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General Information


Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language

Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies

Ka Papa Lo‘i o Kanewai

Native Hawaiian Student Services (NHSS)

Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies

2645 Dole Street
Kamakakuokalani 209A
Honolulu, HI 96822

Tel: (808) 956-0555
Fax: (808) 973-0988


*A. Freitas, PhD (Director)—implements educational initiatives in areas of student services, program development and strategic planning, grant writing, faculty/staff development, assessment and evaluation
*R. P. H. Kaaloa, MEd (Graduate Chair)—educational technology, distance education, Indigenous education
M. Akutagawa, JD—State and federal laws protecting and preserving cultural and historic sites, community-based resource management efforts along traditional land divisions, integration of Native, Indigenous Hawaiian methodologies, customary law, and governance principles
*I. H. Andrade, MFA—Native Hawaiian visual culture, customary practices and contemporary arts, museum studies
K. Baclayon, MA—Hawaiian medicinal herbs, advanced Hawaiian medicinal herbs, aquatic medicine and mahi lâ‘au lapa‘au (medicinal farming)
*K. Beamer, PhD— Indigenous agency, Native Hawaiian land tenure, sustainability, land and resource law of the Hawaiian Kingdom
*A. A. H. Drexel, MFA—Native Hawaiian visual culture, customary practices and contemporary arts, politics of “imaging,” history, mythology, land tenure, cultural studies
E. Ka‘iama, MBA—Hawaiian Studies
*L. Kame‘eleihiwa, PhD—Hawaiian and Polynesian mythology, history, land tenure, literature, genealogies, traditional navigation
*L. O. M. A. Keawe, PhD—comparative politics, indigenous studies; political “myths,” rhetorical tropes-and “imaging,” body politics of Kanaka Maoli identity and culture; educational administration, leadership, and mentoring
*S. K. Kikiloi, PhD—Hawaiian resource management, traditional society genealogies, cultural revitalization and empowerment
*K. Long, MLISc—Hawaiian librarianship, Indigenous librarianship, ‘Ike Hawai‘i resources, digital collections
N. M. Lopes, MA—Hawaiian Studies
*J. Osorio, PhD—politics of identity in the Hawaiian Kingdom, colonization in the Pacific, Hawaiian music
*W. K. Perry, JD—comparative politics, Hawaiian law
*N. Puniwai, PhD—Indigenous and ocean users’ knowledge to better understand and manage natural resources, seascapes
N. K. Ryan, MA—Hawaiian studies, hula, oli and malama ‘aina
M. K. Wright, MA—Hawaiian Studies

Emeritus Faculty

H. Trask, PhD—native political movements in Hawai‘i and the Pacific, literature and politics of Pacific island women, Hawaiian history and politics, third world and indigenous history and politics

Degree Offered: BA in Hawaiian studies, MA in Hawaiian studies

The Academic Program

Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies (HWST) recognizes its kuleana to nurture and educate the next generation of community leaders, teachers, and scholars who will lead Hawai‘i into the future. Kamakakuokalani offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees that reflect the breadth and interdisciplinary nature of Hawaiian ancestral knowledge. Our BA graduates have moved forward to earn advanced degrees in anthropology, art, botany, business, communications, counseling, education, engineering, English, geography, law, linguistics, medicine, ocean science, Pacific Island studies, political science, psychology, social work, theater, and urban and regional planning.

The master’s of art degree builds on the BA program by addressing crucial issues such as the sustainability and resource management of the environment that is consistent with the geography and history of Hawai‘i, indigenous pedagogy and epistemology, and a political and governmental infrastructure for a Hawaiian nation. The MA also provides professionals in government, law, criminal justice, education, social work, and various health fields, the specialized knowledge in Hawaiian history and culture needed to adequately serve an array of communities.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree

Students design their program around a selected area of concentration. Third-year fluency in Hawaiian language is required, as well as familiarity with Hawaiian history and literature, culture and creative expression, politics and integral components of governance, resource management and sustainability, and comparative indigenous studies.

A Native Hawaiian perspective is emphasized in the major. The following are the student learning objectives for the undergraduate program of study:

  • Students will understand our genealogical ties to Papahanaumokuakea, our mother earth, and ko Hawai‘i pae ‘aina as our ancestral homeland.
  • Students can explain that Kanaka Maoli are one lâhui connected by our ancestors Haloa and Haumea across na kai ‘ewalu.
  • Students can discuss the story, culture, and politics in academic and non-academic settings.
  • Students can explain the interconnectedness of all knowledge contemporary and ancestral from a Kanaka Maoli perspective.
  • Students are capable of Kanaka Maoli applications, protocols, and disciplines.
  • Students can discuss, practice, and advance Kanaka Maoli experiences in the context of world indigenous peoples.

