Distant education or distant learning has been a feature of post-secondary education for over 150 years. The first distance learning degrees were offered by the University of London through its external program in 1858. Today with the universal acceptance of the world wide web and the popularity of the internet, online learning is the favored delivery method for distant education and is being readily embraced by more and more academic institutions.
Either through synchronous learning, where all participants are together in a virtual classroom, or asynchronous learning, where participants access to course materials according to their own schedules, increasing numbers of students are gaining higher education degrees online.
This flexibility allows people who are excluded from being able to attend a university campus for any number of reasons to still gain the education they desire. Although, online learning should not be seen as an easy option, it requires the same if not more dedication. It is an alternative not a substitute.
And it’s not for everyone. Online students require a high level of motivation and well-developed time management skills. They need to have the free time to devote to their studies and be comfortable communicating with the written word. And have access to and be comfortable with the internet as well as having a more than adequate set of computer skills.
What are the best online colleges in Kentucky?
College Choice has done the heavy lifting in comparing all the four-year degree colleges and universities in Kentucky and their online program offerings. Accessing information from college and university websites, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the U. S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the U.S. News and World Report, College Choice has ranked the top 20.
We’ve used metrics that include graduation rate, institutional reputation, programs offered online, tuition costs, average student indebtedness after graduation and graduates expected early career salary.
University of Kentucky
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $40,032
The public, co-educational University of Kentucky (UK) is physically located in Lexington, Kentucky and was founded in 1865. The University’s 17 colleges offer some 200 majors and degree programs. Selected certificate and graduate credit programs are offered online either entirely or in a hybrid format (part on-campus and part online). Some courses that are relevant to undergraduate degrees are also offered online. Online courses are taught to the same academic level as on-campus courses. UK is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Online Master’s degrees are offered by the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Communication and Information, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and the College of Fine Arts. A Graduate Certificate in Public Financial Management is available from the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration as well as a Master’s degree. The College of Health Sciences offers a Bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science.
All UK courses are taught using the Canvas Learning Management System. The admissions and registration process is the same as that used by on-campus courses. A Distance Learning Library Service, which is staffed by a full-time librarian, is provided to access information resources for the students who take these classes.
Eastern Kentucky University
College Choice Score: 96.84
Average Net Price: $29,662
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) is a bricks and mortar institution in Richmond, Kentucky, that has been educating students for over 100 years. It offers both undergraduate and graduate level teaching in general and liberal arts programs, pre-professional and professional training in education and other fields. EKU has over 40 online programs which except for the paralegal program can be completed without ever having to step foot on the campus. EKU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
With colleges of Business and Technology, Education, Health Sciences, Justice and Safety, Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences and a College of Science, EKU offers associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. Most online courses are offered as two 8-week terms during the fall and spring semesters and as two 6-week terms during summer.
Courses are delivered using The Blackboard Learning System that provides a website for each class. Instructors organize course material and interact with students through discussion boards, chat rooms and online assignments. Each student will need a computer with high bandwidth Internet access (dial-up connections are unsuitable), a Flash player and speakers. EKU recommends students use Mozilla Firefox as their primary browser. The university’s three libraries are available for online student use.
College Choice Score: 95.44
Average Net Price: $38,150
Asbury College became a university in 2010 and is a Christian liberal arts bricks and mortar institution located in Wilmore, Kentucky. It offers 50 majors from 17 departments, undergraduate majors come from three distinct schools and all graduate majors are housed in the School of Graduate & Professional Studies. The University extends its tradition of rigor, ethics, and professionalism to its online academic programs. Asbury is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The Schools of Arts and Sciences, Communication, and Education offer an online Associate degree in Science and online Bachelor of Science degrees’ in Instructional Design, Elementary Education, Leadership and Ministry, Organizational Management and Ministry Management. The School of Graduate & Professional Studies offers Master’s degrees in Social Work, Business Administration, Communication and Education.
Asbury uses the Discovery Learning Management System to deliver its online content that includes courses, grade book, activity and assessment items, communication tools, and messaging. Asbury also uses both synchronous sessions and asynchronous interactions via Adobe Connect for face-to-face, online sessions and forums. Asbury University’s instructors make being available to students a priority often providing their personal contact information (phone/email). The Kinlaw Library is accessible 24/7 for online students.
