Kentucky’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities of 2021

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.

Kentucky’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities 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.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

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.

Moresee more

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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 a total of 20 liberal arts colleges and universities in Kentucky, 9 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best liberal arts schools in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 40%.

Kentucky's Best Colleges and Universities 2021 badge
Download Badge

How do we determine Kentucky's best colleges and universities?

The best colleges pound for pound!

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call Concentrated Influence. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

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.

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

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

Moresee more

Best Liberal Arts Colleges & Universities in Kentucky

  1. Transylvania University
    #1

    Transylvania University

    #593 institution's overall influence
    #299 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1215/26

    Lexington, KY

    View profile

    What is Transylvania University known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. Berea College
    #2

    Berea College

    #1249 institution's overall influence
    #81 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    33%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1194/25

    Berea, KY

    View profile

    What is Berea College known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. Centre College
    #3

    Centre College

    #1064 institution's overall influence
    #773 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/29

    Danville, KY

    View profile

    What is Centre College known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Asbury University
    #4

    Asbury University

    #2086 institution's overall influence
    #1272 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1190/24

    Wilmore, KY

    View profile

    What is Asbury University known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • History
    • Business
    • Social Work
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Eastern Kentucky University
    #5

    Eastern Kentucky University

    #1539 institution's overall influence
    #888 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    98%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/23

    Richmond, KY

    View profile

    What is Eastern Kentucky University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Murray State University
    #6

    Murray State University

    #1563 institution's overall influence
    #410 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1142/24

    Murray, KY

    View profile

    What is Murray State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Morehead State University
    #7

    Morehead State University

    #2172 institution's overall influence
    #731 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/23

    Morehead, KY

    View profile

    What is Morehead State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • History
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. Georgetown College
    #8

    Georgetown College

    #2563 institution's overall influence
    #514 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1161/24

    Georgetown, KY

    View profile

    What is Georgetown College known for?

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

    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Thomas More University
    #9

    Thomas More University

    #7343 institution's overall influence
    #694 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/22

    Crestview Hills, KY

    View profile

    What is Thomas More University known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

Honorable Mentions

Union College

Union College

#4315 institution's overall influence
#895 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$28K

Acceptance

57%

Graduation

34%

Student body

1K

Median SAT/ACT

/19

Barbourville, KY

View profile

What is Union College known for?

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

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Education
  • History
  • Psychology
  • Medical
  • Nursing
  • Mathematics
  • Sociology
  • Religious Studies

Most Influential Alumni

Kentucky Wesleyan College

Kentucky Wesleyan College

#4591 institution's overall influence
#1058 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$27K

Acceptance

60%

Graduation

32%

Student body

<1K

Median SAT/ACT

1099/23

Owensboro, KY

View profile

What is Kentucky Wesleyan College known for?

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

  • Education
  • History
  • Law
  • Religious Studies
  • Business
  • Mathematics
  • Political Science
  • Communications
  • Medical
  • Biology

Most Influential Alumni

Kentucky State University

Kentucky State University

#2102 institution's overall influence
#703 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$8K

Acceptance

84%

Graduation

21%

Student body

1K

Median SAT/ACT

975/20

Frankfort, KY

View profile

What is Kentucky State University known for?

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

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

Most Influential Alumni

University of Pikeville

University of Pikeville

#3368 institution's overall influence
#1127 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$22K

Graduation

31%

Student body

1K

Pikeville, KY

View profile

What is University of Pikeville known for?

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

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

Most Influential Alumni

Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University

#4130 institution's overall influence
#459 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$25K

Acceptance

78%

Graduation

34%

Student body

9K

Campbellsville, KY

View profile

What is Campbellsville University known for?

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

  • Education
  • Religious Studies
  • History
  • Business
  • Criminal Justice
  • Social Work
  • Nursing
  • Political Science
  • Biology
  • Computer Science

Most Influential Alumni

Lindsey Wilson College

Lindsey Wilson College

#6505 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$25K

Graduation

33%

Student body

3K

Columbia, KY

View profile

What is Lindsey Wilson College known for?

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

  • Education
  • Psychology
  • Nursing
  • Engineering
  • History
  • Social Work
  • Business
  • Mathematics
  • Medical
  • Political Science

Most Influential Alumni

Brescia University

Brescia University

#6251 institution's overall influence
#688 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$24K

Acceptance

48%

Graduation

39%

Student body

<1K

Median SAT/ACT

1130/23

Owensboro, KY

View profile

What is Brescia University known for?

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

  • Computer Science
  • Business
  • Education
  • History
  • Medical
  • Biology
  • Mathematics
  • Engineering
  • Political Science
  • Literature
Midway University

Midway University

#3789 institution's overall influence
#933 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$25K

Acceptance

73%

Graduation

35%

Student body

1K

Median SAT/ACT

1045/21

Midway, KY

View profile

What is Midway University known for?

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

  • Biology
  • Education
  • Business
  • Mathematics
  • Literature
  • Communications
  • Psychology
  • Nursing
  • Medical
  • Criminal Justice
Alice Lloyd College

Alice Lloyd College

#6868 institution's overall influence
#1224 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$12K

Acceptance

21%

Graduation

21%

Student body

<1K

Median SAT/ACT

960/20

Pippa Passes, KY

View profile

What is Alice Lloyd College known for?

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

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

Most Influential Alumni

Kentucky Christian University

Kentucky Christian University

#7417 institution's overall influence
#138 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$21K

Acceptance

28%

Graduation

33%

Student body

<1K

Median SAT/ACT

916/19

Grayson, KY

View profile

What is Kentucky Christian University known for?

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

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

Most Influential Alumni

Find the Best Schools in Kentucky for your Major

Anthropology

Biology

Business

Chemistry

Communications

Computer Science

Criminal Justice

Earth Sciences

Economics

Education

Engineering

History

Law

Literature

Mathematics

Medical

Nursing

Philosophy

Physics

Political Science

Psychology

Religious Studies

Social Work

Sociology

Photo By: TUPictures - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Stay informed! Get the latest Academic Influence news, information, and rankings with our upcoming newsletter.