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Online Master's Degree Programs in Kentucky

In most fields of graduate study, Kentucky residents who are interested in earning a master’s degree can do so without having to relocate or commute to a college or university campus by enrolling in an online degree program. There are public universities and non-profit private schools in Kentucky that offer online master’s programs in many of the most common areas of study within the state, including business administration, social work, counseling, education, nursing, and psychology. There are an even larger number of accredited colleges and universities located in other states that offer online master’s programs that are authorized to enroll students who live in Kentucky. The sections below provide an overview of Kentucky colleges and universities that are active in offering online master’s programs in many of the most common areas of graduate study among Kentucky residents, as well as a selection of online programs in these fields offered by schools in neighboring and regional states.

Schools in Kentucky That Offer Online Master’s Programs

The Kentucky system of higher education is administered by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. It encompasses eight publicly funded universities that have bachelor’s and graduate degree programs, as well as an extensive system of two-year community and technical colleges. The largest of Kentucky’s public universities is the University of Kentucky, which includes colleges of agriculture, business, education, engineering, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, social work, and more. Among the other public universities in Kentucky are the University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University, Eastern Kentucky University, and Northern Kentucky University, each of which offers a variety of campus-based and online degree programs. The table below lists all eight of Kentucky’s state universities and the location of each school’s main campus. In addition, the table indicates whether or not the school is active in offering online degree programs.

SchoolLocationOnline Degree Programs
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU)RichmondYes
Kentucky State UniversityFrankfortYes
Morehead State UniversityMoreheadYes
Murray State UniversityMurrayYes
Northern Kentucky University (NKU)Highland HeightsYes
University of KentuckyLexingtonYes
University of LouisvilleLouisvilleYes
Western Kentucky University (WKU)Bowling GreenYes

Kentucky is also home to a number of accredited, non-profit private schools, many of which offer online degree programs, including online master’s programs. The ten largest of these private schools, based on an analysis of enrollment numbers collected by the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), are listed in descending order in the table below, along with the location of their main campus and whether or not the school offers online degree programs.

SchoolLocationOnline Degree Programs
University of the CumberlandsWilliamsburgYes
Campbellsville UniversityCampbellsvilleYes
The Southern Baptist Theological SeminaryLouisvilleYes
Bellarmine UniversityLouisvilleYes
Lindsey Wilson CollegeColumbiaYes
University of PikevillePikevilleYes
Spalding UniversityLouisvilleYes
Thomas More CollegeCrestview HillsYes
Frontier Nursing UniversityHydenYes
Asbury UniversityWilmoreYes

Schools in the Kentucky Region That Offer Online Master’s Programs

Kentucky residents may find it useful to explore the many options for earning a master’s degree online through schools located in other states, including several schools located in the neighboring states of Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio. The University of Cincinnati, an Ohio public research university located across Kentucky’s northern border, has a large number of master’s programs that are offered online, including: master’s in business, health administration, and nursing (MBA, MHA, and MSN) programs, and master’s programs in various education and engineering specializations.

The University of Missouri (Mizzou) is another large, publicly funded school in a state bordering Kentucky that offers numerous types of online master’s programs. Mizzou Online offers online master’s programs through the university’s Trulaske College of Business, Sinclair School of Nursing, and Truman School of Public Affairs, as well as through its College of Education, College of Engineering, School of Health Professions, College of Human Environmental Sciences, and School of Medicine.

The state of Illinois has several schools that offer online master’s programs that accept applicants from Kentucky. Northwestern University in Evanston is a large private research university with schools of management, law, medicine, music, journalism, education, professional studies, and engineering. Among Northwestern’s online offerings are master’s programs in information systems and analytics, marketing and communication, counseling, and engineering management. Lewis University, a private Roman Catholic university located in Romeoville, has online master’s programs in business administration (MBA), business analytics, computer science, criminal justice, data science, information security, nursing (MSN), organizational leadership, and public safety administration. And Benedictine University, a private Roman Catholic university in Lisle, has online Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Pubic Health (MPH), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and master’s in accounting programs that Kentucky residents may want to explore.

