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If you’ve ever wanted to soak up the sun on Hawaiian beaches while earning your degree, you may be wondering – where exactly is the University of Hawaii? With multiple campuses spread throughout the islands, the university system has a lot to offer students seeking that island lifestyle.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The University of Hawaii system has 3 main campuses on the islands of O’ahu, Maui, and Hawaii, with satellite campuses on other islands.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the locations of the various University of Hawaii campuses, the history behind this sprawling university system, and what each island campus has to offer students.

Overview of the University of Hawaii System

When Was the University Founded?

The University of Hawaii system traces its roots back to 1907 when the College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts was established. Over the next few decades, more colleges and schools were added, ultimately leading to the creation of the University of Hawaii in 1920.

Since then, the university system has continued to expand and now consists of 10 campuses and dozens of educational, training and research centers across the Hawaiian Islands.

How Many Campuses Are There?

There are 10 campuses that make up the University of Hawaii system:

  • University of Hawaii at Manoa – this is the main research university in Honolulu
  • University of Hawaii at Hilo – primarily focused on undergraduate education
  • University of Hawaii Maui College
  • University of Hawaii West Oahu
  • University of Hawaii Community Colleges – with 7 community colleges scattered across 5 islands

In total, over 50,000 students are enrolled across the 10 University of Hawaii campuses each year. The system offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees through its colleges and schools. Its faculty includes world-renowned researchers and award-winning teachers.

Truly an island education powerhouse in the Pacific!

The O’ahu Campuses

University of Hawaii at Manoa

The beautiful University of Hawaii at Manoa campus is nestled in the Manoa Valley, surrounded by lush green mountains and overlooking the bustling city of Honolulu below. As the flagship campus of the University of Hawaii system, UH Manoa offers top academics and research opportunities across a wide range of disciplines to over 20,000 students.

Founded in 1907 as a land-grant college of agriculture and mechanical arts, UH Manoa has grown into a comprehensive research university comprised of 16 schools and colleges. Some of the most popular majors include Business, Education, Engineering, Arts and Humanities, Languages, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences.

The campus is also home to the renowned Shidler College of Business and William S. Richardson School of Law.

In addition to strong academics, UH Manoa provides excellent on-campus housing with several residence halls and a vibrant student life. Students can get involved with over 150 student organizations, attend cultural events, cheer on the Division I Rainbow Warriors sports teams, or spend free time enjoying the campus arboretum and gardens.

With its ideal location near Waikiki beach and downtown Honolulu, stunning natural beauty, and exceptional higher education, it’s no wonder UH Manoa tops many rankings as one of the best college campuses in America!

University of Hawaii at West O’ahu

The University of Hawaii-West O’ahu offers a close-knit college experience just a 30 minute drive from downtown Honolulu. Nestled on the Ewa Plain against the stunning Waianae Mountain Range, the campus has rapidly grown since opening to students in 1976.

UH West O’ahu offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees focused on liberal arts and professional studies. Some popular majors include Business Administration, Public Administration, Education, Hawaiian-Pacific Studies, and Applied Science.

The average class size is just 23 students, allowing for lots of individual attention and mentoring from expert faculty.

In addition to rigorous coursework, students can get involved with student organizations and minority-serving programs. On-campus housing is not yet available, but plans are underway to build residential facilities. Until then, most students opt to live in the surrounding Kapolei community.

With expansion plans to accommodate over 10,000 students in the next decade, UH West O’ahu combines island style, cutting-edge facilities, and strong Hawaiian place-based learning for an unbeatable academic experience.

Maui College

Maui College is a public community college located in Kahului on the island of Maui in Hawaii. It is part of the University of Hawaii system and offers associate degrees, certificates, and continuing education programs.

Some key information about Maui College includes:

  • Founded in 1964 as Maui Technical School
  • Enrolls over 4,500 students each semester
  • Offers over 30 associate degree programs and certificates
  • Known for programs in Hawaiian studies, STEM fields, culinary arts, and nursing
  • Features a state-of-the-art culinary facility called The Pa’ina Building which houses the college’s culinary arts program
  • Home to the UH Maui College Athletics Program which includes 5 NJCAA athletic teams
  • Houses the Maui Food Innovation Center, an incubator kitchen for local food entrepreneurs

The college has a beautiful campus set near the base of the West Maui Mountains with views overlooking Kahului Harbor. Key facilities include a well-equipped library and learning center, science laboratories, fine arts studios, a student center, and advanced culinary kitchens.

Maui College offers both credit and non-credit courses in a flexible schedule of day, evening, weekend and online classes to meet the needs of its diverse student population. Areas of study include:

  • Liberal Arts
  • Business Careers & Technology
  • Culinary Arts
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Health Sciences & Nursing
  • Industrial & Environmental Sciences
  • Language & Culture

The college has transfer agreements with 4-year universities in Hawaii so students can smoothly transition to complete a bachelor’s degree. It also offers career-focused programs to prepare students to directly enter Hawaii’s workforce.

As Maui’s only higher education institution, Maui College plays a vital role in educating residents on the valley island. Its degrees and certificates support careers in industries that drive Maui’s economy such as healthcare, hospitality, and agriculture.

The college strives to serve all members of the Maui community through affordable, quality education.

