4 Best ADN Programs in Hawaii – (2-Year RN Programs)

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

What kinds of professional opportunities will ADN programs in Hawaii prepare you for? Nursing jobs in hospitals, clinics, private physicians’ practices, and other practice settings throughout the Aloha State, where you can expect to earn $113,220 annually on average. You’ll enjoy job security, too, since employment opportunities for ADN-prepared RNs in Hawaii are expected to go up by 9 percent in the next decade. Many ADN programs in the Aloha State are structured so that transferring credits will be easy if you decide to continue your nursing education at some point. One of the 4 best ADN programs in Hawaii may turn out to be the perfect choice for you, so keep reading.

What Are The Best ADN Programs In Hawaii (Online And Campus)?

Based on our Ranking Methodology, the following are the 4 best nursing schools for ADN Programs in Hawaii. You can complete most of these programs in 2 years.

1. Kapiolani Community College - Honolulu

About The School: Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu, part of the University of Hawaii system, is widely considered one of the best ADN programs in Hawaii. The college’s ADN program was designed to address the ongoing shortage of qualified registered nurses throughout the Aloha State.

Program Details: This 72- to 73-credit ADN program in Hawaii emphasizes the clinical application of nursing skills as well as nursing theory. Lectures, labs, and clinical practicums will keep you very busy: Many days begin at 6:30 a.m. and don’t end until 5:30 p.m. The program is currently offered at the college’s main Diamond Head campus and at its instructional site at Leeward Community College.

You’ll take prerequisite courses in anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and pharmacology, as well as core nursing courses in medical-surgical nursing, maternal-child nursing, and mental health nursing. You’ll hone your hands-on nursing skills in the college’s simulation labs as well as through clinical rotations at hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities throughout Honolulu and other parts of Oahu. Most students will be able to complete this program in seven semesters (two and a half years.)

Admission Requirements: KCC’s ADN admissions process is one of the most competitive in the state, rivaling those of Hawaii’s four-year nursing programs. The college offers spring and fall admission cycles.

Applicants must take the ATI-TEAS exam for admission into this program and complete 10 prerequisite courses by the application deadline with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher. Applicants will then be ranked on the basis of test scores and grade point averages, and the most qualified will be offered admission.

Why Choose This Program

•Kapiolani Community College launches two cohorts every year. One cohort starts in the spring, and the other in the fall.
• After your first semester of classes, you’ll have learned enough basic hands-on nursing skills to pursue certification as a nursing aide.
• The college’s ADN graduates are eligible for admission into Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs at the University of Hawaii’s campuses at Manoa and Hilo.

2. Hawaii Community College - Hilo

About The School: Hawaii Community College is a branch of the University of Hawaii system and shares some facilities with the main campus of the University of Hawaii in Hilo. The college’s ADN program emphasizes the significant role registered nurses play in meeting the complex healthcare needs of diverse individuals from all walks of life.

Program Details: This 73-credit, 2-year RN program in Hawaii includes core nursing classes like “Nursing Concepts and Skills,” “Adult Health Nursing I, II, & III,” and “Leadership/CommunityHealth.” In addition to 46 credits of core nursing classes, however, you must also complete 27 to 28 general education and prerequisite credits, and these will add another year or more to your study plan.

Hawaii Community College is one of the 2-year RN programs in Hawaii that has a high-tech simulation lab where you’ll have the opportunity to learn and perfect bedside skills before you interact with patients. You’ll participate in clinical rotations at Hilo Medical Center, Hale Anuenue (a rehabilitation facility), North Hawaii Community Hospital, Kona Community Hospital, and other healthcare facilities throughout Hilo and nearby parts of Hawaii County.

Admission Requirements: Classes are admitted in the fall semester. All prerequisites must be completed with a grade of “C” or better in the spring semester before you apply to the program. All applicants to this 2-year nursing program in Hawaii must score 58.7 percent or above on the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) exam.

