Business Schools in Hawaii


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Syracuse University’s online MBA through the Whitman School of Management is designed to give students the analytical and decision-making skills they need to advance their careers in today’s business environment

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Hawaii has just over 15 schools with business programs offering undergraduate options and MBAs both through traditional campus-based programs and convenient online programs that help make a quality business education accessible no matter where you live on the islands.

Marketing Degree Programs in Hawaii

State of Hawaii’s Marketing Industry

It’s been a wild ride for Hawaii. In the first decade of the 21st century, its economy expanded much faster than the mainland and its work force grew 10% more, cumulatively, than the national job market, according to Chase’s 2012 Hawaii Economic Outlook.

The recession put a brake on these gains. Hawaii’s 2012 unemployment figures were high and its growth is lagging behind other states. These setbacks aren’t doing any favors for the state’s marketing industry.

The situation may change if global fortunes pick up. Tourism is the linchpin of Hawaii’s $67 billion economy, accounting for almost a quarter of all economic activity in 2012, according to Enterprise Honolulu. Thanks to its key location in the Pacific, the state is also a hotspot of U.S. military activity.

Even so, Hawaii has a long way to go. Hawaii has one of the most onerous business tax situations and the highest cost of living in the nation, according to CNBC. Only three Hawaii names appeared on Inc.’s 2012 Top 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies.

Job Prospects for Hawaii Marketing Graduates

Despite the state’s obvious issues, job prospects for Hawaii marketing graduates are still pretty good. From 2010-2020, Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is predicting positive job growth for marketing managers (13.6%), advertising managers (8.7%), PR specialists (13.2%) and market research analysts (38.6%).

Of course, in a state of only 1.4 million or so, that means tens, not hundreds, of openings per year. Median annual salaries also fall below national averages – tough statistics in a place where the 2012 median home price of $510,300 is $200,000 more than any other state, according to Forbes.

The best bet for marketing graduates remains the tourist industry – visitors typically spend over $11 billion per year (Hawaii Tourism Authority, 2011) – but it is not the only option. Compared to the nation, Hawaii has an outsized stake in real estate, construction and retail. To meet the state’s goal of 70% clean energy by 2030, as outlined by the State Energy Office in 2012, renewable energy companies are also cropping up.

Hawaii Schools for Marketing

There are only seven accredited marketing schools in Hawaii, primarily in Honolulu. Here are two you might wish to investigate:

1. University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH) (

UH’s Shidler College of Business offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing, as well as part-time and full-time MBAs. The undergraduate program ranks in the top 25% of “Best Undergraduate Business Programs” by U.S. News & World Report as of 2013; the part-time MBA is the only part-time program in Hawaii accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Shidler maintains a lot of ties with its Asia-Pacific neighbors. The school has developed an International MBA in partnership with Sun Yat-Sen University in China, as well as a Japan-focused MBA and a variety of study-abroad programs for undergraduates.

2. Hawai’i Pacific University (HPU) (

HPU is a private, nonsectarian university in Honolulu, ranked #81 in “Regional Universities (West)” by U.S. News & World Report in 2013. Students can pursue either a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in marketing, or an MBA.

In the 2012-13 PayScale College Salary Report, HPU was named as one of the “Top West Coast Schools for Salary Potential.” It attracts a large number of international students and military veterans.

Professional Marketing Organizations in Hawaii

As further proof of its friendly reputation, the Aloha State has plenty of marketing organizations. In addition to organizing social and networking events, many of these clubs and chapters post job opportunities.

Business Degree Programs in Hawaii

Having a complete understanding of the nuances of Hawaii’s business environment will help you to decide what educational path to pursue as a future business professional in the state. Having at least a bachelor’s degree in a field like finance, marketing, or management is often a minimum requirement for positions with small businesses and large corporate employers alike, while an MBA can open up additional doors for more advanced job opportunities.

As a prospective marketing director, financial manager, HR specialist, operations manager or other business professional, you’re already well aware that in addition to Honolulu’s traditional business environment, Hawaii also fosters the nation’s most vibrant tourism industry.

What you may not know is that as of 2015, tourist spending in Hawaii hit a record level of $15.1 billion, contributing significantly to the state’s Gross State Product (GSP) of $80.38 billion that year. Tourism can certainly be said to be driving the state’s economy, however there are other important sectors as well.

As you might recognize from the many retirees on the islands, moving to Hawaii after a long career is a popular choice for pensioners. This plays a significant role in supporting the state’s real estate and healthcare sectors.

