Here are some highlights:
  • Of the online colleges in Hawaii, 4 offer associate degree programs, 7 allow students to complete bachelor's degree programs, and 5 schools have designed master's degree programs.
  • 4 online colleges in Hawaii are considered public, while 4 are private, including one that is faith-based.
  • University of Phoenix-Hawaii and Chaminade University of Honolulu offer the most online degree programs in the state.

The state of Hawaii is eager for more of its residents to earn a college degree — whether through a traditional school or an online college. Its 55 by '25 program, which aims to have 55 percent of working-age adults earn a two- or four-year degree by the year 2025, offers resources to help students complete their degree programs.

If you'd like more information on the best or most affordable online colleges in Hawaii as well as details on scholarships available in the state and the State Higher Education Loan, keep reading. This page can help you select an online college while providing you with valuable financial aid resources.

What Makes a Good Online College in Hawaii?

Finding the right online college is not an easy task. However, the lists of the best online colleges in Hawaii on this page are meant to help. All of the schools displayed in our rankings are accredited by approved accrediting agencies, such as:

  • The Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • The WASC Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
  • The Distance Education Accrediting Commission

To learn more about accreditation and why it matters, see our page "What is College Accreditation?" For more specific details on accreditation in Hawaii, check the Hawaii Post-Secondary Education Authorization Program website.

The metrics used in our rankings of the best online schools in Hawaii include average in-state tuition, graduation rate and the average amount of financial aid awarded. We carefully choose our criteria in order to rate online colleges in Hawaii based on factors that are relevant to the online student experience, and we display data on each college in order to help students compare their options and make a well-informed decision. If you're curious why we chose these specific data points, take a look at the "What Makes a Good Online College?" section of our "About Us" page.


Best Online Colleges in Hawaii for 2018-19

Here for your use, we have created a list of the best online colleges in Hawaii, compiled using data from the National Center for Education Statistics that we analyzed with our proprietary methodology. Find out the typical in-state tuition, the percentage of students enrolled in online education, each school's information on distance learning and more as you peruse our ranking of the best online colleges in Hawaii.


Chaminade University of Honolulu

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

Both fully online and hybrid programs are available for students at Chaminade University of Honolulu. Options encompass numerous associate and bachelor's degrees, as well as a handful of master's programs. Because the university follows a Catholic tradition, it takes particular pride in its religious-based degree programs, such as a bachelor's in religious studies program and a master's in pastoral theology program. Other online programs include an MBA, a master's in criminal justice administration and a master's in counseling psychology.

If Chaminade students find themselves needing help with their online courses, they can simply head to the Smarthinking platform, an online tutoring program specifically geared toward Chaminade students. Through Smarthinking, students can set up 30-minute tutoring sessions and use virtual whiteboard technology to connect to them. The university also hosts an online writing lab, where online students can submit essays and academic papers for review.


Hawaii Pacific University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

In 2014, Hawaii Pacific University rebranded its athletic teams from the Sea Warriors to the Sharks. Both names suit students of the university, who are encouraged to pursue and conquer their goals, even across great distances. After all, distance is little obstacle to online students, who can take advantage of multiple graduate degree programs offered online at HPU in subjects such as information systems, public health or social work.

Some of the university's programs use hybrid learning, meaning students complete some courses online but others on-campus. Other programs, such as the university's MBA program, are available in both a fully online format and a hybrid format. Courses in the MBA program are taken one at a time, in an eight-week format, no matter what delivery option is chosen.

Students can take a virtual tour of the school through the university's online information webinar series page, which could be useful to a student interested in a hybrid program. Prospective transfer students can also watch a "Transfer 101" webinar on the same page to learn the details of transferring.


University of Hawaii-West Oahu

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

Next on our list of best online colleges in Hawaii is the University of Hawaii-West Oahu, which takes several interesting approaches to distance education. First, the university does not offer undergraduate degree programs fully online. However, it does offer online courses for undergraduates through its online learning platform, called Laulima. Furthermore, students who have completed two years of coursework from a neighbor island community college in the UH system may be permitted to enroll in a distance learning bachelor's program.

That's not all, however. UH-West Oahu also allows graduate students who have completed their undergraduate coursework at either UH-West Oahu or a partnering UH community college to pursue online coursework in business administration, public administration, early childhood education, political science or psychology. The university also broadcasts some of its classes to neighboring islands through Interactive Television (ITV).


