POPULATION (2021): 1.44 million
LARGEST PUBLIC UNIVERSITY IN HAWAII: University of Hawaii at Manoa
LARGEST PRIVATE UNIVERSITY IN HAWAII: Hawaii Pacific University
It probably comes as no surprise to hear that going to college in Hawaii is a unique experience. As the only state in the country completely surrounded by water, there is definitely a certain level of independence that one needs to trek from the mainland to attend college in Hawaii.
However, Hawaii is very welcoming, and pretty accessible if you stay in the big cities (where the colleges are), and the people are some of the nicest you’ll find anywhere. It’s probably kind of hard to be mean in paradise!
The cost of living is quite high, so this needs to be taken into account, but attending college in Hawaii allows students to enjoy the outdoors year-round, try some new watersports, and dive deep into the Pacific cultural influences that shape the food, entertainment, and overall way of life.
Universities in Hawaii- 4-Year Colleges and Online
The University of Hawaii system is the choice for most students in Hawaii, but there are a handful of other private universities, and a pretty robust community college system in Hawaii, too. Here is a closer look at the college landscape in Hawaii!
Public Universities in Hawaii
The only public universities in Hawaii are those campuses of the University of Hawaii, and they are located in Honolulu (main), Maui, Hilo, and West Oahu (Kapolei). The main campus enrolls just over 18,000 students, and the other campuses all have around 5,000 students. Some of the community colleges in Hawaii also offer 4-year degrees, and more on them below.
Private Universities in Hawaii
In addition to the public colleges mentioned above, there are a few public universities in Hawaii, too. Here is a list with the locations in parentheses:
- Hawaii Pacific University (Honolulu)
- Brigham Young University – Laie
- Chaminade University of Honolulu
- World Medicine Institute (Honolulu)
- Akamai University (Hilo)
Community Colleges in Hawaii
The community college system in Hawaii stretches throughout the islands, with six campuses. Some of these campuses also have 4-year programs for those students looking to pursue a bachelor’s degree. They are Leeward CC in Pearl City, Kapiolani CC in Honolulu, Winward CC in Kaneohe, Kauai CC in Lihue, and Hawaii CC located in Hilo.
Credits transfer from CC to CC, and many programs prepare students to pursue a 4-year degree.
Prominent Online Colleges in Hawaii
The major public college system, The University of Hawaii, offers fully online programs to both in and out-of-state students. Most of the programs do require students to stay on a semester schedule, but some classes are even self-paced.
The private college Hawaii Pacific University also has some options for online education.
Universities in Honolulu, HI
Honolulu is the biggest city in Hawaii and also has the most frequented airport. With this, accessibility and plenty of things to do to get your mind off the fact that you’re on a small island in the middle of the Pacific make Honolulu the top choice for college students in Hawaii. In addition, it also has the most options for higher education.
Here is a list of colleges in the city of Honolulu:
- Chaminade University
- Hawaii Medical College
- Hawaii Pacific University
- Pacific Rim Christian University
- Remington College-Honolulu
- University of Hawaii at Manoa
Get to Know Hawaii
Nicknamed the Aloha State (which means both hello, and goodbye… but is very friendly in both instances), Hawaii has a wonderfully welcoming sense. Some of this may be feigned due to the fact that tourism is one of their biggest economic boosters, but enjoy the smiles all around the islands even if they’re coming from people selling you things.
Entertainment options mostly center around the bigger cities, but that’s also where the colleges are. Some folks who have never been to Hawaii are pleasantly surprised with how large the islands are, and students can definitely spend 4 years exploring and not see everything the islands have to offer, such as waterfalls, volcanoes, and fauna that can’t be found anywhere else on U.S. soil.
There is also a large military presence in Hawaii, with Pearl Harbor still very much an active base for the Navy and Marines.