College of Arts, Languages & Letters
Moore 209
1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-7700
Fax: (808) 956-7053


*L. Bautista, PhD (Chair)—sociology
*T. Kabutaulaka, PhD—political science
*A. Mawyer, PhD—anthropology
J. Walsh, PhD—anthropology

Affiliate Faculty

J. Bayman, PhD—anthropology
*W. Chapman, PhD—American studies
S. Dawrs, MA—Pacific specialist librarian
J. Foukona, PhD—land, law and history
A. Golub, PhD—anthropology
*N. Goodyear-Kaopua, PhD—political science
J. Hamilton Faris, PhD—art and art history
U. Hasager, PhD—anthropology
M. Hattori, EdD—professional educational practice
*V. Hereniko, PhD—Academy for Creative Media
K. Ho‘omanawanui, PhD—English
*L. Kame‘eleihiwa, PhD—Hawaiian studies
E. Kleiber, MLIS, MAS—Pacific specialist librarian
*M. LaBriola, PhD—history
*R. Longman, PhD—EWC, geography and environment
*M. Maaka, PhD—education
*J. Mayer, PhD—Samoan language
*B. McDougall, PhD—American studies
D. McGregor, PhD—ethnic studies
K. Oliveira, PhD—Hawaiian language
*J. Osorio, PhD—Hawaiian studies
*C. Perez, MFA—English
*J. Perillo—dance technique and performance theory, Tahitian and Oceanian dance
*B. Rolett, PhD—anthropology
J. Rosa, PhD—history
*N. Silva, PhD—political science
*T. Tabe, PhD—EWC, anthropology
*T. Tengan, PhD—ethnic studies, anthropology
J. Viernes, PhD—history

Emeritus Faculty

D. Hanlon, PhD—history
D. Waite, PhD—art and art history
T. Wesley-Smith, PhD (retired)—political science
G. White, PhD—anthropology

Degrees and Certificate Offered: BA in Pacific Islands studies, MA in Pacific Islands studies, Certificate in Pacific Islands studies

The Academic Program

Pacific Islands Studies at UH Mānoa is an innovative, interdisciplinary program committed to the production and dissemination of a wide range of knowledge about Oceania. The program focuses on the island societies of this vast region, and the dynamic cultural, social, and political interactions that link them to each other as well as to the rest of the world. It seeks to understand the many worlds of Oceania through multiple conceptual lenses, drawn selectively from a range of academic disciplines and from the knowledge systems of the region itself. Pacific Islands studies promotes active, student-centered approaches to learning and encourages creativity in research and representation of island issues.

With a core and affiliate faculty of about 35 members, and access to one of the finest collections of Pacific materials in the world, the Pacific Islands studies program offers interdisciplinary programs of study leading to the BA and MA in Pacific Islands studies and the Certificate in Pacific Islands studies.


Graduate students may see Alexander Mawyer or other designated faculty. Undergraduates majoring in Pacific Islands studies are advised by Julianne Walsh.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree

The undergraduate program in Pacific Islands studies is designed for students desiring an interdisciplinary education and an informed understanding of Oceania and issues of concern to Pacific Islanders.

Students seeking a BA in Pacific Islands studies must first complete PACS 108 with a minimum grade of C. Students must also meet all the requirements for admission established by the School of Pacific and Asian Studies.

Pacific Islands studies is normally declared as a major at the end of the sophomore year or beginning of the junior year though students may apply for admission to the program at any time. The formal declaration is made through the academic advisor.

Program Requirements

  • Register for all required courses for a letter grade
  • Earn a grade of C (not C-) or better in the 30 credit hours of Pacific Islands-related course work applied to the major requirements
  • 45 upper division credits of 300+ courses

Major Requirements

  • Total of at least 30 credit hours of Pacific Islands-related course work
  • 18 credits of PACS core courses: PACS 108, 200+, 200+, 300+, 300+, 401:
  • 6 elective credits selected from a list of courses, including 3 credits in Pacific Islands-related history and anthropology offerings
  • 6 additional credits from 300+ Pacific Islands Studies concentrations
  • 4 semesters of an indigenous Pacific Islands language; native speakers may test out upon demonstration of equivalent level
  • PACS 401: 3 credits Pacific Collaborative Research

PACS courses used to satisfy General Education Core requirements may not normally be used to satisfy major requirements or vice versa. For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to programsheets/.

