10 Best RN to BSN Programs in Kentucky (Online & Campus) – 2024 Rankings

Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org

If you are working as a registered nurse without a bachelor’s degree and would like to further develop your skills and knowledge, boost your salary, and open yourself up to new opportunities, you should consider an RN to BSN program in Kentucky. These flexible courses are designed to allow individuals such as yourself to build upon your education and experience to earn your BSN more quickly and affordably. We have evaluated 14 schools offering these programs to bring you the top 10 ranked CCNE and ACEN accredited choices in the state.

Online RN to BSN Programs in Kentucky: What You Need to Know?

Online RN to BSN courses are designed to make things as simple, flexible, and affordable as possible – especially for RNs who are already working full-time. You will get credit for courses you’ve already taken, and depending on the school, you may also receive credits for your work experience. Online courses are accessible from anywhere, and while some schools in KY offer 100% online programs, others may require you to travel to a campus for testing or a medical facility for clinical experience.

ACEN/CCNE Accredited & Approved by Kentucky Board of Nursing: When choosing where to take your RN to BSN courses, it is important to ensure the school is approved by the Kentucky Board of Nursing and accredited by either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Many of the state’s biggest employers – including hospitals – prefer hiring BSN-educated RNs for their additional knowledge and abilities.

Coursework: The RN to BSN courses you will take are designed to build upon what you’ve already learned and provide you with new skills along the way. These courses will focus on things like nursing management, public health, and pharmacology, all of which are especially important when practicing healthcare in KY.

Sample Courses
Concepts of Disease Process, Health Assessment, Concepts of Pharmacology, Transcultural Nursing, Concepts/Professional Nursing, Care of the High Acuity Patient, Teaching and Health Promotion, Nursing Leadership/Management, Professional Issues, Nursing Research, Concepts of Public Health Nursing, and Application/Public Health Concepts

Clinical Training: Clinical training as part of an online RN to BSN in the state of KY varies. In some schools, you may be required to travel to a partner facility to participate in unpaid clinicals. In other cases, you may be able to fulfill these requirements with online projects, simulations, and through your current employer.

Program Length: One of the best things about RN to BSN programs in KY is their flexibility. If you enroll full-time, you may be able to complete the entire program in a year. Some schools allow you to study at your own pace and give you three years or more to finish your degree.

Common Admission Requirements: Admission requirements vary depending on where in Kentucky you choose to get your RN to BSN education. More competitive programs tend to have the strictest requirements, too. As an example, if you choose Eastern Kentucky University, you will need:

• An ADN from a regionally accredited program;
• Transcripts from all schools attended;
• An RN license from an approved state that has no restrictions and has never been associated with complaints, suspension, or probation; and
• A minimum GPA of 2.5 for all nursing and support courses you will transfer for credits.

What are the 10 Best Accredited RN to BSN Programs in Kentucky for 2024?

(Based on our ranking methodology, the following are the 10 best RN-to-BSN programs in Kentucky (Online & Campus).)

1) Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond

Type: Online

Program Overview: Eastern Kentucky University is a top-ranking online college according to the U.S. News and World Report. Besides, it has also earned a repute of being a military friendly campus. The RN to BSN is a 100% online program that does not require any campus visits. With multiple start dates it offers considerable flexibility, especially for those with personal and work commitments. The clinical requirement too can be completed closer to home, saving you from the hassle of commute. The course is offered in an 8-week term format and is offered full-time as well as part-time. While full-time entails taking two courses most terms and completing the program in 18 months, part-time allows the convenience of one course each term, taking around two years to complete. Out of total 120 credits that you are required to complete, you can transfer some credits from your previous educational experience.

Key Highlights

• The college offers a special tuition cost for active military personnel.
• Throughout the program you will interact with peers and faculty via discussion boards and build professional connections.

2) Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green

Type: Online

Program Overview: Western Kentucky University, with an upgraded facility, dedicated faculty and industry partnerships strives to provide the best learning experience to nursing students. Its RN to BSN program is an online program with limited campus meets. Ideal for those who want to broaden their professional skills and knowledge, it offers this program in a part-time and full-time cohort format. The college allows enrollment for full-time study, only if general education and statistics requirements are complete. Alternatively, if you haven’t completed these courses you can take up the part-time option and complete the courses while progressing through the program. The BSN curriculum includes courses in concepts of pharmacology, professional nursing and public health nursing, nursing leadership and management, transcultural nursing and health assessment.

