There are thousands of colleges offering degrees in the United States, but not all are legitimate institutions. Kentucky’s leaders recognized the importance of protecting students and their families against these fraudulent organizations.
Role of the Council
As part of ensuring quality education for the Commonwealth, the Council is legislated to license all private postsecondary institutions granting bachelor’s degrees or higher. This licensing, which is the result of a thorough assessment process by experts, is required before a campus can enroll, or even advertise, in Kentucky.
- Process and definitions of private college licensing - 13 KAR 1:020
- Council's role in private college licensure - KRS 164.947
Before granting a license to a college, the Council thoroughly reviews the academic programs offered. The review includes
- Degree offerings
- Quality of faculty teaching those programs
- Rigor of the curriculum
- Course requirements for degrees.
In addition to academics, the Council thoroughly evaluates other factors, including
- Financial stability
- Classroom environment
The Council notifies the institution of any deficiencies that would need to be corrected before a license may be issued, and the Council may conduct sites visits. The Council also coordinates its approval with other state professional licensure boards in Kentucky like the Board of Nursing and the Education Professional Standards Board.
To become licensed to operate in Kentucky, visit our licensure request page.
Applicability of the License
A license issued by the Council is specific to the institution, its location, the academic program(s), and the mode of delivery of instruction. For example, in the case of an out-of-state institution offering online programs, the Council may only approve some, but not all of the programs offered by the institution.
Once a campus receives its license to operate in Kentucky, the Council has the authority to protect students from bad business practices.
The institution must apply annually with the Council for renewal of its license, and submit enrollment, transfer and degrees conferred data to the Council annually.
In addition, the institution must apply with the Council for any changes to its license such as a adding new program or site, a change of location, or a change of ownership. Also, the institution must notify the Council if it becomes the subject of any investigative action or disciplinary matter with its accrediting agency or any state or federal agency.
Failure to Comply to Requirements
After initial licensure, if an institution does not continue to meet the Council’s standards, the institution has the opportunity to rectify the issues, but operating with a conditional license for a maximum of two years.
A "conditional license" on file with the Council means that the school may still operate in Kentucky, but due to issues concerning one or more standards for licensure, it must fulfill the conditions stated in the Council’s letter. An institution can apply for an extension, but there must be compelling justification for the application to be approved.
If the institution fails to meet standards, it loses its license and permission to operate or advertise in Kentucky. This does not preclude it continuing operation in other states.
Role with Student Transition
When an institution loses its license, the Council helps facilitate the closure by:
- Approving a receiver for student records, as designated by the closing campus. To learn who to contact for student records at these institutions, view our contacts for closed institutions page.
- Requiring the institution to have coverage for refunds of unearned tuition that may be owed to students.
- Providing access to resources to help with successful student transfers to another campus or institution.
The school may choose to transfer a student to an alternative online program (if approved in Kentucky) or request that the student transfer to one of the campuses outside of Kentucky. Another possibility may be that the school will request to teach out Kentucky students currently enrolled or have an agreement with another approved school to do so.
Preserving quality is a big issue. Students and their families need assurance that once an institution receives its license, it maintains its academic quality and business integrity. To this end, the Council yearly reviews the status of the 100+ institutions licensed to operate in Kentucky.
To check whether a school has obtained licensure to operate in Kentucky or has gained exemption from licensure requirements, visit our listings:
- In-State Schools
- In-State Religious Schools Exempt from Licensure Requirements
- Out-of-State Schools with Locations in Kentucky or Online Programs
- Approved In-State and Out-of-State Academic Program Inventory
The Council also works to protect students by acting as a facilitator for resolving issues involving Kentucky's colleges. To request help with an issue, please visit our consumer complaint page. Please note that the Council cannot act as an attorney or provide legal advice. Instead, the Council uses the information to locate the appropriate contacts at the institution and expedites the conversations needed for a resolution.
Last Updated: 12/29/2021