The 15 Most Common Fields for Master’s Degree Studies in Kentucky

Through an analysis of the most recent IPEDS graduation data, OnlineEducation.com has determined the fields in which the largest number of master’s degrees are conferred by schools in Kentucky. The data provides a representative overview of the most common areas of study at the master’s level in the state. While IPEDS classifications do not align precisely with the formal designations of online master’s programs, the data offer a general indication of the types of master’s degrees that are most commonly pursued by students in Kentucky. The types of master’s programs with the highest number of graduates in Kentucky are in the 15 fields listed below:

  1. Business/Commerce
  2. Business Administration and Management
  3. Social Work
  4. Divinity/Ministry
  5. Curriculum and Instruction
  6. Counseling Psychology
  7. Counselor Education/School Counseling and Guidance Services
  8. Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse
  9. Special Education and Teaching
  10. Reading Teacher Education
  11. Educational Administration and Supervision
  12. Family Practice Nurse/Nursing
  13. Elementary Education and Teaching
  14. Nurse Midwife/Nursing Midwifery
  15. Education

Using the list above as a guide, the following sections present a survey of schools offering online master’s programs in fields commonly pursued by students in Kentucky. The sections provide details on schools in Kentucky and neighboring/regional states that offer the following types of online master’s programs:

Online Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) Programs in Kentucky

Among the schools offering online MBA programs in Kentucky are four of the state’s public universities: the University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University (WKU), Northern Kentucky University (NKU), and Morehead State University. The College of Business at the University of Louisville has an online MBA program that includes a ten-day international study abroad trip and gives students the option of earning a Franchise Management or a Distilled Spirits Business certificate through elective coursework. NKU offers an online MBA program that can be completed in as few as 12 months and that has tracks in Finance, Leadership, and Innovation Through Competitive Intelligence. The Morehead State online MBA program has tracks for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in business and for students who hold non-business bachelor’s degrees. It features an optional specialization in Health Systems Management. And WKU offers an online MBA program with a general business administration curriculum through its Gordon Ford College of Business.

The University of the Cumberlands is one of the private non-profit schools in Kentucky that offers an online MBA program. Offered through the Robert W. Plaster Graduate School of Business, the program has six concentrations: Accounting; Project Management; Strategic Management; Entrepreneurship; Healthcare Administration; and Marketing. Campbellsville University has an online MBA program that is designed to be completed in two years and that offers seven concentrations: Accounting; Human Resource Management; Marketing; Information Technology; International Business; Healthcare Management; and Church Management. And Lindsey Wilson College, the University of Pikeville, and Thomas Moore University are three additional Kentucky schools that offer online MBA programs with general business curricula.

Across the Ohio River from Kentucky in Ohio, the University of Cincinnati is one of several regional out-of-state schools that offer online MBA programs. The University of Cincinnati program can be completed in as few as 12 months and has seven concentrations: Marketing; Healthcare Administration; Healthcare Finance; Healthcare Operations; Healthcare Policy and Regulation; Corporate Taxation; and Individual Taxation.

Kentucky residents may also want to explore the online MBA program offered by Benedictine University in Illinois. The Benedictine program can be completed in 18 months and features elective tracks in seven areas: Marketing Management; International Business; Finance; Entrepreneurship; Accounting; Healthcare Administration; and Internet Marketing. And the University of Missouri (Mizzou) offers an Executive MBA (ExecMBA) program that is designed for working professionals and that requires students to attend several campus sessions while completing most of their coursework online. Applicants to the Mizzou ExecMBA program must have at least five years of prior professional experience in a business field.

