Semester in Hawai'i
Hawai'i Pacific University

Gap Year Friendly
OPEN Fall 2023

Say "Aloha" to your semester in Paradise.

Studying in Hawai’i lets you take classes at Hawai’i Pacific University, a fantastic private university in the center of Honolulu. Learn more about the friendly “Aloha Spirit” while you explore rainforests, volcanoes, and other Hawaiian islands on the weekends. Live on the Island of Oahu and immerse yourself in paradise, whether you’re surfing at the beach, watching a movie at the Hawai’i International Film Festival, or meeting fellow students on campus!

What to Expect:

  • Language: English
  • Average Courseload: 4-5 courses (12-15 U.S. credits)
  • GPA Requirement: 2.75
  • Visa Requirements: NONE Required!


  • Diverse student body with students from 65+ countries
  • Campus located near beaches, rainforests, volcanoes, and national parks
  • World-class academics with large variety of courses available
  • Study away without leaving the U.S.
  • Customized excursions to explore the island

Program Details

Hawai'i Pacific University

Study in Hawai’i’s capital at the oceanside Hawai’i Pacific University (HPU). The private institution is home to over 4,000 students. About 10 percent of students at HPU are international and come from more than 65 different countries. This unique study abroad experience combines quality American educational systems with global influences. Your program will focus on rigorous academics, relevant career education, and social responsibility. The school’s small class sizes mean that you can work directly with professors to get plenty of individualized attention.

HPU has two different campuses, which are linked together by a free shuttle. One campus is in a more urbanized setting, located in bustling downtown Honolulu, and the other, the Hawai’i Loa campus, is located on 135 tropical acres just fifteen minutes away. The main campus means you can engage with the city’s culture between and after classes. Take a break and grab an iced coffee or a meal at any of the local restaurants or cafes in the plazas surrounding campus.

At HPU, you’ll find courses in disciplines like liberal arts, business, and nursing, along with a highly supportive faculty. To get more involved on campus and make friends with similar interests, you can join any number of clubs and activities. The school also has exceptional facilities, like computer labs, libraries, tutoring services, wireless internet, laboratories, and communications facilities for broadcasting, multimedia, and journalism students.

Accreditation(s): Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Areas of study with 3 to 7 classes available

  • Engineering
  • World Languages

Don't see your major listed here? There may still be courses available. Browse our programs by major.

Areas of study with 8 or more classes available

  • Art & Design
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Natural & Applied Sciences
  • Health
  • Humanities
  • Education
  • Environmental Science & Sustainability

Don't see your major listed here? There may still be courses available. Browse our programs by major.

To access Hawai’i Pacific University’s online course database please click here to find courses available. You will need to select the term you are looking for.


  • Undergraduate students are not eligible to take courses with a course code of 3999 or higher, as these are considered graduate-level courses
  • The following are some of the potential restrictions – courses not available for “visiting” students at Hawai’i Pacific University:
    • Courses on the military campuses
    • Courses in Education
    • Certain courses in the Natural Sciences, including Marine Biology

To access course syllabi from past terms, please click here.

Why Life in Honolulu

Located on the island of Oahu, this jewel in the Pacific is home to coveted landscapes and is one of the world’s most popular tourist locations. When you arrive at Honolulu’s airport, you’ll smell the fragrance of the tropics in the open air facility.

The warm, tropical climate lets you enjoy the outdoors at any time of the year. You can snorkel through vivid blue water, hike in a lush rainforest, explore active volcanoes, and try surfing Hawaiʻi’s legendary waves. To get around the island of Oahu, there are plenty of buses, taxis, mopeds, bikes, car shares, and the Hawaiʻi Pacific Shuttle.

Hawaiʻi’s unique heritage has led to a fascinating melting pot of people with Asian, European, and Pacific Islander backgrounds. Thanks to this, you’ll enjoy delicious cuisine, a variety of historical buildings, and the chance to immerse yourself in a one-of-a-kind community. Hawaiians like to celebrate, and you can join them for festivals that include the Polynesian Festival, the King Kamehameha Floral Parade, the Hawaiian International Film Festival, Statehood Day, and even Spam Fest! Your semester in Hawaiʻi will expose you to an entirely different world within the U.S.

Live The Local Life

  • Free Cultural Classes at the Royal Hawaiian Center

    Learn to make a lei, play the ‘ukulele and try out your hand at hula as part of free, weekly classes.

  • Chinatown

    Spend an afternoon wandering around Chinatown enjoying the mix of cultures from throughout Asia that populate the Islands.

  • Royal Hawaiian Band Friday Lunch Concert

    Every Friday the Royal Hawaiian band plays at the bandstand on the ‘Iolani Palace lawn. Bring a sack lunch and enjoy.

