The University of Hawai'i at Mānoa was founded in 1907 as the College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts. Regular classes began in 1908 with 13 faculty members, five freshmen and five preparatory students in temporary quarters near Thomas Square. Renamed the College of Hawai'i, the institution moved to its present Mānoa location in 1912, during which the first graduation conferred four degrees. In 1920, the institution became the University of Hawai'i.

The UHM is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Professional programs are individually accredited by appropriate agencies.

Located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Asia and the Americas, the Hawaiian Islands form a bridge between East and West. Many graduate programs at UHM have benefited from Hawai'i's unique geographical location and the advantages that it provides. For instance, the university has great strengths in areas relating to Asia and the Pacific, such as business, economics, Hawaiian and Hawaiian studies, linguistics, and political science. In addition, the university offers internationally renowned programs in Asian theatre, astronomy, developmental and reproductive biology, international business, marine biology, ocean and earth sciences and technology, second language studies, travel industry management, and tropical agriculture.

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