Online Master’s in Social Work (MSW) Programs in Kentucky

The College of Social Work at the University of Kentucky offers an online MSW program with a curriculum that provides coursework and training in clinical and macro practice social work. The program is designed to be completed in three years, although there is a two-year Advanced Standing track for qualifying student who hold a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The University of Louisville has an online Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program that is equivalent to an MSW program. The University of Louisville program has a clinical focus and offers six specializations: Psychosocial Oncology; Forensic Social Work; Mental Health; Alcohol and Drug Counseling; Military Social Work; and Gerontology. The program has an Advanced Standing track that can be completed in one to two years and a traditional track that can be completed in two to three years. And Western Kentucky University (WKU) is another public university in Kentucky offering an online MSW program. The WKU program has an advanced generalist curriculum and an Advanced Standing track for students who hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited bachelor’s program.

Campbellsville University is a non-profit private school in Kentucky that offers an online MSW program. The Campbellsville program has a Clinical track and an Advanced Standing track, both of which include coursework and training in psychopathology, addictions, clinical diagnosis, and psychopharmacology. Students who qualify for the program’s Advanced Standing track can complete the program requirements in one year, while students who do not qualify for Advanced Standing status typically require two years to complete the program.

Among the regional, out-of-state schools offering online master’s programs in social work that may accept applicants from Kentucky are two large public universities: Indiana University, and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Through IU Online, Indiana University offers an online MSW program with a clinical track and a community practice track. The program also has an Advanced Standing enrollment option for students who hold a BSW degree. The University of Tennessee offers an online MSSW program through its College of Social Work. The program has three enrollment options: full-time (two years); part-time Extended Study (three to four years); and Advanced Standing (one to two years). Students in the program can choose from a clinical practice track (Evidenced-Based Interpersonal Practice) or a macro practice track (Organizational Leadership).

Note: Online MSW and MSSW programs that are accredited by the CSWE require students to complete in-person field education placements at sites approved by the program. It is advisable to check with a program administrator regarding field education sites prior to submitting an application to an online program, particularly if the program is offered by an out-of-state school. Students who intend to seek licensure in clinical social work after completing their degree should review Kentucky state licensing requirements prior to submitting applications to out-of-state programs, as clinical social work licensure requirements vary by state. To ensure that an online MSW program offered by an out-of-state school meets licensure eligibility requirements in Kentucky, contact a program administrator.

Online Master’s in Teaching and Education Programs in Kentucky

A number of Kentucky’s public universities have online master’s in education and teaching programs, including Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University (WKU), and Morehead State University. Through EKU, there are several types of online Master of Arts (MA) in Education programs that certified teachers may be eligible for, including programs that provide online training in the following areas: Elementary Education; Middle Grades Education; Gifted Education; Instructional Leadership; Literacy (P-12); and Library Science. EKU also offers an online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program for students who hold a non-teaching bachelor’s degree and who would like to become teachers in Kentucky. The program has four concentrations: Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education; Elementary Education; Middle Grades Education; and Secondary Education.

The College of Education at the University of Kentucky has two types of online Master of Education (MEd) programs: an online MEd in Teacher Leadership program, and an online MEd in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education program. In addition, the University of Kentucky offers an online Master of Science (MS) in Research Methods in Education program that has concentrations in Quantitative Methods, Research Design, and Evaluation Assessment, as well as an online MS in Instructional Systems Design program.

The University of Louisville offers an online MEd in Teacher Leadership program that may be of interest to certified teachers in Kentucky, and WKU has three online master’s programs in education: an online MA in Education program with a specialization in Adult Education; an online MS in Instructional Design program; and an online MS in Libraries, Informatics, and Technology in Education program. Morehead State’s online programs for educators include an online MA in Adult and Higher Education, an online MS in Career and Technical Education, and an online MA in Educational Technology.

