Pre-Nursing at UH Mānoa

Text compiled from the American Nurses Association (ANA) website, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) website, the UHM School of Nursing website, Top 100 Health-Care Careers, and the UHM 2013-2014 Catalog.

Nursing Programs in Hawai`i: Please see Directory of Health Degrees in Hawai`i

Nursing Programs
Nursing Programs in Hawaiʻi
Pathways to a Nursing Degree
Prerequisites for Admission
What makes a strong candidate? 
Researching Schools
Entrance Exam 
Application Process
Financial Aid
UHM’s School of Nursing
Additional Information

Field Description:

The American Nurses Association’s website describes nursing as: “The essence of nursing is that nurses combine the art of caring with the science of health care. Nursing places its focus not only on a particular health problem, but on the whole patient and his or her response to treatment. Care of the patient and a firm base of scientific knowledge are indispensable elements. Nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.”

Nurses work in many different areas, but the common thread of nursing is the nursing process – the essential core of how a registered nurse delivers care. This process involves 5 steps:

  • Assessment: collecting and analyzing physical, psychological and sociocultural data about a patient.
  • Diagnosis: making a judgment on the cause, condition and path of the illness.
  • Planning: creating a care plan, which sets specific treatment goals.
  • Implementation: supervising or carrying out the actual treatment plan.
  • Evaluation: continuous assessment of the plan.

There is a wide variety of nursing specialty areas; examples include surgery, emergency room (ER), pediatrics, psychiatric, public health, and nurse-midwifery. Note: some specialty areas may require additional experience, study or certification.

Work Setting:

Due to the various levels of education a nurse can receive, nurses can work in a variety of settings like hospitals, physicians’ offices, home healthcare services, and nursing care facilities. Others work in correctional facilities, schools, or serve in the military.

Related Careers: medicine, physician assistant, dental hygiene, public health, hospital administration.

Nursing Programs

As a career, nursing offers great flexibility, allowing early entry into the workforce, continued professional development, and advancement through retraining and attaining higher degrees. Consequently, there is no “typical” timeline: students can combine education and work into unique paths that suit their lives. Students can complete a degree, work, and then return to complete a higher degree. Over a lifetime’s career span, a student who began as a nurses’ aide could eventually complete a doctorate. And a nurse who, for example, began in family medicine could choose later to switch to surgery, internal medicine, or geriatric nursing. Each degree level allows greater opportunities for new assignments, promotion, administrative/managerial work, responsibility, and higher salaries. The most widely available nursing qualifications include:

  • CNA, Certified Nurse’s Aide or Nursing Assistant (8-12 weeks)
  • LPN, Licensed Practical Nurse (1-1 ½  years)
  • RN, Registered Nurse (2-5 years)
  • APRN, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (MSN)
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
    • Nurse-Midwife
    • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
    • Nurse-Anesthetist
  • Doctoral degree in Nursing (DNP or PhD)

CNAs, sometimes called hospital attendants, work under the direct supervision of an RN and assist with the routine daily care of patients, making beds and maintaining patients’ environments; helping patients eat, bathe, dress, and walk; responding to patients’ calls for assistance; collecting samples for testing; taking vital signs; and transporting patients.

LPNs, sometimes called licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), work under the supervision of an RN and provide bedside care, such as taking vital signs, feeding and bathing patients, dressing wounds, changing intravenous fluids (IVs), preparing patients for medical examinations, collecting samples for testing, and assisting physicians or nurses in those examinations. LPNs also carry out a variety of administrative chores.

RNs are vital members of the health care team. They are responsible for providing direct patient care and for carrying out treatments ordered by physicians. They take medical histories, help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, administer treatments and medications, assist physicians with medical procedures, educate and provide support for patients and their families, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation. RNs also supervise staff. RNs work in all areas of health care – family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, geriatrics, and so on. Consequently, there are many different types of nurses as well: private duty nurses, operating room nurses, critical-care nurses, office nurses (who work for physicians, dental surgeons, etc.), school nurses, community health nurses, occupational health nurses, public health nurses, nurse educators, and so on.

Advanced degrees. RNs who hold bachelor’s degrees can earn advanced degrees at the master’s or doctorate levels, which bring increased opportunities, responsibilities, and higher salaries. Advanced degrees also allow RNs to work as nurse administrators or nurse educators. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are highly trained nurses with training in one of four areas: clinical nurse specialist (CNS), nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner (NP), or nurse-anesthetist. Advanced degrees are usually required for university teaching and research.

