Online schools in Kentucky

Those planning to work in Kentucky may want to think twice before settling for just a high school diploma. From 2012-2022, jobs requiring a high school diploma will increase only 10 percent. Meanwhile, job growth for positions requiring some level of post-secondary education will jump 16.6 percent. That's according to a report from the Kentucky Department of Workforce Development.

Fortunately for those who want to advance their education, Kentucky has many colleges and universities which offer a range of certificate and degree programs. These schools may have traditional campuses in cities such as Bowling Green, Lexington and Louisville, or they may offer alternative education options such as classes at satellite locations or online.

Before you start a degree program, you need to find the right fit for your educational and lifestyle needs. Traditional students may be drawn to campus life while online colleges in Kentucky may be perfect for those who need to fit classes between work and family obligations. Regardless of the path you plan to choose, keep reading to learn more about schools in Kentucky.

To find out more about the state, its educational options and potential careers, explore the different sections of this guide. They include:

• Online education in Kentucky
• Major industries & in-demand degrees
• Colleges in Kentucky

Online education in Kentucky

The number of jobs requiring higher education is growing, but many Kentucky residents may not be qualified to fill them. According to the Census Bureau, only 21.5 percent of state residents older than age 25 had a bachelor's degree in 2013. That number is well below the national average of 28.8 percent.

Major employers in the state may need highly trained workers in the years to come. Medical centers such as Our Lady Bellefonte Hospital — the largest employer in the state according to the Department of Labor — may not only need physicians and nurses but also technicians and technologists who can operate complex equipment. UPS, another major employer in the state, could require logistics professionals, and Toyota and Ford may need engineers at their automotive plants.

For programs with a hands-on component, such as those in the medical field, some courses may be completed online to limit the amount of on-campus work required.

Unfortunately, adults without a degree may find it difficult to return to the classroom and earn the credentials needed for these and other jobs. However, online schools in Kentucky offer a solution.

While a traditional degree program may mean students have to take time off work to attend classes, online degree programs generally allow students to log-in at their convenience to review course materials and complete assignments. For programs with a hands-on component, such as those in the medical field, some courses may be completed online to limit the amount of on-campus work required.

Even younger students may find online colleges in Kentucky are a good fit. Studying online may free up time for other activities during the day. What's more, it may reduce costs associated with parking, commuting and eating meals on campus.

Comparing online colleges in Kentucky

While all states have online colleges, Kentucky has truly embraced the concept of distance learning. The Kentucky Virtual Campus is administered by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education to bring together a catalog of online courses offered by many of the state's leading colleges and universities. Meanwhile, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System has their own online program which lets students study completely online or take their courses online for a single term.

The following are a few of the online colleges in Kentucky. They may work within one of the systems listed above or operate independently.

  • University of Louisville
  • Kentucky Christian University
  • Capella University
  • Kentucky State University
  • Claremont Lincoln University

More than 40 percent of the state's population lives in rural areas, according to 2010 Census data, which means these and other online schools in Kentucky may play an important role in helping students get the education they need. An online program may allow a student to study at a college or university at which they would otherwise not have access. Beyond Kentucky online colleges, state residents may also find they are able to enroll in distance learning programs offered at institutions in other states.

If you're interested, start exploring what online degrees might be offered near you by checking out this map, which shows the location of all colleges in Kentucky based on 2013 data from the NCES. (Mobile users will need to visit the full Schools.com site to use the map.)

Degrees to consider in Kentucky

Although job opportunities for those with a higher education are expected to increase, employment growth won't necessarily be equal across all industries. Students may want to focus their studies in an area related to one of the key sectors of the Kentucky economy:

  • Manufacturing
  • Automotive manufacturing
  • Biotechnology and life sciences
  • Sports and recreation
  • Transportation and logistics

In addition, careers in business may see growth since many of these fields require management and operations professionals to oversee factories, lead new projects and develop long-range plans. Earning a degree in a field related to business or one of the sectors above may be one option for students at online colleges in Kentucky.

Another option may be to consider the jobs of the future and enroll in a degree program geared toward the occupations expected to see the greatest growth in the years to come. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculates expected job for occupations in each state, and the chart below highlights the degrees needed for some of the positions expected to add the most jobs from 2012-2022:



Expected job growth (2012-2022)

Bachelor's degree and commercial pilot's license

Commercial Pilot


Associate degree from accredited program

Occupational Therapy Assistant


Bachelor's degree from an accredited school

Athletic Trainer


Bachelor's degree in mathematics, actuarial science or statistics



Master's degree from an accredited program

Physician Assistant


A third way students may select a degree program is to consider what occupations are most highly compensated. According to the BLS, medical professionals earn top incomes in Kentucky. The following are the average salaries earned in 2014 by the most lucrative occupations in the state.

