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Today’s Best Online Colleges in Hawaii

Today’s Best Online Colleges in Hawaii

Hawaii is home to many colleges with fully-accredited online degrees to help you start or advance your career. Read this guide to learn about top-rated schools and find the right online program for you.

While Hawaii is a small state and home to a relatively low number of colleges, it doesn’t mean you have to look to the mainland for an online degree. There are many quality online colleges in Hawaii offering accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide range of majors. If you’re a Hawaii resident or simply a student looking for a great degree program, an online college in Hawaii is worth your consideration.

This guide helps you locate a top-quality online college and degree program in Hawaii that meets your academic and career goals, as well as your study preferences. The ranking below of the best online colleges in Hawaii is followed by a wealth of information for Hawaii college students, including details about study formats, accreditation, program costs, financial aid opportunities, and trending careers.

Hawaii’s Top Online Colleges for 2023

The rankings below result from a review of all the colleges and universities in Hawaii currently offering accredited online degree programs and offering the support students need for reaching their academic and career goals. Factors considered include affordable tuition rates, generous financial aid opportunities, program options, study flexibility, low student-to-teacher ratios, and access to useful student support services. See which online colleges in Hawaii stand above the rest for 2023.

    or

    Base Methodology for OnlineColleges.me’s 2023 Online College Rankings

    1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

    To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

    • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
    • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

    2. Assign Weightings

    After creating the list of eligible schools, OnlineColleges.me data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

    Online Program Availability

    • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. Because exact numbers change often and can be difficult to verify, we use a range-based scoring system: 0-5 online programs = 1 star; 6-10 = 2 stars; 11-15 = 3 stars; 16-20 = 4 stars; 21+ = 5 stars. In our design, laptop icons = stars.

    Affordability

    • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
    • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

    Support Services

    • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
    • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

    About Our Data

    OnlineColleges.me’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2022

  • Honolulu, Hawaii
    Public $$$

    When students enroll in an online degree program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, they begin their journey with a student orientation that shows newcomers what they can expect during a virtual class, as well as how the learning management system works and strategies for success in their studies. This foundation helps students get acclimated to an online learning environment, whether they enroll in an entirely online program or a hybrid program that combines in person and distance learning. The University of Hawaii at Manoa offers bachelor’s degree programs online, as well as a graduate certificate program.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Arts in Economics

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $471/credit in state; $1,389/credit out of state
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

    Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences of Oceans

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $471/credit in state; $1,389/credit out of state
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

    Bachelor of Arts in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $471/credit in state; $1,389/credit out of state
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Hilo, Hawaii
    Public $$

    Distance education at the University of Hawaii at Hilo can be accessed through the online learning management system, as well as interactive video and cable. Whether you’re a registered nurse who wants to earn a bachelor’s degree to increase job opportunities and earning potential, or an educator or psychologist who wants to earn a master’s degree to move up the ladder to managerial roles, the University of Hawaii at Hilo can help you reach your goals. In addition to distance learning programs that teach you the skills you need to land higher-level positions, there are also services that help make the online experience a productive and enjoyable one.

    Program Highlights:

    Doctor of Nursing Practice

    • Credits: 73
    • Length: Three years
    • Cost: $489/credit in state; $1,107/credit out of state
    • Mode: Partially online
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Kahului, Hawaii
    Public $

    The University of Hawaii Maui College offers an online bachelor’s degree program in applied business and information technology, which takes four years to complete. This program is designed for students who want to pursue information technology and business management careers at small and mid-sized companies. During your studies, you get the opportunity to learn about cybersecurity, data science, and information technology, so you gain an understanding of how they are applied in a business environment. In addition, you will be required to take general education coursework in communication, social sciences, English, and humanities so you leave with well-rounded skills that employers are looking for.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Business and Information Technology

    • Credits: 121
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $131-$306/credit in state; $345-$846/credit out of state
    • Mode: Completely online
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Kapolei, Hawaii
    Public $$

    The University of Hawaii-West Oahu offers distance education that is delivered online or through interactive television. For online courses, which are offered on a synchronous or asynchronous basis, you use the Laulima course management system. When you take coursework through the interactive television format, you meet at special ITV sites to watch lectures broadcast from campus. The school offers online programs at the undergraduate level, including bachelor’s degrees in accounting, history, and public administration. In addition, those who want to earn a certificate online can enroll in the school’s labor studies, healthcare administration, substance abuse and addiction studies, and sustainability issues programs.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $306/credit in state; $846/credit out of state
    • Mode: Partially online
    • Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs

    Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $306/credit in state; $846/credit out of state
    • Mode: Partially online
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

    Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: Four years
    • Cost: $306/credit in state; $846/credit out of state
    • Mode: Partially online
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

    or

    Base Methodology for OnlineColleges.me’s 2023 Online College Rankings

    1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

    To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

    • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
    • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

    2. Assign Weightings

    After creating the list of eligible schools, OnlineColleges.me data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

    Online Program Availability

    • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. Because exact numbers change often and can be difficult to verify, we use a range-based scoring system: 0-5 online programs = 1 star; 6-10 = 2 stars; 11-15 = 3 stars; 16-20 = 4 stars; 21+ = 5 stars. In our design, laptop icons = stars.

