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Best medical schools in Hawaii

Medical Schools In Hawaii: Everything You Need To Know

October 31, 2021
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Part 1. IntroductionPart 2. Attending Medical School in HawaiiPart 3. List of All Medical Schools in HawaiiPart 4. Tips for Getting Accepted into Medical Schools in HawaiiPart 5. FAQsPart 6. Conclusion


E kūlia i ka nu‘u.

“Strive to reach the highest.”

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

This guide will go over what you need to know about medical schools in Hawaii, what it’s like to live in Hawaii and attend JABSOM, the school’s philosophy and mission, the admissions process and application guidelines, and tips for getting accepted.

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Attending Medical School in Hawaii

Attending medical school in Hawaii has unique advantages that you will not find anywhere else in the US. You will be on a tropical island and experience rich culture and diversity as well as the privilege of enjoying island life.

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, and research.

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

Campus life offers numerous academic organizations and student resources:

The Alpha Omega Alpha Hawaii Chapter (AOA)

The AOA recognizes the top ten to fifteen percent of medical students from each graduating class across the US. JABSOM holds numerous events each year, such as service projects, national conferences with guest speakers, mentorship opportunities, and networking activities.

The Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS)

The GHHS advances humanism in medicine by recognizing residents and faculty who exhibit the desirable qualities of altruism, empathy, respect, integrity, and service to others. The GHHS holds events and projects that are service-related to promote humanism in global medicine. 

The Medical Student Mentorship Program (MSMP)

The MSMP is a student organization that pairs current JABSOM medical students with undergraduate students interested in pursuing medicine. This highly effective mentorship program matches undergraduate students with medical students based on personalized selection factors. So far, over 600 aspiring medical students have been successfully paired and mentored.

The Medical Student Research Interest Group 

The Medical Student Research Interest Group acts as a liaison between faculty, researchers, and students. It promotes research initiatives within the medical student body and facilitates a database of researchers that JABSOM students may contact for research projects.

The McGuire Fund

The McGuire Fund was established by Mrs. Dorothy McGuire after her late husband, Mr. Howard McGuire, passed away. Mr. McGuire was a former JABSOM patient, and the fund’s goal is to assist underprivileged patient populations who cannot afford basic necessities in healthcare. Because JABSOM is so service-oriented, medical students are often involved in underprivileged patient outreach and healthcare.

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List of All Medical Schools in Hawaii

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


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

Therefore, it is highly encouraged that undergraduate students receive a well-rounded education in the liberal arts, social sciences, and humanities, in addition to completing 90 college-level credits in science coursework.


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

Admissions Process and Application

JABSOM’s admissions process is outlined as the following six steps:

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

Step 2: Pay the JABSOM application processing fee of $150. JABSOM will not waive this fee or accept the AMCAS Fee Waiver.

Step 3: JABSOM will send the secondary application after the primary application and application processing fee are received by the admissions office. The secondary application will be sent via email to students who pass the initial review of their primary application. The secondary application consists of two letters of recommendation (to be uploaded in the AMCAS portal), supplementary essays, and prerequisite verification information.

Step 4: The admissions office will review your secondary application and supporting AMCAS materials.

Step 5: Prospective students who pass the second round of application screening will be invited for an interview.

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

Prospective JABSOM students must meet the following minimum admissions requirements:

  1. The MCAT exam must be taken within three years of the anticipated year of enrollment. 
  2. Applicants must complete 90 credits of college-level science coursework (or 135 quarter hours).

Must have taken, general biology with lab, general physics with lab, general chemistry with lab, organic chemistry with lab, and biochemistry (No Lab Required).

Tips for Getting Accepted into Medical Schools in Hawaii

1. Meet JABSOM’s minimum academic requirements and strive to exceed them.

The most successful medical school applicants not only meet the school’s minimum academic requirements but exceed them. We recommend that you review the following academic statistics and be honest with yourself about your own academic standing. Are there areas that need improvement such as your MCAT score? Perhaps you need to re-evaluate your medical school GPA requirements.

JABSOM Academic Statistics:

Academic stats for medical schools in Hawaii

2. Apply early to stay ahead of important dates and deadlines.

It is strongly advised that you apply as early as possible to stay ahead of all the important dates and deadlines. This will ensure that you have ample time to obtain the required application materials, such as official school transcripts.

