M.A. in Hawaiian Language and Literature

This is content from the Catalog 2019–2020 back issue. Please visit the current catalog for current information.

Coordinator: Hiapo K. Perreira , Ph.D.
Email: hiapokei@hawaii.edu


For Information Contact:

Kuʻulei Kepaʻa

Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelilkōlani
University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
200 W. Kāwili Street
Hilo, Hawaiʻi 96720-4091

Tel: (808) 932-7730
Email: kuulei.kepaa@hawaii.edu

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 credits in Hawaiian Language or Hawaiian Studies at the 300- or 400-level 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 (36 credits)

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

  1. Earn 12 credits from the following four courses:
    • HAW 603 Grad Level Hawn Lang (3)
    • HAW 630 Research Methods in Hawn Lang (3)
    • HAW 631 History of Hawaiian Lang & Lit (3)
    • HWST 663 Traditional Hawn Literature (3)
  2. Earn 3 credits from:
    • KHWS/HWST 473 Oli/Mele Kahiko (3)
    • or HWST 662 Applied Hawaiian Chant (3)
  3. Earn 3 credits from:
    • HWST 664 European Influenced Hawn Lit (3)
    • or HWST 665 Ethnological & Hist Narratives (3)
    • or KANT 486 Mo'omeheu Hawaiʻi Ku'una (3)
  4. Earn 3 credits from:
    • KHAW/HAW 453 Hawn Phonetics & Phonol (3)
    • or KHAW/HAW 454 Hawn Morphology & Syntax (3)
    • or HAW 654 Advanced Hawn Grammar (3)
  5. A minimum of 24 credits must be earned in 600- or 700-level courses, excluding HAW 700 Thesis Research (1–6) . Only six credits may be counted in 400-level classes.
  6. Earn 3 credits from either HAW 690 Study in Hawn Spking Community (3) or HWST 690 Study in Overseas Ind Lg Comm (3) (course must be approved by program chair). Students typically study for at least six weeks with an endangered language community.
  7. Earn 6 additional credits in 400-, 500-, or 600-level 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):
    • KHAW/HAW or KHWS/HWST 400-498, 600-699V (except KHAW/HAW 490)
    • KED 600-699V (except KED 641-644)
    • KANT 486 Mo'omeheu Hawaiʻi Ku'una (3)
    • KIND 601-602 Language Maintenance and Shift (3), Meth/Resou Indig Lang Comm Blg (3)
    • Up to six credits taken at another university with prior approval from the program chair and then transferred to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
  8. Earn 6 credits from:
    • HAW 693 Thesis and Proposal Writing (3)
    • or HAW 700 Thesis Research (1–6)
  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.