Medical Schools In Hawaii: Everything You Need To Know

September 5, 2023

Curious about Hawaii med schools? Read on to learn more about how to get into the University of Hawaii and enjoy island life as you work toward becoming a physician! 

Hawaii attracts millions of visitors annually for its breathtaking scenery, climate, and culture. It’s also home to the only medical school in the state, located in Honolulu: The University of Hawaii at Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM).

We’ll outline what you need to know about the University of Hawaii School of Medicine, what it’s like to live in Hawaii and attend JABSOM, and much more.

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Attending Medical School in Hawaii

Attending medical school in Hawaii has unique advantages you won’t find anywhere else in the US. You’ll experience rich culture and diversity and the privilege of enjoying island life.

Photo of The University of Hawaii at Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine

Source: JABSOM 

JABSOM is a community-based medical school that encourages students to interact with diverse patient populations throughout its four-year MD program. JABSOM prioritizes various learning experiences, including: 

  • International learning
  • Traveling to neighboring islands
  • Service-oriented outreach to underprivileged patient populations
  • Research

Upon acceptance, matriculants receive a “well-being handbook,” a comprehensive guide on students’ mental and physical health. JABSOM believes physicians must first learn how to heal themselves before learning to heal others. 

The University of Hawaii at Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM): Key Info 

If you’re searching for the best medical schools in Hawaii, JABSOM is your best (and only) option. The school’s philosophy and mission center on a broad education and community commitment. 


JABSOM states that a physician should be broadly educated; they should understand the human body’s physicality and its social, cultural, and psychological aspects. 

Therefore, it’s highly encouraged that undergraduate students receive a well-rounded education. Students should strive to pursue courses in the liberal arts, social sciences, and humanities while completing 90 college-level credits.


The school’s mission is: “JABSOM, as part of the fabric of Hawaii, is a diverse learning community committed to excellence and leadership in: 

  • Educating current and future healthcare professionals and leaders. 
  • Delivering high-quality healthcare. 
  • Conducting research and translating discoveries into practice. 
  • Establishing community partnerships and fostering multidisciplinary collaboration. 
  • Pursuing alliances unique to Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region. 
  • Acting with forethought regarding right relationships, respect, and moral action.”

JABSOM Admissions Process and Application

JABSOM’s admissions process has six main steps:

1. Complete your primary American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application.

2. Pay the JABSOM application processing fee of $150. JABSOM won’t waive this fee or accept the AMCAS Fee Waiver.

3. JABSOM sends secondaries after the primary applications and fees are received by the admissions office. Secondaries are sent via email to students who pass the initial application review. The secondary application consists of two letters of recommendation, supplemental essays, and prerequisite verification information.

4. The admissions office reviews your secondary application and supporting AMCAS materials.

5. Applicants who pass the second screening round will be invited for an interview.

6. Applicants are notified of the school’s final admissions decisions.

JABSOM admissions process

Before you begin the application process, you must ensure you meet all JABSOM’s admissions requirements. 

Hawaii Medical School Requirements

Before applying, you should carefully read all John A. Burns School of Medicine prerequisites. There are four main requirements you should know: 

  • Valid MCAT scores 
  • AAMC PREview Professional Readiness Exam
  • 90 college-level semester credit hours (or 135 quarter hours)
  • Science coursework prerequisites

Meeting all JABSOM requirements is crucial to your acceptance: we’ll dive into what you need to do below. 

MCAT Scores

You must take the MCAT within three years of your anticipated year of enrollment. For example, test scores from January 2021 would still be valid for the 2024 cycle, even though more than three years have elapsed since test day. 

AAMC PREview Professional Readiness Exam 

Formerly known as the AAMC Situational Judgment Test, this exam measures your understanding of “effective pre-professional behavior across eight core competencies” before med school. 

JABSOM Science Prerequisites

JABSOM med school course requirements

JABSOM lists various science courses you must take before you apply and other recommended courses to adequately prepare you for the Hawaii med school’s rigorous instruction. 

List of recommended courses for JABSOM
Source: JABSOM

JABSOM also accepts AP credits to fulfill prerequisite requirements. AP credits must be documented on official college transcripts and verified on the AMCAS application. Although not part of the Hawaii medical school’s requirements, recommended courses include: 

  • Anatomy
  • Calculus
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Statistics

Taking some or all of these courses can help better prepare you for the future. 

Tips for Getting Accepted into Medical Schools in Hawaii

Getting into Hawaii’s medical school can be challenging. Although the JABSOM acceptance rate isn’t explicitly stated, it’s estimated to be approximately 3.5%. These tips can help maximize your chances of acceptance. 

Tips for Getting Accepted into Hawaii med schools

1. Meet JABSOM’s Minimum Academic Requirements and Strive to Exceed Them

The most successful medical school applicants not only meet minimum academic requirements but exceed them. We recommend reviewing academic statistics and honestly evaluating your academic standing. Are there areas that need improvements, such as your MCAT score or your GPA?

