There are many reasons to study at community colleges in Hawaii. Hawaii has natural beauty, diverse culture, and some of the most exciting educational and professional opportunities in the US. Some of the best community colleges in Hawaii are Honolulu Community College, Kaua’i Community College, and Leeward Community College.
This article will provide you with a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about community colleges in Hawaii. From application requirements to transfer options to the best online community colleges in Hawaii, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to find out what programs are offered at the best community colleges in Hawaii and what you can expect after graduating from a community college in Hawaii.
How Many Community Colleges Are in Hawaii?
There are nine community colleges in Hawaii. All of the community colleges in Hawaii are connected through the University of Hawaii community college system. These nine colleges are located across four of the major Hawaiian islands.
How Many Community College Districts Are in Hawaii?
There are no community college districts in Hawaii. All eight community colleges in Hawaii are part of the UH system. This means these schools share the same values and mission.
What Is the Biggest Community College in Hawaii?
The biggest community college in Hawaii is Kapiʻolani Community College, located in Honolulu. This school is on the slopes of Diamond Head Crater, just a couple of minutes away from the beach, Waikiki, and downtown Honolulu. Over 6,300 undergraduate students are currently enrolled in this institution, and it has a 17 to one student-to-teacher ratio.
What Are the Best Community Colleges in Hawaii?
|Ranking||Community College||Graduation Rate||Student-to-Faculty Ratio|
|1||Hawaii Medical College||83%||25:1|
|2||Hawaii Community College||34%||13:1|
|3||Hawaiʻi Community College – Pālamanui||34%||13:1|
|4||University of Hawaii – Maui College||31%||16:1|
|5||Kaua’i Community College||30%||11:1|
|6||Leeward Community College||27%||20:1|
|7||Kapi’olani Community College||25%||17:1|
|8||Windward Community College||24%||16:1|
|9||Honolulu Community College||23%||15:1|
The Best Community Colleges in Hawaii: Explained
It can be difficult to choose one of the best community colleges in Hawaii. There are many factors to consider, including a school’s tuition averages, what percent of students graduate, and career options available to graduates. In this section, we specifically focus on these schools’ graduation rates, tuition rates, financial aid opportunities, student populations, and undergraduate degree programs to help you make an informed decision about your education.
Best Online Community Colleges in Hawaii
- Hawaii Community College – Pālamanui. As a University of Hawaii Center, Hawaii Community College at Pālamanui is one of the best online community colleges in Hawaii. It offers numerous undergraduate and graduate degree programs that are available to students through online and hybrid formats. All these programs are in accordance with the standards of University of Hawaii.
- Hawaii Medical College. This school offers a variety of online and hybrid programs. The Business and Information Technologies Program can be completed fully online in as little as 12 months. Hawaii Medical College offers education and training in healthcare with more flexibility than traditional schools.
- Kapi‘olani Community College. This community college offers numerous online classes and certificates in fields such as sustainability, IT, accounting, and business management. It also offers three fully online associate degree programs. Kapi‘olani Community College’s distance education programs let you pursue a college education with flexibility, making it another one of the best online community colleges in Hawaii.
Best Online Associate Degrees
Other Hawaii Community College Rankings
Community colleges in Hawaii offer a wide variety of undergraduate, graduate, and associate-level degrees. In order to help you narrow down your school search, we’ve ranked some of the best community colleges in Hawaii. We look specifically at the best community colleges in Hawaii for transfers, nursing, and students seeking bachelor’s degrees.
Best Community Colleges in Hawaii for Transfer
- Honolulu Community College. Most of Honolulu Community College’s associate degree programs are designed to prepare students to transfer to a baccalaureate program upon graduation. As part of the UH community college system, students enrolled at Honolulu Community College can directly transfer to a variety of four-year institutions in Hawaii.
- Kaua’i Community College. All of this school’s associate degree programs aim to prepare students to pursue further undergraduate education. Students enrolled in any of Kauaʻi Community College’s associate degree programs will have the knowledge required to transfer directly to any baccalaureate program across the University of Hawaii system.
