Most Affordable Nursing Schools in Kentucky

Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are currently about 45,500 active Registered Nurses (RNs) in the state of Kentucky. (Their mean hourly wage is $28.76, or $59,810/year.) This numbers are likely to grow, based on a current demand for RNs. The BLS expects 16% job growth for RNs for the period 2014-2024, for the whole country.

The nursing profession is currently in flux for other reasons, too, including an initiative to increase the minimum college education level for RNs. This is an initiative started by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), and it seeks to double (from 40% to 80%) the number of American RNs holding a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree, by 2020.

As employers in public and private sectors are adjusting to this initiative, so are nursing schools. This includes rethinking their BSN offerings, finding funding for updated learning and practice technologies, etc.

What are the cheapest nursing schools in Kentucky?

The NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) database indicates that 20 schools of nursing in the state of Kentucky offered a BSN program in the last academic year. We’ve taken that data, removed any programs/ schools that are inactive or defunct, and sorted the list to present the 10 most affordable BSN programs in the state, by in-state tuition. The programs listed in this article, however, have been verified as still active at time of publication.

1

Murray State University

Average Tuition: $7,608

Program Website

Murray State University (MSU) gets its institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and are offered through the School of Nursing, which itself is part of the School of Nursing and Health Professions. The university has achieved recognition for itself and its programs in the form of appearances in college rankings lists. This includes lists by Washington Monthly (Best Bang for the Buck; three years) and U.S. News & World Report (26 years on the Best Colleges: regional lists; top public regional universities in Kentucky).

MSU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths: a traditional pre-licensure track for new nursing students, and a post-licensure RN completion track for current Registered Nurses who have an associate’s degree in nursing.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing

This BSN program produces nurses who can practice as generalists, as well as be ready for graduate nursing studies such as an MSN degree, if they choose. The Traditional track has two entry points yearly (Spring and Fall), and students are eligible to write the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam after graduating. BSN students combine classroom learning with labs and clinical components, where required. Post-licensure, students will be prepared for nursing roles in a range of healthcare environments.

MUS’s BSN degree requires 120 credits for graduation. Students in the traditional track must complete the prerequisite courses (one year; 30 credits) before they gain admission into the nursing major. The major continues for an additional three years and consists of 90 credits of primarily nursing courses. For the RN track, students receive up to 20 upper division transfer credits, and a full set of lower division transfer credits based on their associate’s degree. The remaining RN track curriculum courses are available online and total 42 upper division nursing courses.

Sample courses include:

  • Human Physiology
  • Intro to Nursing Concepts
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology

Campus or HQ: Murray, Kentucky.

2

Kentucky State University

Average Tuition: $7,754

Program Website

Kentucky State University (KSU) is a public HBCU (Historically Black College/ University), with institutional accreditation granted by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and offered by the School of Nursing (SON), within KSU’s College of Professional Studies (CPS). KSU has earned several ranking awards on college review lists, published by organizations that include: U.S. News & World Report (top HBCUs; top public colleges: South) and Princeton Review (best in the Southeast), some of whom have included KSU in several of these yearly lists.

KSU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with one entry/ completion path — a completion track for Registered Nurses holding an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). The SON has no traditional 4-year BSN program, but does have an ADN with a regular and Pre-admission Nursing Track, which if taken, could later be followed with the RN-BSN track.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing – RN-BSN (completion)

This BSN program is designed for working RNs seeking to upgrade their education and pursue career advancement. The program has one start date yearly, which is in the Fall. Students who have not yet earned their RN licensure but will have before program start, may be admitted. Students who have an ADN and a non-nursing bachelor’s or master’s degree need only complete upper division nursing courses. Graduates of this program may find nursing roles beyond practice, including leadership and management.

The KSU BSN degree requires a total 120 credits for graduation. RN track students will complete 35 credits of upper division nursing courses, plus 15 credits liberal study courses, and an additional 12 credits in support courses. A total of 58 credits (including 35cr nursing) are granted as transfer credits for previous completion of a two-year nursing program). Courses are eight weeks in length and students can choose full- or part-time studies. The program has some course content delivered via an “electronic learning management” system (not “online”), and on-campus presence is required for orientations, presentations and other class-related events.

