2023 Top Colleges in Kentucky

Top colleges in Kentucky from Colleges of Distinction

Published: September 1, 2022

By: Colleges of Distinction Staff

Jump to: Centre College | Lindsey Wilson College | Murray State University | Spalding University | University of Kentucky | University of Louisville | University of the Cumberlands | Frequently Asked Questions

Colleges of Distinction has hand-picked a selection of top schools that are well equipped to provide a personalized education catered to students’ interests. Through a rigorous vetting and interview process for the 2022-2023 academic year, we have refreshed and reaffirmed that these institutions strive for excellence in line with the four overarching distinctions—Student Engagement, Teaching, Community, and Outcomes.

These schools vary in size, cost, location, academic offerings, and more, but they are all distinguished by their commitment to the undergraduate experience. The diversity of the college list is intentional, giving students and parents a variety of public and private universities to consider. No matter what, they all exhibit the foundational qualities of a fulfilling undergraduate education.

Centre College Kentucky logo

Centre College

Danville, KY ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Students are bound to enjoy a personalized education that’s second to none while engaging themselves in an active, vibrant community. Centre College’s “Southern twist” creates a warm and pleasant atmosphere conducive to new friendships and make meaningful connections. In such a welcoming environment, students thrive as they are challenged both in and out of the classroom with rigorous academics and extracurricular opportunities.

As part of the Centre Commitment, all Centre students are guaranteed an internship, study abroad, and graduation within four years, or Centre will provide up to a year of additional study, tuition-free. Centre is ranked among the nation’s top ten in study abroad percentage, with 85% enrollment across the campus. Semester-long study is offered at campuses in England (London or Reading), France, and Mexico, with exchange programs in Japan, Northern Ireland, and England. A variety of three-week study opportunities are available at other locations around the world, including Italy, Vietnam, Barbados, Spain, and Turkey.

Acceptance rate 72%      •      Net price $22,748       •      SAT Range 1100-1340      •      Students submitting SAT scores 16%
Total Undergrad Population 1,333      •      Setting Town       •       Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 83%      •       Retention rate 89%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 10:1

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lindsey wilson college logo

Lindsey Wilson College

Columbia, KY ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

One of the fastest growing private colleges in Kentucky, Lindsey Wilson College has strived to provide students with a living-learning experience truly enriched with welcoming Methodist values. LWC first opened in 1904 as Lindsey Wilson Training School, then transitioned into an exclusively junior college, and finally developed into today’s four-year, baccalaureate degree-granting institution in 1985. Over the past thirty years, the student population has blossomed alongside the College’s facilities, budget, and impact on the surrounding community.

Every student has the option to receive academic credit for internships related to their major, reaping many benefits of practical work experience while still in school. Some pre-approved opportunities are available in select majors, but students may also apply to have other internships qualify for academic credit.

Acceptance rate 76%      •      Net price $14,647
Total Undergrad Population 2,764      •       Setting Town       •       Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 39%      •      Retention rate 68%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 16:1

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Morehead State University logo

Morehead State University

Morehead, KY ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Morehead State University is a public institution in Morehead, Kentucky. Undergraduate students can explore over 140 degree programs, each of which are filled with opportunities to put their course work in action.

Morehead State students come from across Kentucky and beyond. The medium sized-university character and emphasis on student success promise personalized attention.

Acceptance rate 77%      •      Net price $12,498
Total Undergrad Population 9,304      •      Setting Town      •       Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 43%      •       Retention rate 76%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 15:1

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Murray State University

Murray, KY ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Murray State University places its highest priority on student learning and excellent teaching, blending the range of educational opportunities often found at research institutions with the nurturing student-teacher interactions usually found at smaller universities.

Through effective and creative teaching, both in traditional formats and in an online environment; the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills to real-world situations, and academic and student support services, the quality faculty and staff foster student growth in knowledge, critical inquiry, and innovative thinking.

Acceptance rate 77%      •      Net price $11,628      •      SAT Range 1020-1230       •       Students submitting SAT scores 18%
Total Undergrad Population 9,449      •      Setting Town       •       Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 53%      •       Retention rate 81%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 17:1

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Spalding University Louisville Kentucky

Spalding University

Louisville, KY ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

Spalding University is the home for students who want to earn a degree while engaging and serving the community. It puts compassion in action every day with a mission-driven focus, volunteering, teaching, advocating, organizing, and giving. Students are active in the community, using their Spalding education to make the world better. Spalding is a diverse community with a core commitment to inclusion, valuing its students, faculty, and staff from all walks of life. Begin your college journey with Spalding and follow your passions.

