Selecting the best nursing school in Kentucky can be difficult. To make the process easier first look for a school that supports students towards licensure and beyond. A great way to measure this is through NCLEX-RN "pass rates." We have ranked the top 20 nursing schools in Kentucky by analyzing current and historical NCLEX-RN "pass rates", meaning the percentage of graduates who pass the exam, out of the 50 RN programs in the state. Programs reviewed include schools that offer an Associate in Nursing (ADN/ASN), BSN, or Direct-Entry MSN Degree.

For more information on our top nursing school rankings, see our Methodology Page (

Kentucky's current state of health is one that requires a high standard of care, met by professionals with specific skill sets. In order to meet those needs the state is looking for candidates that possess a higher level of education, and are offering higher salaries, and advancements in specialties as equivalent compensation. The overall outlook on future nursing positions for the state is projected at 20% per year, which equates to an average of 1,000 new positions. The state is in need of nurses that are striving toward a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing or greater to help meet the demand of such a complex and diverse health care system.

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ADN Programs in Kentucky

High school and mature students are presented with a variety of post-secondary options - one of which is that of pursuing an ADN or Associate's Degree in Nursing through a community or vocational college. With an ADN degree, students are able to sit the national licensure examinations, known as the NCLEX-RN and from there, be able to practice as a registered nurse.

There are over 40 college diploma programs for nurses offered at institutions throughout the state. Pre-licensure nurses who wish to learn and practice in their home state should be well equipped to do so.

What to Look For in an ADN Program in Kentucky

Examining colleges' accreditation, licensure and program outcomes data is a great way for students to compare which school will help them meet with success in a way that aligns with their personality and values. With more than 40 schools to choose from throughout the state, comparing data like this can make it easy to eliminate all but the top two or three choices for ADN.


Accreditations are a voluntary industry standard that show good faith toward the public and toward the individual consumer - in this case, the students who are interested in ADN programs. Each nursing program has the option of submitting to a periodic review of their faculty, programs, facilities and outcomes in order to carry the 'seal of approval' that accreditation brings. Throughout the country, the two nursing accreditation organizations are the Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Each organization has a list of which programs have met the accreditation standards in a given review period.


The board of nursing for the state has a hand in reviewing and correcting aspects of ADN programs that are not suitable for creating qualified nursing candidates. As such, a program's licensure is periodically under review and given feedback if it doesn't meet rigorous criteria. As stated on the Board of Nursing website, a school should have a high rate of multi-year NCLEX pass statistics that are in line with the rest of the country when adjusted for time frames and demographics.

Program Outcomes

Colleges collect information annually and use it to publish and compare their outcomes to those of other colleges - as a benchmark to success and to attracting more students and positive publicity. Parents and students can compare program outcomes between different colleges to see which might be the best investment in their nursing education.

  • Graduation data
  • Enrolment information and demographics
  • Hiring data
  • First-attempt NCLEX pass/fail data
  • Consumer (student) reviews

Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College in Glasgow is renowned for the strength of its ADN program. Meeting all the licensure and accreditation reviews, pre-licensure students are proud graduates of SKCTC.

ADN Program Admission Requirements in Kentucky

Each institution has its own unique requirements for student admission, but we've collected some of the most common elements here so that you can best prepare your application and be admitted to the school of your choice:

  • Submit all transcript document directly to the Admissions department
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or greater; pre-requisite courses must meet competitive standards
  • Professional fluency in additional languages meets the competitive standard
  • Be considered 'in good standing' by the Admissions department
  • Pass drug screening, abilities screening, and criminal background check

Tuition and Costs of ADN Programs in Kentucky

For students who are recent graduates of high school, the cost of tuition, materials, and living expenses can cause quite a shock. Fortunately, many students qualify for financial aid and scholarships - additionally, students can lower some costs by working part-time, and by attending an ADN program at a local college. Direct entry to the workforce after licensure also helps defray the cost of post-secondary.

Nursing students at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College can expect to pay about $3,800 per year as an in-state student in the ADN program stream. On top of this cost are books, material and administrative fees, as well as living and food costs.

Advantages of ADN Programs

The accessibility and affordability of the ADN program stream continues to ensure that the programs are in high demand, even as the industry becomes more focused on BSN offerings. With low tuition prices and accessible campuses, students find excellent value in an ADN degree. As well, diligent graduates are prepared to take the same NCLEX exam for licensure as their BSN counterparts.

BSN Programs in Kentucky

BSN or Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs are offered in the university environment. Candidates attend school for four years instead of an ADN's two-year timeline, and are then eligible to sit the NCLEX exam for licensure as an RN. BSN grads are well positioned to continue to climb the career ladder; further qualifications will net them a graduate or doctoral degree depending on their path and interests.