Sample courses include:

  • Professional Roles Transition
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Application of Nursing Theory
  • Pharmacology/ Pathophysiology in Nursing
  • Community Support Systems

Campus or HQ: Frankfort, Kentucky.

3

Morehead State University

Average Tuition: $8,098

Program Website

Morehead State University (MSU) receives institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and offered through the Nursing department, which is part of MSU’s College of Science. Recognition earned by MSU for its academic programs and campus include ranking spots on college review lists published by Victory Media (2017 Silver-level Military Friendly (r) School); U.S. News & World Report (top public universities: South) and others.

MSU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths. One track is for pre-licensure students (new to nursing), the other a completion track for current Registered Nurses who have an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing – Baccalaureate Nursing, Pre-Licensure (Pre-RN)
  • RN-BSN Online

Students in this BSN program will supplement classroom learning with practical skills development in department’s simulation lab. Access is provided to interactive mannequins that simulate certain symptoms and respond to treatments. In addition to patient simulators and live actor-clients, the BSB program gives students access to over 50 partnered healthcare environments in the state, including hospitals, long-term facilities, etc. Pre-RN track students will qualify to write the NCLEX-RN licensing exam after they graduate, in order to get certification as a Registered Nurse. The RN track is online and flexibily designed for those who are already working as RNs, and want to improve career opportunities in nursing. Potential places of employment after gaining RN licensure include home health care services, hospitals, nursing care facilities, physicians’ office and more. Subsequently earning an advanced nursing degree such as an MSN further increases career roles, especially in a care specialization.

MSU’s BSN degree requires a total of 120 credits for graduation, and has curriculum that combines nursing with math and science courses. Pre-RN track students must complete 31 credits (year one) of pre-nursing courses before they will be admitted to the nursing major. The RN track is fully online and consists of 49 credits of primarily nursing courses. The remainder are either granted as transfer credits from prior coursework, or need to be completed as well.

Sample courses include:

  • Transition to Professional Nursing Practice
  • Health Care Delivery Systems
  • Health Assessment
  • Population Health
  • Evidence Based Practice

Campus or HQ: Morehead, Kentucky.

4

Eastern Kentucky University

Average Tuition: $8,150

Program Website

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) gets institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The Department of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing offers undergraduate nursing programs that are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Awards earned by EKU include ranking spots in college review lists published by organizations including: U.S. News & World Report (best online nursing degrees; best online graduate nursing; best regional universities South; best online bachelor’s programs: best veterans bachelor’s); Forbes (America’s Best Colleges); Washington Monthly (contribution to public good) and more.

EKU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with three entry/ completion paths. First-time undergraduates should apply for the Traditional track, while students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree apply to the 2nd degree track. The third track is for currently licensed Registered Nurses with an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing – Traditional
  • Second Degree BSN
  • RN-BSN

Graduates of this BSN program have found nursing practice roles in healthcare environments such as crisis care centers, community health agencies, family planning centers, hospitals, nursing homes and more. Some graduates found employment in armed forces or humanitarian organizations. Students in the Traditional track are prepared for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam after graduation. (EKU’s first-time NCLEX-RN exam pass rates have been 98-100% between AY 2012 to AY 2015.) Advanced nursing studies, such as an MSN, is an option for which BSN graduates will be ready to take, if they’re interested in opening up additional career opportunities.

EKU’s BSN degree requires a minimum 120 credits for graduation. Traditional track students start as pre-nursing majors for two semesters, and then must be admitted to each of the next two semesters (for laboratory and then clinical courses) before the fourth stage of admission into upper division courses. (See site for details.) A total of 64 credits of nursing courses at all levels make up the major portion of the curriculum. Second degree track students have a 21-month study plan requiring 65 credits of theory and clinical nursing courses (taken full-time only), plus requirements not transfer credits from their previous bachelor’s degree. RN track students can complete their BSN degree in one year full time, with 8-week, 100% online courses.

Sample courses include:

  • Clinical Drug Therapy
  • Adult Health Nursing
  • Nursing Research
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Family Health Nursing

Campus or HQ: Richmond, Kentucky.