  • CNSs (clinical nurse specialists) complete advanced training in specific areas of expertise: cancer, cardiac, neonatal, mental health, etc. CNSs also train and mentor nursing students, perform research, practice in a clinical setting, and provide consultation and management. The advanced education requirements of a clinical nurse specialist better equip them to diagnose and provide treatment for a wide range of illnesses.
  • Nurse-midwives, or midwives, care for women throughout pregnancy, labor, delivery, and post-delivery. They also provide routine gynecological care and counseling on family planning. Midwives serve only carefully screened women whose pregnancies are unlikely to present complications and work closely with obstetricians and other specialists to provide a wide net of support for their patients. Midwives focus on maintaining the well-being of mother and child and on educating patients on nutrition, exercise, breastfeeding, childcare, and family care. Midwives usually work in private practice but are often affiliated with a hospital.
  • NPs (nurse practitioners) handle a wide range of activities, including taking medical histories, conducting physical exams, diagnosing and treating common injuries and illnesses. NPs order and interpret laboratory tests, advise patients, and perform routine procedures such as injections, immunizations, and wound care. The duties of an NP are similar to those of a physician assistant, but NPs are more autonomous, working independently or cooperatively with physicians.
  • Nurse-anesthetists administer anesthesia to patients under the general supervision of an anesthesiologist, who is a physician. Nurse-anesthetists differ from anesthesiology assistants in that assistants work under the direct supervision of an anesthesiologist whereas nurse-anesthetists work independently. They select and administer the appropriate anesthetic and dosage for each procedure and monitor patients under anesthesia. They may also assist in the surgical, obstetric, or dental procedure.

Doctoral degrees in nursing include the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The DNP is a clinical degree that prepares students for careers in advanced clinical practice, nursing education, and administration; in such capacities, DNPs are well-equipped to implement advancements in nursing research in the clinical setting. The PhD is a research degree that prepares students for careers in administration, health care policy, and as nursing faculty who conduct research and teach at the university level.

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Nursing Programs in Hawai`i

A wide variety of nursing programs are available in Hawai`i. UHM offers nursing degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels. Students interested in nursing that do not have a nursing background can apply to the Graduate Entry Program in Nursing (GEPN), which is a program that culminates in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), or a PhD in Nursing.

CNACertified Nurse's Aide
Kapi`olani Community College
Kaua`i Community College
Leeward Community College
Maui College
Windward Community College
Approved Programs List
LPNLicensed Practical Nurse
Hawai`i Community College
Kapi`olani Community College
Kaua`i Community College
Maui College
Registered Nurse (Associate of Science in Nursing)
Hawai`i Community College
Kapi`olani Community College
Kaua`i Community College
Leeward Community College
Maui College
Registered Nurse (Bachelor of Science in Nursing)Chaminade University
Hawai`i Pacific University
University of Hawai`i at Hilo
University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
(More information: UHM's BSN)
APRN (MSN)Master of Science in Nursing
Hawai`i Pacific University
University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
DNPDoctor of Nursing Practice University of Hawai`i at Hilo
University of Hawai`i at Mānoa
PhDDoctor of Philosophy (Not admitting students till fall 2018)University of Hawai`i at Mānoa

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Pathways to a Nursing Degree

In Hawai`i, there are 11 pathways to a nursing degree.

  • High School Direct Entry to BSN
  • BSN
  • RN to BSN
  • RN to MSN
  • GEPN
  • MSN to PMC (certificate)
  • MSN to DNP
  • MSN to PhD
  • PMC (certificate) to DNP
  • PMC (certificate) to PhD

More information about UHM’s Bachelors of Science in Nursing can be found here: UHM’s BSN. UHM’s School of Nursing is a part of the Hawai`i State Nursing Consortium with Kaua`i Community College, Maui College, and Kapi`olani Community College. Note: Each program has its own specific admission requirements. Upon completing the ASN program at Kaua`i, Maui, or Kapi`olani, the student is guaranteed admission to the School of Nursing to complete the final year of the BSN program via distance learning. UHM’s School of Nursing introduced a High School Direct Entry Program for academically talented high school seniors interested in pursuing a career nursing. This program provides entry into the nursing program upon admission to UH Mānoa. For more information, refer to the High School Direct Entry page here or website: All RNs, whether at the associate’s or bachelor’s level, take the same licensing exam, work in the same jobs, and receive similar salaries.

The main differences are that RNs with BS degrees:

  • are more competitive for hiring and promotion,
  • are more flexible in being reassigned,
  • are more eligible for administrative positions,
  • can change specialties more readily,
  • have training in research,
  • are eligible to work in the military, and
  • are eligible to pursue advanced degrees.

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Prerequisites for Admission

Most importantly, remember that requirements vary from school to school! You must research to create a list of all the prerequisites you will need to apply to the schools you are interested in attending. Some nursing schools accept students directly from high school; others accept students at the sophomore or junior level; others accept students only after they have completed a set number of credits or course prerequisites.

The following UHM courses are commonly required for admission to nursing schools:

PHYL 141/141L and 142/142L Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II
8 cr.
MICR 130/140L General Microbiology
5 cr.
CHEM 161 General Chemistry I
3 cr.
PHRM 203*General Pharmacology
3 cr.

