Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Kentucky 2022

Liberal arts colleges are a great option for students seeking a well-rounded education in an intimate campus setting. The best liberal arts colleges in Kentucky offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Kentucky 2022

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.


What are Kentucky’s Colleges & Universities?

Kentucky’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine Kentucky's best liberal arts colleges?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great! If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence in their fields of study.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is freer from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

To rank the influence of schools, we first determine the influence of scholars and professionals based on the number of citations and publications they have had over the past 10 years. In addition to publications and citations, we consider the web links to and from these sources, and the page views of those sources. We then match the influential people to their alma maters and institutions of employment, so that their influence is attributed to those schools. Our machine-learning Influence Ranking algorithm produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data. If you are interested in exploring how and why we rank by influence, explore our methodology in more depth.

A liberal arts college is a school that puts a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree. We’ve identified 20 liberal arts colleges in Kentucky. To be ranked among the best liberal arts colleges in Kentucky, schools must fully accredited institutions.

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Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Kentucky 2022

  1. #2

    Eastern Kentucky University

    Richmond , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    98%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/23

    What is Eastern Kentucky University known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Earth Sciences
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • History
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. #3

    Murray State University

    Murray , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1142/24

    What is Murray State University known for?

    Murray State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences
    • History
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #4

    Transylvania University

    Lexington , KY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1215/26

    What is Transylvania University known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Education
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #5

    Centre College

    Danville , KY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/29

    What is Centre College known for?

    Centre College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #6

    Morehead State University

    Morehead , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/23

    What is Morehead State University known for?

    Morehead State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #7

    Campbellsville University

    Campbellsville , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $25K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    8K

    What is Campbellsville University known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Criminal Justice
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Economics
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #8

    University of Pikeville

    Pikeville , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    1K

    What is University of Pikeville known for?

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

    • Medical
    • History
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #9

    Georgetown College

    Georgetown , KY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1161/24

    What is Georgetown College known for?

    Georgetown College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Sociology
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #10

    Kentucky State University

    Frankfort , KY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    30%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    975/20

    What is Kentucky State University known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #11

    Sullivan University

    Louisville , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Graduation

    25%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Sullivan University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
  11. #12

    Asbury University

    Wilmore , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1190/24

    What is Asbury University known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. #13

    Union College

    Barbourville , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    28%

    Student body

    1K

    What is Union College known for?

    Union College ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Nursing
    • Mathematics
    • Criminal Justice
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #14

    Lindsey Wilson College

    Columbia , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Lindsey Wilson College known for?

    Lindsey Wilson College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Nursing
    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • History
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #15

    Midway University

    Midway , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $25K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/21

    What is Midway University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
  15. #16

    Brescia University

    Owensboro , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    What is Brescia University known for?

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

    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
  16. #17

    Alice Lloyd College

    Pippa Passes , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    35%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/20

    What is Alice Lloyd College known for?

    Alice Lloyd College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • History
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Nursing
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #18

    Kentucky Wesleyan College

    Owensboro , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1099/23

    What is Kentucky Wesleyan College known for?

    Kentucky Wesleyan College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Law
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Communications
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #19

    Thomas More University

    Crestview Hills , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/22

    What is Thomas More University known for?

    Thomas More University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Physics
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. Tuition + fees

    $22K

    Acceptance

    28%

    Graduation

    31%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    916/19

    What is Kentucky Christian University known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • History
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

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Kentucky’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Your Area of Interest

Frequently Asked Questions About Research Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Online Colleges

In pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to choose between three kinds of schools: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and online colleges.

Research universities are colleges and universities whose faculty are active in research and publishing. These schools offer a wide array of doctoral programs, especially in the sciences. They tend to be big, with tens of thousands of students.

Do you prefer a larger university setting, such as largest public university in your state? Research universities are typically big, offering degrees in many different disciplines. Is a big high-powered research environment the thing for you. If not, you should think about a liberal arts college. In deciding on an undergraduate institution, ask yourself what sort of environment will best help you to be happy and excel.