5

Northern Kentucky University

Average Tuition: $9,120

Program Website

Northern Kentucky University (NKU) is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs are offered through two nursing departments in the College of Health Professions, and are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The Department of Nursing offers traditional and accelerated on-campus programs, while the Department of Advanced Nursing Studies offers online programs. NKU has earned spots on various college ranking lists from publishers, including: Forbe’s (America’s Best Colleges — eight straight years); Princeton Review; U.S. News & World Report (top regional universities: South).

NKU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with three entry/ completion paths. Two tracks are pre-licensure, catering to either new undergraduates or those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. The third is a post-licensure completion track. Students will be currently licensed Registered Nurses and hold either an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Traditional)
  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN)
  • RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (online)

Previous graduates of this BSN program have found career nursing roles caring for patients of any age in a number of healthcare settings. This includes acute care, clinics, community health centers ICUs, schools, as well as in specialties such as maternity, mental health and pediatrics, amongst others. Students learn in the classroom, in NKU’s nursing simulation center, and through clinical rotations with partnered hospitals and healthcare agencies in the region. Coursework combines the concepts of nursing, sciences and liberal arts. Traditional track students are prepared and eligible to take the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam to achieve certification as a Registered Nurse.

NKU’s BSN degree requires 124 credits for graduation. Traditional track students must complete prerequisite courses (year one) for eligibility to apply to the nursing curriculum. Nursing courses start in the second year. The ABSN track is 16-months and requires 69 credits of nursing courses be taken over four semesters (including Summer), plus any outstanding prerequisites. The RN track is fully online and requires 30 credits of upper division nursing courses and 48 and any outstanding general education. Students start with the status of Nursing Pre-Major RN-BSN and then, after admission, declare a major of Nursing Major RN-BSN. Discuss with an academic advisor for further details.

Sample courses include:

  • Concepts of Community and Public Health Nursing
  • Theories and Concepts of Professional Nursing Practice
  • Principles of Research for Application to Professional Nursing Practice
  • Principles of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
  • Clinical Reasoning

Campus or HQ: Highland Heights, Kentucky.

6

Western Kentucky University

Average Tuition: $9,482

Program Website

Western Kentucky University (WKU) receives institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and offered by the School of Nursing (SON), within WKU’s College of Health and Human Services (CHHS). Awards and recognition that WKU has earned include ranking spots in college review lists published by several organizations, including: Princeton Review (Green Colleges/ sustainability); U.S. News & World Report (Best Online Bachelor Degree Programs; Best Online Colleges for Veterans; Best Colleges for Veterans Regional: South; Best Online Nursing Programs – Graduate; plus other topical lists); Military Times (Best for Vets 4-year College); Victory Media (Military Friendly (r) School) and others. WKU has previously appeared here on CollegeChoice.net for Best Online BSN Degrees. In the area of environmental sustainability, the university has also achieved an AASHE/STARS rating of Silver.

WKU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with three entry/ completion paths. Students new to nursing take the traditional track if they will be first-time undergraduates. Those who hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree take the accelerated track. The third option is a post-licensure completion track. Students who are currently licensed as a Registered Nurse and hold an associate’s degree in nursing may apply.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN, traditional)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Second Degree Entry)
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN, online)

Classroom learning in this BSN program is supplemented by clinical experiences at partnered health departments, nursing homes, schools and hospitals. Within the latter, students get supervised experience in several departments, including maternity, pediatrics, psychiatry and surgery. Students in pre-licensure tracks are readied for the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam, which is taken after graduation. NKU’s first-time pass rate on the NCLEX average 96% over the most recent five years.

The WKU BSN degree requires 120 credits for graduation. Students applying for the traditional track must complete at least 60 (of 64) credits of pre-nursing prerequisite courses before being eligible for the nursing curriculum. After admission, there are complete 57 credits of upper division courses over four semesters (two years). Second-degree track students follow a similar study plan, but will receive credits, towards the 120 total, for some prior coursework. RN track students take 36 credits of upper division nursing courses. Courses are online, though some on-campus meetings may be required. Clinicals can be conducted at a healthcare facility local to a student. Students can choose a full- or part-time study option.

Sample courses include:

  • Health Promotion
  • Assessment
  • Fundamentals
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical-Surgical

Campus or HQ: Bowling Green, Kentucky.