Kentucky has more than 15 BSN programs offering 4-year degrees for pre-licensure nursing students throughout the state and beyond.

What To Look For in a BSN Program in Kentucky

When evaluating BSN programs for possible attendance, students should consider a few logistical factors, such as cost, whether a university is public or private, tuition, and faculty reputation. Beyond these measures, students may wish to consider if the university seems to share a certain set of values with them, and if other students would say they benefited from the program culture and environment on campus.

University of Kentucky - Lexington offers a traditional 4-year BSN program that prepares graduates to meet the changing face of healthcare. With well-regarded classroom, lab and clinical experiences, students can augment their education with special opportunities and internships.

BSN Program Length in Kentucky

Eight semesters is the traditional length of time for an undergraduate degree. Students must successfully complete about 120 credit hours of classroom time, as well as their clinical placements in order to be eligible for graduation. Students can also pursue an accelerated degree, which is condensed to about 2.5 years of continuous education. RNs who have graduated previously from an ADN program and who wish to upgrade their qualifications may apply to the state's RN to BSN programs, which are also shorter than the traditional 4-year track.

BSN Program Admission Requirements in Kentucky

BSN programs each strive to enrol the best pool of applicants from high school, the workforce and post-secondary transfer. With that in mind, you can see how admission requirements would be similar yet unique across programs in the state. Here we've listed a few of the most common ones for your review:

  • Complete and accurate online application submitted
  • 3.25 GPA or higher as per official transcript
  • ACT composite score of 22+ and math score of 19+
  • Pre-requisite courses have competitive marks
  • You are a student 'in good standing' with the university
  • Negative background and drug screening results

Tuition and Costs of BSN Programs in Kentucky

Tuition and other costs associated with attending school can be considerable - there is also quite a bit of difference between different universities in the same state. In order to best prepare yourself for the investment in your future, be aware that you'll have administrative fees, tuition, housing and food costs, transportation, materials and books, and nursing equipment to provision for.

Kentucky State University has tuition of about $5,700 per semester, with room and board at about $7,000 per semester and books and supplies about $1,300 for the year.

Advantages of BSN Programs

It's advantageous to pursue a BSN! Those students with a 4-year degree will find that they have different and more mobile career paths, as well as the opportunity for more pay sooner than their ADN counterparts do. When pursuing a leadership role or graduate studies, those students with a BSN are considered more competitive due to their degree.

MSN Programs in Kentucky

Nurses who wish to earn within the top range of salary for their profession should look to pursuing a Master's of Science in Nursing or MSN degree. With specialties like Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Teacher, and roles in leadership and policymaking, MSN degrees are increasingly in demand.

About five graduate degree programs throughout the state lead RNs to an MSN degree. There are a mix of online, on-campus, and hybrid options available.

MSN Program Length in Kentucky

The average length of an MSN program in the state is 2 to 3 years. Students must participate in about 40 credit hours of didactic study, coupled with almost 800 hours of clinical time in order to be eligible for graduation. While part-time study is available in most cases, nurses may run into time requirements to complete various components of their degree.

MSN Admission Requirements in Kentucky

MSN programs are becoming more in demand year-on-year as our population continues to age. Each program has its own unique criteria for admission, but there are some similarities:

  • Able to practice nursing in Kentucky
  • Minimum BSN GPA of 3.0
  • Have submitted professional letters of recommendation from practicing nurses
  • Submit all post-secondary and CE transcripts
  • Submit a professional resume and personal statement

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Getting a Kentucky Nursing License

Kentucky state candidates looking to acquire nursing licensure through examination or endorsement are required to provide:

A completed application and the corresponding fees, as well as further information such as:

  • Criminal background check
  • Fingerprint card - signed and completed
  • Kentucky Jurisprudence Exam completed
  • Graduate of an approved nursing program
  • Passing score on NCLEX exam

Candidates that are applying by endorsement must include all preceding documentation and these additional requirements:

  • Proof of required continuing competency
  • Verification of licensure from original state
  • Official transcripts from nursing program - sent directly via program to state board

Accelerated Nursing Programs in Kentucky

A BA in another field could help you earn a BSN in nursing! The accelerated programs offered at several different institutes throughout the state, can provide you with a second degree in as little as 12 months. The 12-month timeframe can vary a little bit depending on any required course to be completed before entrance will be permitted. The additional course can add to the cost of completing the degree program, so research the program and college to find out more about tuition costs for accelerated programs.

Best RN Programs in Kentucky


790 Thomas More Pkwy, Edgewood, KY 41017 (859) 442-4138

Gateway Community and Technical College - Edgewood is located in Florence, Kentucky and is home to an excellent nursing program. GCTC graduates are a welcome addition to institutions, hospitals and healthcare teams.