Murray State University
College Choice Score: 95.27
Average Net Price: $33,139
Murray State University (MSU) is a four-year public bricks and mortar university located in Murray, Kentucky. MSU offers 11 associate, 64 bachelor, and 42 master and specialist programs through its six colleges and schools that deliver 245 majors and programs. The University offers eight online undergraduate degree programs, 12 online graduate degree programs, two online Doctoral programs and two online certificate programs. MSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission.
Online undergraduate programs include Associate of Arts (General Studies), Business Administration, Computer Information Systems, Integrated Studies, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing and Engineering Technology, Nursing and Telecommunications Systems Management. Online Graduate Degree Programs include Agriculture, Business Administration, English, Human Development and Leadership, Information Systems, Library Media, Non-profit Leadership Studies, Occupational Safety and Health, Organizational Communication, Public Administration, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and Telecommunications Systems Management. A Doctorate of Nursing Practice and a Doctorate of Arts in English Pedagogy and Technology are also offered online.
Courses are delivered using The Blackboard Learning System that provides a website for each class. Instructors organize course material and interact with students through discussion boards, chat rooms and online assignments. MSU advises students will not have any face-to-face interaction with their instructor or classmates.
Northern Kentucky University
College Choice Score: 91.83
Average Net Price: $29,684
Northern Kentucky University (NKU) is a co-educational public brick and mortar university in northern Kentucky and is located just seven miles southeast of downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. NKU offers 79 bachelor’s degrees, three associate degrees, 22 graduate programs, one Juris Doctor, a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Online NKU offers ten undergraduate majors and eight minors along with 12 graduate programs. Northern Kentucky University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Online undergraduate majors include Business Information Systems, Communication Studies, Criminal Justice, Health Science, History, Integrative Studies, Library Informatics, Nursing, Organizational Leadership and Respiratory Care Completion Program. Undergraduate minors also include Information Systems, Management, Political Science, Religious Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies. The online graduate programs cover the fields of business, education, emergency management, health and nursing.
NKU online uses the Blackboard course management system to provide access to course materials, University resources, and personal tools like email. The University recommends students use Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari as their primary browser along with Microsoft Office software. NKU also provides students with an NKU student email account at no additional cost.
Western Kentucky University
College Choice Score: 89.48
Average Net Price: $34,371
Although founded in 1906, the Western Kentucky University (WKU) became known by its current name in 1966. It is a public university that has been offering distance education since 1919 and online courses since 1998. Today WKU online enables students to earn more than 50 associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and over 40 certificates. The University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Fourteen bachelor degrees are on offer, nine of which can be completed 100 perccent online. The rest top up an associate’s degree and can be completed in as little as two years. Online, WKU also offers 31 Master’s degrees in various disciplines, as well as over 25 graduate certificates and endorsements which may be earned as part of a master’s degree program.
Courses are delivered either as the semester-based ‘WKU Online’ or as the ‘WKU On Demand’. The ‘WKU Online’ follow the face-to-face classes with the same start and end dates as on-campus programs, thereby giving 10 starting points throughout the academic year. The ‘WKU On Demand’ courses can be started on any day of the year and completed in a minimum of seven weeks or within a maximum of nine months.
College Choice Score: 88.3
Average Net Price: $55,162
Bellarmine University (BU) is a private Catholic Liberal Arts University with a bricks and mortar campus located Louisville, Kentucky. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The University’s seven colleges and schools offer over 50 majors in graduate and undergraduate programs in the arts and sciences, business, communication, education, nursing and health sciences. Through the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, BU offers online courses for professional development along with career certificates.
With a catalog of over 400 courses, the areas of instruction include Accounting and Finance, Business, College Readiness, Computer Applications, Design and Composition, Healthcare and Medical, Language and Arts, Law and Legal, Personal Development, Teaching and Education, Technology and Writing and Publishing.
Designed to learn a new skill or enhance an existing one, each course is of six weeks duration. Students spend two to four hours each week completing two lessons in an interactive learning environment. Several courses can be bundled together for the in-depth study of an area of interest.
