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    Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Hawaii

    Hawaii is a go-to destination for vacationers worldwide, but thousands of nurses call Hawaii home. 

    Before you can start a nursing career in Hawaii, you must first become a  registered nurse (RN). This process requires a minimum number of nursing practicum hours and a passing score on the NCELX-RN.

    However, if you want to earn more than the average RN and increase your chances of finding a position, the best move is to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). While this four-year degree isn't required by all healthcare facilities, it certainly helps your chances of finding your dream nursing job. 

    Find Nursing Programs

    Methodology

    This is a panel-reviewed selection based on a number of factors including,

    • Reputation
    • NCLEX pass rate
    • Tuition
    • Acceptance rate, when available
    • Only ACEN or CCNE accredited schools are eligible 

    Nurse Panel

    Our selection panel includes 4 Registered Nurses with over 55 years of combined nursing experience and 7 nursing degrees.

    • Tracy Everhart, MSN, RN, CNS
    • Tyler Faust, MSN, RN
    • Kathleen Gaines, BSN, RN, BA, CBC
    • Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN

    Because nursing careers take different forms, the top 10 Hawaii nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.

    Top 10 Nursing Schools in Hawaii

    University of Hawaii Hilo

    Annual In-State Tuition: $15,584 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $41,504 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 89.47%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    Originally part of the University of Hawaii Manoa, the University of Hawaii at Hilo split in 1970 and has since become one of the best regional schools. The bulk of UH Hilo's 3,500 students are undergraduate, pursuing degrees like the traditional BSN. This transfer-friendly BSN lets you transfer credits from any UH school directly into the program. UH Hilo only offers two doctoral programs, one of which is the doctor of nursing practice (DNP). Once students complete their BSN, they can apply to the BSN-DNP program, a three-year, eight-semester on-campus degree. 

    University of Phoenix Hawaii

    Annual Tuition: $12,736 (based on per-credit tuition rate) | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: No

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    Mostly known as an online school, the University of Phoenix actually has a campus in Kapolei on O'ahu. So, while most of the courses are online, nursing students can still enjoy the campus lifestyle. UOPX doesn't yet have a traditional BSN program, but Hawaii students can complete an RN-BSN, a master's of science in nursing (MSN) with a concentration in informatics, nurse administration, or nurse education, an MSN as a family nurse practitioner, and multiple post master's certificates. The tuition is $398 per credit regardless of where you live and whether you study online or on-campus. 

    Chaminade University of Honolulu

    Annual Tuition: $32,314 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.15%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Chaminade University is the only Catholic college in Hawaii, though religion doesn't play a central role in the school's curriculum. 20 different religions are represented through the 1,100 undergraduate students enrolled, so if you aren't religious, Chaminade may still be a good fit. Nursing students at Chaminade have one option: a traditional BSN. Graduates of this program have an excellent track record on the NCLEX, possibly due to Chaminade's emphasis on mentorship. Also, while the price is high, 98% of students receive some form of financial aid, so the price could be much lower than the tuition represents. 

    University of Hawaii at Manoa

    Annual In-State Tuition: $11,304 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $33,336 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    The University of Hawaii at Manoa is the oldest school in the UH system. Based in Honolulu, UH Manoa is also the largest school in the public system, as well as one of the most diverse universities in the nation. Despite its large size, UH Manoa boasts an average class size of 20 students, and students in the School of Nursing & Dental Hygiene can expect even more intimate classes. The BSN has a direct entry option for current high school students, and some of the graduate-level degrees can be completed entirely online. 

    Hawaii Pacific University

    Annual Tuition: $27,000-$33,000 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 76.58%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    While Hawaii Pacific University is based primarily out of Honolulu, the school also has its Hawaii-Loa campus-based northeast of Honolulu which offers a traditional college experience. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of HPU is that it's a non-religious private school, a rarity in higher education. Of course, future nurses should care most about the quality of the traditional BSN. While the NCLEX pass rate isn't the best in Hawaii, HPU is showing signs of growth. This includes the recent addition of a DNP program. As this program continues to grow and more attention is given to nursing students, the NCLEX pass rate could improve. 

    Hawaii Community College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $3,144 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $8,280 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 92%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Based in Hilo, Hawaii Community College doesn't offer a four-year nursing degree. However, as part of the UH system, future nurses can complete their associate of science in nursing (ASN) in two years at Hawaii CC, take and pass the NCLEX, then complete an RN-BSN program at another school. Pacific Islander students that aren't Hawaiin residents receive a discounted tuition rate that's only slightly higher than the in-state tuition rate. So, even if you aren't from Hawaii, you could still be eligible for a huge tuition discount. 

    Kapiolani Community College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $3,144 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $8,280 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

    Traditional: No

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    Originally a technical school, Kapiolani Community College has grown into an important part of the University of Hawaii system. Much like Hawaii CC, Kapiolani CC doesn't have a traditional nursing program. Instead, students can complete an ASN, pass the NCLEX, then earn a BSN through an RN-BSN program. Fortunately, Kapiolani CC nursing students have excelled on the NCLEX in the past, so future students are practically guaranteed a quality education. Kapiolani CC shares a lot in common with Hawaii CC, including the same tuition rates and structure. 