Key Highlights

• At the time of enrollment, you must decide whether the part-time or full-time cohort suits you better. Once part of a cohort, changing schedules may not be an option.
• You will fulfill the clinical requirement closer to home, for which you will receive assistance from the college.

3) Galen College of Nursing, Louisville

Type: Online

Program Overview: One of the prominent names nationally, in nursing education, Galen College of Nursing emphasizes on evidence-based nursing practice and prepares graduates for patient care in the real world. The online RN to BSN is facilitated with technological advanced mobile apps and tools so you can study on the go. Video presentations, 3D graphics, interactive discussion boards, 24/7 assistance and a dedicated faculty make this RN to BSN program in the Bluegrass State a rather sought after one. To be eligible, the college requires fluency in English and a grade of ‘C’ and above in your previous coursework. This program entails completion of a clinical practicum in your community in the presence of a preceptor. Before enrolling you can take a complimentary credit transfer review to exactly know the number of transfer credits you will be eligible for. This will help you plan the amount of time you will have to spend and tuition costs well in advance.

Key Highlights

• Students new to the program enjoy the benefit of no cost capstone, on the condition that they complete a minimum of one course per semester.
• Depending on the number of credits transferred, you can complete this program in as little as 12 months.

4) University of Louisville, Louisville

Type: Online

Program Overview: University of Louisville is a large metropolitan educational institution that offers focused employment ready education. Small sized classes and an expert faculty help achieve positive academic outcomes. Self-motivation, internet and a computer is all that you need to pursue its online RN to BSN program. Ideally meant for a registered nurse, the program will build on the knowledge and skills you have already acquired, thereby opening up broader career avenues. For those who haven’t yet earned their RN license but have completed an associate in nursing may still enroll, however earning the licensure before the end of first semester is a must to continue. Starting in August, October, January and March, classes are offered in eight-week segments. To graduate you must complete 31 credits in the BSN curriculum and complete a clinical session in community leadership.

Key Highlights

• You can transfer a minimum of 30 credits from your previous degree and save on tuition cost and time.
• As an online student you will enjoy resources such as virtual tutoring and writing, library services and round the clock technology assistance. To stay updated, the college advises checking emails daily and Blackboard every two days.

5) Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights

Type: Online

Program Overview: Northern Kentucky University provides a culture of excellence with innovative and relevant nursing education. With multiple start dates this RN to BSN course in Kentucky offers substantial convenience and flexibility. Courses are offered in seven-week sessions and require completion of total 120 credits to graduate. You must complete 30 credits in core nursing courses, 48 in electives and 37 in general education courses. Depending on your past coursework, general education courses and electives can be transferred towards the BSN. The core coursework includes courses in professional nursing, quality patient care, population centered health, local and international health informatics and a clinical practicum in nursing leadership and management.

Key Highlights

• January, March, May, July, August and October is when you can enter the program. Before you start you will complete an online orientation whilst which you will receive instructions for the program.
• The program is designed to prepare you to work as a professional nurse in acute care settings, intensive care units, specialty areas and community health settings.

6) Murray State University, Murray

Type: Online

Program Overview: The Murray State campus offers the calm of a small town with city amenities not too far away; after all major metros such as Nashville, St. Louis and Memphis are just a short drive away. It offers an online RN to BSN program where only clinical courses are required to be completed on field. After you enroll into the Nursing Professional Practice course, you will be allowed up to five years to complete the program. This works well for full-time professionals who do not wish to compromise on their work schedules while pursuing a BSN degree. Graduation requires completing 40 credits in the BSN coursework through Murray State. The two clinical courses in Community Nursing and Leadership and Management must be self- arranged, however implementation requires approval from faculty.

Key Highlights

• The program is offered in a cohort format with courses taught over eight or sixteen weeks.
• Murray State’s well-acclaimed and supportive faculty coupled with small sized classes adds to effective learning and mentorship.

7) Morehead State University, Morehead

Type: Online

Program Overview: Morehead State University is a comprehensive public university that offers a host of online programs. If you are a registered nurse looking to broaden professional skills and career avenues, then pursuing RN and BSN education in Kentucky can be a well achieved milestone. This 100% online program offers all nursing courses online in eight-week terms. The clinical requirement that you must complete can be done in Kentucky or any other state as the college has joined the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement which allows this convenience. The flexibility works for those who are employed in other states and do not wish to compromise on work commitments while pursuing a degree.