University of Hawaii-Manoa

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

Students enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Manoa can opt for distance learning programs in several bachelor's, master's and even doctoral programs. The university, located in the valley of Manoa in Honolulu, offers multiple programs in which at least 50 percent of the content is provided remotely. This could be through interactive TV (ITV) or another technology medium, like the online Laulima learning platform. Options include a bachelor's in computer science, a master's in social work and a Doctor in Nursing Practice (DNP) program, to name just a few.

When it comes to resources, students can utilize the university's online bookstore, which features electronic textbooks and other publications, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa Library, which offers access to streamed videos assigned by professors. The library even provides information online about its exhibits and collections, such as an exhibit of Japanese graphic design images used in advertisements from the 1920s.


University of Hawaii-Hilo

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

Online courses offered through the University of Hawaii-Hilo offer students on (or off!) the Big Island the opportunity to access their education from a distance. Some of the online options available through this institute include an RN-to-BSN nursing program, a master's in education program and a Doctor in Nursing Practice (DNP) program. An indigenous teaching program is also available via videoconferencing, designed to help teachers learn how to teach at elementary schools with a strong cultural background.

Prospective learners at UH-Hilo can take the school's online learning readiness quiz to see if they are prepared for distance learning; put a call in to student affairs to learn more about advising, disabilities services or financial services; or receive assistance from the university's helpdesk with their online coursework. Distance learners who still want to become involved with their school in person can head to the vividly red-roofed campus to check out a Vulcan athletic game.


Leeward Community College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

Leeward Community College, located in Pearl City, is expanding its offerings to include online programs that can help students to earn a variety of degrees and certificates, many in business areas such as accounting or management foundations. The college is also hosting programs that are online except for a single course that requires on-campus attendance, as well as hybrid-format programs where at least 50 percent of the courses are offered online.

The university's iLearn webpage offers numerous resources for students interested in online education at Leeward. This includes distance-learning guides, tips for being a successful online learner, and distance resources such as counseling, the help desk and the library. Since its founding in 1968, the university has provided more than 3.6 million credit hours of instruction to enrolled students, many of whom have gone on to transfer to one of the nearby four-year schools.

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics,

Affordable Online Colleges in Hawaii for 2018-19

The cost of living in Hawaii might have a reputation for being high, but earning a degree can still be affordable. Here are some of the most affordable colleges offering online education in the state, arranged according to their in-state tuition (as reported to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS).

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics,

Financial Aid Resources in Hawaii

What Grants and Scholarships are Available in Hawaii?

Source: Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of CollegeXpress, a division of Carnegie Dartlet. Copyright © 2020 by CollegeXpress.

Student Loans in Hawaii

Hawaii's only state-specific loan offered is the State Higher Education Loan, otherwise known as SHEL. The state places a strong importance on educating students about loan management by requiring entrance and exit counseling sessions for all students who are awarded this loan. Be sure to look into scholarships and grants to meet your financial needs before applying for federal, state or private loans, since scholarships and grants do not need to be paid back. If you do find that you need additional funds, the loan below may be right for you.

This loan is awarded to Hawaii residents who demonstrate financial need. Whether an undergraduate or graduate, the student must be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible degree-seeking program in order to qualify. Students will also be required to complete an entrance counseling session to assist them in managing their loans before the loan is awarded to them.

  • Application deadline:  Not specified
  • Award amount:  Not specified

Learn more about the student loan process in the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Hawaii

Costs for Out-of-State Students in Hawaii

Hawaii has a reputation for being expensive, and out-of-state students will pay more than residents for their degree programs. Still, don't give up on your dream of studying in the Aloha State. If you live in one of 16 Western states and territories, you could get a significant discount on out-of-state tuition thanks to the Western Undergraduate Exchange, or WUE.

Students from eligible areas can access a reduced non-resident rate should they be studying a program not available in their home state. Under WUE, student pay no more than 150 percent of the in-state tuition rate at participating schools. For 2017-2018, Hawaii received 2,600 out-of-state students through the program.

