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Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses

What is RIBN?

  • The Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) Program dually admits and enrolls nursing students at Isothermal Community College (ICC) and at Western Carolina University (WCU). The RIBN Program provides a four-year, seamless associate degree nursing to baccalaureate in nursing education. Unlike in a traditional BSN program, students have the opportunity to begin working as an RN at the start of your fourth year.
  • The RIBN option makes a bachelor's degree in nursing both affordable and accessible. The first three years are hosted at ICC, with one class taken each year online through WCU as advised by the RIBN advisor. Upon successful completion of the first three years at ICC, students are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN and work as a RN while completing the fourth year online through WCU. In addition, students can apply for nursing scholarships and "Forgivable Educational Loans for Service" as soon as they are enrolled in the program.

Why is a four year nursing degree important?

  • Many hospitals prefer a four-year degree in nursing.
  • The four-year degree is the building block to master's level nursing, such as educator, nurse practitioner, or nurse administrator as well as advancement within the profession.
  • What makes the WNC RIBN nursing educational model different than traditional two or four year nursing pathways?
    This four-year dual enrollment nursing option will provide a seamless transition from an associate degree to a baccalaureate degree in nursing. Students will begin completing course requirements for a baccalaureate degree during the first semester in the curriculum. Because the first three years of classes are held at ICC, students have the opportunity to pay mostly community college tuition rates through the RIBN model.
  • I already have a degree (associates or bachelors). Is RIBN a good fit for me?
    Traditional RIBN is a four-year degree from start to finish, with all the course work built in to complete both the associates and bachelors in nursing. However, if you have an associates or bachelor's degree already in another field, you may have the opportunity to do aRIBN (which is an alternate entry into RIBN) if you have completed all the course work for the first year of Traditional RIBN, or iRIBN (which is an integrative program if the student as an AA/AS or BA/BS Degree) if you have completed all the general education course work for Traditional RIBN plus completion of certain liberal studies and Pathophysiology. If you have a bachelor's degree in another field you can also consider an accelerated nursing program at many of the universities that offer generic BSN programs. If you have the 2-year Associate Degree in Nursing from a community college consider the RN to BSN option at many universities. Please note that the completion of the certified nursing aid (CNA) training is required before you can apply to most ADN and prior to the second year of RIBN programs.
  • What scholarship monies are available for WNC/ICC RIBN students?
    In addition to completing the FAFSA, students can apply for the "Forgivable Educational Loans for Service".  Information for that program can be found at Also, students can apply for foundation scholarships at their local community college. The application period is typically early in the year for the following fall. Residents of Rutherford and Polk counties may apply for the Powers Scholarship. Students also need to check with their employers to see if there are any tuition reimbursement options.
  • If I have already completed some of the general education courses in the RIBN curriculum, can I start my nursing courses sooner than year two?
    Entering at year 2 may be an option depending on the courses that you have successfully completed.
  • What if I am missing some of the UNC minimum course requirements?
    If you did not complete some of the required high school courses, you may take courses at the college level to satisfy these course requirements to be eligible to apply. Please meet with the RIBN advisor to clarify requirements for entrance to ICC and Western Carolina University.
  • If I have completed college course work, will you still look at my high school GPA?
    If you have completed at least 20 credit hours of college coursework (100 level or higher), we will only consider your cumulative collegiate GPA, including any courses completed at ICC.
  • Can I apply to other nursing options as well as RIBN?
    Yes. Because nursing programs in the region are so competitive, we encourage you to apply to as many options for which you are eligible and in which you are interested.


Students applying to RIBN must meet dual admission requirements set forth collaboratively by Isothermal Community College and Western Carolina University.

Students must meet the following minimum requirements to be able to apply:

  • General acceptance to Western Carolina University and Isothermal Community College.
  • ACT is required - but no minimum score is required at this time for RIBN, but it must also be 20 or higher for general admission to WCU. Students may take the ACT more than once. Students are admitted to WCU based on the total point achieved in a points system and the best score is the chosen score for the points system.
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0. (If a student has less than 20 credit hours of college coursework, then this requirement will default to the high school unweighted GPA)
  • All applicants to WNC RIBN must take the ATI TEASE (Test of Essential Academic Skills). Students may take the TEASE after the WNC RIBN Adviser has determined eligibility to apply. A minimum score of 70 is required.
  • General acceptance to the ADN Program at Isothermal Community College.
  • Admission to WCU and ICC nursing is competitive and limited -- no student is guaranteed admission to WCU or ICC.

The Isothermal Community College Associate Degree Nursing Program is approved by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. The Western Carolina University School of Nursing is approved by the North Carolina Board of Nursing and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.


Contact for information

Katie Edwards
Health Sciences Student Success Coordinator

Melissa Tenpenny
College Navigator, Health and Public Service