Students pursuing a BA in Hawaiian Studies must complete 120 credit hours, including the General Education Requirements (see the “Undergraduate General Education Requirements”section), Hawai‘inuiakea undergraduate school requirements and Hawaiian Studies major requirements.

School Requirements

In addition to completing major requirements, all undergraduate majors of Hawai‘inuiakea (HAW, HWST, double, and concurrent majors) must complete the following 15 credits of school required course work from both Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies and Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language that represent the foundation of our field of Hawaiian knowledge and also fulfill General Educational Requirements of UH Manoa. These school requirements do not apply to students pursuing a minor or certificate in Hawaiian.

  • HWST 107, 270 and HAW 100, 301, 302 with a GPA of 3.0 or better

Major Requirements

  • GPA of 2.0 in all UH Manoa registered credit hours
  • A GPA of 3.0 in all courses for the major
  • Total of 29 credit hours
  • 17 credit hours in the following required core courses:
    • HWST 207 or 281 or 285 or 3
    • HWST 222 or 224 or 225 or 372 or 478
    • HWST 341
    • HWST 342
    • HWST 343 or 390 or 490
    • Senior Capstone (2 credits)
  • 12 credit hours of approved courses in ONE of these areas of concentration:
  • Halau o Laka: Native Hawaiian Creative Expression
  • Kukulu Aupuni: Envisioning the Nation
  • Kumu Kahiki: Comparative Hawai‘inuiakea and Indigenous Studies
  • Malama ‘Aina: Hawaiian Perspectives on Resource Management
  • Mo‘olelo ‘Oiwi: Native History and Literature

Before beginning work on the major, students should have completed HAW 101, 102, 201, and 202; HWST 107 or 107A; HWST 270. Course enrollment should be determined through consultation with the academic advisor. Majors should be interviewed by the academic advisor by the end of the sophomore year.

Students admitted to the BA program prior to Fall 2015 should consult the academic advisor to review changes that may affect their programs.

Students must earn a grade of C or better for all Hawaiian Studies courses that serve as a prerequisite for other Hawaiian Studies courses. Students who do not meet this requirement will not be permitted to register for the next level of Hawaiian Studies courses. For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to

Graduate Study

Master’s Degree

The Master of Arts degree in Hawaiian Studies builds on the BA program’s areas of concentration and features an interdisciplinary curriculum that draws from faculty strengths in indigenous knowledge as well as other academic fields. It addresses crucial issues such as the sustainability and resource management of the environment that is consistent with the geography and history of Hawai‘i, indigenous pedagogy and epistemology, and a political and governmental infrastructure for a Hawaiian nation. The MA also provides professionals in government, law, criminal justice, education, social work, and various health fields, the specialized knowledge in Hawaiian history and culture needed to adequately serve an array of communities.

Program Student Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the Hawaiian Studies master’s program students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of Indigenous research methodologies and develop a Native Hawaiian epistemology from sources in comparative Indigenous thought.
  • Demonstrate understanding of Hawaiian archival research and familiarity with the rich historical primary sources existent in various archives.
  • Demonstrate critical analysis of Hawaiian literature and an understanding of the significance of secondary sources in Hawaiian topics.
  • Demonstrate critical thoughts and synthesis through the development of a research proposal and the completion of their thesis or practicum project (Plan A or Plan B).
  • With high scholarly ability, contribute to Hawaiian research and knowledge through publications, presentations, and/or community service.


The following 15 credits of prerequisite course work are required for applicants who are not Hawaiian Studies BA degree recipients from UH Manoa. These courses represent the educational foundations of our field and are required prerequisite courses to enroll in upper division undergraduate and graduate level courses. Although, students taking these prerequisites may enroll concurrently in graduate level Hawaiian Studies courses, enrollment is only allowed by the consent of the instructor.