    University of Hawaii - Kauai Community College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $4,192 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $11,040 (based on per-credit tuition rate) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 80%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Serving as the UH system's community college on Kauai, the University of Hawaii - Kauai Community College offers many of the same options as other UH community colleges. Students interested in nursing should select the AS in nursing that leads to becoming an RN. From here, graduates can pass the NCLEX then enroll in an RN-BSN program elsewhere in Hawaii. This two-year program is ideal for anyone living on or planning to live on Kauai. 

    University of Hawaii - Maui College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $4,192 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $11,040 (based on per-credit tuition rate) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 76.19%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    The University of Hawaii - Maui College boasts small class sizes, a beautiful campus, and, of course, a prime location on Maui. Maui College doesn't offer a complete BSN program, though students who want a BSN can complete their first two years at Maui College then transfer directly into UH Manoa's BSN. Upper-division courses cost more for both residents and non-residents, so if you plan on completing a four-year degree, expect to pay higher tuition during years three and four. 

    Aspen University

    Annual Tuition: $9,750 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: No

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    While Aspen College is technically located in Colorado, this college's online presence is among the best in the nation. For aspiring nurses looking to begin their career in Hawaii, the best option through Aspen College is to complete the entirely online RN-BSN. Of course, students must first become RNs, though there are plenty of options scattered over multiple islands in Hawaii. In terms of flexibility and affordability, Aspen College is an excellent option for completing your BSN. 

    4 Key Factors That Affect Nursing School Tuition

    Keep in mind that colleges and universities reserve the right to change tuition rates at any time. The yearly tuition rates listed here will vary for each student depending on various factors including,

    • Transfer credits
    • Completed competency exams
    • Amount of credits taken per year
    • Financial aid awards

    Check with the specific school for current tuition rates.

    Nurse Salary and Job Outlook

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

    • Hawaii RNs earn an annual mean wage of $98,080, the second-highest rate in the nation behind California.
    • Hawaii employs 11,310 nurses, among the lowest in the nation. 

    Hawaii's low employment isn't as drastic as it may seem at first glance. The Sunshine State has far fewer residents than most other states and employs more nurses per 1,000 workers than California, Washington, and Nevada.

    Not only does Hawaii employ more nurses relative to larger states, but the mean annual wage of $98,080 is incredible.

    Aside from being a high-paying state that employs more nurses relative to states like California and Washington, nurses who live in Hawaii get to enjoy the tropical island lifestyle. Who isn't looking to experience that?!

    Next Steps:

    Hawaii has some great nursing schools to look at. Once you've found a few that fit your personal needs, the next steps in the process are to get in touch with each school, prepare a strong application, then apply. Be sure to apply to every school you're interested in -- you could end up receiving a nice scholarship or grant from a college that wants you!

    Here are the next steps broken down:

    Contact each school’s admissions offices. Getting in touch with the admissions office should be a priority. The admissions office can answer questions you have about the school, the application process, and the best way to proceed. 

    Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. Ask the admissions office about the nursing school and any additional admission requirements. Nursing schools often have their own set of admission requirements that are stricter than the university's requirements.

    Submit your application(s). After you've put together application materials, the final step is to apply. Your application is extremely important, so spend some time making your application as strong as possible! Strong applications lead to acceptance and potential financial aid. 

    In your application, be prepared to submit:

    • High school transcript (GPA)
    • ACT and/or SAT scores
    • College entrance essay(s)
    • Letter(s) of recommendation

    Important considerations when comparing schools: 

    You've been accepted to (hopefully) every program you applied to. But before you choose a school, take a moment to think about what the best option is. It's easy to choose a school solely based on price, reputation, difficulty, etc. Instead of making a quick decision, take the following considerations into account -- it could help you find the best school for your nursing career!

    • Tuition cost and cost of the nursing program
    • Type of school (public or private)
    • Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered
    • Cost of living on-campus or in the area
    • Distance from home
    • School and nursing program acceptance rate
    • Time it takes to complete the program
    • Program outcomes (NCLEX pass rate and job placement)
    • Accreditation (regional and programmatic)

    Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation  

    Accreditation is a way for colleges to verify their academic quality. The best accreditation a school can earn is regional accreditation, and the regionally accrediting body for Hawaii is the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. On top of regional accreditation, the best programs (including nursing programs) have programmatic accreditation. 

    The two nursing accreditation organizations to look for are

    If you earn a degree from an unaccredited school, you may have trouble securing federal financial aid and finding work as a nurse after graduation. 

    Getting a License in Hawaii

    Hawaii has relatively straight-forward requirements for becoming a nurse. As long as you earn an ASN or BSN from an accredited school and program in Hawaii, all requirements for licensure should be satisfied. 

    In addition to earning a degree and becoming NCLEX-RN eligible, you'll need to:

    • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
    • Submit electronic fingerprints and pass a criminal background check 
    • Pay an application fee and complete an application through the Hawaii Board of Nursing

    Conclusion 

    Beaches and tropical forests aside, Hawaii is a top destination for nurses due in part to the incredibly high wages nurses earn. To become eligible for a nursing license in Hawaii, you should study at a university, college, or community college, and preferably one in Hawaii. Once you've earned your degree, you're ready to become a registered nurse and start your nursing career!

    Find Nursing Programs

    References:

    BLS

    Hawaii Board of Nursing

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