- Windward Community College. This school offers a variety of two-year associate degrees in fields such as creative arts, environmental sciences, and Hawaiian studies. Windward Community Colleges’s programs aim to prepare students for employment upon graduation, as well as for transfer to bachelor’s degree programs in universities in Hawaii and across the US.
Best Community Colleges for Nursing in Hawaii
- Hawaii Community College. This school offers an associate degree in nursing that aims to prepare students for employment in the healthcare industry. Upon completion of this program, students will be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing.
- Kapi’olani Community College. Kapi’olani Community College offers a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing designed to prepare students to pursue employment upon graduation. Once they complete this program, students will be prepared to pursue the National Licensure Examination to become registered nurses.
- Leeward Community College. This school offers an Associate of Science in Nursing. This two-year program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Upon graduation, students will have the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue positions in the nursing field.
Best Hawaii Community Colleges That Offer Bachelor’s Degrees
- University of Hawaii at Hilo. This four-year institution offers 36 bachelor’s degrees in areas of study like psychology, mathematics, and nursing. Students enrolled at any community college in the UH system can transfer directly to this school. UH Hilo has been ranked number 147 among the top public schools by the US News & World Report.
- University of Hawaii at Manoa. This school offers 100 bachelor’s degree programs in fields like business, marketing, biology, healthcare, and social sciences. It also offers online undergraduate and graduate degree programs in design, economics, and women’s studies. Through its outreach college program, UH Manoa provides flexible scheduling and alternative programs to meet the needs of its students.
- University of Hawaiʻi – Maui College. This school offers two bachelor’s degree programs. Maui College’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Business and Information Technology is designed to prepare students for employment upon graduation. Its Bachelor of Applied Science in Sustainable Science Management is designed for students that want to pursue further graduate education.
Best Associate Degrees
Best Community College Programs in Hawaii
The best community college programs in Hawaii are nursing, culinary arts, education, natural sciences, and Hawaiian studies. Pursuing an associate degree in any of these fields of study will lead you to great career outcomes. In the next section, we’ll discuss the best community colleges for these majors in Hawaii and the employment outcomes you can expect.
The best community colleges for nursing in Hawaii are Hawaii Community College, Kaua’i Community College, and Leeward Community College. All of these schools offer a certificate of achievement and an Associate of Science in Nursing. These programs are all designed to prepare students for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing.
The best community colleges for culinary arts are UH Maui College and Hawaii Community College. These schools offer undergraduate certificates and associate-level programs in culinary arts. These programs are accredited by the American Culinary Federation. Upon completion, students will have the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue employment in the food industry.
Kaua’i Community College and Leeward Community College are some of the best community colleges in Hawaii for teaching. These schools offer associate of science degrees in early childhood education and general teaching. Undergraduate students enrolled in these two-year degrees will be able to pursue entry-level employment upon graduation. Graduates can join the Hawaii Department of Education as paraeducators, or transfer to any of the four-year universities in the UH system.
Schools like Honolulu Community College and Windward Community College offer Certificates of Achievement and Associate Degrees in Natural Science. These programs are designed for students who want to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program upon graduation. Students who attend Windward Community College can pursue a concentration in biology, physical sciences, engineering, or information and communication technology. UH Maui College also offers a bachelor’s degree in sustainable science management with a concentration in marine science.
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Hawaiian cultural studies is one of the many major tracks available in most UH system community colleges, such as Hawaii Community College. Students who pursue an associate of arts degree in this field of study are to be able to pursue a baccalaureate program upon completion of their degree. Students can also pursue professional certification in Hawaiian Music Studies at Windward Community College.
Hawaii Community College Admission Requirements
The most common admission requirements to attend a community college in Hawaii are being at least 18 years old and submitting all relevant documentation such as academic transcripts, high school diploma, residency status, and standardized test scores. It’s important to check the admission requirements before applying to make sure you have everything you need.
Hawaii Community College GPA Requirements
The majority of community colleges in Hawaii don’t have GPA requirements. All the community colleges that are part of the University of Hawaii system are open admission policy institutions. This means that any student who applies is accepted.