University of Hawaii at Hilo

The University of Hawaii at Hilo (UH Hilo) is located on the eastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii in the town of Hilo. Known for its lush rainforests and active volcanoes, Hilo provides a stunning natural backdrop for this public university’s campus.

Founded in 1947, UH Hilo is one of 10 campuses in the University of Hawaii system. It offers over 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across a wide range of disciplines including business, astronomy, Hawaiian studies, marine science, and more.

Notably, UH Hilo boasts one of the top astronomy programs in the country.

Campus Setting

Spanning over 115 acres, the UH Hilo campus blends beautifully into its natural surroundings. Lush vegetation and trees give the campus a serene, peaceful atmosphere even as students bustle between classes and activities.

The campus’ buildings showcase simple yet modern architectural designs using local materials. This gives the campus a comfortable island vibe. Several campus buildings utilize open-air hallways to take advantage of Hilo’s mild climate.

Key places on campus include the Edwin H. Mookini Library, the UH Hilo Astronomy Building with teaching observatories, and the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy building. Athletic facilities like the soccer field, tennis courts, and aquatics center offer students vibrant recreational outlets.

Surrounding Area

The town of Hilo has about 45,000 residents and boasts a distinctly local island culture. Just 10 minutes away from campus, downtown Hilo offers eclectic shops, cafes, and restaurants for students to explore.

A 30-minute drive south brings you to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where you can get up close with Kilauea volcano and see lava flows meet the sea. To the north, scenic waterfalls and winding coastal drives make for great weekend road trips.

Being located on Hawaii’s Big Island gives UH Hilo students easy access to rainforests, beaches, water sports like surfing and paddle boarding, and so much more just outside campus. The university’s setting allows learning to happen both in and out of the classroom.

Other University Centers Across Hawaii

Hawaii Community College

Hawaii Community College (HawCC) has campuses located on the island of Hawaii in Hilo and West Hawaii. HawCC offers over 30 academic programs and certificates to around 3,500 students annually (1). Known for its strong vocational programs, HawCC excels in hospitality, nursing, tropical forest ecosystem management, and more.

Transfer programs allow students to complete their first two years at HawCC before transferring to complete a bachelor’s degree at another University of Hawaii campus.

Honolulu Community College

Honolulu Community College (HonCC) serves over 5,000 students each year in downtown Honolulu on the island of Oahu (2). HonCC is considered one of the top community colleges in the country, offering associate degrees and certificate programs focused on health, technical trades, and liberal arts.

The college has strong partnerships with local businesses, organizations, and four-year universities to give students hands-on learning opportunities.

Kapiolani Community College

With technical programs in high demand fields like health sciences, engineering, and information technology, Kapiolani Community College (KapCC) prepares students for careers in Hawaii’s evolving job market (3).

KapCC enrolls over 6,500 students annually at its campus located just minutes from Waikiki on Oahu. KapCC has the state’s largest nursing program along with robust STEM pathways. The college also houses the medical assisting program that trains more certified medical assistants than any other school in Hawaii.

Kauai Community College

Serving the island of Kauai, Kauai Community College (KauCC) offers associate degrees and certificates to over 1,500 students each year (4). Students can choose from 25 programs of study with high job placement rates in fields like hospitality and tourism, health information technology, electrical installation and maintenance technology, and substance abuse counseling.

Transfer programs also allow students to complete credits toward a bachelor’s degree.

Leeward Community College

Conveniently located within Oahu’s largest population center, Leeward Community College (LeeCC) has an enrollment exceeding 5,000 students (5). LeeCC is known statewide for excellence in career and technical education.

The college’s tagline “learn here…live anywhere” speaks to its diverse offerings preparing students for today’s global job market. Highlights include associate degrees in fields ranging from business technology to fine arts, an innovative sustainability program, and living laboratory for studying coral reefs.

University of Hawaii Center – Maui

The University of Hawaii Center – Maui offers bachelor’s and graduate programs to over 600 students on Maui and via distance learning (6). Students can complete full four-year degrees in applied business and information technology without leaving Maui.

The Center also provides access to other University of Hawaii campuses through interactive television and online classes including options in education, nursing, and social work.

University of Hawaii Center – West Hawaii

Serving Hawaii Island’s west side communities, the University of Hawaii Center – West Hawaii located in Kealakeka enables over 1,000 students to complete bachelor’s and graduate degrees each year (7). Program areas include business administration, nursing, computer science, anthropology, and more.

Advanced degrees are available in fields such as Hawaiian language and studies along with a specialty Master of Education program focused on STEM education. The Center fosters educational access through distance learning and university partnerships.

Windward Community College

Windward Community College (WCC), located just outside Honolulu on Oahu’s windward side, offers associate degrees and certificates tailored to student and community interests (8). WCC provides innovative STEM pathways along with degrees in creative media, Hawaiian studies, and liberal arts.

Over 2,500 students enroll at WCC annually. The college embraces sustainability across academics and operations through thriving lo‘i kalo (taro patches) along with other native plant gardens and ecosystems.


The University of Hawaii system has campuses spread across the Hawaiian islands, giving students ample choice when it comes to island living. With world-class degree programs focused around Hawaiian culture, sustainability, astronomy and more, Hawaii’s universities offer one-of-a-kind opportunities.

So if you’re looking for sun, surf, and school, the University of Hawaii has a campus waiting for you!

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