University of Louisville
College Choice Score: 85.49
Average Net Price: $39,556
The University of Louisville (UofL) is a public research university located in Kentucky’s largest metropolitan area. Its three campuses house 12 academic colleges that offer 70 bachelor’s degrees, 78 master’s degrees and 22 doctorate degrees. The University of Louisville offers online courses and degree programs in various areas of study for students who are not able to attend a physical campus. The University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Bachelor degree programs are offered in Nursing, Organizational Leadership and Learning, Criminal Justice and Communication. Master’s degree programs are available in Criminal Justice, Social Work, Human Resources and Organization Development, Engineering, Computer Science and Education. Certificate courses are offered in Accounting, Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis, Data Science, Cybersecurity and Engineering.
UofL’s online courses are delivered using the Blackboard online learning platform which allows students and instructors to interact, network, collaborate on class assignments and team projects, exchange thoughts and ideas or share experiences. Admission requirements are the same as campus admissions and degrees awarded are likewise the same. The name of the degree and the transcripts will not indicate whether the degree was completed online, on campus or through a combination of both methods.
College Choice Score: 83.92
Average Net Price: $37,850
Midway University is an independent, liberal arts university associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and is surrounded by some of the top Thoroughbred farms in the world. It currently offers two and four-year degrees in business, equine studies, nursing, and teacher education amongst others. Midway Online offers accelerated degree-completion programs for working adults in popular programs. The University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online bachelor’s degrees include Business, Criminal Justice, Education, Health Care Administration, Interdisciplinary Studies, Marketing, Nursing, Psychology and Sports Management. Master’s degrees in Business Administration, Education and Nursing are also on offer and an Associate’s degree in Business Administration is available.
Midway University’s online course format is based on 8-week module courses with each course being generally worth three semester hours’ credit. Modules start 5 times throughout the year in August, October, January, March and May. Midway delivers its courses using the Moodle learning platform that is designed to provide teachers, administrators and students with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalized learning environments.
College Choice Score: 78.83
Average Net Price: $31,690
Brescia University is a coeducational Catholic bricks and mortar university located in Owensboro, Kentucky. Founded in 1950, Brescia began operating as a four-year College in 1951. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Fields of study include fine arts, humanities, mathematics and natural sciences, social and behavioral sciences, education and education. It offers an alternative learning environment for distance learners through BUonline.
BUonline offers associate degrees in Business, Integrated Studies, Liberal Arts, Human Services and Education. Bachelor degrees are available in Business, Accounting, Integrated Studies, Theology, Political Science and Social Work. Master’s degrees are offered in Social Work and Management along with a post-graduate certificate in Accounting.
BUonline delivers its courses using the Moodle learning platform that is designed to provide teachers, administrators and students with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalized learning environments. All students are issued with a Brescia University e-mail account. The BUonline help desk is available 24/7 and BUonline students have full access to Brescia University’s Fr. Leonard Alvey Library. The University has partnered with MBS Online Bookstore enabling students to order their books online.
Morehead State University
College Choice Score: 77.6
Average Net Price: $32,334
Morehead State University (MSU) is a public co-educational bricks and mortar university in the Appalachian Mountain foothills in the town of Morehead, Kentucky. Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, its 214-degree programs are available at two-year, four-year and graduate levels through four colleges. Caudill College of Humanities, College of Business and Public Affairs, College of Education, and College of Science and Technology. It offers selected online programs at the bachelor, masters and postgraduate certificate level.
MSU offers online bachelor degrees in Business, Accounting, Medical Imaging, University Studies, Nursing, Technology Management and Computer Information Systems. Master’s degrees are available in Education, English, Business, and Social Sciences. The University also offers a Doctorate in Education.
Morehead State University uses the Blackboard course management system to provide access to course materials, University resources, and personal tools like email. Students are encouraged to use Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 or higher (recommended), Firefox or Safari Web Browser 4 or higher and Microsoft Office 2003 or higher. Instructors may use proctored examinations for their online courses. Students are responsible for payment of any associated fees. Most MSU regional campus will proctor exams by appointment.