Additional requirements may include certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), or courses in biology, cultural anthropology, English composition, history, human development, medical terminology, nutrition, and statistics.

*Students that are applying for Fall 2017 or later to ONLY UHM’s Schools of Nursing are advised to NOT take PHRM 203. Effective for the entering Fall 2017 class of UHM’s School of Nursing, students will no longer be allowed to use PHRM 203 toward the program. Students entering Fall 2017 or later will be required to take this requirement in their second semester of the program as slated. This course will be a Manoa NURS XXX course and will not be waived by any other PHRM course taken.

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What makes a strong candidate?

Schools need to be certain that the students they accept are capable of completing the nursing curriculum and are likely to become good nurses.

Are you capable of completing the nursing curriculum?

Admission committees seek students who have:

  • completed the prerequisites
  • a high overall GPA
  • a high prerequisite GPA
  • performed well on the NLN/NET/TEAS (if applicable)
  • balanced their course load so it is challenging yet realistic

Are you likely to become a good nurse?

Admissions committees seek students who have:

  • demonstrated empathy, compassion, and a commitment to public service
  • high ethical and moral standards and a conscientious work ethic
  • demonstrated maturity (judgment, responsibility, dependability)
  • a broad liberal arts education that includes the humanities and social sciences
  • experience in the field and with what nursing entails
  • a well-rounded life that balances academics, community service, social activities, and personal interests (hobbies, skills, sports, etc.)
  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • a high degree of professionalism in all aspects of life
  • strong letters of recommendation (if applicable)

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Researching Schools

There are over 1,000 accredited nursing programs in the US, each unique in its mission, philosophy, criteria, and strengths. When researching schools, be sure to double check if the program is accredited.

Although there are resources that “rank” schools, the rankings are rarely pertinent for individual applicants. More important is whether there is a good match between applicant and school. To find schools that are good a fit for you (PAC peer advisors can help with this process):

  1. Assess your individual strengths and weaknesses, your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
  2. Start by considering all schools, which usually includes all 1000+ schools;
  3. Create your “Long List” by omitting the schools that do not match your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
  4. Once you have your NLN/NET/TEAS scores, create your “Short List” by categorizing the schools into “Reach,” “Match,” and “Safety,” ranking the schools by preference, and finally choosing how many schools to apply to. Be sure to apply to schools in all 3 categories (“Reach,” “Match,” and “Safety.”).

If possible, visit the schools to see their facilities, talk to admissions directors, and chat with students.

Nursing School Search Resources:

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Entrance Exam

Almost all nursing programs require applicants to take one of the following standardized tests: National League of Nursing Pre-Admission Examination (NLN or NLN PAX), Nursing Entrance Test (NET), or Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS or ATI-TEAS).

Preparation: Your most important preparation for the NLN/TEAS is your undergraduate courses, many of which sharpen your writing and verbal reasoning skills. 

NLN Summary:  The NLN assesses basic skills in verbal reasoning, mathematics, and science.  The test requires ~4 hours to complete, and entails ~214 multiple-choice questions.  The NLN is administered in computer-based and paper-based formats.

NLN Scoring:  Several scores may be reported for the NLN, including a raw score, subscores, percentiles, and percentages. UH Mānoa’s School of Nursing uses the percentile, or “relative performance,” to evaluate students for admission. The minimum score for UH Mānoa is the 50th percentile in each section, although admitted applicants typically score higher.

TEAS Summary:  The TEAS assesses basic skills in reading, mathematics, science, and English language and usage.  The test requires ~3.5 hours to complete, and entails ~170 multiple-choice questions.  The TEAS is administered in computer-based and paper-based formats.  In Hawai’i, the TEAS is only administered in computer-based format.

TEAS Scoring: Composite scores are computed in each of the four weighted areas; 13 sub-scores assess specific content comprehension. Students will receive comprehensive score reports to detail individual performance. The minimum scores for UH Mānoa are 78% total, 83.3% reading, 86.7% mathematics,  66.7% science, and 80% English language and usage, although admitted applicants typically score higher.

Official Test Preparation Material: 

Note: Most Hawai`i nursing programs accept the ATI-TEAS (Assessment Technologies Institute – Test of Essential Academic Skills) and not the NLN-PAX. The NLN-PAX is no longer offered in the state of Hawai’i. Pre-nursing exam requirements vary within the UH consortium. The reference sheet below details which exams are necessary for each Hawai`i nursing program. Note that registration procedures and fees for both exams vary greatly by testing center.

Commercial Test Preparation Companies: 

Hawai`i Nursing Entrance Exam Reference Sheet

Here is more information on how to prepare for an entrance exam.

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The Application Process

There are three general steps in applying to nursing programs: the primary application, the secondary application, and the interview.