Housing in Honolulu


During the Semester in Hawaii program participants will live at a purpose built student housing complex in Honolulu. This high rise building is approximately 3 miles from campus and takes 20-30 minutes by public (bus) transportation. It is located near shops and nightlife spots and is only a 20 minute walk to the beach! The building is secure and there is 24/7 staff onsite, both security and resident assistants.

The rooms are dormitory-like in their configuration and include amenities such as single bed, dresser, desk, and air conditioning (heat is not needed in Hawaii!). Each room has a bathroom as well as a kitchenette that includes a sink, small refrigerator, cabinets and microwave. On the 19th floor there is a lounge area and larger kitchen where residents can cook larger meals.

Inclusions and Amenities

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathroom
  • Kitchen Equipment
  • Kitchenette

What's Included


Program fees are in U.S. dollars and include the following:

  • Island orientation and local tour
  • Two cultural excursions/cultural trips around Oahu
  • Full-time tuition and fees
  • Housing
  • Partial meal plan
  • Semester long bus pass (public transportation)
  • CIS Abroad support services before, during, and after the program
  • Academic advising
  • Financial aid counseling
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Pre-departure orientation
  • Airport pickup
  • On-site Support
  • Student Union fees
  • Hawaii Pacific University official transcript
  • The Local Life cultural program

Welcome & Orientation

Upon arrival, take part in a comprehensive orientation to get introduced to our unique island way of life (‘ao‘ao). Gain insight into the many different cultures that make up Hawai’i’s largest city. From Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Micronesian, Fijian to Portuguese, Honolulu is one of the most diverse places you will ever experience. All five of your senses will be engaged as you catch the beautiful “Aloha spirit.” Taste the local food; kalua pig (pulled pork) and lau lau (steamed fish and pork wrapped in taro leaves), take in the popular island-style reggae and Hawaiian music, see the incredible natural beauty from tranquil coastlines to rugged peaks. Touch the sand and feel the waves as you swim with the dolphins and sea turtles.

Farewell & Re-Entry Program

As much as you may want to stay, eventually the time will come when you’ll have to bid aloha and a hui hou (goodbye, until we meet again). Gather together one last time to remember the good times and reflect on all that you have learned living in Hawai’i nei.

Program Excursions

While participating on a CIS Abroad program, you'll be able to take part in built-in day trips at no additional cost. These trips are subject to change from term to term; listed below are excursions that have run in the past.


One of the most festive experiences to be had on a visit to the Hawaiian Islands is a luau, a Hawaiian feast that features lively music and cultural performances from Hawai’i and greater Polynesia. You will see the art of hula and enjoy a meal of lau lau, kalua pua’a and haupia.

Historical Honolulu Tour

Historical Honolulu Tour

The last territory to become a State, Hawaii’s history is rich and colorful. We will walk the streets of Chinatown and experience the various Asian cultures that have permeated the islands for centuries. Then, a short walk away, you will see the Iolani Palace, home to the last monarch in Hawai’i and learn more about how statehood and colonization are themes that are still present today.

Snorkel and Sailing

Snorkel and Sailing

Embark upon a relaxing sail through Oahu’s calm Waikiki waters as playful spinner dolphins frolic alongside and iconic Diamond Head lingers in the distance. Want to get in the water? Great, you can swim and snorkel among colorful marine fish and sea turtles. Or you can choose to simply sunbathe and bask in the serenity of a cruise.

Site Director

Loretta Chen
Travel Tip:

To travel is to live, to learn, to love. To gain empathy, make connections and seek growth both within and without. So pack light, go with a full heart and leave with nothing but footprints, memories and kindness.

Travel Tip:

To travel is to live, to learn, to love. To gain empathy, make connections and seek growth both within and without. So pack light, go with a full heart and leave with nothing but footprints, memories and kindness.


Dr Loretta Chen is an award-winning director, professor, TEDx speaker and best-selling author. Her latest, Inspiring Women of Hawaii was launched last Fall with all proceeds going towards the Women of Waianae Scholarship fund.

Hailing from Singapore, Loretta was the Executive Creative Director for brands like Samsung, Louis Vuitton, Adidas and BNP Paribas featuring Serena Williams. She was also active in the theater scene. Some of her credits include Victor Victoria starring jazz diva Laura Fygi and The F Word which won an an Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award.

Other career highlights include community endorsement as a Nominated Member of Parliament, hosting the World Cities Summit, serving as International Consultant to the Government of Bhutan and being voted one of Asia’s Most Inspiring Women.

Now living her dream in Hawaii, she teaches at University of Hawaii – Leeward Community College where she was awarded Outstanding Lecturer of the Year (2020). She was selected to be part of the Patsy T Mink Center for Business Leadership Alliance in 2020.

When not mentoring or advocating for women, youth and LGBTQIA, she is a devoted cat mom to ten fur babies. Her short film, Secrets to Happiness has picked up several awards and is currently touring the international film festival circuit.