University of the Cumberlands
College Choice Score: 75.5
Average Net Price: $35,200
The University of the Cumberlands is a private Liberal Arts University with a bricks and mortar campus located in Williamsburg, Kentucky. It is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, an affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention. The University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, bachelor, masters, education specialist and doctorate degrees. Its online presence, The School of Lifelong Learning, offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees.
Cumberlands’ School of Lifelong Learning offers bachelor degrees in Business, Criminal Justice, Elementary Education, Health Science – Nursing, Human Services, Information Technology, Missions and Ministry, and Psychology. Masters degrees are available in Business, Counselling, Criminal Justice, Education, Nursing, Leadership, Information Technology and Christian Studies. Doctoral degrees in Education, Counselling, Leadership and Psychology are also available.
The School of Lifelong Learning offers six eight-week bi-terms per year; two in spring, two in summer and two in fall. Students can apply at any time during the year. Online applicants must meet the same admissions requirements and standards that apply to applicants for the University’s regular degree programs. Online students can apply for a University e-mail account which is required to access resources from the Hagan Memorial Library.
Thomas More College
College Choice Score: 72.39
Average Net Price: $39,693
Thomas More College is a small Catholic Liberal Arts College in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. It is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Master, Bachelor, and Associate Degrees. The college offers 40 Bachelor Majors, 29 Associate Majors and several Graduate Degrees. The Thomas More College Adult and Professional Program (TAP) offers Associate, Bachelor and Masters programs in an accelerated format. Classes meet once a week and are held at two locations: the campus in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, and in the northern Cincinnati suburb of Blue Ash, Ohio.
Thomas More College offers a handful of degree programs online, including the RN-to-BSN program, Master of Arts in Ethical Leadership, and the Master of Business Administration. While these degree tracks can be taken with online classes, many of them also incorporate experiential learning or other on-site learning experiences.
Adult learning programs at Thomas More College can be pursued online, but also with classroom options at the Crestview Hills location as well as the Blue Ash location, in case you want to have some classroom interaction as well. These courses are also accelerated to accommodate the busy schedules of working adults.
Kentucky State University
College Choice Score: 70.05
Average Net Price: $28,928
Kentucky State University (KSU) is a land-grant public university with its bricks and mortar campus located in the state capital of Frankfort. Through four colleges it offers associate degrees in three disciplines, bachelor degrees in 24 disciplines, and master’s degrees in five disciplines. KSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The Distance Education program at KSU provides three undergraduate and two graduate online degree programs along with over 50 online classes each semester.
The online undergraduate program offers Bachelor degrees in Criminal Justice, Psychology and Public Administration. The online graduate program offers a Master’s degree in Special Education and a Doctorate in Nursing Practice. Three credit-based certificate programs are also available online: an Aquaculture/Aquatic Sciences Certificate; a Network Associate Certificate; and a Network Professional Certificate.
KSU online students have the same access to support services as campus students. These include Microsoft 365 email, an online registration system, student financial aid, ‘Smarthinking’ online tutoring services, an online bookstore, an online course management system, an online library, and an online tuition payment system. KSU uses the Blackboard course management system to provide access to course materials, University resources and personal tools.
Kentucky Christian University
College Choice Score: 68.58
Average Net Price: $31,654
Kentucky Christian University (KCU) is a private Christian university located in Grayson, Kentucky and is affiliated with the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. KCU offers 42 majors & minors through the schools of Education, Bible & Ministry, Business Administration, Social Work & Human Services, Arts & Sciences, Music, and Nursing. Through its Department of Distant Education KCU offers three online degree completion programs.
The Online Degree Completion program offers degrees in General Business, Biblical Studies and Nursing. These programs build on the foundations of a previously completed college education. The program is designed for working adults.
KCU utilizes the Sakai Course Management System to deliver grades, schedule of classes, transcripts, student billing, and more to students.
Kentucky Wesleyan College
College Choice Score: 64.93
Average Net Price: $35,880
Kentucky Wesleyan College (KWC) is a private liberal arts college with a bricks and mortar campus located in the city of Owensboro. It is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is accredited to award bachelor degrees by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. KWC offers 30 majors and 13 pre-professional programs in the Fine Arts & Humanities, the Natural Sciences & Mathematics, Professional Studies and Social Sciences. The College offers three 100 percent online programs.
