FAQ: Nursing Education


What should I look for in selecting a nursing program?

What is the NCLEX pass rate history of a program I'm interested in?

What is the difference between approval and accreditation?

Does Kentucky allow graduates from online programs (i.e., Excelsior College) to become licensed in Kentucky?

I was a medic in a branch of the armed services. Am I qualified to seek licensure in the state of Kentucky?

Can I get a copy of my transcript from KBN if my nursing program is no longer active?

I was not successful on the NCLEX exam. What can I do to pass the next time?

Does Kentucky approve RN to BSN programs?

Will KBN help me with a problem in my school of nursing?


Q:  What should I look for in selecting a nursing program?
A:  Choosing a nursing program is the single most important step in becoming a nurse.  The school you choose, as well as how hard you work at learning, determines how well prepared you are when it comes time to take the licensing exam.  If possible, talk to graduates of the program you are considering.

First, you need to decide what type of program:  RN or LPN.  Click here to learn about the different types of programs.

Next, you will want to consider the following areas.  These are not listed in any particular order.  You will need to decide which factors are most important to you.  Look at this list and identify your top 3 criteria.  Use these criteria to guide your search--don't forget the other areas, but this will get you started.

  • Location
  • Size of school
  • College/university accreditation
  • Accreditation by nursing organization such as ACEN or CCNE
  • Tuition cost and fees
  • Availability of financial aid
  • Length of the program
  • Transferability of credits from other schools
  • Faculty/student ratio
  • Campus life
  • Clinical experiences
  • Online options for courses

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Q:  What is the NCLEX pass rate history of a program I'm interested in?
A:  Looking at the NCLEX pass rate is just one measure of a program's success.  In the state of Kentucky, programs of nursing need to obtain an 85% or greater NCLEX pass rate annually in order to remain in good standing.   There are a number of factors that can impact a program's pass rate.   One important criteria is the number of students that took the exam.  If the graduating class size is small, even one or two students that are unsuccessful on NCLEX can greatly impact the overall pass rate.  Historically, Kentucky programs of nursing have exceeded the national NCLEX pass rates.  To look at the pass rates among Kentucky nursing programs, first click on NCLEX Pass Rates and follow the link.  You will also see how many individuals took the exam each year.

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Q:  What is the difference between approval and accreditation?
A:  Both approval and accreditation are important components of a successful educational institution; these two terms cannot be used interchangeably.  Kentucky law dictates that KBN has the ability to approve programs of nursing within the state.  

The term “approval” is defined as “official or formal consent, confirmation or sanction” (American Heritage Dictionary).  In Kentucky, the term “approval” indicates that a program of nursing has met standards established by Kentucky regulation.  When a program of nursing is approved, this means that it has the legal recognition to begin and continue to operate.  Graduation from an approved program of nursing is necessary for a student to be eligible to take the NCLEX examination for RNs or LPNs.   Approval also requires continued compliance with essential educational standards to protect both the students who are enrolled in the program and the public that will receive nursing care from the graduates of the program.  Within Kentucky, approval of a program of nursing is mandatory.  

The term “accreditation” is defined as “recognition of an institution of learning as maintaining prescribed standards requisite for its graduates to gain admission to other reputable institutions of higher learning or to achieve credentials for professional practice” (American Heritage Dictionary).  For the purposes of the programs of nursing within Kentucky, accreditation is an official authorization or status granted by an agency other than KBN.  Accreditation is considered a voluntary process that focuses on program excellence carried out by peers.  For nursing, accredited bodies include the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).  

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Q:  Does Kentucky allow graduates from online programs (i.e., Excelsior College) to become licensed in Kentucky?
A:  KBN does not approve out-of-state nursing education programs.  KBN only approves and regulates prelicensure nursing education programs located in Kentucky.  Kentucky DOES recognize graduates from prelicensure nursing education programs that are approved/accredited by other state boards of nursing as eligible to apply to take the NCLEX examination(s) and apply for licensure in Kentucky.  An example of such a program is Excelsior College.  The New York State Board of Nursing approves Excelsior College and graduates from that program may apply to take the NCLEX-RN examination in Kentucky.  Out-of-state nursing education programs should be contacted directly for information specific to the program’s approval/accreditation status in the state of origin.