  • Surgeons - $251,970
  • Obstetricians and gynecologists - $231,020
  • Psychiatrists - $221,580
  • Internists, general - $190,410
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons - $181,900

Outside of the medical field, postsecondary engineering teachers, air traffic controllers and marketing managers all made average incomes in excess of six digits in 2014. Legal careers may also be a high-paying option for Kentucky residents. Postsecondary law teachers, judges and magistrates all have average annual income greater than $100,000.

Popular colleges in Kentucky

Whether you're interested in studying online or studying on-campus, there's no shortage of quality colleges and universities in Kentucky. Some schools are big names that are recognized across the nation. Others are small institutions, such as Bible schools, seminaries and private non-profits, which provide a more intimate education experience. The following are a few of the most popular Kentucky universities:

  • University of Louisville: Although currently a state-supported school, the University of Louisville was supported by its namesake city for decades. It joined the state university system in 1970 and now maintains three campus locations that support its 12 colleges and schools. UofL offers five undergraduate degrees as well as eight graduate degrees and four graduate certificates and endorsements to its online students.
  • Kentucky State University: Based in the state capital of Frankfort, Kentucky State University was chartered back in 1886. Throughout the years, the school has maintained a small-school feel and currently enrolls approximately 2,500 students. Those wishing to study online may choose from three bachelor degree programs: criminal justice, psychology or public administration. KSU also offers an online master's degree in special education and an online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

Legal careers may also be a high-paying option for Kentucky residents: Postsecondary law teachers, judges and magistrates all have average annual income greater than $100,000.

  • University of Kentucky: In 2015, the University of Kentucky celebrated 150 years as the flagship institution of higher education in the state. It was founded as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky and has grown into a university that enrolls some 30,000 students each year through its 16 colleges. Today, UK has 12 hybrid programs that combine online with on-campus classes in addition to five graduate programs that are available fully online.
  • Asbury University: Asbury University is one of the private universities educating Kentucky students. As a nondenominational Christian university, Asbury enrolls more than 1,750 students from 44 states and boasts of an alumni network that includes 22,000 living members. Online students can select from one of more than 30 online programs that include one associate degree, four bachelor's degrees and a number of master's degrees and graduate certificates.
  • Western Kentucky University: Another popular school is Western Kentucky University. Located in Bowling Green, the college was originally authorized as a school for teachers in 1906. It now has six colleges as well as a robust online program that offers 1,700 online courses and more than 80 online certificates and degrees.

As technology advances, more institutions may join the ranks of online schools in Kentucky. The result may be increased opportunities for students from all walks of life to earn an advanced education regardless of whether they are able to attend classes on campus.

However, there's no reason to wait to get started on your degree. You can request more information from the online colleges in Kentucky listed below to learn more about your learning options.

1. Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ky.htm
2. Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
3. PK-20 Initiative, Alabama Commission on Higher Education, http://www.ache.alabama.gov/Content/PK20/PK20.aspx
4. Kentucky Quick Facts, Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/21000.html
5. Kentucky Virtual Campus, http://www.kyvc.org/
6. Kentucky Occupational Outlook to 2022, Department of Workforce Development, https://kylmi.ky.gov/admin/gsipub/htmlarea/uploads/Outlook.pdf
7. Kentucky Largest Employers, CareerOneStop, http://www.acinet.org/oview6.asp?soccode=&id=&nodeid=12&stfips=21&from=State
8. Kentucky Community and Technical College System Online, https://www.kctcs.edu/KCTCS_Online.aspx
9. Urban Percentage of the Population for States, Iowa State University, http://www.icip.iastate.edu/tables/population/urban-pct-states
10. Admission for Online Programs, University of Louisville, http://louisville.edu/online/admissions
11. Online Degree Programs, Kentucky State University, http://kysu.edu/academics/distance-education/online-degree-programs/
12. WKU Online, Western Kentucky University, https://www.wku.edu/online/
13. Fully Online Programs, University of Kentucky, http://www.uky.edu/DistanceLearning/current/programs/online.html
14. School of Graduate and Professional Studies, Asbury University, https://www.asbury.edu/gps

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