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University of Hawaii Acceptance Rate: What Does it Take to Get in?

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The University of Hawaii accepts 81% of applicants. What does it take to get in?


With several locations across the beautiful state of Hawaii, the University of Hawaii is one of the few universities in the nation where you can study in a truly tropical climate. The University of Hawaii is also one of the few institutions with a land, space, and sea grant for research, affording its students unique opportunities for scientific research, including biology, astronomy, and genetics.


Not only is it in one of the most beautiful states in the U.S., but it’s also the most diverse university in the nation, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The University of Hawaii also prides itself on accessibility, providing 3 university learning centers and 7 community colleges across all of the islands. While the biggest university center is the University of Hawaii-Manoa, the other two include Hilo and West Oahu.


Here’s what you need to know to get in!


Applying to the University of Hawaii: A Quick Review

Apply online using the University of Hawaii System. You apply to each campus separately, whether it is a university learning center or a community college, so you’ll need to decide which one you want to apply for.


Students may apply for the fall or spring semester. For fall admissions, the priority deadline is January 5 and the regular deadline is March 1. For spring admissions, the priority deadline is September 1 and the regular deadline is October 1.


To apply, be sure to send in all of the following:


  • Apply online with the University of Hawaii System
  • High school transcript
  • Application fee or fee waiver
    • $50 application fee for UH Hilo and UH West Oahu
    • $75 fee for UH Manoa
  • SAT or ACT Scores
  • (Optional) Supplementary materials: essay, letter of recommendation


If you are a homeschool student, you will need to provide a description of your education including materials used, and either GED scores, SAT subject tests (one of which needs to be Math) or ACT subscores. For international students, you will need to prove your English competency with TOEFL scores.


University of Hawaii Acceptance Rate: How Difficult Is It to Get In?

With the University of Hawaii accepting 81% of applicants, you want to make sure that your application is strong and shows you can handle the challenges that college presents. Each university learning center handles admissions separately, so we’re going to breakdown what each of their admissions stats are:


  • UH Manoa has an acceptance rate of 82.9%: last year 8,523 students applied, and 7,069 were admitted.
  • UH Hilo has an acceptance rate of 80.7%: last year 3,078 students applied, and 2,484 were admitted.
  • UH West Oahu has an acceptance rate of 78.5%: last year 1,060 students applied, and 832 were admitted.


If you aspire to attend the University of Hawaii, it’s critical to surround yourself with people who have been through the process before. CollegeVine offers mentorship for underclassmen and applications counseling for seniors to help you set yourself apart from the crowd. Even if you don’t choose to work one-on-one with one of CollegeVine’s trained near-peer mentors, connecting with someone who has successfully gained admission to the University of Hawaii can make the difference between rejection and acceptance.

So, How Does One Get into the University of Hawaii?

The University of Hawaii has a simple application with a strong emphasis on your academic preparation for college.




The University of Hawaii requires that you’ve taken a well-rounded high school schedule, with consistent enrollment in the main subject areas, fine arts or foreign language involvement, and electives. You also need to do well in your courses—each university has a minimum GPA. For UH West O’ahu, the minimum is 2.7; for UH Manoa, the minimum is 2.8 and you need to be in the top 40% of your class; for UH Hilo, the minimum is 3.0.


Test Scores


Although each university has minimum GPAs, a strong test score can balance out a GPA below their minimum and allow you to be admitted. In general, you want to score at least a 560 on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and a 540 for the SAT Math, or a 22 ACT composite score.


Program-specific Requirements


Certain programs at the University of Hawaii have additional requirements, especially for business, nursing, or education. Make sure you pay close attention to any program-specific requirements, as they may have stricter academic cut-offs or earlier deadlines.


How to Make Your Application Stand Out

Every application is different, but over the years we’ve seen these strategies give our clients applications that are three times more likely to gain favorable admissions results.


Apply by the priority deadline.


The University of Hawaii has rolling admissions, so applying by the priority deadline means you will get your admissions decision sooner than if you wait. Not only that, but applying by the priority deadlines increases your chances of receiving financial aid from the university or on-campus housing, if you need it.


Tell your story.


Although not required, you can choose to include a personal statement or essay explaining who you are and why you are interested in the University of Hawaii. Which programs and opportunities do you find exciting, and how will your talents and strengths lend a vibrant presence at the University of Hawaii? Make sure that you get someone to read over your essay before you send it to make sure that there are no grammatical errors and that it flows.


Include a letter of reference.


Again, this is not required, but providing a letter of reference can provide the admissions counselor greater insight into your character. For example, if you struggled during a particular course or went through a personally challenging time, you may ask a teacher to write a letter where they talk about how you rose to the occasion by seeking out additional resources and displayed resilience. This can be especially helpful if your GPA is just below the minimum and you want to show that you have what it takes to succeed.


What If You Get Rejected?

The University of Hawaii is a popular option for many students. If you find yourself receiving a no-thank-you at the end of the admissions process, don’t be too hard on yourself. Bright, motivated, resourceful students will find success, or create it, anywhere they go.


Although the University of Hawaii does accept admissions appeals, we do not recommend petitioning your decision. You may be asked to provide additional information, but there is no guarantee that your decision will be changed.


Transfer is a popular option for many students interested in the University of Hawaii. Many students who transfer start at one of the seven UH community colleges, so you may want to consider starting there. The requirements and deadlines are very similar to freshman admissions, although your college transcript and GPA will be used instead of a high school transcript.


You can reapply after taking a gap year, but this path is riskier than simply committing to another school and requesting to take a gap year there. To see if a gap year is right for you, visit our posts, What Are the Pros of Taking a Gap Year? and What You Need To Know When Applying to Colleges After a Gap Year.


If you’re looking for public universities in warm, sunny places, you may want to look at the University of California schools or Cal-State schools. These schools offer incredible opportunities and life-changing experiences. If you’re having trouble imagining yourself anywhere other than the University of Hawaii, check out CollegeVine’s post Envisioning a New Future: Preparing for Life at Your Second-Choice (or Third, or Fourth) School.


For more tips and resources, check out these posts:


Does Demonstrated Interest Matter?

How College Applications Are Evaluated


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Short Bio
Gianna Cifredo is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she majored in Philosophy. She has six years of higher education and test prep experience, and now works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and is a proud cat mom.