Accounting Schools in Hawaii

This overview of graduate-level accounting programs provides prospective students with information on quality academic and professional opportunities in accounting in Hawaii. As there are only a couple of schools that offer master’s in accounting degrees in the state, students may wish to look at online programs from around the country, as well as programs in mainland states like California, Oregon, and Washington. Keep reading to learn more about accounting programs in Hawaii, how to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state, and salary and employment information for Hawaii accountants.

Quick Facts

  • There are 11 colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Hawaii.1
  • 2 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.1
  • No schools were ranked in Forbes’ Best Business Schools 2019.2
  • No schools were ranked in the Princeton Review’s Great Schools for Accounting Majors 2020.3
  • No schools were ranked in Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs 2019.4
  • No schools were ranked in US News & World Report’s Best MBA Accounting Programs 2020.5
  • No schools had a 2018 CPA exam pass rate at or above the national average of 51.9%.6
  • 1 university is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.7
  • No schools are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).8
  • 1 school is accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).9

For not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs.

Table of Contents

Steps to Become a CPA in Hawaii

The Hawaii Board of Public Accountancy (the Board) regulates licensed accountants and oversees the process for becoming a CPA in the state. There are five main steps to complete in order to earn a first-time CPA license in Hawaii.

  1. Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education in accounting.
  2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.
  3. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
  4. Apply for a license.
  5. Receive a CPA license.

1. Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education in accounting.

The Board requires CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college education that includes the award of a bachelor’s degree. The 150 hours completed to qualify for a license must include 24 semester hours in accounting, auditing, taxation, and business-related courses; 18 hours must be upper-division or graduate-level. Acceptable business-related courses include:

  • Business ethics
  • Business law
  • Communication skills
  • Computer science
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Functional fields of business (finance, production, marketing, personnel relations, business management)
  • Globalization
  • Legal and social environment of business
  • Management Services
  • Marketing
  • Organizational, group, and individual behavior
  • Quantitative applications in business
  • Total quality management

2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.

Candidates for a CPA license in Hawaii must earn 1,500 experience hours in auditing that are chargeable to clients while working full-time (at least 35 hours per week) over one year or earn two years (3,000 hours) of experience in public accounting practice, private industry, government, or education. Experience hours must be verified by the candidate’s supervisors using the Certification of Public Accountancy Experience form found in the license application packet on the Board’s website.

3. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Uniform CPA Exam is a requirement for CPA licensure in all 50 states and is administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Applicants in Hawaii may sit for the Uniform CPA Exam once a bachelor’s degree and 18 additional semester (or 27 quarter) hours of upper-division or graduate-level classes in accounting or auditing have been completed. Candidates for the examination should apply directly to NASBA to schedule and take the exam after meeting the 150-hour education requirement or expecting to complete the requirement within 120 days (or have earned a bachelor’s degree plus completed 18 hours of upper-division/graduate accounting coursework). All four sections of the exam must be passed with a score of 75 or above within an 18-month rolling period.

4. Apply for a license.

After the Uniform CPA Exam has been passed, candidates may apply to the Board for a CPA license. The application packet includes a Certificate of Competence form to be completed by three responsible references who are not related to the applicant. The Coursework Form must also be submitted along with the Certification of Public Accountancy Experience form. Applicants submit payment of the licensing fee via check to Commerce & Consumer Affairs. Forms and further information can be found on the Board’s site.

5. Receive a CPA license.

Once Uniform CPA Exam scores have been received, the application packet will be reviewed and approved by the Board at the next Board meeting. The license card will be issued to applicants within two to three weeks of the meeting and a certificate will be mailed within four to six weeks. Before licensees can begin practicing, they must apply for a Permit to Practice at least 30 days before the date on which the permit will become effective. More information can be found on the Board’s site.

CPA License Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Hawaii CPA licensees must renew their licenses and permits on or before December 31 of each odd-numbered year. Renewal applications are automatically sent out 30 days prior to the deadline. CPAs must be sure to complete the required 80 hours of continuing professional education (CPE), including four hours of ethics, for each two-year renewal period to comply with Hawaii statutes. You can find additional information on the Board’s website.

Hawaii CPA Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants in Hawaii make an average annual salary of $66,020, which is significantly less than the national average of $79,520.10,11 With an estimated 4,010 employed accountants, the urban Honolulu area has the highest employment level of accountants in the state by far.10 The demand for accountants in Hawaii is predicted to grow by 4.7% by 2028, which is slower than the national average of 6.4%.12

Hawaii CPA Salary by Metro Area

Metro AreaNumber Employed10Average Annual Salary10
Hawaii/Kauai nonmetropolitan area470$66,700
Urban Honolulu4,010$66,120

Hawaii Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison

Below we have compiled a table including information about all not-for-profit Hawaii colleges and universities offering a master’s degree in accounting. The graduation rate is for first-time undergraduates seeking a bachelor’s degree, but since it is widely considered to be an indicator of a school’s overall success, we have included it for comparison. Tuition per credit is based on in-state, on-campus tuition; per-credit rates may vary for out-of-state and online students. The reported CPA Exam Pass Rate is from the 2018 test series. In 2019, NASBA paused releasing statistical Candidate Performance reports until 2025 due to a new exam and licensing structure. Check with schools for more recent data.

