Due to its many top colleges and emphasis on higher education, Hawaii boasts higher levels of educational attainment than the national average. A recent report from the Lumina Foundation highlights the fact that 44.3 percent of Hawaii adults held at least a two-year degree in 2013, compared to 40 percent nationwide. Meanwhile, additional details reveal which type of degree most adults had that year. As of 2013, 11.55 percent of Hawaii adults held an associate degree, 22.23 percent held a bachelor's, and 10.48 percent held a graduate or professional degree.
While those are numbers all Hawaii residents should be proud of, there is certainly room for improvement. For example, in 2013, 25.82 percent of Hawaii adults age 25-64 only had a high school diploma, and another 23.42 percent had some college experience, but no degree.
Like most other states, Hawaii hopes to grow its educated workforce in the coming years. And part of that pledge includes supporting the many colleges and universities that reside in the region. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 27 colleges, universities, trade schools, and career centers currently offer degrees and certificates in and around Hawaii. While some of these schools focus only on traditional learning, others offer online degree options as well.
Why Should I Earn a Degree in Hawaii?
Hawaii's diverse landscape and dynamic economy have meant plenty of opportunity for workers during recent years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 612,580 workers made up the state's workforce in 2014. Together, they earned a mean annual wage of $46,230.
Certain occupations for college-educated workers brought in higher wages and featured high levels of employment, however. The following chart highlights some of those careers:
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||91,040||$38,620|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||81,250||$30,750|
|Sales and Related Occupations||61,950||$35,820|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||42,590||$51,710|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||41,830||$44,830|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||35,200||$32,960|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||33,560||$65,140|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||31,190||$90,330|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||26,340||$65,610|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||23,990||$53,250|
|Protective Service Occupations||20,790||$46,460|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||20,470||$29,850|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||19,280||$34,170|
As a state comprised of many islands, Hawaii's population is spread unevenly. Major metropolitan regions in the state surround big cities such as Honolulu, Pearl City, Hilo, and Kailua. U.S. Census Bureau estimates from 2014 show that the state of Hawaii as a whole reported a population of just over 1.4 million people.
With a median household income of $67,402 through 2013, Hawaii boasts one of the highest average income levels of any state. However, high housing prices eat away at those wages quickly. Through 2013, the median housing value in Hawaii was $503,100, compared to the national average of $176,700.
According to the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, Hawaii's economy thrives on tourism, although certain industries, such as service, transportation, and retail, also benefit. Meanwhile, state data shows that certain industries are expected to grow dramatically over the coming years.
Predicted Growth for Hawaii Industries (2012-2022):
- Construction: 31.9 percent
- Professional and Business Services: 13.9 percent
- Education and Health Services: 13.9 percent
- Non-Government Services: 11.1 percent
- Leisure and Hospitality: 9.1 percent
- Trade, Transportation, and Utilities: 9 percent
When it comes to educational attainment, Hawaii offers a wide array of colleges and universities. On the main islands, that includes institutions such as Brigham Young University of Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific University, and the University of Hawaii, with its four major campuses statewide.
A number of community colleges also reside in Hawaii, as do a handful of trade and technical schools. Meanwhile, more than a few institutions offer online degrees in Hawaii alongside their traditional offerings. Schools with the best distance learning options in the state include the University of Hawaii, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, and Hawaii Pacific University. Meanwhile, Babel University, a graduate translation school, offers only online education in Hawaii, with no option at all for on-campus courses.
In addition to educational offerings and commerce, Hawaii boasts some of the most dramatic scenery in the country. With its jagged shorelines, active volcanoes, and intimate, unique culture, Hawaii has a style all its own. Here are some interesting facts about the state that you may not know:
- Because Hawaii experiences volcanic eruptions from time to time, it is the only state that is actually growing in land area. It is also the only U.S. state with its own tropical rainforest.
- Although Hawaii is known for having eight main islands, it is actually made up of 132! Many are still uninhabited.
- Hawaii has the fourth largest coastline out of all U.S. States, behind California, Alaska, and Florida.
- With its warm weather and unique climate, Hawaii is able to grow coffee, pineapples, cane sugar, and macadamia nuts.
- The state of Hawaii has its own time zone.
What Makes Hawaii Ideal for Online Education?
Because it is made up of many islands, Hawaii is ideal for online learning. ""Geography is a huge deal in Hawaii,"" says Jared Marcum, Director of Online Learning at BYU-Hawaii. ""Commuting among the islands is difficult.""
According to Marcum, many BYU students from Maui and Kauai begin their education on their home island before moving to Laie. This is partly for financial reasons, he says. ""Because you don't have to move, there are some cost savings.""
