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2023 Best Colleges in Kentucky

39 Colleges
$41,976 Avg Salary*
33% Avg 4-Year Grad Rate*

There are lots of options to chooose from today when trying to decide which college to attend. One of our goals at College Factual is to give you as much information as we can - such as our Top Kentucky Colleges ranking - to help you make that decision.

Our analysis looked at 39 schools in Kentucky to determine which ones were the best in terms of overall quality. Instead of depending on subjective information, we focus on over 20 objective factors to determine this ranking. These factors include such things as student-to-faculty ratio, average graduate earnings, and graduation rate.

See what other factors we include in our ranking methodology.

One Size Does Not Fit All

We've developed a number of other tools and rankings to help you make your college decision. Start by filtering this list by location or field of study and then explore our other rankings that feature schools great for different groups of students such as veterans or returnings adults.

We've created a tool called College Combat that lets you create your own customized comparisons based on the factors that matter the most to you. If you're torn between two schools, you can use it to help you see how they stack up against one another!

Top Colleges in Kentucky

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

University of Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

Our 2023 rankings named University of Kentucky the best school in Kentucky in terms of overall quality for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Located in Lexington, Kentucky, the large public school handed out 8,208 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

With a freshman retention rate of 86%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from UK make an average of $54,458 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on University of Kentucky

#2

University of Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend University of Louisville. It ranked #2 on our 2023 Best Colleges in Kentucky list. UofL is located in Louisville, Kentucky and has a large student population. In 2020-2021, this school awarded 5,454 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.4%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from UofL make an average of $49,875 per year during the early years of their career.

Full University of Louisville Report

#3

Centre College

Danville, Kentucky

You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around if you attend Centre College. The school came in at #3 in Kentucky on this year’s overall quality ranking. Located in Danville, Kentucky, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 407 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2020-2021.

The low student loan default rate of 1.8% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1% Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $57,976 during the early years of their career..

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#4

University of the Cumberlands

Williamsburg, Kentucky

You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around if you attend University of the Cumberlands. The school came in at #4 in Kentucky on this year’s overall quality ranking. This fairly large private not-for-profit school is located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, and it awarded 4,110 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

During the early years of their career, graduates from Cumberlands make an average of $41,506 a year.

Full University of the Cumberlands Report

#5

Bellarmine University

Louisville, Kentucky

A rank of #5 on our Best Colleges in Kentucky list means Bellarmine University is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Louisville, Kentucky, and it awarded 977 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.2%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Bellarmine U go into careers with an average salary of $52,312 during the early years of their career.

Full Bellarmine University Report

#6

Northern Kentucky University

Highland Heights, Kentucky

Northern Kentucky University came in at #6 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Kentucky ranking.Highland Heights, Kentucky is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 3,686 students in 2020-2021.

The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from NKU is $44,814 during the early years of their career.

Full Northern Kentucky University Report

#7

Western Kentucky University

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Western Kentucky University ranked #7 on this year’s Best Colleges in Kentucky list. Located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the fairly large public school awarded 4,546 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2020-2021.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from WKU go into careers with an average salary of $39,268 during the early years of their career.

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#8

Murray State University

Murray, Kentucky

Murray State University ranked #8 on this year’s Best Colleges in Kentucky list. Murray State University is a medium-sized public school located in Murray, Kentucky that handed out 2,251 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $41,894 during the early years of their career..

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#9

Spalding University

Louisville, Kentucky

With a ranking of #9, Spalding University did quite well on the 2023 Best Colleges in Kentucky list. Spalding University is a small private not-for-profit school located in Louisville, Kentucky that handed out 634 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.0%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. During the early years of their career, graduates from Spalding make an average of $47,088 a year.

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#10

Sullivan University

Louisville, Kentucky

Sullivan University ranked #10 on this year’s Best Colleges in Kentucky list. Sullivan University is a small private for-profit school situated in Louisville, Kentucky. It awarded 930 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Sullivan University go into careers with an average salary of $33,754 during the early years of their career.

Full Sullivan University Report

#11

Eastern Kentucky University

Richmond, Kentucky

Eastern Kentucky University did quite well in the 2023 Best Colleges in Kentucky ranking, coming in at #11. Eastern is a fairly large public school situated in Richmond, Kentucky. It awarded 3,594 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

During the early years of their career, graduates from Eastern make an average of $40,500 a year.

