2023 best colleges in Kentucky

The Kentucky higher education scene offers a blend of quality academics, history, and innovation, including the state’s largest school, the University of Kentucky. Home to the first emergency room and first successful hand transplant in the world, the University of Louisville School of Medicine has been a pioneer in the medical field since its inception. Berea College, a private liberal arts institution, was the first college to be fully racially integrated and co-educational in the Southern United States. Today, it’s recognized for its unique operating model which provides four-year scholarships to all students and instead requires students to hold on-campus jobs.

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#1 in Kentucky | #118 in Engineering nationally

University of Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky

Economic score: 1.56

The Economic Score is the combination of payback and earningsplus, and is how we determine a school’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

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Net cost: $16,828

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.6 years

Payback measures how long it takes the average student to pay back the total cost of attending college with marginal earnings. Marginal earnings are the difference between what the average student would have earned before attending college and what they earn afterwards.

Earnings: $74,209

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $2,909

EarningsPlus compares student earnings after college against a benchmark that Degreechoices adjusts based on each school’s unique mix of academic programs and the in-state/out-of-state composition of the student body.

Admission rate: 75%
Graduation rate: 58%

Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not ranked and are displayed at the end of the ranking list.

#2 in Kentucky | #125 in Engineering nationally

Western Kentucky University

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Economic score: 1.61

The Economic Score is the combination of payback and earningsplus, and is how we determine a school’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

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Net cost: $12,522

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.5 years

Payback measures how long it takes the average student to pay back the total cost of attending college with marginal earnings. Marginal earnings are the difference between what the average student would have earned before attending college and what they earn afterwards.

Earnings: $65,168

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $3,808

EarningsPlus compares student earnings after college against a benchmark that Degreechoices adjusts based on each school’s unique mix of academic programs and the in-state/out-of-state composition of the student body.

Admission rate: 98%
Graduation rate: 52%

Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not ranked and are displayed at the end of the ranking list.

#3 in Kentucky | #200 in Engineering nationally

University of Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

Economic score: 2.01

The Economic Score is the combination of payback and earningsplus, and is how we determine a school’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

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Net cost: $18,203

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.9 years

Payback measures how long it takes the average student to pay back the total cost of attending college with marginal earnings. Marginal earnings are the difference between what the average student would have earned before attending college and what they earn afterwards.

Earnings: $69,191

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $2,646

EarningsPlus compares student earnings after college against a benchmark that Degreechoices adjusts based on each school’s unique mix of academic programs and the in-state/out-of-state composition of the student body.

Admission rate: 94%
Graduation rate: 66%

Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not ranked and are displayed at the end of the ranking list.

#4 in Kentucky | #271 in Engineering nationally

Murray State University

Murray, Kentucky

Economic score: 2.72

The Economic Score is the combination of payback and earningsplus, and is how we determine a school’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

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Net cost: $11,736

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.4 years

Payback measures how long it takes the average student to pay back the total cost of attending college with marginal earnings. Marginal earnings are the difference between what the average student would have earned before attending college and what they earn afterwards.

Earnings: $47,260

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $6,096

EarningsPlus compares student earnings after college against a benchmark that Degreechoices adjusts based on each school’s unique mix of academic programs and the in-state/out-of-state composition of the student body.

Admission rate: 85%
Graduation rate: 58%

Graduation rates below the school’s state average are shown in red. Schools with graduation rates in the bottom 25% nationally (48%) are not ranked and are displayed at the end of the ranking list.

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