Nursing Schools in Kentucky

Kentucky is a great place to pursue a nursing career, with numerous accredited nursing programs available throughout the state. Prospective students can choose from various degree options and tuition costs to find the perfect fit for their needs. This article provides a comprehensive list of nursing schools in Kentucky, along with information on admission requirements, job outlook for nurses, and additional resources to help you succeed in your nursing education and career.

Why Kentucky Is a Great Place to Become a Nurse

  • High demand for nurses: The healthcare industry in Kentucky is continuously growing, resulting in an increased need for qualified nurses.
  • Diverse nursing opportunities: Kentucky offers a variety of nursing positions in different healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities.
  • Affordable education: Many nursing schools in Kentucky offer competitive tuition rates and financial aid options to help make your education more affordable.
  • Supportive professional community: The state has several professional nursing organizations that provide networking opportunities, continuing education resources, and advocacy for nurses.
  • Attractive lifestyle: Kentucky offers a mix of urban and rural living options with a low cost of living and numerous outdoor recreational opportunities.

Ranking Methodology

The following criteria were used to rank the best nursing schools in Kentucky:

  • Accreditation by ACEN or CCNE: Accreditation ensures that the nursing program meets high-quality standards set by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • Affordability: Tuition costs were considered to ensure that prospective students can find affordable options.
  • Graduation Rates: Schools with higher graduation rates were given preference, indicating student success.
  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rates: Schools with higher pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) demonstrate effective preparation of students for their nursing careers.
  • Nursing School Search editorial reputation: The overall reputation of the nursing program was considered based on factors such as faculty qualifications, facilities, and student satisfaction.

While this ranking is a helpful starting point in your search for a nursing school, it’s essential to consider other factors such as location, program offerings, and personal preferences when making your final decision. Learn more about our ranking methodology here.

Best Ranked Nursing Schools in Kentucky

The following are the top 10 nursing schools in Kentucky based on the criteria outlined above.

1. University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky’s College of Nursing offers various programs, including BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, DNP, and PhD options. With a strong focus on research and clinical practice, students gain valuable experience in diverse healthcare settings. The school boasts high NCLEX-RN pass rates and graduation rates, making it an excellent choice for aspiring nurses.

  • Accredited by ACEN or CCNE
  • Affordable tuition
  • High graduation rates
  • High NCLEX-RN pass rates
  • Strong editorial reputation

2. Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University’s nursing programs include LPN to ADN, BSN, RN to BSN, and MSN options. With a focus on rural healthcare and community-based nursing practice, EKU prepares students for successful careers in various settings. The school has a strong reputation for its experienced faculty and high-quality education.

  • Accredited by ACEN or CCNE
  • Affordable tuition
  • High graduation rates
  • High NCLEX-RN pass rates
  • Strong editorial reputation

3. Western Kentucky University

Western Kentucky University offers several nursing programs, including ASN (LPN to RN), BSN, RN to BSN, and MSN options. The school’s nursing programs emphasize hands-on learning experiences in diverse clinical settings. WKU has a strong reputation for its supportive learning environment and high NCLEX-RN pass rates.

  • Accredited by ACEN or CCNE
  • Affordable tuition
  • High graduation rates
  • High NCLEX-RN pass rates
  • Strong editorial reputation

4. Northern Kentucky University

Northern Kentucky University’s School of Nursing offers BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, and DNP degree options. With a focus on evidence-based practice and interprofessional collaboration, students gain the skills necessary for successful nursing careers. NKU is known for its experienced faculty and high-quality education.

  • Accredited by ACEN or CCNE
  • Affordable tuition
  • High graduation rates
  • High NCLEX-RN pass rates
  • Strong editorial reputation

5. Murray State University

Murray State University offers nursing programs such as ADN, BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, and DNP. The school’s nursing programs emphasize hands-on learning experiences in diverse clinical settings. MSU has a strong reputation for its supportive learning environment and high NCLEX-RN pass rates.

