Kekelē Laeoʻo ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Master’s Degree

The graduate program in Hawaiian is designed to provide broad, in-depth education in the Hawaiian language, culture, and literature and is an integral part of the efforts to revitalize Hawaiian as a living language. The program is designed to create scholarship in Hawaiian in new domains, including advanced study of literature; to strengthen and expand the understanding and use of various styles of Hawaiian; to develop curriculum and resources and teacher training for the Kula Kaiapuni (Hawaiian medium schools); and to provide support to graduate students in related fields. The MA in Hawaiian is intended for students who have a broad background in Hawaiian language and culture, but want more depth in their knowledge. The three areas of the curriculum that are available are:

  • Mo‘olelo. The Mo‘olelo curricula focuses on Hawaiian history and literature through the analysis, critique, creation and presentation of Hawaiian language resources.

  • Kumu Kula Kaiapuni. The Kumu Kula Kaiapuni curricula focuses on the educational, linguistic, and cultural tools that teachers need to perform better in Hawaiian medium schools. Students producing curriculum and developing their own teaching skills will also be able to work closely with the newly established Mary Kawena Pukui Hale: Center for the Survival and Promotion of Hawaiian.

  • Kālai‘ōlelo. The Kālai‘ōlelo curricula focuses on the linguistic analysis of Hawaiian.

Program Student Learning Objectives

Upon completion of a MA in Hawaiian, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate comprehension of traditional literary texts. (Reading Comprehension)

  • Demonstrate understanding and interpretation of various levels of spoken Hawaiian, including but not limited to native speaker dialog. (Listening Comprehension)

  • Offer a quality* public presentation in Hawaiian (Speaking)
    *Quality defined as proper use of the Hawaiian language and demonstration of Hawaiian concepts (i.e., welina, hua ‘ōlelo, pilina ‘ōlelo, ‘ōlelo no‘eau, kūkulu mana‘o, kuana‘ike)

  • Demonstrate competence in formal writing skills that have practical/contemporary application (Writing)

  • Demonstrate the ability to apply cultural norms in a range of communicative events (Culture)

  • Construct a culturally sensitive research project that utilizes/analyzes relevant existing resources and contributes to the overall Hawaiian knowledge base (Research)

Admission Requirements

  • Admission to the Hawaiian Language program is for the fall semester only. Prospective students must have completed a bachelor’s degree, 18 upper-division credit hours in Hawaiian, and HAW 402 (or equivalent) prior to applying. In addition to meeting the requirements of Graduate Division, prospective students must also submit the following application materials:

  • Send to graduate chair via mail or email:

    • Three (3) current letters of recommendation from the applicant’s former professors. At least one letter must be from a Hawaiian Language faculty member (not to include GTAs, lecturers, or academic advisors). Unsigned letters of recommendation will not be accepted.

  • Upload to the Graduate Application Supplemental Documents Upload site:

    • Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language Graduate Application Form

    • A two-page statement of objectives written in Hawaiian describing the applicant’s proposed thesis topic and its basic relationship to the interdisciplinary field of Hawaiian Language.

  • Prospective students who advance to the second round of review will be given a written and oral examination as well as an interview in Hawaiian.

  • Note: Application materials are available on the Kawaihuelani website or from the Native Hawaiian Student Services Office in Kamakakūokalani Room 211.

Degree Requirements

  • Students must complete 33 credits with a GPA of 3.0 or better and must include at least 24 credits at the 600 level or higher.

  • With pre-approval from the graduate advisor, a student may include a limit of 9 credits that are not taught in Hawaiian but are related to their research.

  • Students must receive a B- or better in ALL courses counted towards their degree.

  • Core requirements:

    • HAW 601 Kākau Mo‘olelo (Narrative Writing)

    • HAW 602 Kākā‘ōlelo Oratory (Hawaiian Speech Styles)

    • HAW 604 Haku Palapala Noi Laeo‘o/Writing a Hawaiian Master’s Proposal

  • Choose one of the two courses below:

    • HAW 605 Ka Hana Noi‘i (Research Methods)

    • HAW 612 Na Mana‘o Politika Hawai‘i (Hawaiian Political Thought)

    • HAW 615 Kuana‘ike (World View)

    • HAW 652 Pilina ‘Ōlelo (Grammar)

  • Thesis (Plan A) and Project/Non-thesis (Plan B) options are offered.

    • Students completing a Plan A thesis are required to take 6 credits of HAW 700. A student must write a thesis in Hawaiian on a topic approved by the student’s advisor and committee. The total number of 699 and 700 credits applied toward degree requirements shall not exceed 12 credits.

    • Students completing a Plan B project/non-thesis will enroll in 6 credits of HAW 695. This capstone course is the culminating experience where the student will display the knowledge he or she has researched into a form of his or her choice with the approval of the advisor and committee. Students may also choose the internship/haumāna relationship with a mānaleo (native speaker), kupuna (elder), or other cultural practitioner where the student will observe, learn, participate, and document the experience. A maximum of 9 credits of 699 may be applied toward degree requirements.

  • For more information on the MA in Hawaiian, contact the graduate chair through the departmental office.