The University of the Cumberlands, Campbellsville University, and Bellarmine University are three of the private schools in Kentucky that offer online master’s program in education and teaching. Through the University of the Cumberlands, Kentucky residents can earn an MA in Education online in three specializations: Literacy Specialist; School Counseling; and Teacher as Leader. The University of the Cumberlands also offers an online MAT program with concentrations in four areas: English; Mathematics; Science (Biology and Chemistry); and Social Studies. Campbellsville University has several options for teachers who interested in earning a master’s degree online, including an online MA in Education program with a Teacher Leader concentration; an online MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program; an online MAT in Secondary Education (5-9) program; an online MAT in Early Childhood Education program; and an online MEd in Montessori Education program. And Bellarmine University offers an online MA in Education program with two specializations: Literary Specialist (P-12) and Teacher Leadership (P-12).

Purdue University and the University of Cincinnati are two schools in states neighboring Kentucky that offer online master’s programs in teaching and education. Through Purdue University Online, Kentucky residents can earn an MS in Curriculum and Instruction online. The program is designed for teachers, curriculum coordinators, and educational administrators and features concentrations in: English Language Learning; Gifted, Creative, and Talented Students; Educational Technology; and Integrated STEM Education. The University of Cincinnati offers several types of online MEd programs, including programs that provide training in: Curriculum and Instruction; Foundations in Behavior Analysis; Instructional Design and Technology; Literacy and Second Language Studies; and Medical Education for Healthcare Professionals.

Note: Teaching certification and licensure requirements vary by state. Some online master’s in teaching and education programs may require students to hold a teaching credential in their state, while other programs may be designed to prepare graduates for certification. In either case, students should be aware of the teacher certification process and requirements in Kentucky prior to applying to an online master’s in education or teaching program, particularly if the program is offered by an out-of-state school. In addition, some online master’s in teaching and education programs require classroom training sessions and/or student teaching assignments that must be completed in-person at a site approved by the program. Potential applicants should research programs carefully to determine whether a program has these types of requirements prior to submitting an application.

Online Master’s in Psychology Programs in Kentucky

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) is currently the only school in Kentucky offering a fully online master’s program in psychology. The EKU program is an online Master of Science (MS) in Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology program that requires applicants to have completed a minimum of two undergraduate courses in psychology. While Western Kentucky University (WKU) does not offer an online master’s program in psychology, it does have an online MS in Child and Family Studies program that includes coursework in developmental psychology, behavioral science research methods, and educational research and statistics.

Kentucky residents who are interested in earning a master’s in psychology online may want to explore programs offered by George Mason University (GMU) in Virginia and The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Illinois. GMU offers an online Master of Arts (MA) in Psychology program that gives students the choice of four specializations: Applied Developmental Psychology; Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience; Human Factors/Applied Cognition; and I-O Psychology. The Chicago School has several types of online master’s in psychology programs, including an online MA in Psychology with an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) concentration, an online MS in Clinical Psychopharmacology, an online MA in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and an online MA in Forensic Psychology.

Note: Licensure in clinical psychology requires a doctoral degree in all 50 states. Students who plan to work in a psychology field after completing an online master’s in psychology program should examine professional licensing requirements in their state prior to enrolling in a program, particularly if that program is offered by an out-of-state school. In addition, some online master’s in psychology programs require internships that must be completed in-person at an approved site. Potential applicants to programs offered online by out-of-state schools should inquire about internships prior to submitting an application.

Online Master’s in School and Mental Health Counseling Programs in Kentucky

There are several schools in Kentucky that offer online master’s in counseling programs, including the University of Kentucky, which has an online Master’s in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling. The University of Kentucky program can be completed in as few as 16 months and requires a clinical practicum and internship. Morehead State University has an online Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling with a school counseling curriculum that is designed to prepare graduates to work in educational settings (P-12). The University of the Cumberlands has two types of online master’s in counseling programs: an online MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and an online MA in Addiction Counseling. Campbellsville University offers an online Master of Education (MEd) in School Guidance Counseling (P-12) program that requires applicants to hold a valid teaching credential. And Lindsey Wilson College offers an online MEd in Counseling and Human Development program.