JABSOM doesn’t have MCAT or GPA requirements, but analyzing class profile data can show you what stats you should aim for: 

  • Average cumulative GPA: 3.76
  • Average science GPA: 3.70
  • Average MCAT score: 513

Meeting or exceeding these averages stats helps make you a more competitive applicant. 

2. Apply Early to Stay Ahead of Important Dates and Deadlines.

Apply as early as possible to stay ahead of all the important dates and deadlines. This ensures you have ample time to gather all application materials. Applying early gives you time to obtain strong letters of recommendation from professors, employers, and mentors. Here is JABSOM’s general admissions timeline:

List of dates for JABSOM the application timeline
Source: JABSOM

Be mindful of all deadlines and important dates to ensure you don’t miss any. 

3. Participate in the Right Extracurriculars to Set You Apart From Other Candidates.

Participating in the right extracurriculars will help set you apart from other candidates. You’ll have the advantage of gaining hands-on medical training and experience. Participating in the right activities also broadens your professional network (a bonus that can help you secure strong recommendations). Some examples of varied experiences include: 

Medical Shadowing

Medical shadowing is an essential extracurricular. Shadowing demonstrates your commitment to medicine and your motivation to attend medical school. Medical shadowing helps you determine whether a medical career is a good fit for you.

Clinical Experience

Clinical experience is significant because it allows you to engage with patients. Admissions committees want to see that you’re capable of compassionate interactions with patients from diverse populations. Clinical experience also helps determine if a career as a physician is right for you or if you would instead pursue another track, like research. 


Research experience is attractive to admissions officers. Research experience allows you to explore your passions and interests. Approximately 60% of medical school applicants have some type of research experience, so it’s beneficial for you to take advantage of research opportunities before applying to med school.


Volunteering shows your altruism, which is a massive advantage if you apply to JABSOM because of their commitment to service-oriented care. Volunteering gives you new skills and knowledge, and it’s a rewarding experience that fosters the desirable qualities of a compassionate and skilled physician. 

4. Focus on Areas in Your Application Where You Can Showcase Your Individuality. 

Medical school applicants can have similar GPAs and MCAT scores. Admissions committees often look at other areas in your application to evaluate your excellence outside of academic achievement. You should focus on the following sections to showcase your individuality:

The AMCAS Work and Activities Section

The AMCAS work and activities section is an excellent opportunity to show admissions committees who you are through: 

  • Clinical and volunteer experiences
  • Research experience
  • employment
  • Awards and recognitions
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Hobbies
  • And more

Crafting a powerful AMCAS work and activities section increases your chances of acceptance.

The Personal Statement 

The med school personal statement is vital to your success. A personal statement that doesn’t stand out often results in applicants not making it past the first round of application reviews. 

A strong personal statement highlights your qualities, uses rich storytelling to engage the admissions committee, and explains why you want to pursue medicine. To maximize your chances of acceptance, compose a personal statement that’s memorable and well-written.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation vouch for you, your candidacy as a medical student, and your unique skills. You can get strong letters from people who thoroughly know you and the quality of your work, whether it’s academic, professional, or extracurricular.

Letters of recommendation back up what you say about yourself within your application, lending you credibility and value in the eyes of admissions officers. 

Hawaii Medical FAQs

If you still have questions about the best med schools in Hawaii, these FAQs can help provide more clarity. 

1. What’s the Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Ranking?

John A. Burns School of Medicine is ranked #74 in best medical schools for research and #24 in primary care. 

2. How Many Medical Schools Are There In Hawaii? 

JABSOM is the only medical school in Hawaii. There are other colleges in Hawaii for medical education (like nursing), but JABSOM is the only medical school for MD hopefuls.

3. Is the University of Hawaii a Good Medical School? 

Yes, the University of Hawaii is an excellent medical school, especially if you’re mainly interested in primary care. It’s also competitive; the University of Hawaii medical school acceptance rate is estimated to be approximately 3.5%.

4. Where Can I Study Medicine in Hawaii? 

You can study medicine at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at 651 Ilalo Street, Honolulu. 

5. Where Can I Find Information About Financial Aid and Scholarships?

You can visit or contact JABSOM’s Financial Aid & Scholarships Office for more information. 

6. What is JABSOM’s MD Curriculum?

The JABSOM MD curriculum follows a traditional four-year program. The first two pre-clerkship years are followed by longitudinal clinical “clerkships” in the third year and senior seminars and rotations in the fourth year.

Become a Doctor in Paradise at Med School In Hawaii

Hawaii is a wondrous place to attend medical school. The University of Hawaii at Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine is a great institution to earn your MD degree. 

JABSOM prioritizes service to others and prepares medical students for a stellar career in healthcare. You’ll maximize your chance of acceptance if you exceed the minimum academic requirements, stay on top of important dates and deadlines, and participate in the right extracurricular activities. Good luck!

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