Graduate Division

Admission Guide: Indigenous Language and Culture Education, MA

Guide to Completing the Application for the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

Master of Arts in Indigenous Language and Culture Education

Entry Term:

Priority deadline for receipt of all application materials:

Program Description

Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelilkōlani is widely recognized as the leader in indigenous language revitalization in the United States, and indeed the North Pacific Basin.  The College is a key part of an overall state government response to long-standing Native Hawaiian political action seeking to provide the choice of education through Hawaiian language at all educational levels.  With its preschool to grade 12 laboratory schools (Nā Kula Mauli Ola), KHʻUOK forms a complete P-20 educational system.  As such, the College serves as a focal point for the State’s efforts to revitalize the Hawaiian language through teacher training, undergraduate and graduate study of Hawaiian, community outreach, research and testing, use of technology, national and international cooperation, and the development of liberal education in Hawaiian for future generations of Hawaiian speakers. 

The mission of the College is to assure the revitalization and continued advancement and growth of the Hawaiian language and mauli ola Hawaiʻi.  A thriving Hawaiian language is the means through which the mauli ola Hawaiʻi will once again become commonplace in both traditional and contemporary contexts in Hawaiʻi. The College joins with other Indigenous peoples in the revitalization of their own languages and cultures. Our collective efforts will ensure the furthering of local, national and international initiatives toward establishing language and cultural vibrancy throughout the world.

The Master of Arts in Indigenous Language and Culture Education further prepares mauli ola educators as applied researchers who advance the development of Hawaiian and Indigenous culture-based education through three distinct emphasis: Indigenous Medium Education, Hawaiian Language and Literature, and Indigenous and Minority Languages Revitalization; offering a Plan A thesis track and a Plan B applied research track. Students will automatically be admitted into the Plan B applied research track. If interested in the Plan A thesis track, please meet with the College Graduate Program Coordinator.

The Indigenous Medium Education Emphasis includes preservice preparation for initial teacher certification through Kahuawaiola, as well as applied academic research knowledge and skills enabling the advancement of Hawaiian language medium education. Conducted primarily in Hawaiian.

The Hawaiian Language and Literature Emphasis contributes to the revitalization of the language and further scholarship through the expanse of historical and contemporary Hawaiian literary resources for continued praxis in society. Conducted primarily in Hawaiian.

The Indigenous and Minority Languages Revitalization Emphasis develops the abilities of students to analyze the role of minority and indigenous languages in their local, national, and international contexts. This stream prepares students to contribute to the maintenance, promotion, and revitalization of languages and cultures facing endangerment in various situations throughout the world. Conducted primarily in English.

Application Checklist

Note: You do not need to wait to have all components of your application before beginning the application. You are encouraged to submit your application and $50 fee once you have decided to apply. You may return to the online system to upload your documents and request your letters.

Required Documents to be Uploaded in the Documents Tab of Online Application

  • Personal Statement (see instructions below)
  • Sample undergraduate academic paper (by preference written in Hawaiian)
  • Teaching Experience Verification form (Only for Indigenous Medium Education Emphasis applicants)

Requested in the Recommendations Tab of the Online Application

  • Three professional or academic letters of recommendation, one of which should be from the principal at the school where employed
  • Once you request your letters in the electronic system, your letter writers will be sent an email and instructions on how to use the electronic letters of recommendation system. They will be asked to upload a letter of recommendation.

Sent Directly to the UH Hilo Graduate Division

  • Official transcripts sent directly from all non-UH system colleges or universities you have attended.
  • Official transcripts from UH system institutions will be pulled via STAR.
  • We recommend certified electronic transcripts sent directly from your institution to the UH Hilo Graduate Division-
  • Baccalaureate degree transcripts from international institutions must be submitted to an independent transcript evaluation service.
  • Hard Copy transcripts should be mailed to:
    UH Hilo Graduate Division
    200 W. Kawili Street
    COBE Building, Room 201
    Hilo, HI 96720

  • For international applicants

Set up Directly with Ka Haka ‘Ula o Ke‘elikōlani

Application Process

The priority application deadline is December 1. Applications received after the priority deadline will only be accepted on a space available basis.

All supporting documents must be uploaded to the UH Application system.

Applications that meet initial requirements will be forwarded to the selection committee for a comprehensive review and consideration for admission into the program. Admission decisions made by the committee will be forwarded to the UH Hilo Graduate Division which sends the final notification to the applicant.

Admission Requirements

  1. B.A. or B.S. degree from a regionally accredited institution or from a nationally recognized foreign institution;
  2. 30 credits in Hawaiian Language, Hawaiian Studies, and/or Linguistics at the 300- or 400-level with no grade lower than a 3.0 (B);
  3. GPA of 3.0 (4.0 = A scale) or the equivalent in the last four semesters of approximately 60 semester credits of undergraduate and/or in all post- baccalaureate work;
  4. Statement of purpose;
  5. Sample undergraduate academic paper (by preference written in Hawaiian);
  6. Three letters of recommendation which should address the applicant’s background and potential in their field of interest including any service to the Hawaiian or indigenous language/culture community;
  7. Interview;
  8. Successful completion of KHAW 490 (not required for Indigenous and Minority Languages Revitalization Emphasis); and
  9. In the case of second language speakers of English, passing scores on the TOEFL as determined by the College or other evidence of English fluency.

Personal Statement

Applicants should include in the personal statement responses to the following:

  1. He aha kou nu‘ukia hoʻona‘auao?
  2. Pehea e kōkua ai kou ʻimi na‘auao ‘ana ma ia pae i ka ho‘ona‘auao ‘ōiwi?
  3. ‘Oiai ‘o ka noiʻi kekahi huapuka nui o ka papahana, he aha ke kumuhana a i ‘ole ka pō‘aiapili noiʻi āu e no‘ono‘o nei?

Transfer of Credits

Transfer of credits into this program is not currently permitted.

Graduation Requirements & Curriculum

The curriculum for this program can be viewed in the UH Hilo Catalog. Master of Arts in Indigenous Language and Culture Education

For more information, please contact:

For questions regarding the program requirements:
Kuʻulei Kepaʻa
Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani
Phone: (808) 932-7730
Fax: (808) 932-7651

For questions regarding the application process:
Cheri Keliʻi-Marumoto
UH Hilo Graduate Division
Ph: (808) 932-7897