Northwestern University in the neighboring state of Illinois is one of the regional schools offering an online master’s in counseling program. The Northwestern program is an online MA in Counseling offered in conjunction with the university’s Family Institute. It features an optional Child and Adolescent counseling concentration. The program is designed to be completed in 18 months and includes two on-campus immersion sessions in addition to a clinical field placement. Bradley University, another non-profit private school in Illinois, offers an online MA in Counseling program that requires students to attend two campus-based residency sessions and features two tracks: Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Professional School Counseling.

Note: Online master’s in clinical mental health and school counseling programs typically incorporate clinical practicum and/or internship requirements that must be completed in person at a site approved by the program, and most types of counselors must attain licensure in their state after completing their training. For these reasons and others, online master’s in counseling programs offered by out-of-state schools may not accept applicants from all 50 states. Potential applicants to an out-of-state program should contact the program in advance to determine if the program accepts students from Kentucky and to ensure that a convenient location for clinical placements can be found. In addition, applicants to online programs should be aware that licensing requirements for clinical and school counselors vary by state. Therefore, students who intend to apply to online programs offered by out-of-state schools should review Kentucky licensing requirements to ensure the program they choose meets the requirements for licensure in Kentucky.

Online Master’s in Nursing (MSN) Programs in Kentucky

Registered Nurses (RNs) who hold a valid and unencumbered license to practice in Kentucky can earn an MSN degree in a number of different specialties from schools located in the state. Morehead State University, Western Kentucky University (WKU), and Northern Kentucky University (NKU) are three of the public universities in the state currently offering online MSN programs, and the University of the Cumberlands, Campbellsville University, and Frontier Nursing University are among the private, non-profit schools in the state that have online MSN programs.

Morehead State offers an online MSN program with a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) specialization that is designed to be completed in three years, although students are allotted up to six years to complete the program. WKU and EKU both offer online MSN programs with a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) specialization. In addition, EKU offers an online MSN FNP program with a Rural Health specialization. And NKU has online MSN programs in: Nursing Education; Nurse Executive Leadership; FNP; Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP); Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP); and PMHNP.

RNs who are interested in becoming FNPs can earn an MSN degree with an FNP specialization through online programs offered by three non-profit private schools in Kentucky: the University of Cumberlands; Campbellsville University; and Frontier Nursing University. In addition to its FNP master’s program, Frontier University offers online MSN programs with training in the following specializations: Nurse-Midwife; PMHNP; and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP).

Among the regional out-of-state schools offering online MSN programs that may be of interest to RNs in Kentucky are the University of Cincinnati, Lewis University, and Benedictine University. The University of Cincinnati’s College of Nursing has online MSN programs in five Nurse Practitioner (NP) specializations: FNP; AGPCNP; AGACNP; WHNP; and Neonatal (NNP). UC Online also has online MSN programs with specializations in Nursing Administration, Nurse-Midwife, and Occupational Health, although the Occupational Health MSN program requires three campus visits. The College of Nursing and Health Professions at Lewis University in Romeoville, IL, offers several of its MSN program specializations online, including Nursing Education, Healthcare Systems Leadership, and PMHNP. And Benedictine University in Lisle, IL, has an online MSN program with two options for specialization: Nurse Educator; and Nurse Executive Leader.

Note: Online MSN programs require students to complete in-person clinical hours at a site approved by the program. Kentucky residents who are considering an online MSN program offered by an out-of-state school should contact a program administrator regarding clinical placements prior to submitting an application. Applicants to out-of-state programs should also be aware that nursing licensure requirements for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), including NPs, vary by state. It is thus advisable to review Kentucky’s licensure requirements in advance in order to confirm that an out-of-state program will provide the training needed to meet those requirements.