Residency Requirements for Community Colleges in Hawaii
All community colleges in Hawaii have residency requirements for admission and for payment of resident tuition. In order to be considered a resident, students must meet one of two criteria. They must have been physically present in the state of Hawaii for at least 12 months prior to the beginning of the semester, or demonstrate an intent to make Hawaii their permanent residence.
Applicants who can prove they are residents of Hawaii have more affordable tuition rates.
The average tuition costs for residents are $131 per credit hour, while the credit hour charge for non-residents is $345. These tuition rates are the same for all of the community colleges that are part of the UH system. Nonresident applicants also have to pay a $25 nonrefundable application fee that residents don’t have to pay.
Hawaii Community College Age Requirements
The Hawaii community college age requirement is 18 years old. Most community colleges that are part of the UH system have an early admission program for high school students who want to apply to these community colleges before graduating. Even in this case, students are required to be 18 years old when classes begin.
Hawaii Community College Admission Requirements: A Summary
- Be at least 18 years old
- Send official academic transcripts
- Have a high school diploma, GED, or the equivalent
- Provide standardized test scores (SAT or ACT)
- Complete the health clearance form
Why Study in Hawaii?
You should study in Hawaii because community colleges in this state offer numerous certificates and associate degree-level programs in highly demanded fields of study. The best community colleges in Hawaii offer academic quality with affordable tuition rates. Moreover, Hawaii offers a beautiful natural environment and the opportunity to learn about its culture and art.
Cost of Education
The annual tuition rates for community colleges in Hawaii are cheaper than the national average. Some of the best community colleges in Hawaii offer scholarships, grants, and tuition waivers to students with financial aid needs. If you’re a resident, you already have access to extremely competitive tuition rates.
Hawaii offers a tropical climate, with an average temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and 78 degrees during the winter. Hawaii’s geographically diverse landscape includes the alpine regions of Hawaii and Maui and a variety of native wildlife. Its natural beauty makes it the perfect setting for students that enjoy warmer weather and spending time in nature.
Art and Culture
Community college students in Hawaii are able to immerse themselves in Hawaiian culture. Students will have the opportunity to learn about art such as feather work, petroglyphs, wood and stone carvings, and tattoos. Thanks to some programs offered in the UH system, community college students are able to study Hawaiian culture and music.
Hawaii Employment Outlook for Community College Students
The employment outlook for community college students in Hawaii is good. Hawaii’s average salary for associate degree-holders is around $36,000 per year, which is above the national average. Poverty rates in Hawaii are also lower than the national average for people who have associate degrees. Career outcomes for Hawaii community college graduates include nursing, dental health, and teaching.
5 In-Demand Hawaii Jobs
Some of the most in-demand Hawaii professionals are nurses, preschool teachers, environmental science experts, and protection technicians. Hospitality and leisure is an industry that also has a lot of employment opportunities with openings for cooks, lodging managers, and food service managers. Overall, job prospects for graduates of the best community colleges in Hawaii are positive.
What Community Colleges in Hawaii Have Dorms?
No community colleges in Hawaii have dorms. But, Hawaii Community College and Kapi’olani Community College offer alternative housing services. Students enrolled in these schools can apply for off-campus housing at UH Hilo and UH Mānoa dorms. Housing costs at these universities range from as low as $1,772 and as high as $12,880 per semester.
What Community Colleges Offer Winter Intersession in Hawaii?
No community colleges in Hawaii offer winter intersession. Winter classes are typically held in January between the fall and spring semesters. These accelerated-format courses offer flexible enrollment options and are a great way of graduating faster. Even though community colleges in Hawaii don’t offer winter intersession, they offer summer classes, which are a great alternative.
What Community Colleges in Hawaii Have Summer Classes?
Most community colleges in Hawaii have summer classes. Summer classes are great for students that want to stay on track or get ahead in their programs. Summer classes can also be a requirement in some degree programs, such as the Associate of Science in Nursing program offered by Kaua’i Community College. Other Hawaii Community Colleges that have summer classes include Honolulu Community College and Windward Community College.
