Pacific Islands Studies
Pacific Islands Studies
*D. L. Hanlon, PhD (Chair)—history
Degrees and Certificate Offered: BA in liberal studies (Pacific Islands studies), MA in Pacific Islands studies, Certificate in Pacific Islands studies
The Academic Program
Since the establishment of the Pacific Islands studies program in 1950, the UH has made a special commitment to the Pacific Islands region, its peoples, and their environment. On the Manoa campus alone, some 200 faculty members (including a large number in the natural sciences, physical sciences, and tropical agriculture) have teaching and research interests related to the Pacific region. In addition, the UH’s Hamilton Library houses one of the finest collections of Pacific materials in the world. With a core faculty of 40 members drawn from a wide variety of academic disciplines, the Pacific Islands studies program offers multidisciplinary programs of study leading to the MA in Pacific Islands studies and the Certificate in Pacific Islands Studies. A “major equivalent” in Pacific Islands studies is available through the BA program in interdisciplinary studies.
The UH is the only university in the U.S. to offer an MA in Pacific Islands studies. The MA in Pacific Islands studies is intended for students who desire a multidisciplinary degree focused on the Pacific Islands region (Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia). The Certificate in Pacific Islands Studies is designed for students pursuing advanced degrees in other areas and whose course of study includes a substantial component of Pacific-related courses and research. The objective of the certificate is to provide recognition of this expertise and to encourage further study in the Pacific region. Undergraduate students who wish to focus their studies by integrating courses in anthropology, history, geography, Indo-Pacific languages, etc. with work in Pacific Islands studies may earn the BA in interdisciplinary studies (Pacific Islands studies).
The study of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia, including Hawai‘i and New Zealand, might integrate courses in anthropology, history, geography, Indo-Pacific languages, religion, etc. with work in the Center for Pacific Islands Studies. Prospective students should contact the department for further information on the BA in interdisciplinary studies (Pacific Islands studies) program.
The MA in Pacific Islands studies is intended for students of the region who wish to transcend established disciplinary boundaries and explore innovative interdisciplinary approaches to learning, research, and writing. Plan A (thesis) and Plan B (non-thesis) are offered. Students selecting Plan A complete a scholarly research-based thesis on a Pacific Islands–related topic. Those opting for Plan B must also demonstrate an ability to conduct independent research and produce a final research paper that is substantial in nature and represents a contribution to the field of study. Some recent graduates are pursuing doctoral degrees in traditional disciplines; others are employed in a wide variety of fields, such as education, social work, publishing, and library and museum work.
Applicants should have some knowledge of the physical features, cultural characteristics, and history of the region, as well as some familiarity with contemporary issues and concerns. Normally, 18 credits, or the equivalent, of appropriate Pacific-related course work are expected to satisfy this requirement. In exceptional cases, a student may take prerequisites concurrently with courses meeting degree requirements.
On entry, or before graduation, students are required to have a second-year level of competence in a foreign language. The language can be indigenous or an administrative language of the Pacific. It must be a second language and related to the student’s research interests.
A writing sample, and three letters of recommendation must be submitted when applying for admission.
All MA students are required to complete a minimum of 33 credits of course work, which must include three core seminars offered by the Center for Pacific Islands Studies:
A list of preferred Pacific-related courses offered across the campus serves as a guide in the selection of other courses that will count toward the degree. These courses are selected in consultation with a faculty adviser to form an integrated program of study that strengthens the student’s general background in the Pacific region, as well as providing a particular concentration of interest. Students in both Plan A and Plan B choose a three-person faculty committee to supervise the production of the thesis or Plan B paper and to evaluate the final product.
By no later than the third semester in residence, all MA students are required to take a general written examination that is designed to determine the adequacy of the student’s general knowledge of the Pacific region, analytical skills, and competence to conduct research. Successful performance on the examination advances the student to candidacy. A student failing the examination may take a repeat examination in one year. A second failure results in the student being dropped from the program.
Plan A (Thesis) Requirements
The student taking the Plan A option is required to complete a minimum of 33 credit hours, including the following:
Plan B (Non-thesis) Requirements
The student taking the Plan B option is required to complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of which at least 21 must be in courses numbered 600 and above. Included in the 33 credit hours are PACS 601, 602, and 603.
The Plan B student is also required to demonstrate research capacity by submitting a final paper that is substantial in nature and represents a contribution to the field of study. The paper must be judged acceptable by all three members of the student’s advisory committee.
Certificate in Pacific Islands Studies
The Certificate in Pacific Islands Studies is designed for students who are pursuing advanced degrees in other areas and whose course of study includes a substantial component of Pacific-related courses and research. The objective of the certificate is to provide recognition of this expertise and to encourage further study of the Pacific region.
Students applying for the certificate must have previously been admitted to the Graduate Division in a field of study. Following the diagnostic interview required of all incoming Pacific Islands studies students, the certificate student is assigned a two-person advisory committee consisting of one member of the Pacific Islands studies faculty (as appointed by the program director) and the student’s field of study adviser.
A certificate student is required to have 18 credit hours in Pacific-related courses or 12 credit hours in Pacific-related courses and a Pacific-related thesis/dissertation. The courses are to be taken from the list of preferred courses, as prepared by the Pacific Islands studies faculty. PACS 690 is the only required course; the others must, however, constitute a logically related set of courses.
The certificate student is also required to take the general written examination. As with MA students, the certificate student failing the examination may take a repeat examination in one year. A second failing performance results in termination from the program. The certificate student may take the written examination any semester while in the program.
The certificate is awarded upon the student’s completion of an advanced degree in his or her field of study.
Please note: This Catalog was prepared to provide information and does not constitute a contract. The University reserves the right to change or delete, supplement or otherwise amend at any time and without prior notice the information, requirements and policies contained in this Catalog.
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