Score: 97.80| Programs: Associate in Nursing

600 College Street Rd, Elizabethtown, KY 42701 (270) 769-2371

Located in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Elizabethtown Community and Technical College campus is home to a well-respected nursing program. Graduates from the program administer treatments and medications as prescribed, while advocating health changes in each patient.

Score: 97.00| Programs: Associate in Nursing

315 College of Nursing Building - 751 Rose Street, Lexington, KY 40506 (859) 323-5108

In the heart of Lexington, University of Kentucky is home to a widely acclaimed nursing program. In the BSN and MSN degree tracks, nursing students learn knowledge-based nursing practice and clear communication.

Score: 96.80| Programs: BSN

808 Monticello St, Somerset, KY 42501 (606) 679-8501

Somerset Community College has a well-known and respected nursing program. Promoting quality work environments and communication styles turns nursing students into strong health advocates.

Score: 96.10| Programs: Associate in Nursing

2001 Newburg Rd, Louisville, KY 40205 (502) 272-8131

Bellarmine University is located in the heart of Louisville, Kentucky and is home to excellent BSN and MSN degree programs. Graduates of BU are capable, confident and caring patient and healthcare advocates.

Score: 95.50| Programs: BSN

129 State Ave, Glasgow, KY 42141 (270) 651-5673

Located in beautiful Glasgow, Kentucky, Southcentral Kentucky Community College strives to meet the demand of the nursing profession by providing more highly qualified graduates to the workforce. SKCC nurses are an excellent addition to the healthcare team.

Score: 95.45| Programs: Associate in Nursing

4800 New Hartford Rd, Owensboro, KY 42303 (270) 686-4400

Owensboro Community and Technical College shows students and professionals that nursing is one of the most necessary and vital professions in today's workforce. OCTC graduates are welcomed in medical circles by ethical professionals.

Score: 94.70| Programs: Associate in Nursing

470 Cooper Dr, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 246-6200

Bluegrass Community and Technical College is home to an innovative nursing program in Lexington, Kentucky. BCTC graduates are caring advocates of the patient, and a competent addition to the healthcare team.

Score: 93.80| Programs: Associate in Nursing

6965 Cumberland Gap Pkwy, Harrogate, KY 37752 (423) 869-3611

Lincoln Memorial University is located in Harrogate, Kentucky near Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. In this pastoral community, LMU nursing students pursue their BSN and MSN in order to fill healthcare gaps near and far.

Score: 93.00| Programs: Associate in Nursing

601 Jefferson Avenue, Jackson, KY 41339 (606) 436-5721

Hazard Community & Technical College is located in the community of Jackson, Kentucky. With leading nursing programs, HCTC graduates enter the workforce modelling professional and competent behavior in pursuit of exemplary patient advocacy.

Score: 92.40| Programs: Associate in Nursing

720 North Dr, Hopkinsville, KY 42241 (270) 707-3700

Hopkinsville Community College - Hopkinsville campus takes pride in doing its part to meet the need for healthcare professionals in the state of Kentucky. HCC graduates are well able to meet the demands of the NCLEX-RN and the professional calling that follows.

Score: 92.00| Programs: Associate in Nursing

100 Louie B Nunn Dr, Highland Heights, KY 41099 (859) 572-5220

Northern Kentucky University - Highland Heights campus is where nursing students work hard to attain BSN and MSN degrees. With several pathways, NKU is a great fit for pre-licensure, returning and master's candidate nursing students.

Score: 91.70| Programs: BSN

1500 Bypass North, US 127, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342 (859) 246-6470

Bluegrass Community and Technical College - Lawrenceburg makes rigorous study accessible to students in outlying communities through their various campuses. Faculty leads pre-licensure nurses through the model of observation, assessment, and nurse diagnosis to improve patient outcomes.

Score: 91.50| Programs: Associate in Nursing

4810 Alben Barkley Dr, Paducah, KY 42001 (270) 554-9200

West Kentucky Community and Technical College is known to mold nursing graduates toward an innovative and effective model of patient advocacy, with a focus on health teaching and individual counseling for patients who are ill, injured or infirm.

Score: 91.00| Programs: Associate in Nursing

2660 S Green St, Henderson, KY 42420 (270) 827-1867

Henderson Community College is located south of Evansville, KY. Through caring, experienced faculty, graduates learn to promote and model wellness, health maintenance, and illness prevention in self and others.

Score: 90.80| Programs: Associate in Nursing

521 Lancaster Ave, Richmond, KY 40475 (859) 622-1000

Eastern Kentucky University is located about half an hour southeast of Lexington, Kentucky. BSN and MSN students learn to integrate evidence-based decision making and planning that support the healthcare team's outcomes.

