesses mean new jobs, and new jobs mean a higher quality of life for all Kentuckians. Kentucky continues to strive hard to create a pro-business climate and its efforts are paying off. The Blue Grass state ranks among the top 10 in the country for its business climate and leads in the top 5 for vehicle production, aerospace-related exports, and air cargo shipments.
Fueling the workforce needs of the state are Kentucky's prestigious colleges and universities. By designing curricula that meets the needs of businesses in Kentucky these higher education institutes are helping the state stave off a looming attainment deficit. Kentucky needs more college graduates, and soon.
Unfortunately, economic and geographic barriers (including the state's large rural areas) make going to school difficult for many would-be students. This is where online learning in Kentucky is a total game-changer.
High school graduates, working professionals and those who have family commitments can earn an online degree in the field of their choice. Online associate, bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree programs in Kentucky offer a practical and convenient way to earn a postsecondary credential often without having to step on campus.
Why Earn an Online Degree in Kentucky?
College graduates are hot commodities in Kentucky, so those who do invest in higher education can have a valuable edge in the workforce. According to the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center, 84 percent of employers have difficulty finding qualified candidates. Here are 4 reasons why earning a degree in Kentucky can be worth the time, effort and investment:
Jobs: The business climate is positive, but Kentucky's workforce comes up short on skills. Those with a bachelor's degree or higher constitute only 22 percent of the population. From 2014 to 2024 there is likely to be a high demand, particularly for those who hold at least a bachelor's degree. Furthermore,
- Occupations requiring at least some college will likely increase by nearly 20 percent
- Occupations requiring a master's degree will likely grow the fastest at 25.4 percent
Almost a third of new job openings in Kentucky will likely be in three large occupational groups:
- Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations (29.6 percent growth)
- Transportation and Material Moving Occupations (15.7 percent growth)
- Office and Administrative Support Occupations (11.8 percent growth)
Higher earnings: It is no secret that earnings and employment rates tend to improve with education. Data taken from U.S. government sources and compiled by Deloitte shows:
- Annual median wages for those who have a bachelor's degree are $45,300 — nearly $14,000 more than those with some college education or an associate degree ($31,400).
- Those with a master's degree or higher may be able to earn $55,100.
Options, options: Kentucky has no shortage of colleges and universities. As of 2018, the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education reported that the state has 8 public state colleges, 16 community and technical college, 18 independent nonprofit colleges, and dozens of online schools, including both in- and out-of- state institutions. A major school like the University of Kentucky offers more than 100 degree programs.
Access: The state of Kentucky has long worked to make higher education more affordable and accessible for its residents. Kentucky is a part of the Academic Common Market (ACM) which enables students to pay in-state tuition for academic programs that are not offered within the state. ACM offers more than 20 online undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs to Kentuckians.
Top Online Colleges in Kentucky
Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) our methodology takes into consideration factors that are likely to be important to you such as tuition and fees, scholarships and grants, along with career services. For a detailed list of factors we've included, check out our methodology at the bottom of the page and see why these rankings present you with the best online college options in Kentucky.
Top Ten Online Degree Programs in Kentucky
This list of top online degree programs in Kentucky may also be an indication of degrees that employers are looking for.
Quality of Online Education in Kentucky
The Council on Postsecondary Education was established in Kentucky as a part of the Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997 in order to guide and ensure the continuous improvement of Kentucky's postsecondary education system which includes online higher education. The Council emphasizes quality postsecondary education through efforts like the:
- Academic Program Review: The aim is to ensure that students in Kentucky receive a high-quality curriculum so that they are equipped to compete in a global economy. The review process checks the quality and efficacy of new academic programs (both online and on-campus).
- 2016-2021 Strategic Agenda: By 2030, the Council hopes that 60 percent of Kentuckians hold a high-quality postsecondary degree. While improving academic quality is one of the strategic goals on the agenda, other efforts to achieve the 60-percent goal include adequate state funding, accountability and incentive-based funding for campuses that show improvement in retention, completion, and degree production..
- NC-SARA State: Kentucky is a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) which opens up high-quality online education offerings for higher education students.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in Kentucky
College affordability is often a major factor when it comes to choosing an online degree program. Prospective students are encouraged to explore as many financial aid options as they can but another way to lower your costs and time spent in earning a degree is by getting credits for courses you have already taken. According to a 2018 Learning House survey, about 85% of undergraduates have credits they can transfer to their next program making credit transferability an important factor to consider for most students. Apart from transferable credits, adult learners may check with the college admissions office to see if their life or job experience may translate into experiential credits. Kentucky's Go Higher KY website may offer more insights on credit transfers and financial aid options.
Online education comes in multiple format - some programs may be fully online or hybrid; some may offer synchronous classes allowing you to participate remotely in a live classroom. Asychronous classes can be accessed at your convenience. Some programs may require you to gain hands-on experience at a center near you. Students should consider the kind of flexibility they are looking for in an online degree program before exploring their options.
A college alumni list may give you an idea of the achievements of past students in your field of interest. The social media platforms of a college can be a place where students share their experiences and this may give you some indication of the reputation of the program.
Top Occupations in Kentucky
Using data derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this list of top occupations in Kentucky may be an indication of the needs of Kentucky's job market and serve as a guide to help you in choosing a degree.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||288,350||$34,170|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||180,490||$37,000|
|Sales and Related Occupations||178,080||$34,480|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||177,500||$21,450|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||124,270||$70,370|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||98,450||$50,170|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||87,420||$46,440|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||73,690||$62,520|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||70,900||$47,020|
|Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food||65,410||$19,150|
|Assemblers and Fabricators, All Other, Including Team Assemblers||61,480||$38,720|
|Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand||59,760||$29,720|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||57,070||$26,240|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Kentucky
Eligible students may apply for financial aid with the numerous federal, state, and institutional programs available to students in Kentucky. Financial aid can include loans, grants, and work-study programs.The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) provides information on the following grants and scholarships:
- Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES)
- College Access Program Grant(CAP)
- Kentucky Tuition Grant (KTG)
- Early Childhood Development Scholarship
- Coal County Scholarship Program for Pharmacy Students
- Minority Educator Recruitment and Retention Scholarship
- Osteopathic Medicine Scholarship
- Teacher Scholarship
- Kentucky Coal County College Completion Scholarship
- Dual Credit Scholarship Program
- Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship
Keep in mind that many colleges and third-party organizations offer their own scholarships and grants. We recommend contacting your current or prospective school's financial aid department to speak with an adviser.
Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-19 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
Tests You May Need To Take
Individual universities and colleges in Kentucky decide their admissions criteria. Most colleges in Kentucky require students to take the SAT or ACT tests.
Two-year colleges and technical schools may require you to take the COMPASS test. Additionally, some private schools may require you to submit an admissions essay to determine if you may be a good fit.