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Nursing Schools in Kentucky with Degree Program Summaries

Jul 23, 2019

Kentucky has around 40 colleges and universities that offer nursing programs. Learn about the degree programs, tuition and program options for the ten largest schools to make an informed education decision.

Essential Information

In Kentucky, registered nursing programs are offered at the associate and bachelor's degree levels, while practical nursing programs are commonly offered at the undergraduate diploma level. Accelerated bachelor's degree programs may be available to registered nurses with an associate degree as well as students with a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field.

Additionally, nurses seeking to expand their careers as administrators, nurse educators, nurse anesthetists or nurse practitioners can find a range of graduate training options at the master's degree and post-master's certificate levels. Terminal clinical doctorates as well as research-focused doctorates in nursing are also available. Students in nursing programs typically learn through a combination of clinical experiences, labs and lectures, and some nursing classes may be offered online.

Career Requirements

The state of Kentucky requires that all prospective registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) complete an accredited nurse training program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for RNs or LPNs. The ten largest schools in the state with nursing programs are presented below. All of the undergraduate degree programs prepare students to take the NCLEX.


Bluegrass Community and Technical College

Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington offers options for prospective RNs and LPNs. An associate degree in nursing leading to RN licensure is comprised of both classroom and clinical instruction. In this 71-credit program, students learn about human anatomy, medical-surgical nursing, pharmacology, pediatric nursing and maternal newborn nursing. For those who wish to pursue practical nursing, there is a Diploma in Practical Nursing available as well. Students in this program complete 52-60 credit hours in topics such as human anatomy and physiology, medical-surgical nursing, pharmacology and mental health. The program culminates in a clinical practicum of about six weeks

Eastern Kentucky University

Located in Richmond, Eastern Kentucky University offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in nursing. The 4-semester associate degree program in nursing includes coursework in human anatomy and physiology, microbiology and nursing concepts. There are three options for the bachelor's degree: a traditional 4-year plan, an RN-BSN program for associate degree-educated nurses and a 21-month second bachelor's program for those with a degree in another area. The latter plan begins with coursework in nursing concepts, health assessment and pathophysiology and continues with classes in research, adult health and other areas. All students undertake a clinical component.

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program has rural health family nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner tracks as well as a public health nursing track with a concentration in administration. Post-MSN certificates can be taken in most of these areas as well. These graduate programs, along with a Doctor of Nursing Practice focusing on organizational leadership, are available in an online format.

Jefferson Community and Technical College

Jefferson Community and Technical College in Louisville is the largest college in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. The college offers two nursing programs. The Diploma in Practical Nursing is a 49-credit course of study comprising coursework in psychology, basic anatomy and physiology, general education and nursing. The 2-year Associate in Applied Science program for prospective RNs consists of general education, science and nursing courses covering topics in anatomy, pharmacology, clinical decision-making, family nursing and nursing across the lifespan. There is also a program for LPNs who wish to become RNs. Both the LPN and RN programs contain lecture and lab work and practical experience at clinical sites outside the school.

Morehead State University

Morehead State University in Morehead offers undergraduate degree programs in nursing. The 2-year Associate in Applied Science is offered at two campuses. A paramedic-to-RN track allows nationally certified paramedics to earn an associate degree and become registered nurses. After taking a transition course, they take the same coursework as regular associate degree students, which consists of clinical and laboratory experiences and coursework in the sciences, psychology, general education and nursing. Bachelor's degree students can choose the pre- or post-licensure track. The post-licensure track, which can be completed in three years, also offers an online option.

Murray State University

Located in Murray, Murray State University's School of Nursing has many degree options. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a 4-year program that provides a foundation in the sciences, after which students take a wide variety of nursing courses covering topics such as pathophysiology, ethics, research and community health nursing. There is also a BSN program available for those who already have RN licensure. Master's students can concentrate on becoming an academic nurse educator or a nurse anesthetist. A Doctor of Nursing Practice is also available, with family nurse practitioner and nurse anesthetist specialties.

Northern Kentucky University

The College of Health Professions at NKU in Highland Heights offers both undergraduate and graduate nursing degrees. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing is offered as a 4-year program as well as an accelerated program for students with an undergraduate degree in another area. The latter program is 16 months and is designed for full-time, non-working individuals. Both programs feature a curriculum that combines courses in the sciences and humanities with nursing classes to prepare individuals for employment as well as for graduate programs in nursing. In addition to participating in simulation and laboratory courses, students have the opportunity to work in a variety of hospitals and health care settings throughout Northern Kentucky and beyond.