1.  Primary applications must be filed with the Nursing Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS), which is a centralized application system. We strongly recommend reading the instructions before beginning. The application includes: reference forms, applicant information, education, professional experience, a personal statement, and programs you are applying to. Once the application is complete, NursingCAS forwards it to whichever schools the student has designated. The NursingCAS application fee is about $45 for the first undergraduate program and $30 for each additional undergraduate program designation. As for the graduate programs it is a fee is about $65 for the first program and $35 for each additional undergraduate program designation.

2.  Secondary applications are specific to individual schools, and are sent to applicants after receiving the NursingCAS application.  Some schools screen applicants before requesting secondary applications.  Secondary applications commonly request additional information, essays, and letters of recommendation.

Note: Not all nursing schools participate in NursingCAS. Students interested in applying to other schools must complete each of their prospective schools’ individual applications. For these schools, the application process consist only of steps 2 and 3.

3.  Interviews: After reviewing the primary and secondary applications (or supplementary forms), a few nursing schools invite promising applicants to interview.  Applicants are responsible for all costs incurred while interviewing, including airfare, lodging, ground transportation, professional attire, and meals. To learn more about interviews, attend our upcoming interview-related orientations and workshops here. For sample interview questions click here.

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  • The more you know about the school, the better your chances of being accepted.
  • Most application questions can be answered by reading the instructions found on the NursingCAS website.
  • Contact individual schools’ admissions offices to find out how they handle:
    • Advanced Placement (AP) credits
    • International Baccalaureate (IB) credits
    • College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits
    • military credits
    • courses taken at a community college
    • non-U.S. coursework
    • courses taken for credit/no credit instead of a grade
    • residency issues
    • time limits on prerequisite science courses

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Financial Aid

Financial Planning is a crucial step in applying to nursing programs. It is important for students to create a plan and make decisions in their educational expenses. Students are highly encouraged to budget their finances before, during, and after a nursing program. To learn more about financial planning, click here.

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UH Manoa’s School of Nursing (BSN)

Prerequisites: UHM’s School of Nursing’s prerequisites are listed below:

PHYL 141/141L and 142/142L
Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II
8 cr.
MICR 130
General Microbiology
3 cr.
1 FW course
(e.g. ENG 100)
3 cr.
1 FS course
(e.g. MATH 100)
3 cr.
1 FG course(e.g. HIST 151)
3 cr.
2 DS courses
(e.g. PSY 100, FAMR 230)
6 cr.
1 DP course
(e.g. CHEM 161, GEO 101, ASTR 110, PHYS 100)
3 cr.

For UHM’s School of Nursing, a grade of “C” (not C-, Credit/No Credit, Pass/Fail) or higher is required in all prerequisite courses. Any combination of 16 or more prerequisite credits listed above must be satisfactorily completed at the time of application, which must include 1 PHYL lecture/lab & MICR 130. Applicants must also be currently enrolled in all remaining prerequisites at the time of application to be considered.

For admission to UHM’s School of Nursing, students may only repeat a maximum of six (6) prerequisite credits; only the most recent grade is used to calculate the prerequisite GPA.

Almost all nursing programs require a minimum grade point average (GPA), usually between 2.5 and 3.0. The published national average for a GPA cutoff is 2.8. Some programs, however, are “impacted,” which means they receive far more applications than they can accept. Students accepted into impacted programs usually have a much higher GPA than the published cutoff. We recommend you contact the admissions offices of programs you plan to apply to, and request information about the average GPAs (cumulative and prerequisite) for the most recently admitted class. UHM’s School of Nursing accepts students through a competitive application process. Pre-nursing students should consult an academic advisor before deciding whether to repeat courses.

Entrance Exam: UHM’s SONDH accepts both the NLN and the TEAS but no longer procter the exam. For the NLN, UH Mānoa’s School of Nursing uses the percentile, or “relative performance,” to evaluate students for admission. The minimum score for the NLN at UH Mānoa is the 50th percentile in each section, although admitted applicants typically score higher. The minimum scores for the TEAS at UH Mānoa are 78% total, 83.3% reading, 86.7% mathematics,  66.7% science, and 80% English language and usage, although admitted applicants typically score higher.

Application: All applicants need to apply to the nursing program through NursingCAS. For all new, returning, transferring, and unclassified students, need to apply to UH Manoa Undergraduate Admissions in addition to NursingCAS and declare nursing as your major. The applications open on September 1st, 2016 and the deadline is on January 5th, 2017.

Contact Information: Students interested in UHM’s School of Nursing should attend an informational session; a schedule of sessions is available on its website: For general advising, contact PAC at (808) 956-8646, preferably after attending an informational session.

School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene
Webster 201
2528 McCarthy Mall
Honolulu, HI 96822
Telephone: (808) 956-8939