Why Choose This Program

• Hawaii Community College offers its ADN program on the Manono (Hilo) and Palamanui (Kona) campuses. Each year, 20 students are admitted into the Manono program, and 10 are accepted into the Palamanui program.
• Some years, HCC offers licensed practical nurses advanced placement entry into its ADN program.
• HCC offers its nursing students access to a medical plan that is far less costly than other healthcare insurance options.

3. Kauai Community College -Lihue

About The School: Like other community colleges in the Aloha State, Kauai Community College is affiliated with the University of Hawaii system. The college’s ADN program can be completed in five semesters (just under two years.)

Program Details: This ADN program in Hawaii has a unique “career ladder” structure: Students who successfully complete their first year of instruction are eligible to take the NCLEX-LP exam and apply for licensure as a licensed practical nurse in Hawaii while continuing on toward the ADN degree that will qualify them to take the NCLEX-RN exam.

The ADN curriculum comprises general education, prerequisite, and core nursing courses. You’ll only take a single core nursing class during each of the first three semesters of the program. Courses include “Professionalism in Nursing I & II” and Health and Illness I & II.” You’ll begin clinical immersions during the summer between your first and second years of coursework. Placements include hospitals, clinics, medical practices, birthing centers, and dialysis centers across the island of Kaui.

Admission Requirements: Applicants must complete prerequisites before applying to the program with a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher. All candidates must pass the TEAS exam with proficient scores in all content areas.

Why Choose This Program

•During the first year of this program, lecture classes are taught online using a blend of synchronous and asynchronous technology. Some of your simulation labs will also be taught over the Internet. Mondays through Fridays, small groups of students will be scheduled for face-to-face sessions at the college’s campus in Lihue for more thorough skills labs and high-fidelity simulations.
• Licensed practical nurses can be accepted into the second year of this program as advanced standing students.
• Graduates of Kaui Community College’s ADN program qualify for admission into the fourth year of the BSN program at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

4. University of Hawaii Maui College - Kahului

About The School: University of Hawaii Maui College is another one of the ADN programs in Hawaii that’s associated with the University of Hawaii. It’s the only college—hence the only nursing program—on the entire island of Maui.

Program Details: The 73-credit ADN program at UH Maui College will take you six semesters (18 months) to complete. Core nursing classes are generally paired with lab and clinical components, so you’ll take courses like “Nursing Fundamentals Theory,” “Nursing Fundamentals Lab,” and “Nursing Fundamentals Clinical.” Other core nursing courses include “Health Promotion Across the Lifespan,” “Basic Principles of Crisis Management Theory,” and “Health & Illness.” The degree you earn when you complete the curriculum will actually be an Associate in Science Nursing (ASN) degree.

Students participate in clinical rotations at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital, Kaiser Permanente clinics, Maui County public schools, and Hale Makua, Ohana Pacific Health (long-term care.) Although Maui College doesn’t have a simulation laboratory as such, curriculum planners do use scenarios with human actors to help students acquire critical-thinking skills and learn evidence-based nursing practice.

Admission Requirements: Maui College’s ASN program admits students in the fall of each year. Selection is highly competitive: Applicants must complete all prerequisites before they apply, and applicants with the highest GPAs will be given preference. Preference is also given to applicants with prior healthcare experience—for example, applicants who’ve worked as nurse aides. You must score “Proficient” or above on the TEAS test.

Why Choose This Program

• During the COVID-19 pandemic, Maui College ADN students were encouraged to work on the front lines to help vaccinate Maui residents.
• University of Hawaii Maui College offers two nursing pathways: licensed practical nursing and registered nursing. LPNs who complete their training at Maui College have the option of returning to complete RN training after they have worked in the community for one year.
• ADN graduates can take advantage of seamless entrance into the fourth year of the RN-to-BSN program at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, providing they have completed RN-to-BSN prerequisites.


Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.

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