Catalog 2014–2015

M.A. in Hawaiian Language and Literature

Home » Graduate Education » Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language Graduate Programs » M.A. in Hawaiian Language and Literature

Coordinator: Hiapo K. Perreira, Ph.D. (
Haleʻōlelo (3355) Room 164
200 W. Kāwili Street, Hilo, HI  96720-4091
Tel: 932-7432 or 932-7360


  • Larry Kimura, Ph.D.
  • Hiapo K. Perreira, Ph.D.
  • Kalena Silva, Ph.D.
  • William H. Wilson, Ph.D.

Program Description

The M.A. in Hawaiian Language and Literature was UH Hilo’s first graduate program and the first focusing on a Native American language in the United States. The program is designed for students who have already achieved fluency in spoken Hawaiian and competency in reading modern and historical Hawaiian texts. Student cohorts are accepted every three years. Currently, the college offers only a Plan A degree, which requires a thesis.


The mission of the M.A. program in Hawaiian Language and Literature is to prepare scholars to carry out research to enhance our knowledge of Hawaiian language and culture in order to ensure their preservation and revitalization. The program draws upon the tremendous wealth of Hawaiian literary resources from the 19th and 20th centuries and examines the contemporary use of Hawaiian language and culture.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate oral and written comprehension and grammatically correct use of Hawaiian at a level appropriate to graduate work.  
  2. Identify and explain major aspects of the grammatical structure of a sample of Hawaiian.
  3. Describe the history of Hawaiian language and literature and know how to access Hawaiian language resources of various kinds (written and oral, electronic and traditional).
  4. Read and analyze important Hawaiian language texts (literary, cultural and historical) from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Describe the most important of those texts.
  5. Demonstrate both knowledge of and skill in performance of Hawaiian chant
  6. Write an effective academic paper in Hawaiian (clear, concise, effectively organized, accurate in content, analytical and/or synthetic in nature).
  7. Apply various research methods appropriate to Hawaiian language and literature and carry out rigorous research in field.
  8. Demonstrate understanding of indigenous and/or endangered language in other contexts through personal experience with speakers and communities of those languages.

Admission Requirements

  1. B.A. or B.S. degree from an accredited college or university
  2. 30 upper division credits in HAW or HWST courses with no grade lower than a “B” and a minimum 3.5 grade point average;
  3. Graduate Record Examination scores;
  4. Sample undergraduate academic paper (by preference written in Hawaiian)
  5. Three letters of recommendation;
  6. Interview and successful completion of an examination in Hawaiian language and culture conducted by the Hawaiian Studies faculty, held in the Spring semester prior to Fall admission.

Graduation Requirements

Complete all nine of the following requirements for a total of 36 semester hours:

  1. Earn 12 semester hours from the following 4 courses: HAW 603, 630, 631; and HWST 663.
  2. Earn 3 semester hours from HWST 473 or 662.
  3. Earn 3 semester hours from HWST 664, 665 or KANT 486.
  4. Earn 3 semester hours from HAW 453, 454, or 654.
  5. A minimum of 24 credits must be earned in 600- or 700-level courses, excluding HAW 700. Only six credits may be counted in 400-level classes.
  6. Earn 3 semester hours from either HAW 690 or HWST 690 (course must be approved by program chair). Students typically study for at least six weeks with an endangered language community.
  7. Earn 6 additional semester hours in upper division and graduate Hawaiian Language or Hawaiian Studies courses from the following list (remember that not more than 6 hours in total may be counted at the 400 level):
    • HAW or HWST 400-498, 600-699V (except HAW 490)
    • KED 600-699V (except KEd 641-644)
    • KANT 486
    • KIND 601-602
    • Up to six credit hours taken at another university with prior approval from the program chair and then transferred to the University of Hawaii at Hilo
  8. Earn 6 semester hours in HAW 693 or 700.
  9. Earn no grade lower than a “B.”

Under certain circumstances a student may request a transfer from the Masters in Hawaiian Language and Literature to the Ph.D. in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization after completing a minimum of 18 credits of graduate work determined appropriate by the program faculty.

Please note: The Graduate Division policy is that no more than 6 credits of 400-level courses may count towards the Master's degree. Any 400-level courses taken must be approved by both the department and the Graduate Division.

Rev. 3/5/14