Score: 90.75| Programs: Associate in Nursing, BSN

555 South Floyd Street Suite 3019, Louisville, KY 40202 (502) 852-5825

University of Louisville - School of Nursing (Louisville) is at the heart of one of Kentucky's largest cities. BSN and MSN students in the nursing program have an array of excellent and welcoming clinical experiences to inform their nursing practice.

Score: 90.70| Programs: BSN

500 Hilltopper Way, Glasgow, KY 42141 (270) 659-6900

Western Kentucky University - Glasgow is located in the southern portion of the state. With satellite campuses, nursing students can keep costs low, while building excellent professional networks and clinical experiences.

Score: 90.10| Programs: Associate in Nursing

1755 U.S. 68, Maysville, KY 41056 (606) 759-7141

Maysville Community & Technical College is known for leading nursing students to highly successful interdisciplinary collaboration within the healthcare team. Located on the northern state line, Maysville nursing graduates are an important part of many communities.

Score: 89.80| Programs: Associate in Nursing

1906 College Heights Blvd, Bowling Green, KY 42101 (270) 745-4379

Western Kentucky University - Bowling Green campus is home to many pre-licensure and transfer students that are busily fulfilling the rigorous requirements of BSN and MSN coursework. WKU students are consummate professionals in the patient interaction.

Score: 88.72| Programs: Associate in Nursing, BSN

Continued List of All RN Programs in Kentucky

3101 Bardstown Rd., Louisville, KY 40205
(502) 456-6505
Programs: Associate in Nursing
2000 College Dr, Madisonville, KY 42431
(270) 821-2250
Programs: Associate in Nursing
512 E Stephens St, Midway, KY 40347
(800) 952-4122
Programs: Associate in Nursing
1031 Zorn Ave #400, Louisville, KY 40207
(502) 410-6200
Programs: Associate in Nursing
100 University Dr, London, KY 40741
(606) 877-1421
Programs: Associate in Nursing
147 Sycamore St, Pikeville, KY 41501
(606) 218-5250
Programs: Associate in Nursing
1375 Chestnut St, Murray, KY 42071
(800) 272-4678
Programs: BSN
901 South Fourth Street, Louisville, KY 40203
(502) 585-9911
Programs: BSN
150 University Blvd, Morehead, KY 40351
(606) 783-2221
Programs: Associate in Nursing, BSN
1 University Dr, Campbellsville, KY 42718
(270) 789-5000
Programs: Associate in Nursing
50 National College Blvd, Pikeville, KY 41501
(888) 952-2732
Programs: Associate in Nursing
101 Chestnut St, Berea, KY 40403
(859) 985-3000
Programs: BSN
700 College Rd, Cumberland, KY 40823
(606) 589-2145
Programs: Associate in Nursing
319 Webster Ave, Cynthiana, KY 41031
(859) 234-8626
Programs: Associate in Nursing
1400 College Dr, Ashland, KY 41101
(606) 326-2000
Programs: Associate in Nursing
1000 Breckenridge St, Owensboro, KY 42303
(502) 852-5825
Programs: BSN
3300 US-25E, Pineville, KY 40977
(606) 589-2145
Programs: Associate in Nursing
210 Lindsey Wilson St, Columbia, KY 42728
(270) 384-2126
Programs: BSN
200 W Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 213-5333
Programs: Associate in Nursing
400 E Main St, Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 597-6000
Programs: Associate in Nursing
1 Bert Combs Dr, Prestonsburg, KY 41653
(606) 886-3863
Programs: Associate in Nursing
3400 Indian Mound Dr, Mt Sterling, KY 40353
(859) 499-0780
Programs: Associate in Nursing
333 Thomas More Pkwy, Crestview Hills, KY 41017
(859) 341-5800
Programs: BSN
100 Academic Pkwy, Grayson, KY 41143
(800) 522-3181
Programs: BSN
1 Community College Dr, Hazard, KY 41701
(606) 436-5721
Programs: Associate in Nursing
16 Spiral Dr, Florence, KY 41042
(859) 371-9393
Programs: Associate in Nursing
3361 Buckland Square, Owensboro, KY 42301
(270) 926-4040
Programs: Associate in Nursing
300 North Main Street, Versailles, KY 40383
(877) 528-2748
Programs: Associate in Nursing, LPN
1845 Loop Ave, Bowling Green, KY 42101
(270) 901-1000
Programs: Associate in Nursing
310 College St, Barbourville, KY 40906
(606) 546-4151
Programs: BSN

Are we missing your school's program or need to update information listed? Please contact us so we can make the necessary changes.

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