Kentucky is home to around 45,500 active Registered Nurses (RNs). That number is about to increase ten-fold.

Most Affordable Nursing Schools in Kentucky

That’s not just in Kentucky. The nursing profession as a whole is currently in flux. Recently, an initiative was started to increase the minimum college education level for RNs. This initiative was launched 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. Kentucky is one of the first states in line to participate.

What kind of Nursing Degree in Kentucky should you earn?

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, and offering affordable online learning options for the working professional.

That’s why we’ve settled in on a few key factors for this list:

  1. Affordability (in-state tuition)
  2. Compliance with the IOM initiative

Some of these programs have online options; others have traditional set-ups. Either way, you can look forward to getting a “best buy” program in Kentucky. And even better, you’ll be participating in a nation-wide initiative to improve the quality and care of the nursing profession. 

How much money can you make with a Nursing Degree in Kentucky?

Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average registered nurse in Kentucky is making an hourly wage of $28.76. That adds up to around $59,810 per year. Given that the average income in Kentucky is $46k, RNs in this state are making bank!

Based on a current demand for RNs nationwide, your job security is projected to be very secure in the near future. The BLS expects a 16% job growth for RNs for the next six years.

What are the Most Affordable 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. 

Our data and information comes from college and university websites, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, and U.S. News and World Report. Get ready to take a huge leap forward in your career. Read on! 

1

Murray State University

Average Tuition: $7,608

Program Website

Overview

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 by Washington Monthly and U.S. News & World Report.

Features

MSU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry 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. 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. Sample courses include:

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

Notables

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 take 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.

2

Kentucky State University

Average Tuition: $7,754

Program Website

Overview

Kentucky State University (KSU) is a public HBCU (Historically Black College/ University). 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 been named a top HBCU by U.S. News & World Report, and one of the Best in the Southeast by the Princeton Review.

Features

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. The KSU BSN degree requires a total 120 credits for graduation. Sample courses include:

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

Notables

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.

3

Morehead State University

Average Tuition: $8,098

Program Website

Overview

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). Recognition earned by MSU for its academic programs and campus includes a 2017 Silver-level Military Friendly School designation by Victory Media, and more.

Features

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. MSU’s BSN degree requires a total of 120 credits for graduation, and has curriculum that combines nursing with math and science courses. The RN track is fully online and consists of 49 credits of primarily nursing courses. Sample courses include:

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

Notables

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.

4

Eastern Kentucky University

Average Tuition: $8,150

Program Website

Overview

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) is based in Richmond. 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, Forbes, Washington Monthly, and more.

Features

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. EKU’s BSN degree requires a minimum 120 credits for graduation. 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

Notables

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. 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.

5

Northern Kentucky University

Average Tuition: $9,120

Program Website

Overview

Based in Highland Heights, 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.

Features

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. The BSN degree requires 124 credits for graduation. 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

Notables

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.

6

Western Kentucky University

Average Tuition: $9,482

Program Website

Overview

Western Kentucky University (WKU) is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. 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: Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report Military Times, and others.

Features

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. Sample courses include:

  • Health Promotion
  • Assessment
  • Fundamentals
  • Pharmacology

Notables

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.

7

University of Louisville

Average Tuition: $10,744

Program Website

Overview

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). Its Brown Cancer Center was ranked best in the city of Louisville by U.S. News and World Report for cancer care in 2014.

Features

UofL offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with four 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. Sample courses include:

  • Pathophysiology and Pharmacotherapeutics for RNs
  • Foundations for Evidence Based Professional Nursing
  • Population Health
  • Community Health Nursing

Notables

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.

8

University of Kentucky

Average Tuition: $10,936

Program Website

Overview

University of Kentucky (UK) is located in Lexington. The undergraduate nursing programs are 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 National Institutes of Health and holds a $20 million research portfolio. The Albert B. Chandler Hospital is ranked #1 in Kentucky on USNWR‘s list of Best Hospitals.

Features

UK offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with four entry 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. 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

Notables

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 maintain an impressive student to faculty ratio of 8:1.

9

Kentucky Christian University

Average Tuition: $17,810

Program Website

Overview

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 worldview into all programs and observes a campus curfew as well as a dress code.

Features

KCU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths. One track is for new pre-licensure nursing students. The other track is for currently licensed Registered Nurses holding an associate’s degree in nursing. The BSN degree requires 125 credits for graduation. 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
  • Adult Nursing and the Caring Process

Notables

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.

Campus or HQ: Grayson, Kentucky.

10

University of Pikeville

Average Tuition: $18,840

Program Website

Overview

University of Pikeville (UPIKE) offers undergraduate nursing programs through the Elliott School of Nursing. They are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The university offers a generous financial package, with over 98% of UPIKE’s students receiving 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.

Features

UPIKE offers a RN-to-BSN completion program for currently licensed Registered Nurses who have 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. This degree requires at least 120 credits for graduation. Sample courses include:

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

Notables

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.

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