Q: I was medic in a branch of the armed services.  Am I qualified to seek licensure in the state of Kentucky?
A:  KBN has no provision to allow the challenge of the licensure examination based on experience.  The requirement is that one be a graduate of an approved nursing program to apply for licensure.  The only approved military vocational nursing program RECOGNIZED BY KENTUCKY is the Army Practical Nurse Course (formerly 91C).  If you have college classes or have health occupational experience, you should inquire at a specific nursing program to learn about transfer credit or advance placement.  To locate a program near you, click on Locate a Nursing School by County or Region or Locate a Nursing school by City.  There are a number of resources available on this website to assist you in locating a program of nursing.

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Q: Can I get a copy of my transcript from KBN if my nursing program is no longer active?
A: We have locations for a few programs. Those are: 1) Baptist Hospital School of Nursing - Baptist Hospital Corporate Office, Human Resources Dept. @ 502-896-5054 or mtrayner@bhsi.com; 2) Good Samaritan Hospital, Good Samaritan Foundation @ 606-255-1691; 3) Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital, Caritas Foundation @ 502-361-6550; and 4) Nazareth Home, Nazareth KY @ 502-348-1555.

If KBN required a transcript when you were issued your Kentucky license, send a request that includes your KY license number, all names you have ever used, the year you were licensed in Kentucky, your social security number, your date of birth, and the $25 processing fee to the Kentucky Board of Nursing, ATTN: Credentials & Licensure, 312 Whittington Parkway, Louisville KY 40222.  If you want the Board certified copy of your transcript sent to someone other than yourself, include the contact information in your letter of request.

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Q:  I was not successful on the NCLEX exam.  What can I do to pass the next time?
A:  KBN recommends that you contact your nursing program and inform them of your result.  At that time, share your candidate profile with them so that they can assess your performance on the exam.  All nursing programs in Kentucky want to help their graduates be successful on the NCLEX exam.  Your school of nursing is also aware of your overall performance during your time in the program and may be able to use that information, along with your candidate profile, to assist you in developing a plan for success. 

There are numerous NCLEX review courses available on the Internet.  We suggest that you search the web using the keyword "NCLEX."  This search will result in many resources.  When selecting a review program, seek a program that gives the learner a diagnostic profile of his/her strengths and weaknesses and explains the rationale for the correct answers.   Most experts recommend “questions, questions, questions.”  It is not possible to review too many questions before taking the exam.  It is essential to look closely at your diagnostic profile and focus your review around the areas that are identified as weaknesses.  (KBN is not in a position to recommend specific courses.)

We also suggest that you seek employment in health care while you are waiting to retest and use this work experience to give you more exposure to nursing.  While you are working, take note of medications and treatments given to patients, how the patient’s diagnosis relates to nursing care, and how nurses make decisions.   If you have test anxiety, seek counseling to help you deal with the re-testing situation.  Most applicants find that anxiety will decrease with repeated exposure to NCLEX-type questions.  For more information, click on Developing a Plan for NCLEX [PDF Format - 19k].

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Q:  Does Kentucky approve RN to BSN Programs?
A:  By law, any prelicensure nursing education program in Kentucky is required to seek approval from KBN.  Nursing education programs offering baccalaureate nursing courses to RNs are not under the mandated jurisdiction of KBN.  Since RNs returning to school to obtain a BSN are already licensed to practice as RNs, KBN has no jurisdiction over this education.  Many of the generic prelicensure baccalaureate degree nursing education programs in Kentucky approved by KBN have RN to BSN tracks included in their programs. 

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Q: Will KBN help me with a problem in my school of nursing?
A:  The mission of the Kentucky Board of Nursing (KBN) is to protect and promote the welfare of the people of Kentucky by ensuring that each person holding a license as a nurse is competent to practice safely.  KBN fulfills its mission through the regulation of the practice of nursing and the approval of nursing education programs.  KBN is interested in ensuring that nursing education is in compliance with Kentucky regulations in order to protect the public through safe nursing care.  KBN will consider written and signed complaints about nursing education programs that reflect upon noncompliance with education rules.  However, KBN has no purview over school policies, grades, or conflicts between students and faculty.  Most schools have processes in place for dealing with such issues, and students are encouraged to follow appropriate procedure for their institution.

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Kentucky Approved Programs of Nursing

Listings of all vocational and professional nursing education programs approved by KBN are available by clicking on Nursing Schools in Kentucky. The contact information for each program is included in the lists.  Some may offer online courses as educational options when completing the nursing education program.  The programs can be contacted directly to find out what types of educational options are available.


It is recommended that individuals research the approval/accreditation status and credibility of any nursing education program before enrolling in individual courses or the entire program of study.