Your Support Staff

Amanda Murphy
Travel Tip:

Don’t overplan. Have a place to stay, pick a few major things you want to do, and then just get lost in the beauty of it all. If you plan too many activities, you miss out on stumbling into the most wonderful things that you’ll never forget.

Advising and Enrollment
Travel Tip:

You’ll be supported every step of the way!


Our advising team can help match you with a program that fits your academic and personal objectives. It’s not always an easy choice, but you can’t go wrong! Once you’ve decided, we’ll guide to you submit an online application.


Once you’ve submitted your initial application and the fee, you’ll be assigned a Program Enrollment Coordinator. We’ll work closely together to guide you through the enrollment process and prepare you for a life-changing experience!

COVID-19 Plan

We believe that study abroad is still possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, but certain policies and procedures will need to be in place to ensure every student can be safe and healthy during their semester abroad.

Learn more about CIS Abroad’s Risk Management Team’s three step process for operating  our programs around the world and important program refund policies.

Read more below for information related to this program:

On-Site Program Modifications

We want your time abroad to be an experience of a lifetime. We also know that it is a unique time to be going abroad. Below is some helpful information to you so you can make the best decision for your finances, academic career, and personal health and safety.

Our Financial Commitment

CIS Abroad is working with international partners to create refund and withdrawal policies that limit the financial impact on students and families should COVID-19 change a student’s plan to travel. See our refund policy page for more information.
To insure yourself from additional loss, such as the loss of airfare, or any other non-recoverable loss after your program begins, we recommend purchasing trip protection insurance, aka CFAR/IFAR insurance.

Our Academic Commitment

CIS Abroad has carefully selected programs where there is minimal to no academic risk.*

If a student must quarantine or miss classes due to sickness, remote academics are guaranteed. These may be synchronous or asynchronous, i.e, live or recorded.

If a city or country goes on lockdown due to sickness, remote academics are guaranteed. These may be synchronous or asynchronous, i.e. live or recorded.

* If a student cannot travel to their destination due to COVID-19 restrictions, remote academics are guaranteed on select programs and in certain courses. If accessing remote academics from the US are important to you, please contact our advising team to learn more about which program locations or courses are right for you.

Our Health & Safety Commitment

CIS Abroad has developed a site-specific risk management plan for every location so that health and safety protocols are monitored, managed and communicated throughout the semester. We have developed a COVID Care Package included in our program fee to make traveling and living in a host country easier on students, especially those first few weeks on-site:

  • COVID compliant airport pick-up and transfer to housing (except for Barcelona’s programs).
  • Access to quarantine housing upon entry, if quarantine is required when entering the country; this housing may incur additional charges.
  • Information and assistance on meal delivery, if quarantine is required when entering the country.
  • COVID-safe classrooms and campus facilities as well as access to masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies according to country and location specific standards.
  • Vaccine requirements for all participants to ensure COVID-safe program excursions and guaranteed housing with vaccinated students.
  • Access to accommodation if isolation is necessary due to positive COVID test or exposure; this housing may incur additional charges.
  • Access to COVID testing; this testing may be an additional charge.
  • Medical and accident insurance that covers COVID-related illness (except for on programs operating in the USA).
  • Cultural activities and reflection that emphasize safe, local exploration geared to the specific context of being abroad at this special time.

*if quarantine is required upon entry, we will let you know 60 days before a program starts, or as soon as the information is known to CIS Abroad. Your program coordinator will keep you updated as to any changes in dates, arrival, local restrictions and costs. If it is required, this may entail an earlier departure date and an additional housing and meal cost.

We recognize not every student, family, or university will allow travel this year, despite the risk mitigation outlined above. Should students apply for 2022 programs, and then choose to defer to a future program, we would be happy to move that student’s application to a program with a later start date. We are committed to providing our innovative virtual programs to meet your internationalization goals.


We plan to show you the best of what your location has to offer this term; great culture, great food, and interesting people. On the Excursions tab, you can see the day or overnight trips we usually offer. It is too soon to know if we can offer those same experiences or if we’ll stay a little closer to our program base. Just know that great experiences await you.

Dates & Prices

ADVISOR TIP: Please WAIT to book flights until you have received confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork. Dates posted here are subject to change.

  • Application Deadline: May 15
  • Arrival: August 26
  • Departure: December 18
  • Price: $22,190 - $24,690
  • Application Deadline: Oct 15
  • Arrival: January 5
  • Departure: May 8
  • Price: $23,990 - $24,990
  • Application Deadline: Jun 1 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: August 19 (Estimated)
  • Departure: December 9 (Estimated)
  • Price: $23,990 - $25,490 (Estimated)
Additional Information:

Price range reflects single or double occupancy housing.

As with all study abroad programs, you should count on a few additional expenses.

CIS Abroad reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partner universities.