Out-of-state tuition waivers may also be available to students who meet certain classifications such as:

  • Military members stationed in Hawaii along with their dependents
  • Members of the Hawaii National Guard
  • University employees, their spouses and dependents
  • Native Hawaiians
  • Residents of certain Pacific Islands

Online non-resident students may also pay the same per credit hour rate as in-state students at some institutions. Plus, scholarships and grants are available for in-state and out-of-state students alike.

Talk to a financial aid counselor about how you can reduce out-of-state tuition for Hawaiian schools. You can also learn more about WUE and similar programs for graduate students at the following links:


Best Careers In Hawaii

Tourism has long been Hawaii's most important industry, and its financial impact ripples across many other industries, including service, retail and transportation. Students can use the data compiled here to gain insight into many of the most in demand jobs in Hawaii. We've gathered statewide employment numbers, along with job projections and average salaries, to help students make more informed decisions prior to enrolling in online colleges in Hawaii.

EmploymentEmployment GrowthMedian High School SalaryMedian Bachelor's Salary

Top Hawaii Industries

*Industry rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data is sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Top IndustriesEmploymentProjected GrowthAverage Salary
Ambulatory healthcare services463,2108%$65,030
Hospitals; state, local, and private511,2007%$64,981
Educational services; state, local, and private571,6907%$61,949
Professional, scientific, and technical services524,9906%$60,451
Social assistance498,9507%$57,379
Waste management and remediation services260,2706%$64,316
Nursing and residential care facilities457,5508%$58,270
Postal service168,3005%$66,478
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations516,2107%$58,801

The Hawaiian Islands had a total population of more than 1.4 million in 2018, with more than 980,000 of those residents located in the City of Honolulu and Honolulu County. In contrast, just under 10 million people visited the Hawaiian Islands in 2018. Visitor spending totaled $17.82 billion for 2018, with the tourism industry supporting 217,000 jobs across all the islands.

With so many visitors, many of the most high demand jobs in Hawaii lie within the service, retail and hospitality sectors. Utilities and waste management are two of the high-growth sectors across the islands that come out of the tourist industry, as well as professional, scientific and technical services (which include activities such as accounting, legal representation, advertising, photography and more).

However, not everything in Hawaii is about tourism. Many of the most needed jobs in Hawaii are in the fields of ambulatory health services and skilled healthcare positions. Hospitals such as The Queen's Medical Center, Straub Medical Center and Shriners Hospitals for Children in Honolulu require skilled staff to service tourists and residents alike. In addition, Hawaii's elderly population continues to grow, with residents ages 65 and older making up more than 17 percent of the island's total population in 2017. These demographics create many opportunities for skilled elder care workers, who are needed at Hawaii's nursing and residential care facilities.

In the sections below, we'll highlight some of the most high demand careers in Hawaii for its two largest metropolitan areas: Honolulu on Oahu, and the Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina region of Maui.

Urban Honolulu, HI Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

Construction as a result of tourism is a major contributor to Honolulu's economy. Tourism drives continued need for new resort development and renovation projects in Honolulu, and contractors continually erect new high-rise condo units as well. These projects create high paying jobs in Honolulu for experienced construction managers, as well as for chief executives for the many construction, engineering and related firms active in the city. Banking and financial services also are prevalent in Honolulu, creating demand for trained financial managers.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Construction ManagersBachelor's degree$116,5401,710
Chief ExecutivesBachelor's degree$192,050770
PharmacistsDoctoral or professional degree$130,8501,360
Medical and Health Services ManagersBachelor's degree$137,9301,280
Financial ManagersBachelor's degree$126,5802,230

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

Kahului is the largest city on Maui, and it continues to experience the most growth as well. As the population expands, resort and housing development expands as well, driving demand for skilled operating engineers and other heavy construction equipment operators. And after the resorts are built, lodging managers are needed to run them.

Maui, like the rest of Hawaii, has a shortage of doctors and physicians as well -- about 33 percent less than what's needed to adequately serve the population. That shortage creates strong demand for family and general practitioners in the Kahului metro area.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
General and Operations ManagersBachelor's degree$110,5401,110
Family Medicine PhysiciansDoctoral or professional degree$227,31060
Massage TherapistsPostsecondary nondegree award$68,490240
Lodging ManagersHigh school diploma or equivalent$97,090140
Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment OperatorsHigh school diploma or equivalent$79,690330

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.