University of Kentucky Nursing School Review

The University of Kentucky (UK) is the largest public university in Kentucky with over 27,000 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. Located in Lexington, Kentucky, it is also one of the two land grant universities in the state. UK was originally founded in 1865 and began operating as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky. It has recently been named as the highest ranked research university in the state.

The large campus of 784 acres includes 15 libraries, including the William T. Young Library, which is a federal depository with collections of books on the social sciences, humanities, and life sciences. There are 16 colleges at UK plus 93 undergraduate programs, 99 master’s programs, 66 doctoral programs, and four professional programs. The recent focus of the university is to increase research efforts to meet the goal of becoming one of the Top 20 public research institutions.

Nursing Programs

Traditional BSN Program

The University of Kentucky offers a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program that takes four years to complete. After taking the NCLEX-RN, the national exam that leads to licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN), students may enter the workforce as professional nurses. The BSN program combines liberal arts and science courses, nursing courses, and supervised clinical setting experience for students so that they are well-trained when the program is complete. Students may expand their experience by taking part in a special academic program as Nursing Practice Interns, Nursing Research Interns, and Skills Lab Interns. Students must have a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in their courses at the University and at least a C in all nursing courses. At least 120 credits are needed for graduation.

A part-time program may be available, but students usually attend this program full-time. They must meet with a nursing advisor if they are interested in part-time studies. Those who are interested in the nursing program must complete all of the prerequisite courses during their freshman year, and they must have a C or higher in each of them. A science grade point average of 2.75 and cumulative grade point average of 2.75 are required to be considered for the BSN program. Students who are accepted into the nursing program must complete a Kentucky Medicaid Nurse Aide program that takes several weeks to complete. The course is offered at UK. Students accepted into the program must also meet the other requirements, such as passing a criminal background check, having the required immunizations, and taking a basic life support course.

Second Degree BSN

The University of Kentucky offers a Second Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree in another field who are interested in becoming RNs. Candidates must be able to devote themselves full-time to five semesters of study. This is not an accelerated program, however. Second degree students take classes with traditional four-year BSN students. This program is different than most Second Degree programs because it is not accelerated and also because there are no summer semesters required. Most other programs require one or two summer sessions. It is important to note that individuals interested in this program will not be considered for admission unless they complete an interview.

After a candidate submits their application, transcript, and references, the prospective student will be notified if they are eligible to meet with the nursing department for an interview. At the completion of the program, graduates take the NCLEX-RN for their licenses to practice as Registered Nurses. To be eligible for admission to this program, applicants must have a C or 2.75 grade point average in all prerequisite courses. They must also complete a nurse aid training course.


UK also offers a Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program for working nurses who have an associate degree or diploma in nursing. Students must complete all of the liberal arts and science courses required for the general education requirements to qualify for graduation. A helpful feature of the program is that it allows students to use electives to fulfill in-residence University credit requirements. Classes generally meet only one time each month, and students complete coursework online in between meetings. Students must maintain a 2.0 or C grade point average. The completion of at least 120 credits is required for graduation.

PhD Program

UK offers a PhD program as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program for nurses who want to take their careers to the highest level. There are two entry points to the PhD program, which are the Post BSN or Post MSN. Each of these is explained below.

Post BSN

RNs with their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) may complete the Post BSN PhD program at UK. It usually takes three years of full-time study to do this. Two semesters are required for dissertation research. It is also possible to complete the program on a part-time basis. The program requires at that students complete a minimum of 45 credits of coursework, and at least 5 credits must be completed each semester. The entire program must be completed within 5 years. The degree requires both written and oral examinations to qualify as a candidate for the PhD. degree. A dissertation and final exam are also required. Students may apply to become a research assistant to gain helpful experience in working with faculty mentors who help students develop their research skills.

To be admitted to the program, an applicant must have an undergraduate grade point average of 3.5 and a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The candidate must also be licensed as an RN in Kentucky or in the state where clinical experience will take place. The GRE is also required with recommended scores of 600 or above on the Verbal and Quantitative parts of the test and 5.0 or higher on the writing portion. The candidate must also submit three references, and one must be from a nurse with a doctorate degree. Two interviews are also required with the nursing faculty. Students must be admitted to UK’s Graduate school and must have clinical experience before taking their first clinical course. Applicants who do not meet these requirements may be admitted to the program on an individual basis if there is space available.

Post MSN

RNs that have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) may complete their PhD degree in two years of full-time study. There are also two semesters required for dissertation research. A part-time option is also available. Students must complete at least one term of research experience that equals 10 to 20 hours per week. There is a prequalifying residency requirement that the credit hours for this degree must be completed within 5 years from the time the student begins the program. Students must take both written and oral exams to qualify as a candidate for the PhD degree. Also, a dissertation and final exam are mandatory parts of the program.

Applicants to this program must have a graduate grade point average of 3.3 and acceptable GRE scores. They must also have a master’s degree in nursing and three references. Two interviews with nursing faculty are required, as well as a goal statement. The applicant must be admitted to the University of Kentucky Graduate School and must be licensed in Kentucky or the state where the clinical experience will occur. Sometimes applicants who do not meet all of these requirements are admitted to the program on an individual basis.

DNP Program

The University of Kentucky Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is available for RNs who want to complete an advanced nursing program that is practice-focused. A practice-focused doctoral program is becoming very popular with students who want to complete the highest level of education available for a nurse, yet stay connected with the clinical care of patients. The DNP program prepares RNs to design, implement, manage, and evaluate health care delivery systems. DNP faculty members are recognized in the United States and around the world for their specialties, and they work with students in a combination of online and on-campus classes. Admission is on a competitive basis, so it is important that those who are interested in the program submit their applications in a timely manner, preferably around one year before they intend to begin the DNP program. This program offers two entry points that are discussed below.

Post BSN

Students with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) may complete this Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program that will prepare them to be leaders of medical teams in many different settings. The BSN-DNP tracks that are available are Adult-Gerontology/Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing, or Population and Organizational Systems Leadership. The program can be completed in three years of full-time study, and a part-time option is also available. Students attend class meetings only around 5 times each semester on the UK campus. At interim times, students complete Web-enhanced courses.

To qualify for the program, applicants must have an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.3 plus a BSN. A satisfactory GRE score of at least 500 on the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the test are preferred. Three references are required as well as personal interviews. The applicant must be a licensed RN in the state in which clinical will take place, and clinical nursing experience is expected to be completed before the first DNP clinical course. Applicants must also write a goal statement and submit samples of their academic work.

Post MSN

Registered Nurses who already have a master’s degree in nursing are also admitted to the UK DNP program. Students may choose from any of the tracks that are offered in the Post BSN program, but students do not need to complete as many courses since they already have their master’s degree. Courses are Web-enhanced and require students to attend classes at the UK campus only about five times each semester. The program takes two years to complete on a full-time basis, but part-time curriculum plans are also available. Applicants must have a MSN and a grade point average of at least 3.3 on their graduate studies to qualify for this program. Minimum GRE scores of 500 on the Verbal and Quantitative test are expected, as well as a goal statement and three references. The applicant must have current licensure and must complete an interview with the nursing faculty to be accepted in the DNP program.

University of Kentucky
410 Administration Dr.,
Lexington, KY 40506
(850) 257-9000

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