BA+MA Pathway

The Department of Pacific Islands Studies offers a BA+MA Pathway that helps students earn a combined bachelor’s and a master’s degree within 5 years.

BA students who are admitted into the pathway are able to double-count 9 credits towards both a BA and an MA in Pacific Islands studies, including taking required 600-level PACS seminar courses in their senior year.

For more information about the BA+MA Pathway, see

Graduate Study

Master’s Degree

The MA in Pacific Islands studies is intended for students of the region wishing to transcend established disciplinary boundaries and explore innovative approaches to learning, research, and representation. It is the only program of its kind in the U.S. The MA program includes two options, thesis and MA portfolio. Students selecting the first option complete a scholarly research-based thesis on a Pacific-related topic. Normally this is the preferred option for those planning to enter a doctoral program in the humanities, social sciences, or interdisciplinary studies. Those opting for the MA portfolio demonstrate mastery of a specialty area within the field of Pacific Islands studies through an integrated program of activities including course work, research, and writing. Both options can include performance, multimedia, or creative writing components. Some recent graduates are pursuing doctoral or professional degrees in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Hawai‘i, and the U.S. mainland; others are employed in a wide variety of fields, including education, social work, publishing, as well as library and museum work.

Language Requirement

On entry, or before graduation, students are required to have a second-year level of competence in an indigenous language of the Pacific, or a pidgin/creole language such as Tok Pisin, Solomons Pijin, or Bislama. The language should be related to the student’s research interests. Competence in an administrative language of the Pacific such as Spanish, French, German, or Japanese may be used to satisfy the requirement, provided this is not the student’s first language, and there is a demonstrated connection with research activities. Language competence is demonstrated by successful completion of appropriate course work, or through an examination conducted by a suitably qualified individual.

Degree Requirements

All MA students are required to complete a minimum of 30 credits of course work, which must include three core seminars, PACS 601, 602, and 603. The core seminars introduce students to key issues of learning and research in the field of Pacific Studies. The seminars are taught in sequence, with PACS 601 and 602 offered in the fall, and 603 in the spring. In addition, students take at least two focus courses (6 credits) directly related to their research or specialty interests. A list of preferred Pacific-related courses offered across the campus serves as a guide in the selection of other courses that will count toward the degree. Courses are selected in consultation with a faculty advisor to form an integrated program of study that strengthens a student’s general knowledge of the region, as well as providing a particular concentration of interests. Students in both the thesis and MA portfolio plans choose a three-person faculty committee to supervise their work, and to evaluate the final product or products. The MA committee must review and approve a comprehensive thesis or portfolio proposal (usually produced as part of the requirements for PACS 603) before the student embarks on the MA thesis or on major components of the portfolio.

All students must pass the MA written examination, which provides an opportunity to demonstrate understanding of significant issues in the field of Pacific studies, as well as general knowledge of the region as a whole. Students normally sit the examination at the end of the third semester in the MA program. Successful performance on the examination advances the student to candidacy. A student failing the examination may take it one more time. A second failure results in the student being dropped from the program.

Thesis Requirements

Students selecting the thesis option complete 6 credits of focus course work directly relevant to their research interests, and produce a scholarly, research based thesis on a Pacific-related topic. The thesis should demonstrate an ability to conduct independent research and represent a significant contribution to this interdisciplinary field of study. It should address a significant question, issue, or theme, and include a thorough review of relevant written and other resources. Students are expected to cross established disciplinary boundaries and explore topics using multiple conceptual lenses. The thesis must include a substantial written component that is normally at least one hundred pages (or 30,000 words) in length. It can include performance, creative writing, or multimedia components in dialogue with the text to better communicate the scholarly work.

