Catalog 2017–2018: Ph.D. in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization

This is content from the Catalog 2017–2018 back issue. Please visit the current catalog for current information.

Coordinator: Scott Saft , Ph.D


Affiliate Instructional Faculty:

  • John Charlot, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Professor of Religion
  • Larry Kaplan, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Professor of Linguistics and Director of Alaska Native Language Center
  • M. Puakea Nogelmeier, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Associate Professor, Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language

For Information Contact:

Ku'ulei Kepa'a Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelilkōlani
University of Hawai'i at Hilo
200 W. Kāwili Street
Hilo, Hawai'i 96720-4091
Tel: (808) 932-7730

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. Concentrated in Hilo is a preschool through graduate school Hawaiian medium educational system and key support offices providing administrative, curricular, language planning, and technological support to programs throughout the Hawaiian islands. In addition, Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani provides government sponsored outreach services to support indigenous languages throughout Polynesia and the United States.

The Doctorate in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization is designed first to serve the needs of the State of Hawaiʻi for advanced academic training and scholarly research in the Hawaiian language. An additional goal is to use the internationally recognized successful model of Hawaiian language revitalization to provide other indigenous scholars and language educators with graduate level education relevant to the revitalization of their own languages and cultures. By providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and research on the many issues involved in revitalizing indigenous languages and cultures elsewhere, Hawaiian revitalization will be further strengthened.

All students in the doctoral program are required to speak an indigenous language - their “language of focus” - and further develop their knowledge of that language in courses that explore the similarities and differences among such languages. In addition, students choose two specializations from among the four systematic fields offered in the program, a) Indigenous Language and Culture Education, b) Indigenous Language and Culture in Society, c) Language Planning, and d) Hawaiian Language and Culture. Thus, students who focus on a non-Hawaiian indigenous language will choose two specializations from areas a), b), and c); students who focus on Hawaiian language may choose among all four areas.

A number of possible paths from other universities lead into the doctoral program, including the master’s in Indigenous Studies, Anthropology, Languages (including English), and Linguistics. For those with a strong interest in Hawaiian, the College itself provides the Master of Arts in Hawaiian Language and Literature, the first master’s in an indigenous language in the United States. In addition, the College provides a pathway for non-Hawaiian language specialists through the Master of Arts in Indigenous Language and Culture Education. The two master’s programs are described earlier in this section.


The mission of the Ph.D. program in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization is to train well rounded Hawaiian and other indigenous scholars who are prepared to take leadership roles within their communities in indigenous language and culture revitalization.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe and evaluate important current ideas and data in two of the four areas of program specialization (a. indigenous language and culture education, b. indigenous language and culture in society, c. indigenous language planning, d. Hawaiian language and culture)
  2. Integrate the fundamentals of all three areas—indigenous language and culture education, indigenous language and culture in society, indigenous language planning—to solve real problems in maintaining and revitalizing indigenous language and culture.
  3. Analyze their indigenous language of focus in terms of its grammar, semantics and socio-linguistic variation.
  4. Write effective academic papers (clear, concise, effectively organized, accurate in content, analytical and/or synthetic in nature).
  5. Write effective non-academic essays to inform public opinion concerning indigenous language and culture revitalization.
  6. Communicate effectively in government and indigenous community environments.
  7. Apply various research methods appropriate to research in indigenous language and culture revitalization and can carry out rigorous research in the field.
  8. Exhibit leadership potential for revitalization of their indigenous language and culture.

Admission Requirements

  1. Master’s degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 grade point average in an approved field of study (e.g., Hawaiian Language and Literature, Indigenous Studies, Anthropology, Languages, etc).
  2. Proficiency in and academic knowledge of the applicant’s indigenous language of focus, as demonstrated by a taped speech and written essay, with English translation. (The level of proficiency and academic knowledge required will depend on the status of the indigenous language, in terms of how endangered it is and how much linguistic description has been done.)
  3. A letter requesting admission to the program which describes the applicant’s:

    • academic objectives and research interests.
    • experience in educational service to his or her indigenous language of focus.
    • diverse experience with the contemporary status of an indigenous or threatened language and culture besides the student’s own indigenous language of focus. The social and political environment of this additional language should be different from that of the student’s language of focus.
    • future plans regarding work to revitalize his or her indigenous language and culture.
  4. A sample of written work (usually the master’s thesis).

