Western Carolina University Nursing School Review

Western Carolina University (WCU) is a public university that is part of the University of North Carolina system. It is located in Cullowhee in the western part of the state and is one of the oldest four-year universities in the state system. The campus is close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. There are around 12,000 students attending the university that offers both undergraduate and graduate activities. Western Carolina University was founded in 1889 and now offers more than 120 academic programs.

Nursing Programs

BSN Pre-Licensure Program

The university offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Pre-Licensure Program that prepares graduates for a career as a professional nurse. Graduates take the NCLEX-RN for licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN). Those who are interested in the program must first be accepted into the university. They must then begin taking lower division courses before applying to the School of Nursing. Only after they are accepted are they able to begin taking nursing courses. Applicants must have a grade point average of at least 3.0 in the 60 credits that are required before being eligible to begin the nursing program. In addition, applicants must have an SAT Critical Reading/Verbal score or at least 500 and must take the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) and have adequate scores on this test. During the nursing program, students complete nursing courses and their clinical experience.

Accelerated BSN Option

This program is for students who want to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing with an accelerated option. It is referred to as the ABSN program because it is designed for those who already have completed a bachelor’s degree in another field who want to become professional nurses. The program is completed in 12 months and is a full-time program for students who can devote themselves to a full-time program. Classes are held five days each week for around eight hours each day. Clinical experience is in the evening or on the weekends, so the program requires a time commitment from students. Students may take the NCLEX-RN exam for licensure after completing the program. To qualify for the program, applicants must have a grade point average of at least 3.0 in their college level work, and they must take the TEAS exam. They must also have completed all of the prerequisite courses. This program is highly selective. The applicant’s grade point average, TEAS score, resume and cover letter score, and interview with the ABSN Admissions Committee determine whether or not an applicant is granted admission to the program.


This program is the Western North Carolina Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) Program. Students are admitted to Western Carolina University and to A-B Tech to earn an associate degree and then a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The difference between this program and the BSN Pre-Licensure program is that students may begin working as an RN at the beginning of their fourth year in the program. This enables a student to pay for most of the three years of education that they have completed. For the first three years of the program, students attend A-B Tech’s Asheville campus. Then, the fourth year is taken at A-B Tech’s Enka Campus.

RN to BSN Program

This is an online program that enables Registered Nurses (RNs) to complete their BSN. There are 24 hours of online courses and 8 hours of upper division online electives that must be completed within two years on a part-time basis. An advantage of this program is that students may transfer up to 60 credits that they earned while studying for their associate’s degree. Another advantage is that the program is very affordable at less than $5,000 for the entire program, including textbooks.

RN to MS(N) Early-Entry Option

Students in the RN to BSN program who would like to continue their education to complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree are eligible to apply to enter this program. Students may then take up to 8 hours of graduate level MSN courses in one of the MSN concentrations as they complete their BSN. By doing this, the courses count for both the BSN and MSN degrees and reduce the total number of credits that must be completed.

Graduate: Master of Science (Nursing)

This program is for graduates of a BSN program or for those who are in the WCU RN to MS(N) Early-Entry Option. Besides completing basic core courses that are required for the master’s degree, students also choose a concentration and complete courses that are related to it. These are discussed below.

MS(N) Nurse Educator

This program is designed to prepare RNs who have completed their BSN to become educators of student nurses. They are also prepared to educate staff and patients. All courses are taught online, and students choose whether they want to complete a thesis or project option. A total of 38 to 39 credits are required, and students take courses part-time. Applicants should have a grade point average of at least 3.0 on the last 60 hours of undergraduate work, and must have completed statistics and research courses. They must also have at least one year’s clinical experience as an RN in the past five years. In addition, either the GRE or MAT exam is required.

There is also a Post-Graduate Certificate Program for RNs who have already completed their MSN. This program takes 18 credits to complete in five semesters. Applicants to the Certificate Program must have their MSN and GRE scores are not required.

MS(N) Nurse Administration

This master’s degree program prepares nurses to work in leadership positions. It is an online program except for practicum placements that are near the student’s home. Either a thesis or scholarly project must be completed. The program requires 40 or 41 credits, and student take classes on a part-time basis. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.0 on the last 60 hours of their undergraduate studies and must have completed statistics and research courses. They must also be licensed as an RN and have at least one year of clinical experience. Either the GRE or MAT exam is required.

MS(N) Nurse Anesthesia Program

This program prepares RNs to work as Nurse Anesthetists and takes 28 months to complete. During this time, students take at least 66 course credits. This highly competitive program admits only 14 students into each cohort class, and this is less than 20 percent of the number of applicants who want to be admitted. Applicants must have at least one year’s experience in full-time critical care in a hospital setting. Students must take the GRE and have satisfactory scores plus a grade point average in the last 60 hours of undergraduate studies of at least 3.0.

MS(N) Family Nurse Practitioner

This program prepares nurses to work with family members of all ages and leads to a master’s of science degree. This is an online program, or students may take classes on the Enka campus. Those who already have a MSN may apply to the Post-Master’s Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate Program. A total of 49 to 53 credits are required, depending on whether the student chooses to complete a thesis or project option. The Post-Master FNP Certificate Program requires 38 credits to complete. Admission requirements are that the applicant must have a BSN and a grade point average of at least 3.0 during the last 60 credits completed. A statistics course and research course are also required. In addition, the applicant must be licensed as an RN and have at least one year’s clinical experience as a RN. Satisfactory GRE scores are also required. For the Certificate Program, GRE scores are waived, and the applicant must have a MSN.

Western Carolina University
102 Cordelia Camp,
Cullowhee, NC 28723
(828) 227-7317