Students pursuing the thesis option satisfy credit requirements as follows:

Core seminars (PACS 601, 602, 603) 9 credits
Focus courses 6 credits
Elective courses 9 credits
Thesis credits (PACS 700) 6 credits
Total 30 credits

At least 15 credit hours of this course work must be in courses numbered 600 and above (excluding 700). Normally, only 3 credits of 699 Directed Reading and Research can be used to satisfy the focus requirement.

MA Portfolio Requirements

Students selecting this option identify and explore a Pacific-related specialty area. Mastery of the specialized subject matter is demonstrated through an integrated program of study that includes: 1) 6 credits of focus course work directly relevant to the specialty area; 2) an essay or research report of at least 25 pages in length (approximately 8,000 words) that explores a central aspect of the specialty area; and 3) a substantial performance, multimedia, artistic, or written product directly related to the specialty area. This component of the portfolio will normally complement the essay or research report described above, and can be combined with it to form a single product of at least 50 pages in length (approximately 16,000 words).

Students pursuing the portfolio option satisfy credits requirements as follows:

Core seminars (PACS 601, 602, 603) 9 credits
Focus courses 6 credits
Elective courses 9 credits
MA projects (PACS 695) 6 credits
Total 30 credits

At least 18 credit hours of course work must be in courses numbered 600 and above (excluding PACS 695). Normally, only 3 credits of 699 Directed Reading and Research can be used to satisfy the focus requirement. Students earn 3 credits of 695 Master’s Portfolio Project for their work on the essay or research report, and a further 3 credits for the third component of the portfolio.

Performance, Creative Writing, Artwork, and Multimedia Options

Innovative approaches to knowledge production are encouraged. MA projects (thesis or MA portfolio) must include a substantial analytical, text-based component, but can incorporate elements of performance (e.g. dance, theater), creative writing (e.g. fiction or poetry), artwork (e.g. painting, photography), or multimedia (e.g. video, audio, digital media). Students intending to include performance, creative writing, artwork, or multimedia components must satisfy the MA committee that they have or will acquire the appropriate proficiencies. The issue of proficiency should be addressed in the project proposal with reference to relevant course work, academic background, or prior experience. Performances must be supervised by members of the MA committee, fully rehearsed, and videotaped for submission, along with the written component, to the center and/or Graduate Division.

MA Committees

All MA students form a three person committee to supervise their work and evaluate the thesis or MA portfolio products. Graduate Division requires that committee members be on the graduate faculty at UH Mānoa, although students can petition for exceptions to this rule. The chair and at least one other member should be members of the core or affiliate faculty of the Center for Pacific Islands Studies. Students normally form the committee towards the end of their first year in residence, or after they have prepared a comprehensive thesis or MA portfolio proposal.

Certificate Program

Certificate in Pacific Islands Studies

The Certificate in Pacific Islands Studies is designed for students who are pursuing advanced degrees in other areas and whose course of study includes a substantial component of Pacific-related courses and research. The objective of the certificate is to provide recognition of this expertise and to encourage further study of the Pacific region.

Students applying for the certificate must have previously been admitted to Graduate Division in a field of study. Applications take the form of a letter to the Pacific Islands studies graduate chair that outlines academic objectives, Pacific-related interests, and the proposed course of study in the primary field. Following a diagnostic interview, the certificate student is assigned a two-person advisory committee consisting of one member of the Pacific Islands studies faculty (as appointed by the graduate chair) and the student’s departmental advisor.


A certificate student is required to have 18 credit hours in Pacific-related courses or 12 credit hours in Pacific-related courses and a Pacific-related thesis or dissertation. The courses must constitute a logically related program of study and are normally chosen from the list of preferred courses prepared by the Pacific Islands studies faculty. Certificate students must take at least one of the MA core courses (PACS 601, 602, 603), and sit the MA written examination. The certificate is awarded upon completion of the advanced degree in the primary field of study.