    Affordability

    • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
    • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

    Support Services

    • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
    • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

    About Our Data

    OnlineColleges.me’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2022

  • Lihue, Hawaii
    Public $

    Before high school students apply for an online program at Kauai Community College, they get the opportunity to learn more about the school, as well as distance education, so they can make an informed decision about whether or not online learning is the right choice for them. And this dedication to student success continues after they enroll in a degree program. For example, the school offers services from an educational specialist, who can provide assistance with choosing and registering for classes and creating an educational plan that will help students reach their career goals. In addition, Kauai Community College provides an orientation to help students succeed in their online programs.

    Program Highlights:

    Associate of Science in Business

    • Credits: 61
    • Length: Two years
    • Cost: $131/credit in state; $345/credit out of state
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Hilo, Hawaii
    Public $

    Do you work a full-time job and want to go back to school to further your education? Are you interested in taking classes from home? Do you want the option to enroll in courses provided by more than one campus? If so, an online degree program offered by Hawaii Community College is the right choice for you. In addition to online classes that can be completed conveniently in an asynchronous format, you have the option of taking classes that are offered statewide through Oceanic Time Warner Cable, as well as interactive television classes that allow you to watch live lectures at different campus locations.

    Program Highlights:

    Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts

    • Credits: 60
    • Length: Two years
    • Cost: $131/credit in state; $345/credit out of state
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Pearl City, Hawaii
    Public $

    Leeward Community College allows you to take courses online in short class sessions that can be completed in five weeks. In addition, you have the freedom to choose the type of program you want to enroll in based on how much time you prefer to spend on campus. If you’d rather not do any work on campus, Leeward Community College has fully online programs. If you want to do some of your work in person, you can enroll in hybrid programs that include on campus elements—from one class to up to 50% of your coursework—so you can enjoy the best of both learning approaches.

    Program Highlights:

    Associate of Science in Accounting

    • Credits: 60
    • Length: Two years
    • Cost: $131/credit in state; $345/credit out of state
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

    Associate of Science in Teaching

    • Credits: 62
    • Length: Two years
    • Cost: $131/credit in state; $345/credit out of state
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

    Certificate of Travel Industry Management

    • Credits: 28
    • Length: Two years
    • Cost: $131/credit in state; $345/credit out of state
    • Mode: Fully online
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Online Learning Formats at Hawaii Colleges

Online colleges in Hawaii use many formats and study modes to deliver their degree programs, each with its advantages and disadvantages in terms of impact on how, when, and where you learn. Below are descriptions of the most common of these modes and formats along with examples of current online degree programs in Hawaii that use them to give you a solid understanding of how they operate.

Fully Online vs. Hybrid/Blended

Online degree programs are delivered either entirely or partly online. Fully online and 100% online programs usually deliver all curriculum content online with no campus visits of any kind required. Some fully online programs, however, have in-person requirements like clinical rotation hours for nursing students or classroom teaching/observation experiences for education students. Some also require visits to campus for activities like labs and introductory seminars. 

Hybrid and blended programs combine online, on-campus, and/or other in-person elements. Hybrid and blended descriptors are often used interchangeably, but there are differences. Hybrid programs typically replace some or all on-campus class sessions with online elements. Blended programs supplement on-campus classes with online course components like assignments, projects, written materials, instructor/student discussion groups, etc.

Below are examples of fully online and hybrid/blended formatted programs currently offered by online colleges in Hawaii.

Distance Learning Executive Master of Business Administration at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa (Blended/Hybrid)

The Distance Learning Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) at the University of Hawai’i Manoa is designed for mid-level professionals seeking to advance their careers or make a career change by gaining business leadership skills. The cohort-structured program is in a hybrid format and begins in the fall semester with an intensive face-to-face, five-day residency focusing on initial coursework and developing relationships with instructors and peers. Following the residency, students attend class synchronously every Tuesday and Thursday evenings and on alternating Saturday mornings. In addition, students attend in-person day-long campus sessions on 14 Saturdays during the 22-month program period. Students residing on neighboring islands receive a stipend to attend in-person sessions.

Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution and a minimum of five years of work experience. This EMBA program costs $50,400, including tuition, course materials, shared accommodations for the five-day residency, and meals for on-campus classes.

Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences with Political Science Concentration at the University of Hawai’i West O’ahu (Fully-Online)

The University of Hawai’i West O’ahu takes an interdisciplinary approach with its BA in Social Sciences with Political Science Concentration program. It draws on disciplines like anthropology, history, philosophy, and psychology to provide a big-picture perspective. This broad perspective prepares students for careers in fields like business, law, journalism, public administration, teaching, social work, and many others.

The curriculum consists of 60 credit hours of upper-division coursework that is available 100% online with no campus visits required. Coursework is a combination of synchronous and asynchronous classes and other course components. The degree requires an additional 60 credits of general education and lower-division elective courses that may be earned at UH West O’ahu or transferred from schools.

Per-credit tuition is $306 for residents, $459 for Pacific Island Jurisdiction and Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) students, and $846 for non-residents. 

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous

Course content for asynchronous online programs is accessed and completed at any time with no scheduled class sessions or other program components. Asynchronous programs work well for students with strict work schedules or other obligations. Synchronous programs, on the other hand, include class sessions or other course activities with attendance required at specific dates and times, often evenings and/or weekends. Synchronous programs offer the benefit of interacting with instructors and fellow students in real-time. 

Here are examples of online programs in Hawaii featuring asynchronous and synchronous delivery modes.

Master of Arts in Christian Leadership at Pacific Rim Christian University (Asynchronous)

Pacific Rim Christian University, a nonprofit institution in Honolulu, offers several Christian and ministry-focused associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, including a fully-online Master of Arts in Christian Leadership. This program develops ministry leadership and marketplace skills for leadership roles in churches, missions, and parachurch organizations as well as in the public sector. All coursework is asynchronous and entirely online.

Admission into this MA in Christian Leadership program requires a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA and agreement to the university’s statement of faith. The program costs $645/credit. Financial aid opportunities include university and private donor scholarships and VA benefits. Pacific Rim Christian University is accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).

Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at Hawaii Pacific University (Synchronous)

Hawaii Pacific University, a private, nonsectarian institution in Honolulu, offers a large selection of online degree and certificate programs, including an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language that prepares students to teach English to international students and immigrants both in the U.S. and throughout the world. The 33-credit curriculum consists of core and elective courses and culminates with a three-credit capstone project where students choose either a thesis, comprehensive exam, portfolio, or in-service project connected with a teaching position. Coursework is entirely online with most classes presented in a synchronous format and scheduled afternoons and evenings during the week. 

The program can be completed in two years (i.e., four semesters). Tuition for all students is $750/credit. Both fall and spring start dates are available.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time

Both part-time and full-time programs are available from online colleges in Hawaii. Some programs offer students both options. Part-time programs are extremely popular with online students because of their convenience while working full-time jobs, especially when seeking a graduate degree for professional advancement. For students with more flexible work or life schedules, a full-time program offers the benefit of faster completion.

Below are examples of online degree programs in Hawaii offered in full-time and part-time formats. 

Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Chaminade University of Honolulu (Part-Time)

The online Bachelor of Science in Psychology program at Catholic-affiliated Chaminade University of Honolulu provides study flexibility through a 100% online asynchronous format as part of Chaminade’s Flex: Undergraduate Program that includes several associate and bachelor’s degrees. Students can take one to three classes at a time. There are two course length tracks; the Flex Accelerated takes 10 weeks and the Flex Standard takes four months. Graduates of this 48-credit hour program enter careers in business, education, government, law, medicine, and other fields. Some also continue to graduate degree and certificate programs.

Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Business and Information Technology at the University of Hawai’i Maui College (Full-Time)

Students who want to run and/or start their own business in the highly-lucrative IT field can jump-start their careers with the BAS in Applied Business and Information Technology through the University of Hawai’i Maui College. The degree requires 120 credits, including 60 credits of general education and other lower-division coursework earned online or in-person at UH Maui College or another institution and 60 credits of upper-division business and IT coursework. Courses are 100% online with no campus visits required. Full-time students can complete the program in four years (i.e., eight full-time semesters).

Why Accreditation Matters for Your Hawaii Online College Degree

Postsecondary accreditation is the process through which colleges and universities and the programs they offer are determined to meet important minimum academic standards. Proper accreditation of the online colleges in Hawaii should be of utmost importance to make sure you’ve invested in a program worth your time and money. Minimally, look for institutional accreditation focusing on the vetting of colleges and universities overall. The main institutional accreditor of Hawaii colleges and universities is the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), one of several U.S. Department of Education recognized national and regional accrediting agencies

In addition to institutional accreditation, determine whether the specific degree programs you’re considering are programmatically accredited by accrediting organizations focused on the quality of academics in a particular specialized profession or field. Degree programs in many majors are not programmatically accredited, but programmatic accreditation is important for degrees requiring state licensure (e.g., engineering, nursing, teaching, etc.) or certification (engineering, nursing, teaching, etc.) and in highly-regulated fields.

Visit our guide to accreditation to learn more about the importance of accreditation in postsecondary education.

Cost of an Online College Degree in Hawaii

The costs for earning an online degree from a college in Hawaii vary depending on several factors. Those include whether the school is public or private, residency status, whether you’re pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree, if the school is a two-year or four-year college, and the total credits required.

The National Center for Education Statistics indicates that Hawaii residents typically pay $10,197/year for a four-year undergraduate program. Out-of-state residents pay $32,043 annually. These figures are slightly higher than the U.S. overall. Students attending private schools in Hawaii pay $19,096 a year, much less than the average $32,835 paid for private undergrad programs elsewhere in the U.S.

The chart below gives an idea of the current undergraduate tuition rates for five colleges in Hawaii offering both online and traditional on-campus degrees. 

School NameOn-Campus In-StateOn-Campus Out-of-StateOnline In-StateOnline Out-of-State
Chaminade University$950/credit$950/credit$585/credit$585/credit
Hawaii Pacific University$1,310/credit$1,310/credit$1,310/credit$1,310/credit
University of Hawai’i at Manoa$471/credit$1,389/credit; $706.50/credit (Pacific Island Jurisdiction and WUE)$471/credit$1,389/credit; $706.50/credit (Pacific Island Jurisdiction and WUE)
University of Hawai’i Maui College $306/credit$846/credit; $459/credit (Pacific Island Jurisdiction and WUE)$306/credit$846/credit; $459/credit (Pacific Island Jurisdiction and WUE)
University of Hawai’i West Oahu$306/credit$846/credit; $459/credit (Pacific Island Jurisdiction and WUE)$306/credit$846/credit; $459/credit (Pacific Island Jurisdiction and WUE)

* Costs are tuition only and do not include additional program fees except for online delivery fees. 

Financial Aid for Hawaii Online College Students

If you’re like most college students, help funding your degree is a necessity. Fortunately, Hawaii online schools offer the same financial aid opportunities open to students in traditional on-campus programs. The most common opportunities include loans like those through Federal Student Aid, scholarships and grants, employer tuition reimbursement, VA benefits for the military, fellowships and assistantships for grad students, and loan repayment programs.

Among the best places to begin your search for aid are the financial aid offices of the online colleges in Hawaii you’re considering. Examples include:

Other great Hawaii-specific online financial aid resources to check out include:

For more information on funding your online college degree, visit these financial aid and scholarship guides.

Hottest Careers for Hawaii College Graduates

The chart below offers current estimated job growth and annual mean wage figures for ten of the fastest-growing occupations in Hawaii. If you’re convinced that going to college is in your future but uncertain of your career path, consider these career options.

CareerJob Growth (2020-2030)Annual Mean Wage (2021)
Film and Video Editors54.5%$62,890
Nurse Practitioners52.5%$127,490
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners47.7%$58,910
Producers and Directors43.2%$73,000
Information Security Analysts38.1%$119,540
Statisticians36.8%$72,630
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists36.3%$65,540
Physical Therapist Assistants35.3%$63,870
Coaches and Scouts34.7%$60,370
Commercial Pilots32.4%$129,930

Sources: Bureau of Labor StatisticsProjections Central

College Planning and Support Resources for Hawaii Students

College is Within Reach Hawai’i

Excellent online source for information and advice on preparing for and succeeding in college in Hawaii. Included are links and videos covering how to apply to college, find scholarships and other financial aid opportunities, and much more.

Distance Education Tools and Tips for Students

Created by UH West O’ahu for their distance learning students, this webpage offers information on and links to a wide range of apps, tools, software, and other online resources you can use regardless of which online college in Hawaii you attend.

Hawaii Post-secondary Education Authorization Program (HPEAP)

A division of the State of Hawaii’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, the HPEAP oversees postsecondary educational institutions with a physical presence in the state. You can access a list of state-authorized postsecondary schools as well as download a A Guide to Evaluating if a School is Right for You and Avoiding Diploma Mills.

TeenLink Hawaii

Don’t let the name stop you from checking out this site featuring lots of great information and advice for prospective Hawaii college students of all ages. Included are distance learning study tips, information on applying to college, financial aid and scholarships, and more.

University of Hawai’i Community Colleges

Along with detailed descriptions on each campus, this site offers loads of useful information on distance education programs at UH community colleges, paying for college, degree pathway partnerships with UH four-year schools, and more. There’s also access to the excellent Hawai’i Career Explorer website.

University of Hawai’i Online

UH Online is an “integrated academic and student support resource” for online programs offered by the 10 university and community college campuses that make up the University of Hawai’i System. You can access information on over 40 online degree and certificate programs as well as tons of useful learning tools, guides, services, and other resources designed to support UH online students.