Online Master’ in Special Education Programs in Kentucky

Teachers and educators in Kentucky who are interested in pursing a career in special education can receive their training through several of the state’s public universities, including Kentucky State University, the University of Louisville, and Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). Kentucky State has an online Master of Arts (MA) in Special Education with Certification in Learning and Behavior Disorders (P-12). The program is designed to prepare students for certification in Kentucky and requires students to complete 200 hours of field-education experiences in a special education setting. The University of Louisville offers an online Master of Education (MEd) in Special Education program that is designed for licensed teachers and that features two concentrations: Moderate and Severe Disabilities; and Autism and Applied Behavioral Analysis. And EKU offers an online MA in Education with three Special Education concentrations: Interdisciplinary Childhood Education; Deaf and Hard of Hearing; and Learning and Behavior Disorders.

Campbellsville University, a non-profit private university in Kentucky, offers two types of online master’s in special education programs. The school has an online MA in Special Education – Initial Certification program that is designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree but who have not yet qualified for certification in Kentucky. In addition, Campbellsville offers an online MA in Special Education – Teacher Leader program that requires applicants to have attained certification prior to applying to and enrolling in the program.

Purdue University in Indiana and Virginia’s George Mason University (GMU) are two schools in the Kentucky region that offer online master’s programs in special education. Through Purdue University Online, Kentucky residents who hold a bachelor’s degree can earn a Master of Science (MS) in Education degree with a concentration in Special Education. The Purdue University Online program has designated tracks for students who do not intend to apply for special education teaching licensure, students who intend to apply for initial licensure in special education, and for licensed teachers who are interested in special education licensure. GMU offers an online MEd in Special Education program with two tracks: Autism Spectrum Disorders; and Applied Behavioral Analysis. While a prior degree in education or a teaching-related field and/or teaching experience is recommended for the GMU program, it is not required.

Note: Many online master’s in special education programs require supervised student teaching placements that must be completed in person at a site approved by the program. Potential applicants to online programs should contact a program administrator about student teaching options prior to submitting an application, particularly if the program is offered by an out-of-state school. Another important consideration for Kentucky residents who are interested in applying to online master’s in special education programs offered by out-of-state schools is licensure, as licensure requirements in special education vary by state. It is thus advisable to compare a program’s curriculum with Kentucky’s licensure requirements prior to applying to an out-of-state program to ensure the program’s curriculum meets Kentucky’s licensure training requirements for special education teachers.

Online Master’s in Educational Administration and Leadership Programs in Kentucky

There are several schools offering different types of online master’s programs in educational administration and leadership in Kentucky. The University of Louisville, for example, has an online Master of Arts (MA) in Higher Education Administration program that prepares students for leadership roles at the college and university level, while Campbellsville University has an online MA in Education Administration that is designed prepare professional educators and licensed teachers to work as school principals at the K-12 level. Bellarmine University offers an online MEd in Higher Education Leadership and Social Justice program that does not require prior work experience and that prepares students for administrative roles in student life, academic affairs, and athletics program management at colleges and universities. And the University of Pikeville has an online MA in Education with a Teacher Leader specialization that is designed for students who already hold a valid teaching certification.

Outside of Kentucky, in the neighboring states of Virginia, Illinois, and Indiana, there are several schools offering online master’s in education leadership and administration programs. Virginia’s Old Dominion University (ODU) offers an online Master of Science (MS) in Education with an Educational Administration and Supervision specialization that is designed to prepare active public and private school teachers for administrative roles in K-12 settings and that includes 120 internship hours. The University of Illinois offers an online MEd in International Education Administration and Leadership program that is designed to prepare students for administrative roles in international education programs in business, industry, and post-secondary settings. And Indiana’s Ball State University offers an MA in Education with an Educational Administration and Supervision specialization program that can prepare students to pursue licensure and/or certification as a school principal.

Note: Online master’s in educational leadership and administration programs may require in-person internships at sites approved by the program. Potential applicants to out-of-state programs may want to contact a program administrator regarding internship placements prior to submitting an application. In addition, some educational administration and leadership positions may require state licensure, and licensure requirements vary by state. Kentucky residents who are considering online programs offered by out-of state schools should review state licensure requirements in advance and contact a program administrator with any questions regarding the program’s curriculum prior to applying to the program.