Best Research Universities in Kentucky 2023

Best Research Universities in Kentucky 2023

Interested in attending a STEM school in Kentucky? Our ranking of top research universities for bachelor’s degrees displays schools that will best prepare you for STEM careers.

Colleges and Universities in Kentucky

Students who wish to attend traditional and online colleges in Kentucky have plenty of excellent options. Traditional students and distance learners alike have an array of affordable, accessible, and reputable undergraduate and graduate degrees to choose from.

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. Online students pay the same in state tuition rates when enrolling in these public options.

Prospective students planning 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. There are, however, some affordable private 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. The University of Kentucky has over 30,000 students and costs about $12,000. UK offers a wide range of traditional and fully online programs in areas like political science, chemistry, and literature.

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 highly regarded graduate and undergraduate degrees in fields like mathematics, communications, business, and history.

Eastern Kentucky University is also among the top public colleges in Kentucky, with more than 14,000 students enrolled in a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs.

In addition, Kentucky encourages graduating education students to apply for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. This financial aid program awards $5,000 to $17,500 toward Federal Stafford loans to those remaining in 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. Both traditional and online Students wanting to study in a state that Abraham Lincoln and Muhammad Ali 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 brick-and-mortar and online schools the state of Kentucky has to offer.


What are Kentucky’s Colleges & Universities?

Kentucky’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

Kentucky's Best Research Universities Badge
Download Badge

A research university is a great option for students interested in obtaining STEM degrees. Research universities invest heavily in research, which consequently provides meaningful and extensive opportunities for its students and faculty to participate in research. We’ve identified 7 research universities in Kentucky. To be included in our ranking, schools must be a fully accredited universities and must must offer doctoral degrees across the range of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

Back to Top

Best Research Universities in Kentucky 2022

  1. #1

    University of Kentucky

    Lexington , KY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/25

    University of Kentucky’s Online Degrees

    Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Health Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Medical Laboratory Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Liberal Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in Information Communication Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
    BA in Social Work
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. #2

    University of Louisville

    Louisville , KY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/24

    University of Louisville’s Online Degrees

    Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accountancy
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Communication
    • Required Credits: 121
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 121
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Organizational Leadership & Learning
    Degree Concentrations
    • Counseling and Human Relations Track
    • Early Childhood Education
    • Healthcare Leadership Track
    • Career & Technical Education
    • Counseling & Human Relations
    • Early Childhood Education
    • Healthcare Leadership (term or flex option)
    • Leadership
    • Training & Organization Development
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Sociology
    • Required Credits: 121
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Sport Administration
    • Required Credits: 123
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. #3

    Western Kentucky University

    Bowling Green , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    98%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/22

    Western Kentucky University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Workforce Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Computer Information Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Criminology
    • Required Credits: 121
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Family And Consumer Sciences
    Degree Concentrations
    • Family Studies
    • Child Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BIS in Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Sociology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Community
    • Environment And Development
    • Family-Gender And Sexuality
    • Inequality And Social Change
    • Research Methods
    • Required Credits: 121
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Dental Hygiene
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Healthcare Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Information Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Sciences
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  4. #4

    Northern Kentucky University

    Highland Heights , KY

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/23

    Northern Kentucky University’s Online Degrees

    BA/BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 48
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Human Services and Addictions
    • Required Credits: 121
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Psychological Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Integrative Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in History
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • General Business
    • Global Supply Chain Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  5. Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/21

    University of the Cumberlands’s Online Degrees

    BS/BA in Applied Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • Allied Health
    • Business Administration
    • Coaching
    • Criminal Justice
    • General Studies
    • Human Services
    • Information Technology
    • Missions and Ministries
    • Public Health
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Applied Science in Coaching
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Human Services
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Elementary Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • English/Communications
    • Interdisciplinary
    • Social and Behavioral Studies
    • Special Education*
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Applied Science in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business Administration
    • Finance
    • Strategic Marketing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in General Studies
    • Required Credits: 27
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Missions and Ministry
    • Required Credits: 122
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Applied Science in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
    BAS in Information Technology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Cybersecurity
    • Infrastructure
    • Management
    • Software Engineering
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS/BAS in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Information Technology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Cybersecurity
    • Infrastructure
    • Management
    • Software Engineering
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
Back to Top

Find the Best Research Universities in Kentucky for Your Area of Interest

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 utilized 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. University of Kentucky
  2. University of Louisville
  3. Northern Kentucky University
  4. Bellarmine University
  5. Western Kentucky University
  6. Spalding University
  7. University of the Cumberlands

Check out our directory of research universities throughout the U.S. for a look at the top research institutions in every state.