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.

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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

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%.

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

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.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges & Universities in Kentucky

  1. #1

    Transylvania University

    #557 institution's historical influence
    #299 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1215/26

    Lexington, KY

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    What is Transylvania University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

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  2. #2

    Berea College

    #1282 institution's historical influence
    #81 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    33%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1194/25

    Berea, KY

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    What is Berea College known for?

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

    • History
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Centre College

    #1073 institution's historical influence
    #773 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/29

    Danville, KY

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    What is Centre College known for?

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

    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

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  4. #4

    Asbury University

    #2144 institution's historical influence
    #1272 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1190/24

    Wilmore, KY

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    What is Asbury University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

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  5. #5

    Eastern Kentucky University

    #1559 institution's historical influence
    #888 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    98%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/23

    Richmond, KY

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    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

    REQUEST INFO
  6. #6

    Murray State University

    #1652 institution's historical influence
    #410 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1142/24

    Murray, KY

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    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
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Morehead State University

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

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/23

    Morehead, KY

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    What is Morehead State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Medical
  8. #8

    Georgetown College

    #2315 institution's historical influence
    #514 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1161/24

    Georgetown, KY

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    What is Georgetown College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Thomas More University

    #8965 institution's historical influence
    #694 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/22

    Crestview Hills, KY

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    What is Thomas More University known for?

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

    • Education
    • History
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Law
    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology

Honorable Mentions

Union College

#4360 institution's historical influence
#895 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$28K

Acceptance

57%

Graduation

28%

Student body

1K

Barbourville, KY

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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
  • Criminal Justice

Most Influential Alumni

Kentucky Wesleyan College

#4760 institution's historical influence
#1058 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$29K

Acceptance

60%

Graduation

38%

Student body

<1K

Median SAT/ACT

1099/23

Owensboro, KY

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What is Kentucky Wesleyan College known for?

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

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

Most Influential Alumni

Kentucky State University

#2133 institution's historical influence
#703 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$9K

Acceptance

84%

Graduation

30%

Student body

2K

Median SAT/ACT

975/20

Frankfort, KY

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What is Kentucky State University known for?

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

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

University of Pikeville

#3407 institution's historical influence
#1127 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$22K

Graduation

32%

Student body

1K

Pikeville, KY

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What is University of Pikeville known for?

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

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

Most Influential Alumni

Campbellsville University

#3922 institution's historical influence
#459 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$25K

Acceptance

78%

Graduation

36%

Student body

8K

Campbellsville, KY

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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
  • Medical

Most Influential Alumni

Lindsey Wilson College

#6270 institution's historical influence

Tuition + fees

$26K

Graduation

40%

Student body

3K

Columbia, KY

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What is Lindsey Wilson College known for?

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

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

Most Influential Alumni

Brescia University

#5694 institution's historical influence
#688 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$25K

Acceptance

48%

Graduation

36%

Student body

<1K

Median SAT/ACT

1130/23

Owensboro, KY

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What is Brescia University known for?

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

  • Computer Science
  • Business
  • Education
  • History
  • Medical
  • Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Engineering
  • Political Science
  • Chemistry

Midway University

#4099 institution's historical influence
#933 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$25K

Acceptance

73%

Graduation

51%

Student body

1K

Median SAT/ACT

1045/21

Midway, KY

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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

#7066 institution's historical influence
#1224 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$14K

Acceptance

21%

Graduation

35%

Student body

<1K

Median SAT/ACT

960/20

Pippa Passes, KY

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What is Alice Lloyd College known for?

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

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

Most Influential Alumni

Kentucky Christian University

#7541 institution's historical influence
#138 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$21K

Acceptance

28%

Graduation

31%

Student body

<1K

Median SAT/ACT

916/19

Grayson, KY

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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

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