Key Highlights

• The RN to BSN at Morehead is ranked in the top 50 best online nursing programs in the nation by Nursejournal.org. This ranking was achieved after an evaluation of 500 online programs.
• MSU ranked in the list of most affordable and military friendly colleges in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report.

8) Spalding University, Louisville

Type: Online

Program Overview: Ranked as one of the top five colleges in the nation for offering non-traditional schedules, Spalding University, the first to offer a BSN program in Kentucky, keeps the interests of students at the forefront. Whether you are a working student or someone who enjoys breaks after an intensive study session, this RN to BSN program suits both these needs. The program is offered in six-week block schedules, you can take either one or two classes at a time and completely immerse yourself in the course. After six weeks of learning you enjoy one week of break before you begin the next session. Depending on schedule you opt for, you can complete this program either in one or two years. Furthermore, the college allows a transfer of up to 90 credits from your previous degree, saving on time and money. This 100% online program offers seven start dates all through the year, so you enter whenever ready.

Key Highlights

• The curriculum is designed to help you prepare for a career where you can immediately apply the newly acquired knowledge.
• If you plan to pursue an MSN, you will enjoy a preferred status for Spalding’s MSN program.

9) Kentucky Christian University, Grayson

Type: Online

Program Overview: Kentucky Christian University offers nursing education that is based on Christian values of service to community, thereby creating a workforce of nurses who are healers rather than just healthcare professionals. The 100% online RN to BSN education is ideal for registered nurses who are working and are interested in advancing their career. Allowing a generous transfer of credits, you must complete 36 hours of BSN coursework through the university. As a pre-requisite you must complete electives in liberal arts and sciences, and if still incomplete you can do it online. You can take all the online courses as per your convenience; however submission of assignments and projects will require adhering to deadlines. Starting in fall, spring and summer, this program takes approximately 18 months to complete. To be eligible to enter you must earn a GPA of 2.5 in your previous coursework.

Key Highlights

• The program is offered in a small cohort format, offering personalized experience and an opportunity to make connections.
• The faculty is highly experienced in achieving successful student outcomes by offering an online mode of study.

10) Union College-Kentucky, Barbourville

Type: Online

Program Overview: Union College provides an environment of academic excellence, service to each other, rich Appalachian culture and Methodist values. If you are someone who holds a nurse license in Kentucky or any of the Compact states, then you are eligible for this online RN to BSN program. An integration of liberal arts, sciences and core nursing courses, the curriculum is designed to prepare you to treat a diverse patient population in a holistic manner. To graduate you must complete 33 credits of BSN courses through Union College, earning a minimum GPA of 3.0. You will study courses in professional nursing, health assessment, healthcare policy, transcultural nursing, healthcare informatics, evidence-based nursing practice, community health and nursing leadership and management.

Key Highlights

• You can transfer 36 credits from your previous coursework and up to 80 credits if you have graduated from a community college.
• Eligibility to enter into this program will require a minimum GPA of 2.00 in your previous coursework and grade ‘C’ in all science courses.



Latest on Kentucky’s Push for 80 Percent BSN

In response to the Institute of Medicine’s challenge to have at least 80% of all working RNs in Kentucky educated at the BSN level, the state has made great strides. Per the Kentucky Board of Nursing’s licensure reports from 2017, 52% of all RNs in the state have a BSN degree or higher. Unfortunately, data shows that 3,500 more RNs are leaving than are entering the nursing field, which could result in a significant shortage in future years. What’s more, a great deal of the RNs who are licensed to work in healthcare do not.

To combat this, the state government is working with educators to provide working RNs with a flexible and affordable degree choice. Thanks to online programs, it is possible to earn your BSN degree at home in your spare time at a fraction of the cost of a traditional degree. Kentucky is also putting more focus on training their nursing leaders and managers; this can help provide a better, more comfortable work environment that will ideally entice more nurses to remain in the field.

Options to Fund Your RN to BSN in Kentucky

Although the state of Kentucky and individual nursing schools have worked hard to provide affordable solutions for working nurses who are interested in furthering their education, the costs can still be quite the burden for many. Fortunately, there are several paths to help fund your education in KY.

Grants: Grants are excellent options for helping you fund your RN to BSN degree in Kentucky. By filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, you can determine whether you qualify for options like the Pell Grant at the federal level or the College Access Program at the state level.

