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The University of Hawaii is a public university system comprised of multiple campuses across the Hawaiian islands. If you’re looking for a quick answer, the University of Hawaii is a member of NCAA Division I, competing in the Mountain West Conference.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore the details around which athletic and academic divisions the various University of Hawaii campuses are classified.

NCAA Division Membership

Division I Classification

The University of Hawaii is classified as a NCAA Division I school, meaning they compete at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. As a Division I member, Hawaii must sponsor at least seven sports for men and seven for women (or six for men and eight for women) with two team sports for each gender.

Some key requirements Hawaii must meet to maintain Division I membership include:

  • Provide athletic scholarships for student-athletes
  • Meet minimum financial aid awards for their athletics program
  • Fund all expenses and sports sponsorships from the university’s general fund

By meeting these standards set by the NCAA, the University of Hawaii competes against other elite collegiate athletic programs across the country. This allows Hawaii’s student-athletes to showcase their talents on a national stage.

Mountain West Conference

The University of Hawaii’s intercollegiate sports teams compete in the Mountain West Conference. As one of 12 members, Hawaii battles quality opponents from top western universities.

The Mountain West formed in 1999, separating from the more sprawling Western Athletic Conference. Current members include:

  • Air Force
  • Boise State
  • Colorado State
  • Fresno State
  • Hawaii
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • San Diego State
  • San Jose State
  • UNLV
  • Utah State
  • Wyoming

The Mountain West provides Hawaii teams a chance to take on regional rivals. Facing competitive conference foes gives their sports programs valuable experience and exposure before national postseason tournaments.

Academic Divisions and Classifications

The University of Hawaii (UH) system is made up of 10 campuses and dozens of educational, training and research centers across the Hawaiian Islands. The campuses are divided into three major academic divisions based on the levels of degree programs offered:

Community Colleges

The 7 community college campuses that make up the UH Community Colleges (UHCC) system focus on associate degrees and certificate programs. The campuses are:

  • Hawaii Community College
  • Honolulu Community College
  • Kapiolani Community College
  • Kauai Community College
  • Leeward Community College
  • Maui College
  • Windward Community College

In the 2021-2022 academic year, over 26,000 students were enrolled in UHCC programs in fields like liberal arts, Hawaiian studies, natural science, applied science and trades. UHCC aims to provide accessible, affordable higher education opportunities across Hawaii.

Baccalaureate Campuses

Two UH campuses offer a full range of bachelor’s degree programs as well as some master’s and doctoral degrees. They are:

  • University of Hawaii at Hilo
  • University of Hawaii West Oahu

In Fall 2021, UH Hilo enrolled over 3,400 students while UH West Oahu had over 2,600 students. Fields of study include business, education, engineering, languages, music and more. These teaching-focused universities provide a personalized college experience.

Doctoral/Research Universities

As the flagship campus, the University of Hawaii at Manoa offers an extensive selection of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. Over 20,000 students were enrolled at UH Manoa in Fall 2022.

As a Carnegie R1 research university, UH Manoa brings in over $450 million in research funding annually from sources like the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, National Science Foundation and NASA.

Major research centers at UH Manoa include the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Cancer Center, Water Resources Research Center, and Hawaii Natural Energy Institute. The medical school within the John A. Burns School of Medicine is also a leader in tropical medicine research.

Individual Campus Breakdowns

The University of Hawaii system is comprised of 10 campuses located across the Hawaiian Islands. Each campus has its own unique focus and student population.

University of Hawaii at Manoa

As the flagship campus, UH Manoa is the largest university in the UH system with over 20,000 students. Manoa is known for its extensive research programs and wide range of academic offerings including over 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

The campus is located in the Manoa Valley area of Honolulu on the island of Oahu.

University of Hawaii at Hilo

UH Hilo is the second largest university in the system with over 3,800 students. It has a strong focus on STEM fields as well as Hawaiian culture and sustainability initiatives. The campus is situated on the eastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii in the town of Hilo.

University of Hawaii Maui College

Maui College emphasizes career and technical education programs related to the needs of Maui residents and businesses. Popular fields of study include culinary arts, engineering technology, and marine science. There are around 2,500 students enrolled at the college’s campus in Kahului.

Other Campuses

Some of the smaller UH campuses include:

  • Hawaii Community College in Hilo with around 3,400 students
  • Honolulu Community College with over 4,600 students
  • Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu with around 6,500 students
  • Kauai Community College in Lihue with over 1,100 students
  • Leeward Community College in Pearl City with 5,500 students
  • University of Hawaii West Oahu in Kapolei with over 2,600 students

While each campus serves a distinct purpose, they all come together to fulfill the overall mission of affordable, high-quality education for the state of Hawaii.


In summary, while the University of Hawaii operates as one university system, the multiple campuses across the islands have various division memberships and classifications academically and athletically.

By exploring the specifics around NCAA division, academic divisions, and individual campus profiles, this article provides a comprehensive overview.

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