  5. Course work of at least 6 credits in general linguistics, linguistic analysis, and sociolinguistics
  6. Complete taped interview either in person or by telephone.
  7. Three letters of recommendation, at least one of which must focus on the applicant’s background in the language and culture of an indigenous people and service to that indigenous community.
  8. For second language speakers of English, passing scores on the TOFEL or other evidence of English fluency.

Further information on the details of fulfilling admissions requirements are available from the Director of Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

Graduation Requirements

  1. KIND 730 Rsch Meth Hwn Ind Lang Culture (3)
  2. Eight Credits in Advanced Study of Language of Focus:

    • KLAN 701 Semantic/Pragmatic Indig Lang (1)
    • KLAN 702 Stylistics/Domains Indig Lang (1)
    • KLAN 703 Semantics-Prag of Indig Langua (3)
    • KLAN 704 Stylistics-Domain of Indig Lan (3)
    • These credits are directed toward improved analytical and fluency skills in the student’s language of focus and its culture. KLAN 701-702 are seminars taken by all students to develop common understandings and for form the basis for KLAN 703-704, which focus specifically on Hawaiian or other indigenous languages depending on student interests.
  3. Additional Language Requirement:

    • For students whose language of focus is Hawaiian, the additional language requirement will be met by demonstrated fluency and academic knowledge of any approved second language equivalent to the 102 level as taught at UH Hilo.
    • For students whose language of focus is other than Hawaiian, the additional language requirement will be met by demonstrated fluency and academic knowledge of Hawaiian equivalent to the 102 level as taught at UH Hilo.
  4. Two Areas of Specialization:

    • Students will focus on two of the four areas of specialization provided in the program: (a) Indigenous Language and Culture Education, (b) Indigenous Language and Culture In Society, (c) Language Planning, and (d) Hawaiian Language and Culture. Specific research themes to be addressed within these broad areas are diverse in order to allow maximum application to student dissertation interests. Examples of such areas are literacy in indigenous languages, indigenous language media, spirituality and religion in traditional Hawaiian thought, lexicon development, indigenous language testing and evaluation, colonialism and neocolonialism as factors in indigenous language and culture revitalization, technology in indigenous language revitalization, diversity in indigenous languages and societies, ecological planning for indigenous language and culture survival, etc.
    • The amount of course work in the two areas of specialization is dependent on the student’s graduate committee, who will determine when the student is sufficiently prepared to take comprehensive examinations in the two areas. At a minimum the student must complete two of the following courses (together with the prerequisites) listed below:
      • KED 794 Indigenous Language and Culture Education (3) (Pre: KED 660 Indigenous Culture-based Educ (3) , KED 662 Indigenous Well-being Thru Edu (3) or equivalent)
      • KIND 794 Indigenous Language and Culture In Society (3) (Pre: KIND 601 Language Maintenance and Shift (3) , KIND 602 Meth/Resou Indig Lang Comm Blg (3) or equivalent)
      • KLIN 794 Language Planning (3) (Pre: KIND 601 Language Maintenance and Shift (3) , KIND 602 Meth/Resou Indig Lang Comm Blg (3) or equivalent)
      • HWST 794 Hawaiian Language and Culture (3) (Pre: HAW 631 History of Hawaiian Lang & Lit (3) , HAW 654 Advanced Hawn Grammar (3) , HWST 663 Traditional Hawn Literature (3) , HWST 665 Ethnological & Hist Narratives (3) or consent of instructor)
  5. Students may take up to six semester credits (or equivalent) at another accredited university in courses pre-approved by the program chair and transfer the credits to the University of Hawaii at Hilo in place of any of the listed program courses.

  6. Completion of all graduate courses with a grade no lower than “B.”
  7. Successful completion of a comprehensive examination consisting of oral and/or written questions, after the student’s Graduate Committee determines the student has had sufficient preparation in the field of study to begin work on the dissertation.
  8. Submission and approval of a portfolio which documents the student’s work to improve public opinion and/or government policy concerning the revitalization of the student’s language and culture of focus. The portfolio may include newspaper or periodical articles or oral presentations aimed at the student’s indigenous community or the larger public; it may include written material or oral testimony given at government forums concerned with indigenous language and culture revitalization.
  9. Successful completion of a dissertation, with enrollment in a minimum of six credits of KIND 800 Doctoral Dissertation Research (1–6) (V) during the writing of the dissertation. A final oral examination in defense of the dissertation is then required upon completion of the dissertation.