Hawaii Community Colleges With Summer Classes
- Honolulu Community College
- Kaua’i Community College
- Kapi’olani Community College
- Leeward Community College
- University of Hawaiʻi – Maui College
- Windward Community College
How to Apply to Community College in Hawaii
You can apply to community college in Hawaii by submitting your application, paying the application fee, and submitting all the requested paperwork, academic transcripts, and standardized test scores. All the community colleges that are part of the University of Hawaii systems also require you to submit health clearance forms. Once you have completed these steps, you just have to wait for your acceptance letter.
Hawaii Community College Application Steps
- Submit your application online or in person.
- Pay the application fee.
- Check your residency status.
- Apply for financial aid.
- Submit official academic transcripts.
- Submit your high school diploma or GED certification.
- Submit standardized test scores.
- Submit the Health Clearance Form.
Cost of Community Colleges in Hawaii
The annual tuition cost of Community College in Hawaii is $3,225 for residents, and $8,391 for non-residents per year, according to the NCES. Community Colleges that are part of the UH system have affordable tuition rates. They charge $131 per credit hour for residents and $345 per credit hour for students that aren’t residents of Hawaii.
Are Community Colleges Ever Free in Hawaii?
Yes, you can attend community college in Hawaii for free thanks to programs like the Hawaii Promise Program. Community colleges in Hawaii offer also affordable tuition rates. If you supplement these low rates with some of the numerous grants, scholarships, and aid that are available to students who are in need, it is possible to study at community colleges in Hawaii for free.
Which Community Colleges Are Free in Hawaii?
All of the community colleges in Hawaii offer the Hawaii Promise scholarship, meaning they are all free for eligible students. All of these schools also offer financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant. Your cost of education could potentially be covered by a combination of different types of aid making community college in Hawaii free.
Who Qualifies for Free Community College in Hawaii?
Any student enrolled in a community college in Hawaii who meets the eligibility criteria qualifies for financial aid. Students are considered for federal, state, and private financial aid programs and scholarships when they submit their FAFSA application along with their application to the school. In the case of the Hawaii Promise Program, only Hawaii residents qualify.
How to Apply for Free Community College in Hawaii
- Apply for admission to any community college in the UH system.
- Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
- Be admitted into a UH program.
- Contact the financial aid office of your campus for information about the different types of financial aid available to you.
- Fill out the required forms to apply to scholarships like the UH system Common Scholarships and the Hawaii Promise Scholarship.
Scholarships for Community Colleges in Hawaii
There are plenty of scholarships for community colleges in Hawaii. The UH system offers need and merit-based financial aid awards, scholarships for specific majors, and various campus-specific scholarships. Hawaii residents can apply for the Hawaii Promise Program, which covers tuition and other expenses.
How to Get a Scholarship for Community Colleges in Hawaii
- Submit the FAFSA form.
- Browse the school’s website or contact the financial aid office for information about available scholarships.
- Check the eligibility requirements for the available scholarships.
- Apply online for UH system scholarships or for campus-specific scholarships.
- Submit required documentation such as personal essays, letters of recommendation, and official academic transcripts.
- If you are a resident of Hawaii, submit an application to the Hawaii Promise Scholarship, State of Hawaii B Plus Scholarship, and The Second Century Scholarship.
Hawaii Community College Scholarships List
- UH System Common Scholarships | Amount: varies. These scholarships are awarded by the Financial Aid Office of the University of Hawaii system through the UH Foundation. These scholarships are available to any degree-seeking student enrolled in any UH system community college. Approximately $5,000,000 are awarded every year to students across the UH system.
- State of Hawaii B Plus Scholarship | Amount: varies. This state scholarship is awarded to students that graduated from a State of Hawaii high school with a cumulative GPA or 3.0 or higher. Although only freshmen with financial need can apply to this scholarship, it may be renewed annually for up to four years.