  • Consider whether you are self motivated enough to be a face in the crowd for some classes and largely unknown on campus at a large university. Of course you can find clubs and friends at a large university, but often liberal arts colleges have a more personal quality to them. If you want the community feel, a research university may not fit you well.
  • Are you interested in STEM fields? Research universities have that name for a reason – real research is happening there. This can create an exciting atmosphere for students interested in STEM. Attending a research university can give you a better chance of getting into better programs for graduate degrees, although a lot of that depends on your performance.
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Often referred to as “teaching colleges” liberal arts colleges put a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree.

  • Do you want your professors to know you? Liberal arts colleges strive to cultivate campus cultures that encourage tight bonds between professors and students. Professors at these schools will typically conduct original research. Yet the best of these schools offer their faculty reduced teaching loads so that they can both be productive researchers and still have plenty of time for students (both in and outside the classroom).
  • Do you want to feel like you know everybody? One of the most enticing features of a liberal arts college is that in very little time, you can feel like you know who’s who, which can create strong friendships, but also more pleasurable walks across campus. While your sports teams may never be on ESPN, it’s more likely that you’ll know the athletes as your peers. Beyond student and faculty relationships, it’s not unusual for the school president and other administrators to learn who you are. When faced with problems with your student account or the need to switch classes, this can be comforting during a stressful moment.
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Online colleges are typically the same colleges and universities you could attend in-person, but for certain degree programs the college or unviersity has made the degree programs available to be completed online. For over 5 million students, online degree programs allow students to earn their degrees in the most flexible format available. Online degrees are as respected as the on-campus degress you could earn from the same schools. There’s usually no disctinction between the two degrees, and your degree and transcript will not say that the degree was earned online. Online degree programs are offered by a vast majority of colleges and universities, and the number of offering continues to grow. Whehter you are searching for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, there’s a good chance you can earn your degree online from a respectable online college.

  • Are you a self-driven student? Perhaps the hardest aspect of obtaining an online degree is whether you will be disciplined enough to manage your time and course demands. Many online students report that online college made them more disciplined in all areas of their lives, but the flexible, self-paced learning that makes online colleges attractive can often be the same qualities that make it difficult. If you tend to be a procrastinator, you need to be honest with yourself. You can change your habits and propensities, or you can throw money down the drain.
  • Do you need the flexibility of an online degree program? Most online students study online because of time demands balancing work and life, or becuase the online colleges afford them the chance to attend a better school without moving. If you are serious about earning your degree for career advancement, online colleges make it possible. The most flexible options among online degrees are those that are aynchronous, meaning you don’t have scheduled times to meet with your class online. However, many students seek synchronous online degree programs so that they have some structure – set meeting times, scheduled exams, etc.
  • The good news is that attending an online college doesn’t mean you will miss out on getting to know your professors and classmates. In fact, many online students who have experienced both online and on-campus courses report having easier access to their professors. Since most communication with your professor is expected to be in text – via email or your class learning management system – it makes asking your questions easier. The same students also report that they got to better know the thoughts of their classmates. While in-person course conversations can be dominated by a few extroverts, online courses that require online discussions make it so that you see all of your classmates’ thoughts and questions.

If you interested in an online bachelor’s degree, check out what the best online colleges offer, or search our online degrees for the exact program that interests you. In either case, you will find well respected colleges and universities that offer online degrees.

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Resources for College-Bound Students

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. Transylvania University
  2. Berea College
  3. Centre College
  4. Asbury University
  5. Eastern Kentucky University
  6. Murray State University
  7. Morehead State University
  8. Georgetown College
  9. Thomas More University
  10. Union College
  11. Kentucky Wesleyan College
  12. Kentucky State University
  13. University of Pikeville
  14. Campbellsville University
  15. Lindsey Wilson College
  16. Brescia University
  17. Midway University
  18. Alice Lloyd College
  19. Kentucky Christian University