Earning a college degree can lead to numerous personal and professional benefits. For many undergraduates, college marks the first opportunity a student has to experience independent living away from their family and familiar surroundings. College can also introduce individuals to a variety of academic disciplines; encourage personal growth; and allow for participation in activities and events that enhance a learner's appreciation for arts, culture, and community.

Top 5 Colleges in Hawaii

  1. Brigham Young University-Hawaii - Laie, HI
  2. University of Hawaii at Manoa - Honolulu, HI
  3. University of Hawaii-West Oahu - Kapolei, HI
  4. University of Hawaii at Hilo - Hilo, HI
  5. Chaminade University of Honolulu - Honolulu, H

Additionally, college can teach graduates the skills needed to succeed in the workforce. Earning a degree in Hawaii can lead to well-paying careers in some of the state's major industries, such as education, sales, management, and healthcare.

The Hawaii Workforce Infonet provides statewide industry and occupational employment projections. Between 2016 and 2026, the organization projects that occupations with the highest projected job growth -- and which require a bachelor's degree -- will include software developers, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, athletic trainers, and operations research analysts. Jobs that require a master's degree and boast high growth projections include nurse practitioners, mental health counselors, and healthcare social workers.

To help prospective college students make an informed admission decision, the following ranked list highlights five of the best colleges in Hawaii. This guide covers topics such as campus facilities, academic offerings, notable degrees, and admission requirements.

2020 Best Accredited Colleges in Hawaii

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

Brigham Young University-Hawaii

Laie, HI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 56%

Brigham Young University-Hawaii -- located in Laie -- is a private university owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The school's 100-acre campus features a 4,500-seat activity center, a natural history museum, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and on-campus housing. Each of BYU-Hawaii's approximately 2,900 undergraduate students must follow an honor code based on standards established by the church.

BYU-Hawaii offers 58 majors, 57 minors, and 12 certificates through its four colleges: human development; arts and humanities; math and science; and business, computing, and government. All students must plan and complete a pathway to graduation, which includes core coursework, major coursework, and two minors or certificates.

Prospective BYU-Hawaii students must supply a completed application, ACT or SAT test scores, and official high school transcripts. The admissions office gives preference to members of the LDS Church who are in good standing. Church members also pay lower tuition rates than nonmembers.


University of Hawaii at Manoa

Honolulu, HI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 60%

The University of Hawai'i at Mānoa is a public research university located in Honolulu. The 320-acre flagship campus of the University of Hawaiʻi system offers coeducational residence halls and a diverse community with more than 200 student organizations, arts and culture events, and NCAA athletics.

Five individual colleges -- arts and sciences, business, education, engineering, and tropical agriculture and human resources -- offer 99 bachelor's degrees, 85 master's degrees, and 58 professional and doctoral degrees. Select courses and programs can be completed online. UH Mānoa is a land-, sea-, and space-grant institution, internationally recognized for its research work and publications. Students pursuing fields like oceanography, astronomy, and genetics can apply for project funding through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

First-time college applicants must possess a minimum 2.8 high school GPA, submit official transcripts, and provide ACT or SAT test scores. A nonrefundable application fee is also required.


University of Hawaii-West Oahu

Kapolei, HI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 39%

The University of Hawai'i - West O'ahu is one of 10 campuses in the University of Hawaiʻi system, and the school is among the fastest-growing public colleges in the U.S. UH West O'ahu's main campus is located on 500 acres of former sugarcane land in Kapolei, where 3,000 enrolled students pursue academics, club activities, and recreation.

Students at UH West O'ahu can choose from eight bachelor's degrees in disciplines like applied science, creative media, social services, and public administration. They can also customize their degree by choosing one of 43 diverse concentrations in topics such as early childhood education, anthropology, Hawaiian-Pacific studies, and sustainable community food. UH West O'ahu offers extensive distance learning options, including dozens of courses, five degrees, and four certificates.

First-time prospective college students must provide SAT or ACT test scores, high school transcripts showing a minimum 2.7 cumulative GPA, and a nonrefundable application fee.


University of Hawaii at Hilo

Hilo, HI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 41%

The University of Hawai'i at Hilo was founded in 1947 as an extension division of UH Mānoa. It became a four-year institution in 1969, adding additional colleges, departments, and facilities over the following decades. Today, UH Hilo serves approximately 3,000 students each year. Its main campus offers a variety of on-site housing and dining options, as well as numerous athletics and arts and culture events.

Students can pursue certificates, as well as bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in nearly 90 different disciplines. Areas of study include art, data science, education, geology, marine science, and pre-law. UH Hilo's master of arts program in Hawaiian language and literature was the first graduate track offered in the U.S. to focus on an indigienous American language.

Basic admission requirements include completion of high school education with a minimum 3.0 GPA. ACT and SAT scores are requested for placement and advising purposes.


Chaminade University of Honolulu

Honolulu, HI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Chaminade University of Honolulu is a private, four-year institution. It is the only Catholic university in Hawaii and one of only three Marianist universities in the U.S. Guided by the Catholic belief that both reason and faith are essential to the pursuit of truth, Chaminade focuses on developing the mind, body, and spirit through academics, service learning, and leadership.

More than 2,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students enroll in courses at Chaminade each year. The university's academic programs are organized into five schools and divisions: business and communication, education and behavioral sciences, humanities and fine arts, natural sciences and mathematics, and nursing. Fifteen bachelor's programs and a master's in criminal justice administration are available entirely online.

Chaminade accepts applications on a rolling basis. To qualify for general admission consideration, undergraduate applicants must submit official high school transcripts demonstrating a minimum 2.5 GPA, along with ACT or SAT test scores.

Click here to see the best community colleges in Hawaii.