Best Nursing Schools in Kentucky

Updated on April 8, 2024

At a Glance

  • Kentucky offers top-notch nursing education with excellent programs and affordable tuition
  • University of Kentucky, Western Kentucky University, and Northern Kentucky University are among the top nursing schools
  • Salaries for nursing graduates range from $58,000 to $67,500 per year
  • Kentucky nursing schools provide various programs, including BSN, RN-to-BSN, Master’s, and postgraduate certificates

Kentucky has many excellent nursing schools that offer a variety of nursing programs. From large public universities to small private colleges, students can find top-notch nursing education in cities and towns across the state. When researching the best nursing schools in Kentucky, it is important to consider rankings, acceptance rates, tuition costs, and average registered nurse salaries after graduation.

University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky in Lexington is the state’s flagship public university. Its College of Nursing is highly ranked in the state and region.

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 75%

Tuition: $12,000 per year for in-state students

Avg Salary: $65,000


The University of Kentucky offers traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, and online RN-to-BSN programs. Known for its innovative teaching methods and state-of-the-art simulation labs, the College of Nursing produces graduates ready to provide excellent patient care.

Western Kentucky University

Located in Bowling Green, Western Kentucky University (WKU) has a long-standing reputation for nursing education.

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 85%

Avg SAT Score: 1125

Tuition: $11,000 per year for in-state students

Avg Salary: $60,000


WKU’s four-year traditional BSN program incorporates clinical experience each semester to prepare students for professional nursing practice. Small class sizes allow for individual attention.

Northern Kentucky University

Northern Kentucky University’s College of Health and Human Services offers renowned nursing programs in Highland Heights.

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 80%

Avg SAT Score: 1147

Tuition: $11,000 per year for in-state students

Avg Salary: $65,000


NKU is considered one of the most military friendly schools in the U.S. Its nursing graduates consistently score higher than state and national averages on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.

Bellarmine University

This small, private Catholic university in Louisville features the Donna and Allan Lansing School of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 74%

Avg SAT Score: 1210

Tuition: $40,000 per year

Avg Salary: $67,500


With a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Bellarmine nursing students receive extremely personalized instruction. Graduates praise the program’s combination of compassionate patient care and evidence-based practice.

Spalding University

Spalding, a historic private institution in downtown Louisville, offers several acclaimed nursing programs.

Rating: 7.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 72%

Tuition: $27,450 per year

Avg Salary: $60,000


Spalding’s nursing school reputation centers around its RN to BSN program, allowing registered nurses to conveniently further their education. Their Master’s in Nursing and Post Master’s Certificates also see high demand.

Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Health Sciences provides nursing programs focused on rural healthcare. The school is located in Richmond.

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 88%

Avg SAT Score: 985

Tuition: $9,500 per year for in-state students

Avg Salary: $58,000


EKU works closely with regional hospitals and clinics to train nurses for the specific health needs, diseases, and healthcare gaps that affect rural parts of Kentucky. This focus helps graduates secure nursing jobs locally.

Murray State University

Murray State makes this list as one of the best-ranked public nursing schools located in western Kentucky. The university is in Murray.

Rating: 7.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 94%

Avg SAT Score: 1060

Tuition: $9,300 per year for in-state students

Avg Salary: $59,500


Murray State has produced highly qualified nurses for over 45 years through its traditional BSN program. With small class sizes and extremely affordable tuition, Murray State is a hidden gem among Kentucky nursing schools.

University of Louisville

As a large public research university located downtown, the University of Louisville offers highly competitive nursing programs.

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 73%

Avg SAT Score: 1170

Tuition: $12,000 per year for in-state students

Avg Salary: $63,000


The School of Nursing is nationally ranked and equipped with interactive education technology, such as advanced human patient simulators. This hands-on experience produces exceptional University of Louisville nursing graduates.

###Galen College of Nursing

With campuses in Louisville and Lexington, Galen specializes solely in nursing education.

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 71%

Tuition: $18,500 per year

Avg Salary: $58,000


As a for-profit school focused on healthcare careers, Galen is able to provide nursing students with clinical experience starting in their first term. This focus on real-world skills appeals to many who want to quickly start their nursing career.

###Midway University

Midway University offers an online RN to BSN completion program from its campus located in Midway.

Rating: 6.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 54%

Tuition: $420 per credit hour

Avg Salary: $60,000


Midway has the lowest tuition on this list, making it a highly affordable choice for earning a BSN online. Coursework covers topics like population health, evidence-based practice, ethics, and teamwork.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best nursing school in Kentucky?

The University of Kentucky’s College of Nursing is generally considered the best nursing school thanks to its innovative curriculum, state-of-the-art learning facilities, and highly competitive admissions. It consistently ranks nationally for nursing education and research.

How much does it cost to attend nursing school in Kentucky?

For Kentucky residents attending one of the state’s public universities, tuition is approximately $9,000 to $12,000 per year. However, costs for private schools or for non-residents are higher, closer to $30,000 per year.

What kind of nursing programs are there in Kentucky?

Standard options include traditional 4-year BSN programs, accelerated BSN programs that can be completed in 12-24 months, online RN to BSN programs, Master’s programs, and postgraduate certificates for Nurse Practitioners and other Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.

What is the average salary for a nurse graduating in Kentucky?

Salaries vary by region and specialty, but the average starting salary for a nurse graduating from one of Kentucky’s top programs ranges from $58,000 – $67,500 per year. Generally RNs in major cities earn higher wages.

Are there good nursing jobs in Kentucky after graduation?

Yes, registered nurses are currently in high demand across Kentucky like most other states. Graduates from Kentucky nursing schools have their pick of jobs in large hospitals, community clinics, long term care facilities, and other healthcare settings. Opportunities exist statewide.

How competitive is nursing school admissions in Kentucky?

Admissions at the top-ranked nursing schools can be moderately to highly selective with acceptance rates around 70-75% for undergraduates. Applicants generally need GPAs over 3.0 and solid SAT/ACT test scores.

Can I do an online nursing program in Kentucky?

While online options used to be limited, RN to BSN completion programs are now commonly offered online by many Kentucky schools. Some even provide hybrid options with both online coursework and in-person clinical training.

What are prereqs for nursing school in Kentucky?

Exact prerequisites vary a bit by school but commonly include microbiology, human anatomy, physiology, psychology, chemistry, statistics, nutrition, and other foundational science and social science courses. Most schools require a C or higher in their prereqs.

Do all nursing schools in Kentucky require the TEAS test?

Many have either made the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) optional or dropped it from their admissions requirements in recent years. However, some still use it or other standardized tests like the HESI A2 to help evaluate applicants. It’s smart to take one just in case.

Are there LPN to RN bridge programs?

Yes, accelerated LPN to RN and LPN to BSN programs serve Licensed Practical Nurses wanting to become Registered Nurses. They are offered at several Kentucky colleges and universities, allowing LPNs to leverage their existing medical knowledge. The bridge programs take roughly 2 years to complete.

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Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.

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