Kentucky School of Medicine

Image from Medicine and its Development in Kentucky

The Kentucky School of Medicine, in Louisville, Kentucky, was established in 1850. It was part of the Funk Seminary in La Grange and, eventually, changes its name to Masonic University. The newly formed Kentucky School of Medicine made its official announcement as follows:

“In making the announcement of the first session of the Kentucky School of Medicine, the faculty respectfully invited the attention of the profession to the fact that with a single exception, the organization embraces the late faculty of the Medical Department of Transylvania University. The session of the Transylvania School having been changed from a Winter to a Spring term, her faculty determined, in conjunction with Professors Flint and Powell, to profit by an opportunity offered by the President and Trustees of Masonic University to establish the Kentucky School of Medicine at Louisville.”

The Kentucky School of Medicine, in addition to the University of Louisville, had no academic entrance requirements. The basic requirements to apply for a doctor of medicine degree was to study medicine for at least three years with a reputable physician. Once a student attended two regular sessions at the school of five months each and completing the required thesis and examination, the degree could be awarded. The School would see a significant amount of discord through the mid-19th century. In 1866, the Kentucky School merged with the University of Louisville, going as far as surrendering its original charter. This, however, only last for one year. Faculty members within the Kentucky School would also come to a number of disagreements. This would, essentially, last until the Kentucky School of Medicine, along with the other local medical colleges in Louisville merged into a single Department of Medicine at the University of Louisville.

Image from the Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, 23 June 1901

Course of Instruction

One course of lectures of twenty weeks’ duration annually, commencing 10 February, after the close of lectures in the winter schools. Quizzes were held each day by the faculty. Clinics were held at the hospital and college. Three years’ graded course was recommended but not required. Lectures embraced anatomy, physiology, chemistry, materia medica, surgical pathology, microscopy, therapeutics, obstetrics, diseases of women, surgery, clinical surgery, practice of medicine, clinical medicine, nervous diseases, ophthalmology, otology, laryngology, venereal diseases, and minor surgery.

Requirements for Admission

For admission, applicants for matriculation had to provide evidence that they possessed a good English education. To graduate, the student must have been twenty-one years of age, of good moral character, completed two full courses of lectures, the interval between the beginning of the first and the close of the second course had to have been at least fifteen months, dissection of the several regions of the body, completed a course of hospital clinics, completed an examination on all branches taught at the college. If, after the examination for the degree, the student were to be found to have received three negatives votes, the student was entitled to another examination. Should the student decline this, he may withdraw, and will not be considered rejected. The degree was not conferred upon any candidate who was frequently absent from the regular lectures of the college, or who absents himself from the public commencement without special permission of the faculty.

Cost of Attendance

Matriculation was $5; demonstrator fees were $10; hospital fees were $5; lectures were $75; graduate fee was $30.


Number of matriculates and of graduates at each sessions reported, and percentages of graduates to matriculates:


Average percentage of graduates to matriculate during the preceding four years: thirty-six percent.

Contributed by Shawn Logan |

⁘ Works Cited ⁘

  1. The Lexington Leader, 9 December 1949
  2. The Lexington Leader, 12 December 1952
  1. Lawson, Hampden, C.”The Early Medical Schools of Kentucky.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 24, no. 2 (1950): 168-75.
  2. Medical Education and Medical Colleges in the United States and Canada, 1765-1885. Springfield, 1885.
  3. Kentucky State Department of Health and the Kentucky State Medical Association. Medicine and its Development in Kentucky. The Standard Printing Company: Louisville, KY. 1940.

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