  • Accredited by ACEN or CCNE
  • Affordable tuition
  • High graduation rates
  • High NCLEX-RN pass rates
  • Strong editorial reputation

6. Bellarmine University

Bellarmine University’s Lansing School of Nursing offers BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, DNP, and post-master’s certificate options. With a focus on holistic nursing care and community-based practice, Bellarmine prepares students for successful careers in various healthcare settings. The school has a strong reputation for its experienced faculty and high-quality education.

  • Accredited by ACEN or CCNE
  • Affordable tuition
  • High graduation rates
  • High NCLEX-RN pass rates
  • Strong editorial reputation

7. Spalding University

Spalding University’s School of Nursing offers BSN, RN to BSN, and MSN degree options. With a focus on evidence-based practice and interprofessional collaboration, students gain the skills necessary for successful nursing careers. Spalding is known for its experienced faculty and high-quality education.

  • Accredited by ACEN or CCNE
  • Affordable tuition
  • High graduation rates
  • High NCLEX-RN pass rates
  • Strong editorial reputation

8. Morehead State University

Morehead State University offers nursing programs such as ADN, BSN, RN to BSN, and MSN. The school’s nursing programs emphasize hands-on learning experiences in diverse clinical settings. Morehead has a strong reputation for its supportive learning environment and high NCLEX-RN pass rates.

  • Accredited by ACEN or CCNE
  • Affordable tuition
  • High graduation rates
  • High NCLEX-RN pass rates
  • Strong editorial reputation

9. Berea College

Berea College’s Department of Nursing offers a BSN program with a focus on rural healthcare and community-based nursing practice. The school provides a supportive learning environment and experienced faculty, resulting in high NCLEX-RN pass rates and graduation rates.

  • Accredited by ACEN or CCNE
  • Affordable tuition
  • High graduation rates
  • High NCLEX-RN pass rates
  • Strong editorial reputation

10. Kentucky Christian University

Kentucky Christian University offers nursing programs such as ASN (LPN to RN) and BSN options. The school’s nursing programs emphasize hands-on learning experiences in diverse clinical settings. KCU has a strong reputation for its supportive learning environment and high NCLEX-RN pass rates.

  • Accredited by ACEN or CCNE
  • Affordable tuition
  • High graduation rates
  • High NCLEX-RN pass rates
  • Strong editorial reputation

Online Nursing Schools in Kentucky

In today’s digital age, many nurses can earn their degrees online, even from schools outside of Kentucky. Online nursing programs offer numerous benefits to prospective students, particularly those living in rural or remote areas of the state.

  • Flexibility: Online programs allow students to complete coursework at their own pace, making it easier to balance work, family, and education.
  • Accessibility: Students can access course materials from anywhere with an internet connection, eliminating the need for lengthy commutes to campus.
  • Cost savings: Online programs often have lower tuition rates and fewer additional expenses, such as housing and transportation costs.
  • Expanded program options: Students can choose from a wider range of nursing programs available online, including specialized degrees not offered in their local area.
  • No waiting lists: Some traditional nursing programs may have limited enrollment capacity, resulting in long waiting lists for prospective students. Online programs often have more open spots available, allowing students to begin their education sooner.

Nursing Program Offerings

DegreeDescription
LPNLicensed Practical Nurse (LPN) programs typically take 12 months to complete and prepare graduates for entry-level nursing positions.
ADNAssociate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs typically take two years to complete and provide a foundation for a career as a Registered Nurse (RN).
BSNBachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs typically take four years to complete and provide comprehensive nursing education, including clinical experiences and leadership skills.
RN to BSNRegistered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) programs are designed for RNs with an ADN who want to further their education and career opportunities. These programs typically take one to two years to complete.
MSNMaster of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs prepare nurses for advanced practice roles, such as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse educators. These programs typically take two to three years to complete.
NPNurse Practitioner (NP) programs are a specialized type of MSN program that prepares nurses for advanced practice roles in primary or specialty care. NP programs typically take two to three years to complete and require additional clinical hours.
DNPDoctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs are designed for nurses seeking the highest level of clinical expertise and leadership in nursing practice. These programs typically take three to four years to complete and focus on evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and healthcare systems leadership.

