Nursing License Requirements in Kentucky

The Kentucky Board of Nursing regulates Kentucky’s Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses. The National Nursing Database reports that Kentucky has 63,965 RNs and 16,312 LPNs. Other licensing statistics are available on the Board site.

Kentucky is a Nursing Licensure Compact state.

Kentucky is a member of the nurse compact. Licensees whose primary residence is in Kentucky are granted a multistate license that also allows them to practice in other compact states (for example, Virginia, Missouri, and Tennessee). Some of the bordering states are not members of the compact, though, so a separate license is required to work there.

Nurses who have taken the NCLEX and been licensed in another jurisdiction of the U.S. apply by examination. Those who have not apply by examination. Taking the NCLEX at the PN or RN level is typically the last step in the process.

Select the type of Nursing License you are seeking:

In order for a program to remain in good standing in Kentucky, it must maintain a pass rate of 85% — this is a higher bar than in some other states. The Board lists NCLEX pass rates by program, but notes that this should not be one’s sole criteria for judging program quality ( Other considerations may include program accreditation, clinical experiences, and ability to transfer credits.

The Board does not endorse particular NCLEX prep programs, but does offer some advice to test takers in the frequently asked questions (

Nursing Scholarships in Kentucky

Kentucky offers scholarships of $3,000 a year to selected LPN and RN students through the Nursing Incentive Scholarship Fund ( Preference is given to financially needy students and to nurses who are furthering their education (LPNs training to become RNs, RNs pursuing graduate education). The Kentucky Nurses Foundation offers scholarships to professional nursing students at the associate or baccalaureate level (

The Kentucky Nurses Association is a professional organization that supports the state’s RNs (

LPN Requirements in Kentucky

Education Requirements for LPNs

There are several factors to consider prior to selecting an LPN program. The article, LPN programs in Kentucky, will help you better understand these factors during your LPN program selection process.

LPN candidates must attend a board approved school ( The Kentucky Board does not recognize military experience unless the military-based program provided state approved nursing training – but does note that candidates with military backgrounds can ask individual programs about advanced placement opportunities.

There are certain required concepts that graduates of Kentucky programs can expect in their coursework. Graduates of out-of-state programs must take them later via continuing education. HIV/ AIDS is required within six months of licensing. Domestic violence training is required within three years. Pediatric head trauma is also required.

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The Application Process

Candidates may complete the application, and pay the $110 fee, online ( The Board notes that the application works best in Internet Explorer of Firefox.

Candidates must know the relevant Kentucky statutes and rules in order to be eligible for licensing. There is an online jurisprudence exam; candidates will be able to access it after they have submitted their application ( There is a $9 fee. The test is open book, but it does have to be done in one sitting; if a candidate doesn’t finish, the candidate’ll need to start again. A candidate who doesn’t complete the test within three weeks will have to pay another fee.

Fingerprinting is another requirement. Fingerprints are to be sent to the Kentucky State Police for a federal background check (along with a $16.50 fee). Examination candidates should also request a state background check online (

The graduate will also need to register for the NCLEX-PN exam ( After the candidate receives authorization, the candidate may schedule an exam at their choice of testing centers.

A candidate can work as a Licensed Practical Nurse Applicant (LPNA) while going through the NCLEX process. The candidate may be supervised by an LPN, RN, or nurse practitioner. The candidate may not begin work, though, until the provisional license has been issued. The license can be validated online.

Licensing is now an electronic process. Licensed nurses will receive their license number via email.

Candidates who do not pass their first NCLEX attempt can not work as nurses until such time as they do pass. The Kentucky Board mandates a 46 day wait period before retesting. Candidates will have to repeat some steps of the process to retake. If it has been longer than six months, a criminal history check will be required again.

RN License Requirements in Kentucky

Education Requirements for RNs

RN candidates must graduate from a board-approved school. The Kentucky Board notes that there is a difference between state approval and programmatic accreditation. Attending a program that is accredited by CCNE or NLNAC may be advantageous for a nurse who wants to pursue higher levels of education down the road; however, this is outside the jurisdiction of the licensing committee. The Board does provide information about programs, including their accreditation ( Pre-licensure RN programs are offered in Kentucky at the associate and baccalaureate level.

Read the “RN Programs in Kentucky” article to learn about factors to consider when choosing a Registered Nursing program.

The Kentucky Board also licenses candidates who have graduated from programs licensed by other state boards; this includes programs that offer coursework online. The Board recommends that students check the approval status of any school they are considering attending.

The Application Process

After graduation, a candidate must apply to the Kentucky Board and also register with Pearson VUE to take the NCLEX-RN exam. Candidates should be prepared to pay $200 for the exam and one $110 for license application (

Additional requirements include taking an online jurisprudence exam and having a federal and state criminal background check. The candidate will need to have fingerprints made and send the card to the state police for the federal check.

A candidate may be granted a provisional license to work under supervision while the candidate is waiting to take the NCLEX. During this period, the title will be Registered Nurse Applicant, or RNA. The candidate may be supervised by a registered nurse or nurse practitioner. If the RNA does not pass the first attempt, the RNA license will become invalidated. The candidate may retake the exam, but there will be additional fees and paperwork.

An RN must apply separately for a SANE credential – this is for sexual assault examiners. Nurses who are working in Kentucky under a license from another compact state may still apply to Kentucky for the credential. SANE applicants will need state background checks.

Endorsement Candidates

There is a $150 fee for licensure by endorsement. Endorsement candidates must show evidence of a license in good standing. They will need to have a federal criminal background check; fingerprint cards may be requested online (

Endorsement candidates will need to provide educational transcripts if they graduated from a school of nursing in one of the following states: California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Pennsylvania, or Washington. California graduates will not be issued a temporary permit until their transcript arrives.

Any candidate who has been licensed for at least five years must show evidence of continuing competency. A nurse who has not practiced at least 500 hours during the preceding five years must do a refresher course or 120 hours of continuing education. A nurse who has not practiced at least 100 hours should call the endorsement coordinator to inquire about requirements. The Board will accept refresher courses taken in the recent past (

Endorsement candidates will need to do some additional coursework via continuing education. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be complete at first licensing.

Applications are typically reviewed within two weeks. However, if an applicant has a disciplinary or criminal history the review process may take three months. Candidates who answer a questions in error should fax the correction to this number: 502-429-3336.

International Candidates

Licensed nurses from Puerto Rico* and other nations must go through a VisaScreen process for credential review.

*The VisaScreen requirement does not apply to Puerto Rican nurses who did their education prior to September 1, 2006.


Kentucky Board of Nursing

Kentucky Nurses Association

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