School NameAccreditationCPA Exam Pass Rate6Master’s in Accounting Degree(s)Acceptance Rate13Grad Rate1Online Options?Tuition per Credit
Chaminade University of HonoluluIACBE45.5%MBA-Accounting65.9%59%Yes$1,065
University of Hawaii at ManoaAACSBN.Av.Master of Accounting (MAcc)
3/2 Master of Accounting (BA+MAcc)*

  • * indicates combined program.
  • — indicates none.
  • N.Av. indicates no data available.

Select Schools in Hawaii with Master’s in Accounting Programs

Traditional Programs

University of Hawaii at Manoa

The University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH Manoa) offers a Master of Accounting (MAcc) program through its AACSB-accredited Shidler College of Business. This 30-credit hour graduate degree provides students with the skills and knowledge base needed to practice as CPAs in business, government, and other fields. Core graduate courses in the program include Advanced Financial Accounting; Accounting Theory and Development; and Analysis and Decision Making. Students are encouraged to take a concentration in either Tax or Financial Reporting/Auditing through program electives. Supplementary undergraduate courses in accounting are offered for students who did not major in accounting at the undergraduate level. Students with an undergraduate degree in accounting can complete the program in 12 to 18 months while students with no accounting background usually take two years to satisfy course requirements. Undergraduates with at least two semesters left to graduate, a 3.4 GPA or above, and at least two upper-level accounting courses completed are eligible for the 3/2 MAcc, which allows students to earn up to six MAcc credits during their undergraduate studies, saving them time and money.

Online and Hybrid Programs

Chaminade University of Honolulu

Chaminade University of Honolulu’s IACBE-accredited School of Business and Communication offers a competitive Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Accounting program that prepares students for careers as accountants. The 36-credit hour program is offered in a hybrid format, with each of its 12 core classes being offered online at some point in the academic year. While the 18-month program is designed for students who hold undergraduate degrees in accounting, students with a bachelor’s degree in another field may also apply provided they first take foundational coursework to prepare them for the program (which will extend the length of completion). The MBA in Accounting helps students meet the 150-hour education requirement to sit for the CPA exam in Hawaii. Core coursework includes Leading People in Organizations, Advanced Accounting Theory; Corporate and Partnership Taxation; and Corporate and Partnership Taxation. Chaminade University of Honolulu’s School of Business and Communication boasts small class sizes and emphasizes ethical responsibility and entrepreneurship.

Additional Resources

Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Hawaii

  • Deloitte LLP.: Regularly designated one of the best places to work by Fortune and Businessweek, Deloitte LLP hires recent graduates to work in its offices in Honolulu.
  • Ernst & Young: Offers graduates a world-class career experience working with established business and entrepreneurs alike.
  • Spire Hawaii LLP: A locally-based firm with wide-reaching international resources.

Hawaii Accounting Associations

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do accountants earn in Hawaii?

Accountants and auditors in Hawaii earn an average annual salary of $66,020 according to the BLS.10

What do I have to do before I can sit for the CPA exam?

To take the CPA exam, candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university and have earned at least 18 semester hours of upper-division accounting/auditing coursework.

What are the educational requirements to obtain a Hawaii CPA license?

A bachelor’s or graduate degree and 150 semester hours (or 225 quarter hours) of college education is required. Of those 150 hours, 24 hours must be in graduate-level accounting/auditing courses and another 24 hours must be in graduate-level accounting or business courses.

Can I begin practicing accountancy as soon as I pass the Uniform CPA exam?

No. After completing the CPA exam, candidates must complete the licensure application packet and pay the fees. New licensees must apply for a Permit to Practice before beginning employment.

1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Forbes Best Business Schools 2019: https://www.forbes.com/business-schools/list/2/
3. The Princeton Review. The Best 385 Colleges, 2020 Edition. The Princeton Review, 2019.
4. Public Accounting Report 2019 Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs: https://wpcarey.asu.edu/sites/default/files/documents/par-grad-2019.pdf
5. US News & World Report Best Accounting Programs 2020: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/accounting-rankings
6. National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. The NASBA Report on the CPA Exam: Candidate Performance on the Uniform CPA Examination, 2018 Edition. National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, Inc., 2019.
7. Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International: https://www.aacsb.edu/about
8. Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP): https://acbsp.org/
9. International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE): https://iacbe.org/
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2019 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Hawaii: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_hi.htm
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2019 Occupational Employment and Wages, Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm
12. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
13. US News & World Report Best Business Schools 2020: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools