Frequently Asked Questions: Online Colleges in Hawaii

Does Hawaii have good online colleges and universities?

Hawaii’s online college and university offerings are limited compared to those of other states. Only one university in Hawaii offers an online bachelor’s degree option, and only one offers an online graduate degree option. That said, Hawaii’s community and technical colleges have extensive online courses, certificates, and degree options, including distance learning initiatives at Hawaii Community College.

Do online college credits in Hawaii cost more than in-person classes?

The answer to this question depends on which college you attend. Some colleges offer discounted rates for online courses regardless of where you live, while others charge an additional fee for online courses to help cover the cost of software licenses, technical support, etc. Compared to other states, Hawaii’s online tuition fees are relatively expensive, especially considering that its online programs are not ranked particularly highly.

Why should you choose Hawaii for online higher education?

Hawaii could be a good choice for online higher education if you want to take flexible yet rigorous community college classes, you’re interested in a bachelor’s degree at Chaminade University of Honolulu, or you want to earn one of the graduate degrees offered by Hawaii Pacific University.

The Cost of Online College in Hawaii

How much does an online degree in Hawaii cost?

The cost of an online degree in Hawaii depends on which institution you attend as well as the type of degree you choose to pursue. For example, undergraduate courses are usually more affordable than graduate degrees. Also, you may find yourself paying more for your degree if you major in a STEM field rather than the humanities.

Regardless of the cost per credit, you should also consider that you may be able to save a lot of money on indirect expenses, such as transportation and housing, by earning your college degree online.

To give you a sense of exactly how much you should expect to pay for your online education, we’ve listed the current rates for earning an online bachelor’s degree in Hawaii below. Note that there is only one university in Hawaii that offers an online bachelor’s degree.

  • Most affordable online college in Hawaii: Chaminade University of Honolulu, $565 per credit

Average College Tuition Cost

Source: Education Data Initiative

How long do you have to live in Hawaii to get in-state tuition rates?

Establishing Hawaii residency typically requires you to have resided in Hawaii for at least 12 months prior to declaring Hawaii residency. You must also prove legal and physical ties to the state by, for instance, changing your driver’s license and voter registration, owning property or paying rent, paying utilities in the state, etc. Beyond that, you need to prove you are in the state for a reason other than education.

Who qualifies for reduced tuition costs in Hawaii?

Hawaii offers several ways to reduce your tuition costs. One is through participation in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), which enables online students from the western U.S. who attend college outside their home state to pay a flat tuition rate equivalent to 150% of their school’s in-state tuition. This can end up saving you thousands of dollars, even tens of thousands of dollars, on your degree.

The University of Hawaii state college and university system, which includes Hawaii Community College, offers numerous state- and institution-funded grants and scholarships at the associate and bachelor’s degree levels, some of which offset the entire cost of tuition.

You should also fill out the FAFSA application, which will show if you are eligible for Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), and other financial aid awards.

College Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Grant Programs in Hawaii

In addition to the WICHE reciprocity agreements and University of Hawaii system grants, there are a number of other programs available that can help you cover the cost of college. Some of these programs are also based on financial need, while others are awarded based on factors such as demographics or academic merit. We’ve reviewed a few of the most prominent financial aid options for you below:

Fukunaga Scholarship Foundation

This scholarship program awards $20,000 over the course of four years to college students from Hawaii who are studying business or a related field. The scholarship foundation was founded in 1950 and awards over $180,000 in funding to Hawaiian students every year.

Who’s eligible? Students from Hawaii who are majoring in business or a related field.

Contact information: Online form

Learn more

Hawai’i Community Foundation Grants and Scholarships

HCF has a centralized grant and scholarship application system that matches you with relevant sources of funding for college. The Foundation awards $7 million annually to deserving students, with an average aid award of more than $6,000 per student.

Who’s eligible? Hawaii resident students who demonstrate financial need, are enrolled full-time in an accredited two- or four-year institution, and maintain a GPA of at least 2.7.

Contact information: [email protected] | 808-935-1206

Learn more

Hawaii Education Association Scholarships

HEA offers a range of scholarships for students who want to become teachers in Hawaii. Scholarships tend to be $1,000-$2,000 or more per student.

Who’s eligible? Requirements vary by scholarship, but most are open to students attending a Hawaii university who are intending to teach at a public school in Hawaii.

Contact information: [email protected] | 808-949-6657

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R.W. "Bob" Holden Scholarship

Offered by the Hawai’i Lodging and Tourism Association and administered by the Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation, this scholarship awards funding to Hawaii residents who are pursuing a degree in hotel management or a related field.

Who’s eligible? Hawaii residents enrolled in an eligible hotel management degree program who maintain an average GPA of 3.0.

Contact information: [email protected] | 808-923-0407

Learn more

5 Fastest Growing Careers in Hawaii

If you’re still in the process of assessing your college options, you may also be undecided on your major. When selecting a major, one of the most important factors to consider is your future employability. Thinking about which industries and careers are growing the fastest in Hawaii can make it easier to find a job once you graduate, and being in demand should also help you earn a higher salary.

By consulting the U.S. Department of Labor’s Long-Term Occupational Projections 2018–2028, we’ve determined that the following five careers have some of the highest projected growth rates in Hawaii:

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Hawaii is known for its sunshine and progressive environmental policies, so it makes sense that solar photovoltaic (PV) installers are expected to be in high demand. These professionals assemble, set up, and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy. They earn an average annual salary of $57,930 in Hawaii, and their demand is expected to nearly double in the coming decade.

  • Projected growth: 72.4%
  • Degree options: Certificate in Solar Photovoltaic Installation, Associate in Solar Photovoltaic Installation, Associate in Solar Technology, Associate in PV Installation

Physician Assistants

Physician assistants (PAs) are one of the most in-demand health professionals. They work under physicians to support patient care, and must complete extensive education and medical training. They are not as highly compensated as physicians, but they still make six-figure (or close to six-figure) salaries. The average annual PA salary in Hawaii is $95,280.

Personal Care Aides

As Hawaii’s population ages and chronic and acute medical conditions become more prevalent, the state is in increasing need of personal care aides to assist patients, often older adults or disabled people, with tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and bathing. In Hawaii, personal care aides make an average annual salary of $30,160.

​​Substance Use Disorder, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Hawaii, like most states in the U.S., is experiencing a mental health and substance use disorder epidemic. The state sees a growing need to provide more professional support around addiction, behavioral issues, and mental health. In Hawaii, counselors in this field earn an average salary of $61,410 per year.

  • Growth: 20.3%
  • Degree options: Bachelor’s in Clinical/Medical Social Work, Bachelor’s in Psychology, Bachelor’s in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling, Master’s in Clinical/Medical Social Work, Master’s in Clinical Psychology, Master’s in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists (PTs) help patients restore optimal movement and mobility through exercises, hands-on treatment, and education. They work everywhere from hospitals and nursing homes to schools and private homes. In Hawaii, PTs earn an average annual salary of $90,000.

Our Research

We curated this list of the best online colleges in Hawaii by evaluating educational institutions from mid-sized liberal arts colleges to major universities that offered online courses. We reviewed the credits needed to earn a degree, tuition and fees, and the online courses offered.

The WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) accredits many of these colleges, which ensures that your online education meets the highest academic standards. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) has been promoting the development of higher education in the western region since 1962.

  • 18 hours to write this article
  • 22 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 42 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Online Colleges in Hawaii

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