NKU also offers a Master of Science in Nursing. All MSN students take core coursework that includes research, health informatics and healthcare policy. Students interested in becoming nurse practitioners can choose from adult, family, pediatric or adult acute care nurse practitioner tracks. Those interested in non-practicing areas can choose areas of focus in executive leadership, informatics or nursing education. Programs range from 38-49 credit hours, depending on the area of emphasis. Classes for the MSN tracks are offered during the evenings and can be taken online or in a classroom setting, on either a full- or part-time basis.

Post-master's programs are also available for MSN holders who wish to become nurse practitioners or educators. A nurse practitioner advancement program allows NPs to add a focus to their credentials. Finally, the university offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and a Doctor of Education with a nurse educator track.

Somerset Community College

Somerset Community College is a 2-year school in Somerset. Students can pursue the 18-month Diploma in Practical Nursing; with extra coursework, this path can also lead to an associate degree. This program is available in both day and night/weekend formats. There is also an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Nursing program for those interested in becoming registered nurses. The AAS in Nursing program combines clinical experiences with classroom knowledge and is available at both the Laurel and Somerset campuses.

University of Kentucky

Located in Lexington, UK's College of Nursing offers several educational options. A bachelor's degree is available for entry-level students, as well as a second degree BSN and an RN-BSN degree completion program. The BSN program allows students to gain hands-on practice in supervised clinical instruction. Coursework covers anatomy, physiology, chemistry, nutrition, pharmacology and a variety of nursing subjects. Over the past ten years, 97% of UK graduates have passed the NCLEX exam on the first try, according to the university's website.

The university also offers two doctoral programs in nursing: a research-oriented PhD and a clinically focused DNP. Both of these doctoral programs can be undertaken with a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing; the time to completion varies, depending upon the degree the student enters with.

University of Louisville

The School of Nursing at this Louisville university offers degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to preparing students for state licensure, the BSN program trains students to begin study at the master's or doctoral level. The school offers a second degree option for those with an undergraduate degree in another field and an RN to BSN for nurses with associate degrees. Master's students can choose from six concentrations, such as adult nurse practitioner, adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner and neonatal nurse practitioner. There is also a PhD in Nursing available for aspiring nurse scientists.

Western Kentucky University

The School of Nursing at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green features several nursing programs at its new Health Sciences Complex at the Medical Center, which is a 3-story building on the hospital's campus. Undergraduate degrees include the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, an RN-BSN option, a second degree option for people with a bachelor's degree in another area and an associate degree in nursing. Also available is an MSN with specialties in nurse administrator, nurse educator and psychiatric nurse practitioner and post-MSN certificates in several areas. A Doctor of Nursing Practice is also offered.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Nursing Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)
Bluegrass Community and Technical College 2-year, public; large city Diploma in Practical Nursing,
Associate Degree in Nursing
$4,328 (in-state)*
$14,480 (out-of-state)*
Eastern Kentucky University 4-year, public; distant town Associate of Science in Nursing,
Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$9,666 (in-state)*
$19,444 (out-of-state)*
Jefferson Community and Technical College 2-year, public; large city Diploma in Practical Nursing,
Associate in Applied Science in Nursing,
LPN to RN
$4,328 (in-state)*
$14,480 (out-of-state)*
Morehead State University 4-year, public; remote town Associate in Applied Science in Nursing,
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
$9,070 (in-state)*
$13,546 (out-of-state)*
Murray State University 4-year, public; remote town Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
RN to BSN,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$9,084 (in-state)*
$24,540 (out-of-state)*
Northern Kentucky University 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Post-MSN programs,
Nurse practitioner advancement programs,
Doctor of Nursing Practice,
Doctor of Education
$10,032 (in-state)*
$19,680 (out-of-state)*
Somerset Community College 2-year, public; rural fringe Diploma in Practical Nursing,
Associate in Applied Science in Nursing
$4,248 (in-state)*
$14,400 (out-of-state)*
University of Kentucky 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Second Degree BSN,
RN to BSN,
Doctor of Nursing Practice,
PhD in Nursing
$12,245 (in-state)*
$29,099 (out-of-state)*
University of Louisville 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Second Degree BSN,
RN to BSN,
Master of Science in Nursing,
PhD in Nursing
$11,656 (in-state)*
$27,278 (out-of-state)*
Western Kentucky University 4-year, public; small city Associate of Science in Nursing,
Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Second Degree BSN,
RN to BSN,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Post-MSN certificates,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$10,512 (in-state)*
$26,280 (out-of-state)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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