And even students who plan to move on campus eventually can benefit, notes Marcum. Students who want to get their prerequisites out of the way can do so online before finishing their degree the more traditional route. Furthermore, BYU-Hawaii does offer one associate degree program that can be completed entirely online.
Hawaii's cost of living is another factor that makes online education ideal. ""Hawaii is an expensive place to live,"" says Marcum, adding that ""online education can take some of the edge off of that."" Students who want to pursue an online degree in Hawaii can generally do so without moving to the expensive, remote state.
Meanwhile, online education in Hawaii can be especially beneficial for non-traditional students. ""Online education broadens the net to include people that don't fit in the traditional college student mold,"" says Marcum. Working adults and busy parents are often the ones who benefit the most since they can complete their studies during evenings or weekends, all while putting their family or work responsibilities first.
Top 10 Degrees in Hawaii
While many on-campus and online degrees in Hawaii could prove to be good investments, some may pay off more than others. Using wage and employment data from the U.S. Department of Labor, we compiled this list of top degrees in terms of potential career growth and wages:
A degree in computer science can lead to a number of careers working with computers and technology, many of which are expected to see exceptional growth in the coming years. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of information security analysts could increase by as much as 40 percent in Hawaii from 2012 to 2022, while job openings for software developers are projected to increase 26 percent.
In a state like Hawaii, a foreign language degree could start your career off right. Most of the time, this degree leads to work as an interpreter or translator for a private company or government agency. As the U.S. Department of Labor notes, employment of these professionals is expected to increase 38 percent in Hawaii from 2012 to 2022.
With the construction industry projected to grow a whopping 31.9 percent in Hawaii by 2022, a degree in this field could be a particularly good investment. That's especially true of construction management degrees, which can lead to employment as a cost estimator. According to employment data, job openings for cost estimators could increase by as much as 33 percent in Hawaii from 2012 to 2022.
Marketing specialists and market research analysts use a wide range of data to create plans that help businesses sell their products and services. Because of the growing demand for these skills, employment in the field is expected to rise 30 percent in Hawaii from 2012 to 2022.
As with many careers in healthcare, jobs in radiation science are on the rise. That's especially true for workers who earn a degree in radiation therapy, and get their start in this budding field. According to recent employment predictions, jobs openings for these workers could increase by as much as 28 percent in Hawaii from 2012 to 2022.
As tourists continue to pour into Hawaii to experience its natural beauty, the demand for hospitality professionals is expected to surge. That's why a degree in hospitality management could pay off handsomely. Jobs for workers in this field -- particularly meeting, convention, and event planners -- are expected to increase dramatically in Hawaii through 2022, with 28 percent growth predicted.
If you love animals, a degree in veterinary technology could be right up your alley. With this degree, you can generally find work in a veterinarian's office after just two years of education. Because of growing demand, job openings for veterinary technologists and technicians in Hawaii are expected to increase 22 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Physical Therapy Assistant
Earning an associate degree through an accredited physical therapy assisting program is the fastest way to begin a career in this field. This non-intrusive type of rehabilitation has become extremely popular in recent years, leading to significant opportunities for qualified professionals. Job openings for physical therapy assistants are expected to increase 22 percent in Hawaii through 2022.
Whether you want to earn a two-year or four-year degree in this field, either could lead to solid job prospects. According to labor estimates, job openings for respiratory therapists and respiratory therapy technicians are expected to increase 17 percent and 18 percent, respectively, in Hawaii from 2012 to 2022.
With more and more individuals needing nursing care all over the country, it makes sense that this degree could be a smart investment. In Hawaii, employment of registered nurses is expected to be especially plentiful, with 17 percent growth predicted through 2022.
Top Cities for Hawaii College Students
According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, Honolulu County was home to 991,788 residents in 2014. Out of adults ages 25 and over, 32.1 percent held a bachelor's degree and 90.3 percent had a high school diploma or better.
Through 2013, median household income in the area was $72,764, which is higher than the state average of $67,402. High housing costs chip away at those higher earnings, however. Through 2013, the median housing value in Honolulu was $556,300.
