Kentucky’s Best Small Colleges of 2021

Small colleges in Kentucky are a great option for students interested in a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Whether the focus is on the technical or on the liberal arts, small colleges give you the chance to pursue a well-rounded education while working closely with classmates and professors in a dynamic community atmosphere.

Kentucky’s Best Small Colleges 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


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The following list of the best small colleges and universities in Kentucky is composed mainly of four-year undergraduate schools (though a handful also offer graduate programs). We’ve identified 18 small colleges in Kentucky; the top 10 satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best small colleges in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. Its student body must consist of 5,000 or fewer students.
  4. Its graduation rate must be greater than 30%.

How do we determine Kentucky's best small 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.

10 Best 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

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Spalding University

    #3176 institution's historical influence
    #1236 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    1K

    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:

    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Sociology
  5. #5

    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

  6. #6

    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

    REQUEST INFO
  7. #7

    Bellarmine University

    #2321 institution's historical influence
    #849 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    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
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Literature
  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

    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

  10. #10

    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

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