Loans: Federal student loans are increasingly popular among students, and again, you can apply via the FAFSA form. The state of Kentucky has also set up the KHESLC, or Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation, which is a nonprofit company providing loans for students and parents. Other options include applying directly through your personal bank or credit union.

Scholarships: There are thousands of different scholarships across the state of Kentucky, and while many are small, you can apply for (and win) more than one. One of the most well-known is the Nursing Incentive Scholarship Fund. You may also qualify for scholarships provided through your employer or the school itself.

Employer Assistance Programs: Employer assistance programs include options like tuition reimbursement, which varies from one company to the next. Your employer’s human resources department can tell you more. Some employers in Kentucky will agree to pay for some or all of your education in exchange for your agreement to work for them over a set amount of time, typically in underserved areas.

6 Advantages of Pursuing an RN to BSN in Kentucky

1. Expand Your Knowledge, Skills & Abilities: When you finish your RN to BSN education, you will have access to a brand-new set of skills and abilities that you can use throughout your career in Kentucky and beyond. Not only will you be able to provide better overall patient care, but you will also be ready to take on new responsibilities, making you more valuable to your employer.

2. Salary Bump: Of course, with more education and more responsibility comes a bigger salary – especially in Kentucky. Employers are willing to pay BSN-educated RNs more for their additional knowledge and skills. Before earning their baccalaureate degrees, RNs in Kentucky earn an average of $68,680 each year. After completing their programs, they earn an average of $78,810 – a difference of $10,130 a year.

Before RN To BSN After RN to BSN How Much More Will I Earn
(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

3. More Job Openings: After you finish your RN to BSN degree, you will have access to a variety of new job opportunities, too. Each year across the state of Kentucky, there are only 800 new openings for ADN graduates. For BSN graduates, that number climbs to 1,440 new openings in hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, and a variety of other settings.

Kentucky Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
Annual Openings for BSN Graduates 1,440
Annual Openings for ADN Graduates 800
(Source: Compiled using data from careeronestop.org)

4. The Outlook is Brighter for a BSN Graduate: Job security is just as important as a bigger salary. Fortunately, for BSN graduates in Kentucky, the outlook is very bright. Between 2020 and 2030, only 910 new ADN positions will become available across the state. However, BSN graduates will have access to some 2,240 new openings, representing a growth of just over 9%. This will be fueled primarily by increased access to health insurance; as more people seek medical treatment, more nurses will be required to provide it. It is expected that the trend will continue as Kentucky pushes forward with the 80% by 2020 initiative, as well.

10 Year (2020-2030) Job Outlook
Employment New Job Growth
2020 2030 Number %
BSN 22,70024,9402,2409.87%
ADN 12,95013,8609107.03%
(Source: Compiled using data from careeronestop.org)

5. Career Advancement: Your BSN may open new doors in terms of career advancement, as well. Though a great deal of RNs will continue to provide patient care in hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities after earning their degrees, others go on to become leaders like nurse managers, supervisors, or directors. You may also choose to become a clinical nurse specialist or clinical research nurse, and each of these typically comes with a handsome increase in your salary.

Advancement Opportunities
Charge Nurse Director of Nursing
Chief Nursing Officer Nurse Educator
Clinical Nurse Specialist Nurse Manager
Clinical Research Nurse Nurse Supervisor

6. Post-RN to BSN Study Options: Although you will earn a higher salary as an RN with a BSN degree in KY, your education does not have to stop there. In fact, many of the RN to BSN options in the state will also provide a solid framework for a graduate degree. If you choose to pursue a two-year MSN, you could become a nurse practitioner and earn up to $118,940 a year. If you continue your education for another four to six years and earn a PhD or DNP, you could work as an APRN, as a professor, or as a senior policy analyst earning as much as $138,860 a year.

Type of Degree Length Roles and Responsibilities Salary
Master’s Degree (MSN/MS)Up to 2 yearsAdministrator, Certified Nurse Midwife, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Clinical Leader, Clinical Nurse Specialist & Nurse Practitioner$68,160 - $118,940
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree4 to 6 yearsAdvanced Practice Registered Nurse, College Faculty, Nursing School Dean, Health System Executive, Researcher, & Senior Policy Analyst$68,160 $138,860

RN to BSN Programs in Nearby States
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