Beautiful, tropical, and strategically-located, the region is a major hub for international business and tourism. Meanwhile, Honolulu also boasts the highest number of institutions of higher education in the state, with 18 active colleges and schools in 2014. Here are a few of the most prominent:
University of Hawaii - West Oahu
The University of Hawaii in West Oahu is a four-year school with a student population of approximately 2,661. Currently, the school offers six bachelor's degrees in 32 separate areas of study, as well as seven certificate programs. Tuition and fees for in-state students added up to $6,888 for the 2014-15 school year, and the college is known for these top programs:
- Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration - Accounting
- Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration - Health Care Administration
- Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Technology
Hawaii Pacific University
As a four-year, private school, Hawaii Pacific University focuses on intimate classrooms and small group settings. As of 2014, the student population was 5,827, and individuals enjoyed a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1. Currently, the school offers more than 50 undergraduate programs and 14 graduate programs. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year were around $21,130, and here are some of their most popular programs:
- Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Multimedia
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Honolulu Community College
Honolulu Community College is a two-year school that focuses on associate's degrees, certificates, and transfer programs. Currently, the school offers a handful of liberal arts programs and a wide range of technical and vocational training programs. Student enrollment was 4,144 in 2014, and tuition and fees were only $2,766 for in-state students that year. A few of their top programs include:
- Associate of Science in Aeronautics Maintenance Technology
- Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology
- Associate of Science in Construction Management
Babel University - Online Only
Babel University is an online school aimed at teaching students fluency in the English language. The school only offers a master's degree in translation at the moment, which supports their goal of bringing in international students. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year added up to $10,000, and the school is known for its main program:
- Master of Translation
With close proximity to Honolulu, Pearl City has plenty to offer in terms or opportunity and engagement. According to Census data, approximately 47,698 individuals lived in the Pearl City area in 2010.
Through 2013, 28.9 percent of Pearl City adults possessed a bachelor's degree, and 93.7 percent held a high school diploma or better. A high median household income of $84,332 helps boost the quality of living in Pearl City, which is reflected in the city's low poverty rates. The area is home to one institution of higher education:
Leeward Community College
Leeward Community College is a two-year, public school that offers associate degrees and certificate programs. In addition to its on-campus offerings, Leeward also offers online degrees in Hawaii as well. Enrollment was made up of 7,742 students in 2014, and tuition and fees added up to an affordable $2,791 for in-state students. A few of their top programs include:
- Online Associate of Science in Accounting
- Online Associate of Science in Business Technology
- Associate of Arts in Teaching
Located in Hawaii County, Hilo had a population of around 43,263 in 2010. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 29.2 percent of Hilo adults had a bachelor's degree in 2013, and 92 percent held a high school diploma or better. Lower than average housing prices for the state of Hawaii help keep this area affordable. As the Census notes, the median housing value in Hilo was only $303,800 in 2013.
With active volcanoes, astronomical observatories, and a distinct culture that can only be described as ""Hawaiian,"" the city and surrounding area remain attractive for both tourists and families. Meanwhile, students who hope to pursue degrees in Hilo can check out these two institutions:
Hawaii Community College
Hawaii Community College is a small, two-year school that offers associate degrees, certificates, and transfer programs. Enrollment included 3,186 students in 2014, and tuition and fees were only $2,870 for in-state students. Top programs at Hawaii Community College include:
- Culinary Arts
- Hospitality and Tourism
- Associate of Science in Nursing
University of Hawaii at Hilo
The University of Hawaii at Hilo is a four-year school that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in a wide range of industry-specific disciplines. Student enrollment included 3,924 students in 2014, and tuition and fees for in-state students remained affordable at only $7,036 that year. Popular programs include:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science
- Bachelor of Science in Astronomy
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Students considering on-campus or online education in Hawaii should explore all of their financial aid options. As a first step, plan on filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form. This helps state and federal agencies determine what type of aid students are eligible for, and how much.
Types of federal aid can include Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, or Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs also lists a wide range of scholarships that may be available to students with Hawaiian heritage. These opportunities include:
- Hawaii Community Foundation Scholarships
- Blossom Kalama Evans Memorial Scholarship Fund
- Elena Albano ""Maka'alohilohi"" Scholarship Fund
- Hokuli'a Foundation Scholarship Fund
- Ida M. Pope Memorial Scholarship
- Jean Ileialoha Beniamina Scholarship for Ni'ihau Students Fund
- The Ka'ehu Scholarship
- Ka'iulani Home For Girls Trust Scholarship
- Rosemary & Nellie Ebrie Fund
Other types of state-based aid may be available if you meet certain criteria. Students should check with their school's financial aid office to learn more about the different types of assistance programs and which they qualify for.
A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, Lumina Foundation, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/
CareerOneStop, U.S. Department of Labor, http://acinet.org/oview1.asp?next=oview1&Level=edu4&optstatus=&jobfam=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=15&ShowAll=
College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=HI
Employment Projections for Industries and Occupations, 2012-2022, State of Hawaii, https://www.hiwi.org/admin/gsipub/htmlarea/uploads/Long-TermProjections-2012-2022-State.pdf
Interview with Jared Marcum, Director of Online Learning at BYU-Hawaii
May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hawaii, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_hi.htm
Scholarships, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, http://www.oha.org/scholarships
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/15000.html
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Honolulu, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/15/15003.html
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Hilo http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/15/1514650.html
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Pearl City, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/15/1562600.html
""What are the major industries in the state of Hawaii?,"" Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, http://dbedt.hawaii.gov/economic/library/faq/faq08/