The Best Nursing Schools in Hawaii

The Best Nursing Schools in Hawaii

Attending nursing school is challenging. You want to make sure you have the best professors and resources on your side to make the process as smooth as possible. If you’ve decided to attend nursing school in Hawaii (good choice, by the way!) then rest assured, you’ve got plenty of great options. Below, I’m sharing some of the best nursing schools in Hawaii and what makes them special.


Hawaiian nursing schools
Sophia M.


January 23, 2024

How I Picked

In building this list, I looked at the following factors to determine which schools are the best: NCLEX® pass rate, cost, location, and types of programs offered. 

NCLEX® pass rate

The ultimate goal of going to nursing school is becoming a nurse, but you can’t do that without first passing the NCLEX. For this reason, you should always consider the NCLEX pass rate of a university before deciding to attend it. I included schools on this list that featured high NCLEX pass rates. 


Nursing school comes with a lot of extra expenses other than just tuition. You can expect to spend money on textbooks, clinical supplies, scrubs, and more throughout your nursing program. So it is beneficial to take your time in considering the cost of the school you attend. Finding a school with more affordable tuition will likely benefit you in the long run. I’ve shared estimated tuition for all of the schools on this list. 


Where you attend nursing school is where you will live for those two to four years (or more depending on the route you take), so it is important that you like where you live. For that reason, I’m including information about the location of each nursing school I’ve selected to give you a feel for where you can expect to live. 

Type of programs offered

Not everyone becomes a nurse through a traditional four-year program. Some nurses get an associate’s degree first, sit for the NCLEX, then complete an RN to BSN program. Others go back to school after finishing a completely unrelated Bachelor’s degree and do an accelerated one-year nursing program–let’s just say, there are plenty of options. I paid attention to the types of nursing programs offered by each school since I know that everyone will take their own unique route to becoming a nurse. 

Best Nursing Schools in Hawaii 2024

Hawaii Community College

  • In-State Tuition Estimate: $3,144
  • Out-of-State Tuition Estimate: $8,280
  • NCLEX® Pass Rate (2020): 100% 
  • Location: Hilo, Hawaii

Hawaii Community College offers an associate’s in nursing program, so if you attend this college you would be completing a two-year nursing program, which makes you eligible to sit for the NCLEX. From there, you could get licensed to work as an RN; however, if you want to go on to complete a BSN, you’d have to return to school later on to complete an RN to BSN program. 

There is nothing wrong with this route to becoming a nurse. Some find it more cost-effective, since it requires less school time and gets you into the workforce faster. Others prefer to just go straight to completing a BSN all at once. Hawaii Community College stood out to me because they boasted a 100% NCLEX pass rate for the year 2020–I mean, that is very impressive! You’re almost guaranteed to pass the NCLEX on your first try, which offers some serious security. 

The tuition is also reasonable, even for out-of-state students. They also offer discounted tuition for other Pacific Islanders who aren’t Hawaiian residents, so if you fall into this category then you could still get a discounted tuition rate even if you aren’t a Hawaii resident. 

Hilo is a small town located on the big island of Hawaii. It is considered a nice place to live, with a laid-back, island atmosphere. This is a great place to live if you’re looking for a small community rather than a big city. 

Chaminade University of Honolulu

  • Tuition estimate: $28,544
  • NCLEX® pass rate (2020): 92.45%
  • Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

Chaminade University of Honolulu offers a traditional four-year nursing program. This program places a strong emphasis on mentorship and leadership, helping to churn out well-rounded and confident nurses who are ready to enter the workforce. This fully accredited nursing program offers state-of-the-art facilities and a simulation lab. 

Although Chaminade University is a small Catholic school, students of all religions are more than welcome to attend. They are the only Catholic nursing program in Hawaii, so if you are looking for a school with religious influences, this would be a good option. Because Chaminade is a private school, you can expect higher tuition rates with the benefit of smaller class sizes and a more intimate learning environment. 

Honolulu is a popular and desirable place to live offering beautiful beaches and outdoor recreation. It is the largest city in Hawaii and has its own airport, making travel easy to access.

University of Hawaii at Manoa

  • In-State Tuition Estimate: $11,304
  • Out-of-State Tuition Estimate: $33,336
  • NCLEX® Pass Rate (2020): 97.62% 
  • Location: Honolulu

The University of Hawaii at Manoa offers a variety of different nursing routes, including a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing and an online RN to BSN program for nurses who hold an Associate’s degree. There are several other University of Hawaii campuses, including University of Hawaii at Hilo and University of Hawaii West O’ahu. UH at Manoa is the oldest school of all of the different campuses. Although the school is large, it still offers small and intimate class sizes of around 20 students. 

University of Hawaii at Hilo

  • In-State Tuition Estimate: $14,688
  • Out-of-State Tuition Estimate: $40,608
  • NCLEX® pass rate (2020): 82.50% 
  • Location: Hilo

The University of Hawaii at Hilo offers a nursing program that places an emphasis on active learning, cultural competence, professionalism, and diversity. This University of Hawaii campus is located in the small town of Hilo, which is said to be a unique town in Hawaii with a down-to-earth population. 

Hawaii Pacific University

  • Tuition Estimate: $35,040
  • NCLEX® pass rate (2020): 85.19%
  • Location: Honolulu

Hawaii Pacific University is a private college located in Honolulu. HPU is a diverse and safe university and some students find it intriguing that it is a private college that is also non-religious. As far as the types of programs offered, HPU has a traditional BSN program as well as some graduate nursing programs, including MSN and DNP programs. 

Kapiolani Community College

  • In-State Tuition Estimate: $3,144
  • Out-of-State Tuition Estimate: $8,280
  • NCLEX® pass rate (2020): 96.08% 
  • Location: Honolulu

Kapiolani Community College is a solid option for aspiring nursing students who are on a tight budget, with reasonable tuition rates and high NCLEX pass rates. Kapiolani Community College is a part of the University of Hawaii system. This nursing school does not have a traditional BSN program; instead, you can complete an associate in nursing, pass the NCLEX, then complete an RN to BSN program afterward. 

What Are the Benefits of Going to Nursing School in Hawaii?

Many people think of Hawaii as a vacation destination, given the picturesque beaches and beautiful landscapes. Although Hawaii has a high cost of living because of its booming tourism industry, it is still a wonderful place to live. If you have the option to travel for nursing school you may want to consider Hawaii. 

However, it is important to note that Hawaii is not one of the compact states.

This means that getting a nursing license in Hawaii will give you the ability to work as a nurse in Hawaii only. Your license will not be transferable to any of the other 50 states, so you’ll only have the option to work in Hawaii unless you go through the process of getting licensed to work in another state (which can be costly and time-consuming). For this reason, if you plan to live and work in Hawaii, then moving there before you become a nurse and attending nursing school is a smarter choice than going to school somewhere else and moving to Hawaii afterward. 

Is Hawaii a Good Place to Work as a Nurse?

Nurses make some of the highest wages in Hawaii when compared with other states. But this is largely related to the high cost of living there. Research says mixed things about whether Hawaii is a nice place for nurses to work. I personally know a number of nurses who have completed travel nurse contracts in Hawaii and seemed to enjoy the experience. Working as a nurse in Hawaii gives you the opportunity to explore one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

Final Thoughts

If you’re considering completing your nursing education in Hawaii, there are many benefits to doing so. With so many great schools to choose from and a naturally beautiful location, Hawaii is an ideal place to go to nursing school. 

We've been there.
We get it.

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