Online RN to MSN Programs in Hawaii
Only one university offers an online RN to MSN pathway in Hawaii. Fortunately, it’s UHM. We go into a lot of detail about the program and its quality factors in our school listings. But here’s a quick summary of key points:
- University of Hawai’i at Mānoa: Applicants to UHM’s 100% online RN to MS program in Advanced Population Health Nursing (APHN) must have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree before they can apply. The program is offered in an asynchronous format (i.e. no mandatory log-in times). All fieldwork and the capstone project can be completed in the student’s local community.
If you want more choice, have a look at the school listings in Online RN to MSN Programs. It contains programs from every state.
Cheapest RN to MSN Programs in Hawaii
This ranking of the most affordable Hawaii RN to MSN programs is based on per credit graduate tuition rates. But it’s a little unfair to compare the two universities. UHM’s online program is very different to HPU’s on-campus FNP degree. So take the numbers with a grain of salt.
- University of Hawai’i at Mānoa: In-State (Out-of-State is much higher)—View Tuition Rates
- Hawai’i Pacific University: View Tuition Rates
It’s no secret that RN to MSN programs in Hawaii are expensive. Be sure to ask your employer about the possibility of tuition reimbursement.
Hawaii’s Healthcare Landscape
Hawaii has long-been regarded as a healthy state, a premise that’s backed up by data from America’s Health Rankings and the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The state often does extremely well in the Commonwealth Fund’s Scorecard on State Health System Performance. It has a low number of uninsured residents. And the U.S. Rural Health Report Card gives it top grades for most factors.
But RNs in Hawaii will know that these statistics don’t always tell the full tale. There are a number of areas where healthcare professionals have expressed concern, such as:
- Rising rate of diabetes—as of 2019, as many as half of Hawaii’s residents were either at a higher risk of developing diabetes or already had it
- Vaping and excessive drinking
- The childhood obesity rate, which tends to be higher than the adult obesity rate
- High preterm birth and low birthweight rates, especially in rural areas like the Big Island
Other issues identified in the Hawaii Business Magazine’s Health in Hawaii Report, published in 2019, include a lack of insurance coverage for Native Hawaiians and the Micronesian community and a pressing need for mental health services, especially for children and youth.
Hawaii Nursing Challenges & Opportunities
To tackle these issues, Hawaii requires healthcare providers, especially mental health experts and professionals who are willing to work in rural & underserved areas. The Hawaii Area Health Education Center (AHEC) has a comprehensive workforce section that shows how APRN & physician demand is outpacing supply.
Nursing education is another challenge. In recent years, workforce reports from the Hawaii State Center for Nursing have shown that:
- There can be three times as many nursing applicants as enrollment openings in Schools of Nursing (2017 figures). And access to clinical training sites is always a bugaboo.
- Despite the fact that nursing faculty vacancies in Hawaii are common and current faculty are aging, there is still inadequate funding for nursing faculty salaries.
If you’re thinking of moving into one of these fields (e.g. psychiatry, primary care, nursing education, etc.), talk to folks in the relevant HI nursing associations first. Although demand is great, there needs to be funding in place to support new hires.
Jobs for Hawaii RN to MSN Graduates
Career Outlook for RN to MSN Graduates
You can get a good sense of Hawaii’s job landscape by visiting the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)’s pages on Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary. Here you’ll find job & wage data for all of the islands.
For example, you’ll notice that an overwhelming number of Hawaii NPs (e.g. 85%) and nursing instructors (e.g. 92%) work in the Urban Honolulu area. In 2018, the Hawaii/Kauai non-metropolitan area only had 40 NPs.
- Honolulu is where you’ll find Hawaii’s largest universities (e.g. UHM and HPU), the Best Hospitals in Hawaii, and Hawaii’s Magnet Facilities.
- Queen’s Medical Center and Straub are often mentioned, but Honolulu is also home to Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center and Shriners Hospital for Children.
- The state government has a full list of hospitals in Hawaii.
Another path to consider is independent practice. NPs are recognized as primary care providers in Hawaii and have full practice authority, including the ability to independently prescribe. (See the Board of Nursing’s section on Licensing Laws and Rules for more details). For example, a PMHNP could consider starting a youth-based clinic in Honolulu.
Finally, APRNs who wish to work in rural health (e.g. parts of the Big Island) may want to get in touch with local area hospitals and community-based clinics to learn more about the territory. FNP providers will probably be at the top of the wish-list. You can also apply for the Hawaii State Loan Repayment Program (HSLRP), which is designed for primary care and behavioral health providers who agree to work in designated HPSAs.