Government spending is also an important part of the state’s economy. The state’s 12 military bases and around 42,000 troops have a significant impact on local businesses.

It should also not be overlooked that Hawaii’s fertile volcanic soil and agreeable climate are also ideal for agriculture.

Becoming a Business Leader in Hawaii

Having the right education will give you the theoretical basis on which to begin a promising career. The following are some examples of potential education and its tie-in with real-world careers in Hawaii. You will also notice Hawaii’s competitive national rankings in these career classes (Data provided by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics ( in 2014):

  • Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers – Bachelor’s degree in Business with a concentration in Marketing; Hawaii has the highest concentration of these professionals in the nation
  • Natural Sciences Managers – Bachelor’s degree in Business Management; non-metro Hawaii-Maui-Kauai offers the third-highest average income for these professionals of all non-metro areas in the nation
  • Sales Managers – MBA with a concentration in Advertising; non-metro Hawaii-Maui-Kauai has the highest employment and concentration of these professionals of all non-metro areas in the nation

The following figures from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis demonstrate some of Hawaii’s important GSP generators for the year 2015, when the state’s total GSP was $80.4 billion and its workforce was 900,005 strong:

  • Real estate – $15.25 billion contributed to GSP, employing 41,814
  • Accommodation and food services – $6.86 billion contributed to GSP, employing 108,380
  • Health care – $5.29 billion contributed to GSP, employing 79,662
  • Management of companies and enterprises – $1.1 billion contributed to GSP, employing 9.072

As a business school graduate in Hawaii, you can choose between working for one of the state’s small businesses or a larger company. Hawaii’s small businesses employ a higher portion of the workforce  (37 percent) than most other states.

You might also use your education to pursue a career with some of Hawaii’s best known private businesses, all of which are headquartered in Honolulu:

  • Hawaiian Electric Industries
  • Alexander and Baldwin ocean transport
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Bank of Hawaii
  • First Hawaiian Bank
  • The Queen’s Medical Center

University of Hawaii at Manoa

The Shidler College of Business is the only Master of Business Administration (MBA) program in the state to be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). It has earned its top ranking through an innovative array of MBA options with an Asia-Pacific focus. The traditional MBA is offered part time and full time on campus. You can also pursue a joint degree program, combining a master’s degree in nursing administration or a Juris Doctor with your MBA. Or, study abroad as part of the full-time China International MBA or Japan-Focused MBA. In addition, the school has partnered with the Sun Yat-Sen University School of Business in China to offer an 18-month International MBA program for Chinese and international students seeking to do business in the United States. Lastly, the Distance Learning Executive MBA starts with an intensive resident module on the Manoa campus, then switches to online learning for the remainder of the program.

Chaminade University

This private university at the heart of Honolulu offers several MBA options. The standard on-campus MBA can be pursued full time or part time through evening classes. You can also choose a Not-for-Profit MBA, Public Sector MBA or Accounting MBA if you’re seeking a deeper focus. Or, opt for the online MBA program, which requires the same core courses as the on-campus programs, but can be completed entirely online. Though the online degree can be completed in less than two years, many working students stretch the timeframe to accommodate work schedules.

Hawaii Pacific University

The Hawaii Pacific MBA is designed to be an immersive experience, whether you choose the on-campus program or pursue the degree online. Areas of concentration include accounting, e-business, economics, finance, healthcare, human resource management, information systems, international business, management, marketing, organizational change and development and travel resource management. The program can be completed in 18 to 24 months by full-time students. The part-time program has seven start dates throughout the year and allows you the flexibility to move at your own pace; you can take up to seven years to earn your degree. For highly-motivated students willing to take on an intensive program, the school also offers one of the few 12-month MBA programs in the county. If you need extra flexibility, the Online MBA allows you to earn your MBA with one of four concentrations.

Argosy University

Argosy University’s Hawai’i campus is located in central Honolulu; its MBA program can be pursued on this campus, online or through a blend of both. The school is committed to helping working students earn degrees and offers weekend and evening options with frequent class start dates. This flexibility is ideal for pursuing a fast-track 12-month degree, but also makes it possible for you to set your own schedule and pursue your degree while juggling other responsibilities. The program requires 24 hours of core courses and 12 hours in your area of concentration. Options for this concentration include compliance, finance, fraud examination, healthcare administration, information systems management, international business, management, marketing, public administration and sustainable management. You can also pursue a course of study customized around your career goals.