KWC’s online programs are a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice & Criminology, and a Bachelor of Science in General Studies. New terms start in January, March, May, June, August and October. The intensive online seven-week format allows students to take classes 24/7.
Each student enrolled in an online degree program will receive academic advising through the Adult and Online Education Office and a KWC email account. The latter will allow students to access the Student Portal for course schedules and grades, KWC’s Intranet (Panthernet) and the D2L Brightspace Learning Management System. Students enrolled in KWC’s online degree programs also have access to the KWC Howell Greenwell Library and can purchase textbooks from the College’s online bookstore.
Kentucky Mountain Bible College
College Choice Score: 63.36
Average Net Price: $13,190
Kentucky Mountain Bible College (KMBC) is a four-year evangelical Christian Holiness Bible College in Vancleve near the town of Jackson, Kentucky. KMBC is accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education and licensed by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education for granting the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion and the Associate of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies. For the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion there are five areas to choose from: Ministerial; Missions; Discipleship/Christian Education; Communication; and Music. KMBC offers online classes that are structured for busy ministry-oriented adults who need flexible learning options.
KMBC does not offer online degrees as all degree programs require residency for at least 51% of the program. Online classes generally follow the same semester format as on-campus classes. They begin in August and January, and run for about 15 weeks. Typically, with online classes there are either 2 or 3 lessons to be completed each week.
KMBC uses the NEO Learning Management System for the delivery of online classes and teaching resources. Online students are expected to have access to a computer with internet access, adequate software and be knowledgeable in its use.
College Choice Score: 63.16
Average Net Price: $37,224
Spalding University is a private, Catholic co-educational university in Louisville, Kentucky and is affiliated with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees. The University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the areas of health sciences, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and education. Spalding has evening, Saturday and some online classes for adults wishing to start or complete a bachelor’s degree.
Spalding’s programs for adult learners are built on six-week blocks, so students can choose to focus on one course, or load up with a heavier course load. The six-week blocks also incorporate a one-week break in between each session. The following programs are available in the adult-learning format:
- Business Administration
- Creative Writing
- Interdisciplinary Humanities
- Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies
- Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
- RN to BSN
Spalding was the first university in the region to offer degrees specifically designed for adult students. In addition, 90 percent of all students receive financial aid.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
College Choice Score: 62.33
Average Net Price: $26,580
The oldest of the six seminaries affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s bricks and mortar campus is located Louisville, Kentucky. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. The Seminary’s three schools, The School of Theology, The Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry and Boyce College offer doctoral, master’s, bachelor, associate and diploma programs in religious studies. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary offers online masters programs and hybrid (online with an on-campus component) programs.
Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Theological Studies are both available as 100 percent online programs. Each semester the school also offers a range of eight-week courses online. The eight-week courses have six start dates each year.
The school uses the Canvas Learning Management System to deliver its online content. The school’s library works with distance students to ensure resources are accessible. And from orientation to graduation the Center for Student Success helps students navigate their online experience.
College Choice Score: 62.03
Average Net Price: $36,172
Campbellsville University (CU) is a private liberal arts university with a bricks and mortar campus in Campbellsville, Kentucky. The University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates, associate, bachelor, and master’s degrees. Through its seven schools and colleges, CU offers five online Associate degrees, the same number of Bachelor degrees along with 19 Master’s degrees and Certificate in Christian Ministry.
The online Bachelor degrees include Business, Social Work, Criminal Justice, Nursing and Pastoral Ministries. Master’s degrees offered include Education, Sports Management, Business, Computer Science, IT Management, Justice Studies, Social Work and Theology. The Associate degrees include Business Administration, Christian Studies, Criminal Justice, Education and General Studies.
CU delivers its online classes using the Moodle learning platform which is designed to provide teachers, administrators and students with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create a personalized learning environment. The University uses a second system, known as Tigernet, to supply course schedules, final course grades, degree audits, unofficial transcripts and financial account information. CU also offers an online student orientation program to ensure all students understand how to navigate the University’s online environment.