Kentucky’s Best Graduate Schools of 2021

Graduate school may be a critical step in your higher education, whether you are interested in expanding your knowledge, learning a specialization, or earning advanced credentials required by your profession. The best graduate schools in Kentucky offer advanced degrees, such as master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as opportunities for independent research, mentorships, and professional networking.

Kentucky’s Best Graduate Schools of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Kentucky

Between community colleges, technical schools, and universities, Kentucky has 24 public schools. The community colleges and technical schools average $4,000 for tuition, and tuition for public universities ranges from $8,000 to $12,000. Those looking to attend private colleges can choose from 26 schools, of which 21 are religiously affiliated. The cost to attend private schools tends to be higher, reaching $42,000 in Kentucky, but there are some affordable options with tuition rates as low as $9,000.

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The largest and top-rated public university is the University of Kentucky, which has over 30,000 students and costs about $12,000. Political science, chemistry, and literature are all possible majors. Students who attend either the University of Louisville or Western Kentucky University will become part of a friendly basketball rivalry. Both of these universities also offer varying fields of study, including mathematics, communications, business, and history. In addition, Kentucky encourages graduating education students to apply for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, which awards $5,000 to $17,500 toward Federal Stafford loans to those remaining the profession.

There is something for everyone in The Bluegrass State. Kentucky is home to the famous Kentucky Derby, the Daniel Boone National Forest, and the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. Students wanting to study where Abraham Lincoln and Muhammad Ali both called home have 50 higher learning institutions from which to choose.

Kentucky has it all — associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Check out the top programs and find which institution is the right one for you.

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What are Kentucky’s Colleges & Universities?

Kentucky’s Best Overall


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There are 9 doctorate-granting universities in Kentucky, 5 of which meet our criteria. The best graduate schools below are composed of both private and public schools that satisfy the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer doctoral degrees and a broad array of graduate degrees.
  4. It must have a graduation rate greater than 50%.

How do we determine Kentucky's best graduate schools?

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why influence gets at the heart of what is truly best in education. At the undergraduate level, the best colleges and universities are those with the highest concentration of influence. Our Concentrated Influence metric adjusts overall influence by size of undergraduate student body, thus allowing smaller schools to compete with larger schools so long as they have proportionately as strong influential faculty and alums.

But at the graduate level, the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers is the best indicator of academic excellence. Overall influence, and not influence controlled by other variables, thus becomes the best gauge of academic excellence at the graduate level. Where smaller size is an advantage at the undergraduate level (hence Concentrated Influence), graduate studies benefit from a large and vibrant community of graduate students, who promise to become the new generation of academic influencers.

If you are serious about finding the best graduate schools, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our methodology here.

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5 Best Graduate Schools in Kentucky

  1. #1

    University of Kentucky

    #193 institution's historical influence
    #541 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/25

    Lexington, KY

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    What is University of Kentucky known for?

    University of Kentucky’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Law
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

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  2. #2

    University of Louisville

    #302 institution's historical influence
    #1277 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/25

    Louisville, KY

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    What is University of Louisville known for?

    University of Louisville’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Bellarmine University

    #2243 institution's historical influence
    #849 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/25

    Louisville, KY

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    What is Bellarmine University known for?

    Bellarmine University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Spalding University

    #3171 institution's historical influence
    #1236 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $25K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1040/19

    Louisville, KY

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    What is Spalding University known for?

    Spalding University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    University of the Cumberlands

    #3685 institution's historical influence
    #580 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/21

    Williamsburg, KY

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    What is University of the Cumberlands known for?

    University of the Cumberlands’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

Kentucky’s Best Grad School for Your Interest!

Resources for Prospective Grad Students

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