- Hawaii Promise Scholarship | Amount: Varies, up to the full cost of tuition. This need-based scholarship provides financial aid for Hawaii residents enrolled in UH system community colleges. This is a “last dollar” scholarship, which means that it’s applied once all other grants and scholarships have been awarded to a student.
Other Hawaii Community College Financial Aid Options
Aside from scholarships, there are many other Hawaii community college financial aid options available to students with financial needs. Hawaii community colleges offer students the ability to apply for federal and state grants, as well as for tuition waivers. Other financial aid options are student loans and work-study jobs.
Grants are a form of financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. Associate degree-seeking students enrolled in any community college in Hawaii can apply to the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG). A maximum of $2,000 per year is awarded to students that are enrolled at least half-time in any UH system community college. Students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program can apply for the Federal Pell Grant.
A variety of state grants are available to students pursuing a degree in a community college in Hawaii. The UH Opportunity Grant is awarded to students with financial needs who are enrolled at least part-time in any UH system community college. Another option is the Hawaii Community College Achievement Grant, which is awarded to students who have made significant achievements or have performed significant service for their school.
Student loans are money you borrow to pay for tuition and other expenses needed to attend a community college. The amount borrowed must be repaid along with accrued interest. There are four types of federal student loans. These include direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, direct PLUS loans, and direct consolidation loans. Private student loans can be issued by institutions such as banks, credit unions, and private lenders. Interest rates differ depending on the lender.
A tuition waiver is a financial aid option granted by an institution to students in need. The school waives part or all of the tuition costs through tuition waivers. UH system community colleges offer a tuition waiver to students who are of Hawaiian ancestry.
Work-study jobs are part of a federal aid program that allows students to work part-time to earn money for their education. Most of the employment is community service work or work related to the student’s field of study. This financing option is only available to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in schools that participate in the Federal Work-Study Program.
The Best Financial Aid for Your Situation
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What Are the Financial Aid Requirements for Community Colleges in Hawaii?
Financial aid requirements for community colleges in Hawaii include proof of financial need, a high school diploma or equivalent, enrollment in a UH system community college, and satisfactory academic progress. Community Colleges that are part of the UH system follow the same requirements as the US Department of Education’s FAFSA for their financial aid programs.
Hawaii Financial Aid Requirements: Overview
- Demonstrate financial need
- High school diploma, GED, or the equivalent
- Enrollment or acceptance in a UH system school
- US citizenship or non-citizen eligibility
- Satisfactory academic progress
Should You Attend Community College in Hawaii?
Yes, you should attend community college in Hawaii if you want to pursue an associate degree in a field like nursing, computer science, education, psychology, Hawaiian studies, natural sciences, or culinary arts. Community colleges in Hawaii offer quality education at affordable tuition rates, so you will be making a smart financial investment by attending one of the best community colleges in Hawaii. Last but not least, the state of Hawaii is a beautiful place to live and study.
Hawaii Community College Rankings: Methodology
Our ranking of Hawaii community colleges is based mainly on the graduation rate. If graduation rate statistics were not available, we used data on student-to-faculty ratios to rank the remaining schools. These figures, sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), best reflect a student’s chances of getting the education and help they need to succeed.
Best Accelerated Degrees
Best Hawaii Community Colleges FAQ
Community colleges in Hawaii are funded by the state. State funds help schools finance most of their operations and keep quality education within reach of students with financial aid needs through scholarships and grants. State funding is supplemented by tuition and fees charged to enrolled students.
Yes, international students can attend community college in Hawaii. International undergraduate students who want to attend University of Hawaii Community Colleges must follow the standard application process. They must submit their TOEFL score, their high school or college transcripts, and external exam scores.
The best Hawaii Community College programs, some of the best programs are in nursing, IT, early childhood education, hospitality, tourism, culinary arts, and Hawaiian studies. Most of these programs are designed so that students will be eligible for employment upon graduation.
Community college in Hawaii is approximately $3,225 per year for residents, and $8,391 for non-residents, according to NCES. Community colleges in Hawaii also offer plenty of financial aid options, such as scholarships, grants, and tuition waivers.
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