Spalding is an inclusive community of people who are fundamentally different from one another. With the most racially diverse student body of Kentucky’s private colleges, the university is made up of artists, veterans, activists, parents, religious leaders, LGBTQIA community members, and athletes. All of these people and more, Spalding students and faculty have different abilities, ideals, cultures, backgrounds, goals, and passions.

Since 1814, Spalding has been serving the surrounding community in the tradition of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth with a spirit of inclusiveness and compassion.

Acceptance rate 93%      •      Net price $23,003      •       SAT Range 896-1103       •       Students submitting SAT scores 14%
Total Undergrad Population 1,596       •       Setting City: Large      •       Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 58%      •      Retention rate 66%      •       Student-to-faculty ratio 11:1

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University of Kentucky's UK logo

University of Kentucky

Lexington, KY ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Located in Lexington, Kentucky, the University of Kentucky (UK) is a premier public research university with a long-standing tradition of excellence in academics, research, and service. UK offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.. As a flagship institution, UK boasts a wide range of unique and innovative academic programs, including a highly esteemed College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; a leading College of Engineering; and a renowned College of Medicine.

UK’s faculty members are leaders in their fields, and their research programs are making significant contributions to global knowledge in areas such as energy, health, and sustainability. With a diverse community of more than 30,000 students from all over the world, UK offers a vibrant and inclusive campus culture that is rooted in a strong sense of community. Students have access to a wealth of resources and opportunities, including cutting-edge research facilities, community service programs, study abroad experiences, and a thriving athletics program. Discover why the University of Kentucky is a dynamic and innovative institution that is shaping the future of higher education.

Acceptance rate 96%      •     Net price $19,831     •     SAT Range 1070-1280      •     Students submitting SAT scores 23%
Total Undergrad Population 22,227       •       Setting City: Large       •       Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 66%      •      Retention rate 86%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 16:1

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University of Louisville logo

University of Louisville

Louisville, KY ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

University of Louisville is a premier research institution with a strong focus on the liberal arts and sciences. Students are actively involved in their individual educational experiences and have plenty of opportunities to succeed, both in the classroom and as a member of the campus community.

Acceptance rate 65%      •      Net price $17,894      •       SAT Range 1050-1270      •      Students submitting SAT scores 19%
Total Undergrad Population 22,211       •       Setting City: Large       •       Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 60%      •      Retention rate 81%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 19:1

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University of the Cumberlands logo

University of the Cumberlands

Williamsburg, KY ‧ Christian ‧ 4-year

The University of the Cumberlands is dedicated to helping students build a “life more abundant.” The campus maintains a small, tightly knit community that encourages a connection of research with practice. Located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, UC propels its graduates out into a world of possibility. With a University of Cumberlands education, students are equipped for their career goals and prepared to lead and serve in a global community.

At University of the Cumberlands, servant leadership is unmistakably at the center of learning and campus activities. In fact, community service is a degree requirement! The school’s community values and culture, however, have made it natural for all students, faculty, and staff to contribute far more than what’s asked of them. A majority of student-led groups make community engagement an inherent part of their activities.

One noted organization founded entirely by Cumberlands students is the Mountain Outreach program. In a heartfelt effort to improve the lives of struggling local families, Mountain Outreach has dedicated over thirty years to renovating households, making significant repairs, and even building nearly 150 homes from the ground up! Other Mountain Outreach projects include volunteer trips over Spring Break, summer construction projects, and a Community Distribution Center through which those in the UC community hand out necessities to their neighbors in need.

Acceptance rate 81%      •      Net price $13,764      •      SAT Range 930-1140      •       Students submitting SAT scores 14%
Total Undergrad Population 19,110       •       Setting Town       •       Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 40%      •      Retention rate 66%      •       Student-to-faculty ratio 20:1

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What it’s like to attend schools in Kentucky and other FAQ:

What are average tuition costs in Kentucky?

The average undergraduate tuition & fees for colleges in Kentucky is $6,496 for in-state students at public institutions, $18,809 for out-of-state students at public institutions, and $19,349 for students at private institutions.

Cheapest degree program in Kentucky

Murray State University has an average net price of $11,628, making it the least expensive institution in Kentucky that made our list.

Easiest degree program to get into in Kentucky

University of Kentucky has an acceptance rate of 96%, making it the least exclusive college in Kentucky on our list.

Degree program with lowest student debt in Kentucky

University of the Cumberlands has a median total debt after graduation of $15,540. This is the typical debt for a student who completed their undergraduate degree.

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