  • HWST 107 Hawai‘i: Center of the Pacific
  • HWST 270 Hawaiian Mythology
  • HWST 341 Hawaiian Genealogies
  • HWST 342 Chiefs of Post-Contact Hawai‘i
  • HWST 343 Myths of Hawaiian History or HWST 390 Issues in Modern Hawai‘i or HWST 490 Senior Seminar in Hawaiian Studies

Applicants to the MA program must have satisfactorily completed HAW 302 or the equivalent at the time of entry. Any remaining prerequisite course work that was not completed prior to admission must be completed within in the first year. Courses in directed research/reading (e.g. HWST 499/699) are not to be used to make up any prerequisite courses.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete a total of 33 credits (not to include prerequisites) of which 18 credits must be at the 600 level or higher and have completed or tested out of HAW 402. Students are required to complete, within the program, four HWST core courses (12 credits), two HWST area of concentration courses (6 credits), and a HWST thesis or practicum research course (6 credits). The remaining (9 credits) may be made up of elective course work. Students must receive a grade of B- or better in ALL courses counted towards their MA in Hawaiian Studies degree.

Major Required Courses

There are four core classes that all MA students are required to take. They form the foundation of the MA program.

  • HWST 601 Indigenous Research Methodologies
  • HWST 602 Hawaiian Archival Research
  • HWST 603 Review of Hawaiian Literature
  • HWST 604 Writing a Hawaiian Thesis

Areas of Concentration

MA candidates will choose two of the five areas of concentration to focus their research. Candidates will be required to integrate the two areas of concentration into a thesis (Plan A) or a non-thesis (Plan B).

Halau o Laka: Native Hawaiian Visual Culture

  • HWST 620 ‘Ike Pono-Visual/Cultural Knowledge
  • HWST 621 ‘Ike Maka-Visual/Cultural Knowledge

Kukulu Aupuni: Envisioning the Nation

  • HWST 690 Kukulu Aupuni: Envisioning the Nation
  • HWST 691 Kukulu Aupuni: Sovereign Hawaiian State, Domestic Kingdom Law, Governance and Politics

Kumu Kahiki: Comparative Polynesian and Indigenous Studies

  • HWST 670 Kumu Kahiki: Comparative Hawaiian and Tahitian Cosmogonies
  • HWST 671 Kumu Kahiki: Life Narratives in Mixed Media & Literature
  • HWST 675 Huaka‘i Hele Heiau Hawai‘inuiakea: Study Abroad on Polynesian Temples

Malama ‘Aina: Hawaiian Perspectives on Resource Management

  • HWST 631 Pono Science: Ethical Implications of Science in Hawai‘i
  • HWST 650 Hawaiian Geography and Resource Management
  • HWST 651 ‘Aina Waiwai: Water, Food Sovereignty, and Ancestral Abundance
  • HWST 652 Kanawai Lawai‘a: Hawai‘i’s Ocean and Fisheries Laws

Mo‘olelo ‘Oiwi: Native History and Literature

  • HWST 640 Mo‘olelo ‘Oiwi: Historical Perspectives

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Hawaiian Studies program is only for the fall semester. Students must meet the requirements set by the Graduate Division. In addition to the requirements of Graduate Division, prospective students must also submit the following application materials directly to the Hawaiian Studies department via the Graduate Application Supplemental Documents Upload site, except letters of recommendation can be mailed or emailed (with signatures) by the deadline:

  1. Hawaiian Studies Graduate Application Information Form
  2. Writing Sample: a five to ten page research paper done for a class and for which the applicant received a grade and credit as an undergraduate (any course, any topic). Paper must be a clean copy with no comments from professor. In lieu of such a document, applicants may write an original essay five to ten pages in length as an overview that conveys the nature of the applicants’ undergraduate major field of study.
  3. A two-page statement of intent describing the applicant’s proposed thesis topic and its basic relationship to the interdisciplinary field of Hawaiian Studies.
  4. 3 current letters of recommendation from the applicant’s former professors of which at least 1 must be from either a Hawaiian Studies faculty member (not to include GTAs, lecturers, or academic advisors) or from the Hawaiian Studies graduate chair after an interview (if applicant is unable to obtain a recommendation from a Hawaiian Studies faculty member).

Note: Application materials are available on the department website or from the Native Hawaiian Student Services Office in Room 211.

Dual Master’s Degree Program

Students may pursue a Master’s in Hawaiian Studies and a second master’s concurrently in Library and Information Science. Students enrolled in either program may apply for admission in the other degree program. The dual master’s option allows sharing of many elective courses. For more information, contact the HWST graduate chair or a LIS advisor.

HAW Courses

HWST Courses