Isothermal Community CollegeFoothills Nursing Consortium

Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses

What is RIBN?

  • RIBN is four years in nursing studies. Students graduate with two degrees in those four years: both an associate degree and bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN).
  • Isothermal Community College(ICC)-a member school of the Foothills Nursing Consortium- is the home school for three years of the program.
  • Students will be enrolled in both Western Carolina University and ICC class work for the first three years of the program, taking the majority of coursework at ICC.
  • During the fourth year, students take classes at WCU online.
  • Students can work as nurses after year three of study.
  • Costs are kept low because most of the course work is completed through ICC.
  • Students can apply for nursing scholarships and “Forgivable Educational Loans for Service” as soon as they are enrolled in the program.
  • Students will graduate with three years of nursing education and clinical experience.

Why is a four year nursing degree important?

  • Most hospitals prefer a four year degree in nursing.
  • The four year degree is the building block to master's level nursing, such as a nurse practitioner, 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. The students will be dually enrolled at their local community college (the four community colleges in WNC RIBN are A-B Tech, Blue Ridge Community College, Isothermal Community College, and Southwestern Community College) and Western Carolina University (WCU). Students will begin completing course requirements for a baccalaureate degree during the first semester in the curriculum. Because the first three years of classes will be held on the community college main campus, students will also 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 option 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 an integrative program if the student has 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 RIBN students?

In addition to completing the FAFSA, students can apply for the "Forgivable Education 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 2?

You will not be required to re-take any courses for which you have successful credit. Entering at year 2 may be an option depending on the courses which you have successfully completed.

If I have taken the ACT before, do I have to re-take it to apply?

If you have taken the ACT before applying you may want to take it again to increase your score. Because this is a competitive program, it may be to your advantage to retake the ACT. There is no required minimum score at this point but a score of 20 or higher (overall composite) is expected.  Admission is based on a points system for entry and the highest score is averaged into the point’s average.

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 adviser to clarify requirements for entrance to your local community college 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 Isothermal.

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 WNC 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 eligible 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 be high enough for general admission to WCU. It is suggested that you take it more than once. Students are admitted 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 TEAS® (Test of Essential Academic Skills). Students may take the TEAS® after the WNC RIBN Adviser has determined eligibility to apply. A minimum score of 70 is required.

The Foothills Nursing Consortium AD 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.

Circular RIBN Logo, Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses Isothermal and Western Carolina University

Students interested in RIBN should contact:

Kelly Collum
Academic Advisor/Admissions Counselor
RIBN Student Success Advocate
Isothermal Community College
Phone: 828-395-1606
Office: Advising and Success Center