7

University of Louisville

Average Tuition: $10,744

Program Website

University of Louisville (UofL) receives its institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs have special accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and are offered through the Department of Nursing (DON). Awards and recognition for UofL include ranking spots in topical and general college review lists published by: U.S. News & World Report (USNWR), Princeton Review (green schools), Academy of Inventors (top universities worldwide for patents) and others. UofL also earned a LEED environmental design certification for recent construction projects. Its Brown Cancer Center was ranked best in the city of Louisville by USNWR for cancer care in 2014.

UofL offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with four entry/ completion paths. The Traditional track is for students new to nursing and college and itself has two options for location – at this main campus in Louisville, or conducted at the facilities of Owensboro Health. The RN track is a completion program for current Registered Nurses who have an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing. For students interested in advanced nursing skills and who hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, UofL has a dual degree MEPN track that results in both BSN and MSN degrees.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • BSN Program – Traditional Lower-Division (Louisville)
  • Owensboro BS in Nursing
  • RN to BSN Program (Online)
  • Master’s Entry into Professional Nursing (MEPN, dual BSN/ MSN)

Students in this BSN program who are studying at the main campus have a choice of facilities for clinicals and skills development. In addition to the aforementioned Brown Cancer Center, students have access to the University of Louisville Hospital, and to Patient Simulation and Standardized Patient Centers for developing practical skills. There is currently an initiative to purchase a birthing simulator for the DON. All pre-licensure tracks prepare students for the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam. (UofL Owensboro Extension graduates recently achieved a first-time NCLEX pass rate in 2016 of 100% and Louisville grads achieved 93%.) Students in a non-MEPN track may choose to continue after graduation with an advanced degree program such as an MSN.

UofL’s BSN degree requires 120 credits for graduation. Non-RN track requirements vary by selection. Check DON website for details. The RN track courses are fully online and takes 16 months (five semesters) or longer to complete 31 upper division nursing courses. Students receive up to 59 credits for prior nursing and non-nursing coursework. Clinicals can take place at a community health facility local to a student. MEPN track students must complete prerequisites to be eligible for entry. As of Summer 2018, students in MEPN will need to complete a CNA (Clinical Nursing Assistant) program as part of their degree plan.

Sample courses include:

  • Pathophysiology and Pharmacotherapeutics for RNs
  • Foundations for Evidence Based Professional Nursing
  • Population Health
  • Community Health Nursing
  • Health Promotion for Individuals, Families, and Communities

Campus or HQ: Louisville, Kentucky.

8

University of Kentucky

Average Tuition: $10,936

Program Website

University of Kentucky (UK) receives its institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and offered through UK’s College of Nursing (CON). The college is a top recipient of research funding from the NIH (National Institutes of Health) and other sources, with $20M research portfolio. UK’s Colleges of Nursing and Medicine have both previously ranked multiple times for their grad programs in college review lists published by U.S. News & World Report and others. UK has also ranked for Best for Vets (Military Times), amongst other general lists. The university’s Albert B. Chandler Hospital ranked #1 in Kentucky on USNWR’s list of Best Hospitals (2012-13, 2016-17), and two departments ranked well in related USNWR lists.

UK offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with four entry/ completion paths. Two tracks are for pre-licensure students, with one for first-time undergraduates and the other for those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. A completion track is available for current Registered Nurses with an associate’s degree in nursing. Finally, students with some health-related training / experience in the military have a track designed for them.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Traditional BSN
  • Second Degree BSN
  • RN-BSN
  • MedVet-BSN

Students in non-RN tracks are prepared for the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam after graduation. The university’s Chandler Hospital is central to the clinical experiences for BSN nursing students, including an intern option that allows them to work with researcher/ educator faculty members and attend seminars. Additional resources include a Clinical Simulation Laboratory. The clinical opportunities, the low student-faculty ratio of 1-to-8 (for clinical groups), and the overall undergrad programs contribute to the fact that the CON’s first-time NCLEX-RN test pass rate averages to 97% for the last ten years — compared to a 92% national average for the same period. UK also boasts several academic firsts, including the first DNP program in the U.S. and the first PhD program in the state.

