Many of Hawaii’s colleges and universities boast a strong web presence, offering a range of bachelor’s degrees entirely online. These schools provide a convenient and first-class learning environment to distance learners. Hawaii Pacific recently added three new programs entirely online, and the University of Hawaii’s system provides a mix of fully online programs and courses.
Before we dive into our list of the best online colleges in Hawaii for 2018, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in Hawaii today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Hawaii
Prospective college students in Hawaii benefit from the state’s variety of degree-granting institutions. Hawaiian college students attend 20 institutions of higher education, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. This number includes 10 public institutions, which all participate in the Distance Learning at the University Hawaii program, six private nonprofit schools, and four for-profit institutions. The state’s 65,860 students attend classes both online and on campus, with more than 21,000 students enrolled in at least one online class — according to the Online Learning Survey.
- 10 public
- 6 non-profit
- 4 for-profit
Tuition rates vary depending on the type of institution and the degree level. Students attending on campus and online colleges in Hawaii pay an average tuition of $3,920 at two-year public colleges and $10,800 at four-year public institutions for the 2018-2019 academic year, according to College Board. The state’s flagship university, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, charged $11,970 a year in tuition during the 2018-2019 school year, around average for a flagship institution. Private schools typically charge higher tuition rates. Online students may qualify for tuition discounts at certain institutions.
College students in Hawaii benefit from financial aid packages that include state-issued grants. The National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs reports on both need-based and non-need-based grants offered in the state. The Hawaii B Plus scholarship provided nearly $3 million in support for undergraduate students, who received a total of more than $4 million in-state grants from 2015-2016. These programs also support students enrolled at the best online colleges in Hawaii.
The State of Online Higher Education in Hawaii
Online higher education provides a flexible alternative to fully on-campus programs. In Hawaii, more than 21,000 students take at least one online class, according to a 2017 Online Learning Survey. Nearly one in three Hawaiian college students, or 31.1% of all students, take at least one online course, exceeding the national average of 29.7%. This includes students who took Hawaii community college online courses. Of the students who took at least one online course in Hawaii, the vast majority enrolled as undergraduates, with only 1,590 enrolling as graduate students.
A significant number of college students enrolled in Hawaiian higher education take all of their courses online: 8,130 students enroll as fully online students, representing 11.7% of all students. Of that number, 7,140 enroll as undergraduates and 710 enroll as graduate students. The majority of these students live in Hawaii, representing 87.8% of exclusively online students, with the rest enrolling from out of state.
Most online students in Hawaii enroll in a public institution. Leeward Community College, Kapiolani Community College, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa enroll the largest number of online students. The state’s public university system offers the Distance Learning at the University Hawaii program, which offers online courses through the University of Hawaii’s 10 campuses. Students can earn certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees through the program. Online students benefit from the program’s easy enrollment process, tutoring services, and technology services.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Many online colleges in Hawaii offer tuition discounts designed to support out-of-state students. These discounts can include a lower tuition rate for online classes or the ability to pay in-state tuition for fully online students. Out-of-state students also benefit from the support offered by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). The commission works to increase access to higher education and the quality of institutes in its 16 member states. WICHE also offers the Western Undergraduate Exchange program, which helps qualifying out-of-state students save on tuition at online colleges in Hawaii.
The program caps out-of-state tuition at 150% of the in-state tuition rate at member state institutions. WICHE member states include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. More than 40,000 students participated in the Western Undergraduate Exchange through WICHE during the 2017-2018 school year, which saved students more than $365 million on out-of-state tuition.
WICHE also runs the Internet Course Exchange, which helps students access online courses offered by western colleges and universities. Students enrolled in Hawaii community college online classes may use the exchange to take courses at other western community colleges.
Best Online Colleges in Hawaii
See below for our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Hawaii. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and list both their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in Hawaii, explore our state resources, such as a database of every college and university in Hawaii or our index of popular in-state scholarships.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||University of Hawaii at Manoa||Honolulu||$$$$$||2500 Campus Road, Hawaii Hall|
Honolulu, HI 96822-2217
The University of Hawaii at Manoa doubles as the main campus of the University of Hawaii system and Hawaii's de facto flagship school. Located in the Manoa neighborhood of Honolulu, the university originally opened at the turn of the 20th century as a teachers' college. Today, UH excels in the arts and sciences, although the school also operates a law school, a medical school, an architecture school, and a college of tropical agriculture and human resources.
UH boasts the capacity and resources to offer a wide range of distance learning programs. The Manoa campus is the largest online college in Hawaii, offering 15 different bachelor's, post-baccalaureate, graduate certificate, and master's programs through UH's proprietary distance learning platform, Laulima. Offerings include an executive master's in business administration (MBA), a master's in social work, a bachelor's in economics, and the Hawaii Statewide Nursing Consortium program.
UH delivers most of its online undergraduate programs asynchronously and without on-campus requirements. The university delivers several of its graduate programs through Interactive Video (ITV). ITV mimics in-person classrooms, delivering synchronous, live video courses at defined locations that require a student's physical presence. Students in ITV courses must sit in front of microphones and in full view of the camera so that professors can take attendance. UH's master's programs in social work and human resources management -- in addition to the executive MBA program -- use ITV for their courses.