Career Resources for Future APRNs
Hawaii Nursing Job Boards
- HAPN Career Center: Job listings for Hawaii NPs
- HAH Job Bank: Openings for healthcare professionals in Hawaii hospitals
- Hawaii AHEC Health Care Jobs: Openings for Hawaii healthcare professionals
- Health Careers Hawaii: Job advice, training options, and career ideas for Hawaii healthcare professionals
Hawaii APRN Salary & Wage Data
- Annual Mean Wages for Hawaii Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: Categories can include “Nurse Practitioners,” “Nurse Midwives,” and “Nurse Anesthetists
- Annual Mean Wages for Hawaii Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary
- AANP National Compensation Survey: Available to AANP members
Hawaii Nursing Organizations
State Board of Nursing
Hawaii Nursing Associations & Coalitions
- National Black Nurses Association (NBNA): Hawaii Chapter
- Hawaii Association of Professional Nurses (HAPN)
- Hawaii Center for Nursing
- Hawaii Nurses Association (HNA)
- Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH)
Hawaii Nursing Specialty Organizations
- American College of Nurse-Midwives – Hawaii Affiliate (Hawaii ACNM)
- American Organization of Nurse Leaders – Hawaii (AONL Hawaii)
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association – Hawaii Chapter (APNA Hawaii)
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses – Hawaii (AWHONN Hawaii)
- Hawaii Association of Nurse Anesthetists (HANA)
- Hawaii Islands PeriAnesthesia Nurses (HIPAN)
- Hawaii Emergency Nurses Association (Hawaii ENA)
- Hawaii Student Nurses Association (HISNA)
Nursing School Overview
HPU is a private university in Oahu with campuses in Honolulu and Kaneohe. The Department of Nursing in the College of Health and Society has a reasonable U.S. News & World Report ranking for Best Nursing Schools (it's often in the top 150) and adequate NCLEX pass rates (e.g. 80.18% in 2017), but it has trouble competing with UHM's size and reputation. Having said that, FNP graduates have found good work in private practice, the U.S. Air Force, and community health centers. According to the FNP program website, HPU faculty will also ensure clinical placements for practicum work. You may wish to check this fact, since we've seen reviews on independent websites where NP students said they had to set up their own clinicals. In addition, we recommend you ask the program coordinator for FNP certification pass rates and talk to recent alumni. In the past, some reviewers have complained about disorganization and a lack of support.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
HPU's campus-based program is designed for RNs who want to transition into an MSN without having to earn a BSN first. Candidates must have an associate degree in nursing and a Hawaii RN license. The application will also need to include a resume, statement of purpose, and 2 letters of recommendation. Once accepted, RN to MSN students must complete 5 undergraduate bridge courses (17 credits in total) or provide evidence of equivalent coursework (i.e. transfer credits). Undergraduate study might take 1 year on a full-time basis. In addition, a 3.0 GPA in these courses is required before acceptance into the master's program. The MSN FNP is a 45-credit program. Core coursework can be completed in 1 year on a full-time schedule (e.g. 3 courses per term) or 2 years on a part-time schedule. FNP specialty courses may require 1 year of full-time study. Core classes are held in the afternoon or evening and many individual courses include online or hybrid elements.
Nursing School Overview
UHM is a public research university and the flagship campus of the University of Hawai'i system. That means the School of Nursing & Dental Hygiene is well-funded and well-respected. It often appears in the top 60 of U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Nursing Schools and the top 50 for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs. It has a significant UH Translational Health Science Simulation Center, a Global Health Program, and an academic partnership with the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System. Faculty are also involved in research work on big data, disaster nursing, and maternal health. According to U.S. News & World Report data, the online MSN has a competitive acceptance rate (e.g. 60% with an average undergraduate GPA of 3.4), a strong minority presence (e.g. 84% of students), and an intimate feel (e.g. 9 faculty). Reviewers tend to love the graduate nursing programs, but they also note that UHM is very expensive - in 2018, many online MSN graduates emerged with significant debt. So be sure to look at all of UHM's nursing scholarships and tap every available means of funding.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
UHM's online RN to MS program is open to RNs with an associate degree or diploma in nursing and a non-nursing bachelor's degree. Applicants should also have a current & unrestricted RN license in the U.S., an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, and an undergraduate prerequisite in research. Overall, UHM wants to see evidence of baccalaureate-level knowledge in research; community, public, and global health; and an integrative clinical practicum and leadership development within the last 7 years. This can be through coursework, professional programs, or experience. You can also petition to waive coursework by submitting an experiential portfolio. The online MSN is a 30-credit program that can be completed in 1 year as a full-time student or in 2 years as a part-time student. Practicums can be tackled in your home community. You also have the option to select a thesis for an additional 9 credits.