Kentucky Nursing School Admission Requirements

Each nursing program in Kentucky has its own set of admission requirements. The following are general requirements for various degree levels:

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Completion of prerequisite courses, such as anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and psychology
  • Minimum GPA requirement, usually 2.0 or higher
  • Submission of official transcripts from all previously attended institutions
  • Completion of the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) or another entrance exam

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Completion of prerequisite courses, such as anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and psychology
  • Minimum GPA requirement, usually 2.5 or higher
  • Submission of official transcripts from all previously attended institutions
  • Completion of the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) or another entrance exam

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Completion of prerequisite courses, such as anatomy and physiology, microbiology, chemistry, and psychology
  • Minimum GPA requirement, usually 3.0 or higher
  • Submission of official transcripts from all previously attended institutions
  • Completion of the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) or another entrance exam

Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)

  • Current RN license
  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or equivalent nursing education
  • Minimum GPA requirement, usually 2.5 or higher
  • Submission of official transcripts from all previously attended institutions

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or equivalent nursing education
  • Current RN license
  • Minimum GPA requirement, usually 3.0 or higher
  • Submission of official transcripts from all previously attended institutions
  • Completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or another entrance exam may be required for some programs

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or equivalent nursing education
  • Current RN license
  • Minimum GPA requirement, usually 3.0 or higher
  • Submission of official transcripts from all previously attended institutions
  • Completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or another entrance exam may be required for some programs

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or equivalent nursing education
  • Current RN license and/or advanced practice nursing certification, depending on the program’s focus
  • Minimum GPA requirement, usually 3.0 or higher
  • Submission of official transcripts from all previously attended institutions
  • Completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or another entrance exam may be required for some programs

Kentucky Nursing Resources

  • Kentucky Board of Nursing: The Kentucky Board of Nursing is responsible for regulating the practice of nursing within the state, including licensing and disciplinary actions.
  • Kentucky Nurses Association: The Kentucky Nurses Association is a professional organization that provides networking opportunities, continuing education resources, and advocacy for nurses in the state.
  • Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners & Nurse Midwives: This organization represents nurse practitioners and nurse midwives in Kentucky, providing resources, networking opportunities, and advocacy efforts.
  • Kentucky Association of School Nurses: The Kentucky Association of School Nurses supports school nurses in their professional practice and promotes the health and well-being of students in the state.

FAQ for Kentucky Nurses

What is the average salary for a nurse in Kentucky?

The average salary for a Registered Nurse (RN) in Kentucky is around $63,000 per year. Salaries can vary depending on factors such as experience, education, and location within the state.

How long does it take to become a nurse in Kentucky?

The length of time it takes to become a nurse in Kentucky depends on the degree level pursued. LPN programs typically take 12 months, ADN programs take two years, BSN programs take four years, and advanced practice nursing programs may take an additional two to four years beyond a BSN.

Are there any loan forgiveness programs for nurses in Kentucky?

Yes, the Kentucky State Loan Repayment Program offers loan repayment assistance to healthcare professionals, including nurses, who agree to work in underserved areas of the state.

What is the job outlook for nurses in Kentucky?

The job outlook for nurses in Kentucky is positive, with demand expected to grow as the healthcare industry expands. Opportunities are available in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and home health agencies.

Do I need a nursing license to work as a nurse in Kentucky?

Yes, you must obtain a nursing license from the Kentucky Board of Nursing to work as a nurse in the state. This includes passing the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN exam and meeting other licensure requirements.

Home of the renowned Kentucky Derby, excellent bourbon and some of the best bluegrass music the U.S. has to offer, the Commonwealth of Kentucky is a fascinating place to live and to launch a nursing career. Even though Kentucky has been hit particularly hard by the downturn in the economy, job prospects for nurses tend to be brighter than that of workers outside of the health care industry. Whil

e nurses might experience sharp competition for nursing jobs at major hospitals here, nurses are still widely needed to serve in rural areas and to take up positions in the state’s clinics, doctor’s offices, skilled nursing facilities and home health care agencies.

It also helps that Kentucky has one of the lowest costs of living in the U.S., so your paycheck as a nurse will go further here. Plus, Kentucky offers plenty of natural beauty to enjoy on your off time, including two national forests, 45 state parks and of course, the Appalachian Mountains to the east.

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