UK’s BSN degree requires 120 credits for graduation. Traditional track students need to complete 80 credits of nursing courses at all levels. Pre-major courses take up another 25 credits. Second Degree and MedVet track students complete a similar study plan, minus credits for relevant courses already completed. MedVet students can complete their 78 credits of nursing courses in five semesters, after prerequisites. The RN track has a choice of one year or two year completion, and nursing courses are 4-, 8- or 16-week sessions totalling 33 credits. Note that some courses are only available in specific semesters.

Sample courses include:

  • Concepts in Professional Nursing
  • Health Assessment
  • The Impact of Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing
  • Population Health for Registered Nurses
  • Leadership & Management for RNs

Campus or HQ: Lexington, Kentucky.

9

Kentucky Christian University

Average Tuition: $17,810

Program Website

Kentucky Christian University (KCU), which is affiliated with the Churches of Christ, receives its institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs are delivered through the Yancey School of Nursing, and are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The university incorporates a Christian world view into all programs and observes a campus curfew as well as a dress code.

KCU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths. One track is for new prelicensure nursing students. The other track is for currently licensed Registered Nurses holding an associate’s degree in nursing. (A third option, a Fast Track BSN program, was being prepared at time of writing for first cohort and may now be available. Contact KCU for more details.)

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN, Pre-Licensure)
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN, online)

This BSN program’s curriculum integrates nursing concepts with a Christian worldview that considers “nursing as a ministry.” The traditional track prepares students for eligibility to take the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam. Both tracks prepare students for graduate nursing programs, if they choose that path. RN track (online) students can complete clinical experiences local to them. After graduation, BSN students may find careers not just in nursing practice but possibly leadership roles as well.

KCU’s BSN degree requires 125 credits for graduation. Students in the Prelicensure BSN track take one year of prerequisite courses before entering into the nursing major curriculum. The latter consists of 58 credits of nursing courses in years 2-4. A double major option exists for nursing students seeking further knowledge in Bible studies. The RN track is an 18-month program with fully online course work plus clinical experiences local to each student. Students in this track will receive appropriate credit for some prior nursing and non-nursing coursework.

Sample courses include:

  • Pharmacology in Nursing
  • Introduction to Adult Nursing/ Caring
  • Nursing Care of Women and Childbearing
  • Nursing Care of Children
  • Adult Nursing and the Caring Process

Campus or HQ: Grayson, Kentucky.

10

University of Pikeville

Average Tuition: $18,840

Program Website

University of Pikeville (UPIKE) gets its institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Undergraduate nursing programs are offered by the Elliott School of Nursing and are additionally accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The university enjoys several ranking spots in topical college review lists, including from U.S. News & World Review, as well as the fact that 98% of UPIKE’s students received some form of financial aid in the last academic year. An achievement for the nursing school itself is that graduates from the associate’s degree in nursing program achieved a first-time NCLEX-RN licensing exam pass rate of 100% in 2016.

UPIKE offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with one entry/ completion path. This is a RN-to-BSN completion program for currently licensed Registered Nurses having an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or diploma in nursing. There is no traditional four-year BSN program; however, there is a two-year ADN program that prepares students for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam, after which, they could apply for entry into the RN track.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing — RN-BSN (hybrid)

This BSN program caters to working registered nurses looking to update their education as well as increase their career opportunities, including for leadership positions. The program is flexible, allowing full- or part-time studies, with courses offered either fully online or hybrid delivery (requiring online work and on-campus meetings), and allowing up to five years to complete. Students can take non-nursing courses prior to entering the RN track, although doing so does not guarantee admission. The curriculum requires six credits (two courses) of religious studies, amongst other general education requirements.

The BSN degree at UPIKE requires at least 120 credits for graduation. RN track-intended students are eligible to apply once they have completed at least half of the 52 credits of general education courses, amongst other criteria. Once admitted, there are 30 credits of upper division courses (8) in the major, along with any other outstanding required courses. (Up to 40 nursing transfer credits for prior coursework are granted after completion of 11 credits in this track.) Nursing courses are delivered in a hybrid format of online work and on-campus meetings.

Sample courses include:

  • Advanced Concepts in Nursing Practice
  • Health Assessment for Registered Nurses
  • Pharmacology in Nursing Practice
  • Scholarship and Inquiry for Evidence-Based Practice
  • Scholarship and Inquiry for Evidence-Based Practice

Campus or HQ: Pikeville, Kentucky.

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