Applying early will also give you time to obtain strong letters of recommendation from professors, employers, and mentors. Here is JABSOM’s general admissions timeline:

jabsom timeline

3. Participate in the right extracurriculars that will set you apart from other candidates.

Participating in the right extracurriculars will help set you apart from other candidates. You will have the advantage of gaining hands-on medical training and experiences in the field.

Participating in suitable extracurricular activities will also broaden your networking and professional contacts. This will definitely be beneficial for securing strong letters of recommendation. The following extracurriculars will help you on your path to medical school:

Medical shadowing is one of the most essential extracurriculars in the eyes of admissions committees. Medical shadowing demonstrates your commitment to the study of medicine and your pursuit of getting into medical school. Medical shadowing will also help you determine whether a career in medicine is a good fit for you.

Clinical experience is also significant because it will allow you engage with patients. Admissions committees want to see that you are capable of compassionate interactions with patients from diverse populations.

Additionally, clinical experience will help you determine if a career as a physician is right for you or if you would instead pursue another track like research. 

Research is also attractive to admissions officers. Having research experience will allow you to further study topics that interest you. Approximately 60% of medical school applicants have some type of research experience, so it will be beneficial for you to take advantage of research opportunities before applying to medical school.

Volunteering shows admissions committees that you are altruistic, which is a massive advantage if you decide to apply to JABSOM because of their commitment of service to others.

Volunteering will give you new skills and knowledge, and it is a rewarding experience that will foster the desirable qualities of a compassionate and skilled physician. 

4. Focus on areas in your application where you can showcase your individuality. 

Generally, medical school applicants have similar total and science GPAs as well as 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 is one of nine sections in the AMCAS application. It is an excellent opportunity to show admissions committees who you are through clinical and volunteer experiences, research experience, employment, awards and recognition, extracurricular activities, and hobbies.

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

The personal statement for medical school is vital for your success. A personal statement that does not stand out will often result 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 is memorable and well-written.

Letters of recommendation are important because they vouch for you, your candidacy as a medical student, and your unique skill-sets. Strong letters of recommendation should be obtained from people who thoroughly know you and the quality of your work, whether it is academic, professional, extracurricular, or in mentorship.

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


1. How does the US News & World report rate the University of Hawaii at Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine?

The John A. Burns School of Medicine is ranked #62 in best medical schools for research and #56 in primary care.

2. Is there a preferred or required undergraduate major for application to JABSOM?

No. JABSOM has no preference or requirement for undergraduate majors, degrees, or colleges. The only undergraduate requirements are that applicants fulfill the school’s minimum admissions requirements and all science prerequisites.

3. Will online courses and community college courses fulfill science prerequisites?

Yes. Online courses from an accredited US or Canadian institution will fulfill science prerequisites. However, online labs will not; all science labs must be completed in person.

Community college courses from an accredited US or Canadian school will fulfill science prerequisites. If you are unsure whether your coursework will be accepted, please email the school to review your undergraduate syllabus.

Additionally, courses taken outside of the US or Canada will not be accepted.

4. What is the deadline to complete required prerequisites?

You do not have to complete all required prerequisites at the time of application. However, they must be completed by early July of the year of matriculation. 

5. Do AP credits count toward the science prerequisite requirements?

Yes. JABSOM accepts AP (Advanced Placement) credits to fulfill prerequisite requirements. AP credits must be documented on official college transcripts and verified on the AMCAS application.

6. Does JABSOM offer counseling or advising for prospective applicants? 

Yes. Prospective applicants are encouraged to undergo premed advising from their health careers advisor before applying. Please visit the Pre-health and Academic Advising (PAC) and the Medical Student Mentorship Program (MSMP) to take advantage of this opportunity. 

7. Where can I find information about financial aid and scholarships?

Please visit JABSOM’s Financial Aid & Scholarships Office.

8. What is JABSOM’s MD curriculum?

The JABSOM MD curriculum is the traditional four-year program as follows:

jabsom curriculum


Hawaii is a wondrous and magical place to attend medical school. The University of Hawaii at Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine is a great institution to study medicine and earn your MD degree. JABSOM prioritizes service to others and prepares medical students for a stellar career in healthcare.

You will maximize your chance of acceptance if you exceed the minimum academic requirements, stay ahead of JABSOM’s important dates and deadlines, participate in the right extracurricular activities, and excel in the areas of your application where you can showcase your individuality. We wish you the best of luck as you take your next steps toward medical school.

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