Students who do not find the program they want to enroll in at Manoa can instead take individual distance learning courses offered at various branches of the University of Hawaii system.
|2||University of Hawaii at Hilo||Hilo||$$$$$||200 W Kawili St|
Hilo, HI 96720-4091
The University of Hawaii at Hilo offers six distance learning options, including undergraduate and graduate programs. Hilo is one of the best online colleges in Hawaii and one of the leading universities in indigenous studies. In addition to its master's program in indigenous language and culture education, the school also offers the Kahuawaiola Indigenous Teacher Education Program. The program prepares Mauli Ola Hawai'i -- teachers who nurture the Hawaiian identity -- for careers in Hawaiian language schools. The distance learning program delivers all courses through synchronous Interactive Video (ITV) courses, and all courses primarily use the Hawaiian spoken language.
Hilo's master of arts in counseling psychology, master of arts in indigenous language, and culture education programs also use ITV to deliver coursework. In ITV courses, students must attend courses at defined locations. They must sit in full view of the course camera and use individual microphones so that their professors can verify attendance. Hilo's online master of education program, registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing program, and DNP program all deliver coursework asynchronously. Additionally, these three programs never require campus visits.
If students cannot find the distance learning program they want at Hilo, they can enroll in individual distance learning courses offered throughout the University of Hawaii system.
|3||Chaminade University of Honolulu||Honolulu||$$$$$||3140 Waialae Avenue|
Honolulu, HI 96816-1578
The Roman Catholic-affiliated university opened its doors in 1955 in Honolulu's Kaimuki neighborhood. The school named itself after Father William Joseph Chaminade, a Catholic priest active during the French Revolution and the founder of the Marianists. The Marianists founded the university on a mission trip to Hawaii.
A smaller school, Chaminade takes a different approach to distance learning than other online colleges in Hawaii, which are members of the much larger University of Hawaii system. The university's distance learning programs primarily focus on undergraduate and professional/continuing education degrees. At Chaminade, online students can complete 15 different associate and bachelor's programs. Fields of study include education, psychology, religious studies, English, history, business, political science, liberal arts, and criminology.
Chaminade does not list requirements for admission beyond a high school transcript. Chaminade's Office of Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) oversees each of the school's online programs. All PACE programs deliver coursework asynchronously and eliminate on-campus requirements, catering to working professionals and military students in particular. The school provides discounted tuition to military students, accepts aid from each military branch, and honors previously earned military credits. The GI Bill® approves of Chaminade, and the school maintains an Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
PACE provides online students with dedicated counseling to help them achieve success in distance education. In addition to undergraduate degrees, PACE also offers graduate and certificate programs, albeit not online.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Hawaii
See below for a ranking of online schools in Hawaii sorted by tuition rate.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||University of Hawaii at Hilo||Hilo||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||University of Hawaii - West Oahu||Kapolei||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||University of Hawaii at Manoa||Honolulu||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Hawaii Pacific University||Honolulu||School profile||$$$$$|
Job Outlook for College Graduates in Hawaii
College graduates in Hawaii join a dynamic workforce that employs more than 630,000 people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Hawaiians earn an annual mean wage of $52,050, and in many industries, college graduates earn more than non-college graduates. By completing a college degree, professionals also benefit from increased competitiveness on the job market. A Georgetown University study found that college graduates earn an additional $1 million in wages over the course of their career compared with non-college graduates.
Hawaii’s robust job market also benefits from a low 2.2% unemployment rate (as of September 2018), which stands below the national average. The BLS reports that the unemployment rate for college graduates often falls well below the national average. For example, in May 2018, the national unemployment rate stood at 3.9%, while college graduates benefitted from a significantly lower 2.1% unemployment rate. This also applies to the best online college Hawaii graduates.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Hawaii
R.W. Bob Holden Memorial Scholarship
Applicants must live in Hawaii and take full-time classes at an accredited U.S. school, including accredited online colleges in Hawaii. Recipients should attend school as hotel or lodging management majors and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Anna K. Gower and Annabelle K. Gower Scholarship Fund
Hawaii residents with native Hawaiian ancestry who demonstrate financial need qualify if they attend an accredited, nonprofit two-year or four-year institution full time.
Gromet Foundation Scholarship
Hawaii high school seniors qualify for the scholarship if they demonstrate academic ability and financial need. Their high school counselor must submit the application.
Citizen Scholar Award
Applicants must be a senior at a Hawaii public high school with a minimum 3.2 GPA.
Bank of Hawaii Foundation Scholarship Fund
Children or grandchildren of Bank of Hawaii employees who attend an accredited two-year or four-year institution as a full-time student qualify with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Barbara Leppe Hawai’i Scholarship Fund
Women residents of Hawaii in financial need who attend an accredited, nonprofit two-year or four-year institution full time qualify for this scholarship if they possess a minimum 2.7 GPA.
Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Pouhana Hokele Scholarship
Students must major in travel industry management and boast Hawaiian ancestry.
Don Ho Legacy Scholarship
Applicants should be a student of native Hawaiian ancestry pursuing education in music or the arts.
Alma White – Delta Chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma Scholarship
Hawaii residents with financial need who attend an accredited, nonprofit, four-year college with a major in education and a minimum 2.7 GPA qualify for this scholarship.
Clem Judd, Jr., Memorial Scholarship
Applicants should be Hawaii residents with Hawaiian ancestry enrolled full time at an accredited college or university. Candidates should attend school as hotel or lodging management majors and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA.
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