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#12

Campbellsville University

Campbellsville, Kentucky

Campbellsville University came in at #12 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Kentucky ranking. Located in Campbellsville, Kentucky, the fairly large private not-for-profit school awarded 3,488 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2020-2021.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Campbellsville University go into careers with an average salary of $38,684 during the early years of their career.

Full Campbellsville University Report

#13

Asbury University

Wilmore, Kentucky

Asbury University ranked #13 on this year’s Best Colleges in Kentucky list.Wilmore, Kentucky is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 429 students in 2020-2021.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Asbury go into careers with an average salary of $41,352 during the early years of their career.

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#14

Thomas More University

Crestview Hills, Kentucky

Thomas More University ranked #14 on this year’s Best Colleges in Kentucky list. Thomas More is located in Crestview Hills, Kentucky and has a small student population. In 2020-2021, this school awarded 440 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Thomas More make an average of $55,566 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Thomas More University

#15

Brescia University

Owensboro, Kentucky

Brescia University ranked #15 on this year’s Best Colleges in Kentucky list. Brescia University is a small private not-for-profit school located in Owensboro, Kentucky that handed out 201 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

During the early years of their career, graduates from Brescia University make an average of $37,575 a year.

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#16

Georgetown College

Georgetown, Kentucky

Georgetown College came in at #16 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Kentucky ranking. Georgetown College is located in Georgetown, Kentucky and has a small student population. In 2020-2021, this school awarded 373 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.9%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College is $45,697 during the early years of their career.

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#17

Lindsey Wilson College

Columbia, Kentucky

With a ranking of #17, Lindsey Wilson College did quite well on the 2023 Best Colleges in Kentucky list. Lindsey Wilson College is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Columbia, Kentucky. It awarded 687 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Lindsey Wilson College is $32,910 during the early years of their career.

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Bluegrass Community and Technical College did quite well in the 2023 Best Colleges in Kentucky ranking, coming in at #18.Lexington, Kentucky is the setting for this medium-sized institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 6,249 students in 2020-2021.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Bluegrass Community and Technical College go into careers with an average salary of $33,097 during the early years of their career.

Full Bluegrass Community and Technical College Report

Jefferson Community and Technical College ranked #19 on this year’s Best Colleges in Kentucky list. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the fairly large public school handed out 4,956 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

During the early years of their career, graduates from Jefferson Community and Technical College make an average of $34,255 a year.

Read full report on Jefferson Community and Technical College

#20

Morehead State University

Morehead, Kentucky

Morehead State University ranked #20 on this year’s Best Colleges in Kentucky list. Morehead State University is a medium-sized public school located in Morehead, Kentucky that handed out 1,547 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Morehead State University go into careers with an average salary of $37,486 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Morehead State University

#21

Midway University

Midway, Kentucky

Midway University came in at #21 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Kentucky ranking. Midway is located in Midway, Kentucky and has a small student population. In 2020-2021, this school awarded 328 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Midway go into careers with an average salary of $38,294 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Midway University

#22

University of Pikeville

Pikeville, Kentucky

University of Pikeville did quite well in the 2023 Best Colleges in Kentucky ranking, coming in at #22. Located in Pikeville, Kentucky, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 440 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2020-2021.

Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $41,466 during the early years of their career..

Full University of Pikeville Report

#23

Kentucky State University

Frankfort, Kentucky

Kentucky State University came in at #23 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Kentucky ranking. Located in Frankfort, Kentucky, the small public school awarded 204 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2020-2021.

During the early years of their career, graduates from KY State make an average of $34,717 a year.

Full Kentucky State University Report

Gateway Community and Technical College landed the #24 spot on the 2023 Best Colleges in Kentucky ranking. Gateway is a small public school situated in Florence, Kentucky. It awarded 2,876 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Gateway make an average of $36,773 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Gateway Community and Technical College

#25

Union College Kentucky

Barbourville, Kentucky

Union College Kentucky came in at #25 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Kentucky ranking. Union College is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Barbourville, Kentucky. It awarded 331 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $38,076 during the early years of their career..

Full Union College Kentucky Report

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Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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