KAHULUI - The University of Hawaii Maui College will offer an associate in arts degree in Hawaiian studies starting this fall.
"This degree has been long-awaited by Maui County residents," said UH-Maui College instructor Kaleikoa Ka'eo, who teaches Hawaiian studies. "But it will benefit all students seeking a deeper understanding of Native Hawaiian culture and history and is a pathway to any four-year degree."
Students who graduate from the new associate degree program will have the option to pursue a baccalaureate degree in Hawaiian studies at UH-Manoa or UH-Hilo, a news release about the degree said.
The degree also is expected to be of interest to those entering the workforce or other areas of study where knowledge of the host culture is desired.
The degree was collaboratively developed by the community college campuses and received unanimous approval from the University of Hawaii Board of Regents at its May 17 meeting.
The degree proposal grew out of a desire to strengthen the University of Hawaii's goal of being a leading indigenous-serving institution and to support the advancement of Hawaiian culture and knowledge, said the news release. It also noted that UH-MC serves Hana and Molokai, with large populations of Native Hawaiians.
The degree also is a product of close collaboration of faculty at the community college campuses interested in offering a single program of study that addresses the university's strategic goals with a shared focus, the news release said.
"Establishing the associate degree program is an important step for UH system initiatives perpetuating Hawaiian language, culture, and values," the news release said.