High Marks: Nationwide Ranking Puts UH, Hilo at Top of the Class

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The University of Hawai’i at Hilo campus. UH-Hilo file photo.

Study this: The University of Hawai‘i – and the Hilo campus specifically – is earning good grades in a number of key categories that make it a top-notch learning institution.

That’s according to the U.S. News and World Report, which released its Best College Rankings on Sunday and gave the University of Hawai‘i a good report card in the fields of having an ethnically diverse campuses, social mobility for students and sending those students out into  the real world after graduation with less debt, to name a few.

“These latest rankings confirm what we’ve heard from many, many others,” UH President David Lassner said in a press release Monday about the school’s ranking. “The University of Hawaiʻi is a fabulous institution and across our campuses, we have a place for everyone.”

The University of Hawaiʻi’s three universities — UH Mānoa, UH Hilo and UH West Oʻahu — were the institutions evaluated in the ranking.  It selected the top 1,500 four-year institutions out of the approximately 2,640 four-year schools nationwide and graded them on 17 measures of academic quality, including graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, expert opinions, financial resources and student excellence.


UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin said she was proud as usual that the local university topped the diversity list, which it has done in prior years, and that a top priority of the school is to ensure that diversified student body feels comfortable and equitable on campus and has the resources there to succeed.

Aside from our diversity, which we embrace, we are also very happy to rank well on the social mobility scale among national universities,” she told Big Island Now. “This ranking speaks directly to our mission at UH Hilo of lifting up our community by providing all students a high quality education. That quality education opens the doors of opportunity for our graduates and in turn improves the lives of their families.”

Here’s a look at how the island institutions fared:

UH Mānoa


UH Mānoa, the flagship campus of the UH System, ranked No. 83 as a top U.S. public university; No. 166 overall in the U.S.; No. 200 as a best value school, which factors in academic quality and cost; and No. 67 for institutions whose students graduated carrying the least debt. UH Mānoa also tied for No. 6 in the nation in ethnic diversity and ranked No. 178 in social mobility, which measures how well schools graduated students who were federal Pell Grant recipients.

The Shidler College of Business came in No. 13 for international business programs and No. 128 among the best undergraduate business programs, out of 516 undergraduate business programs ranked. The Nancy Atmospera-Walch School of Nursing is the nation’s No. 93 best undergraduate nursing program, among 681 ranked undergraduate nursing programs. The College of Engineering placed No. 137 among the best undergraduate engineering programs in the U.S., and the Information and Computer Sciences Department ranked as the No. 121 best undergraduate computer science program, out of 537 ranked programs.

UH Hilo

UH Hilo retained its No. 1 ranking as one of the nation’s most ethnically diverse campuses, tying for the top spot with Andrews University in Michigan. Students at UH Hilo in fall 2021 reported being 15.4% Asian, 8.3% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 19.4% white, and 35.8% of two or more races.


UH Hilo also ranked No. 56 for social mobility, No. 146 as a top U.S. public university, No. 285 overall in the nation and No. 86 for institutions whose students graduated carrying the least debt. In addition, UH Hilo’s School of Nursing is the No. 206 best undergraduate nursing program in the U.S., and the College of Business and Economics placed No. 283 among the best undergraduate business programs.

UH West Oʻahu

UH West Oʻahu ranked No. 11 among best U.S. public colleges in the West, and No. 9 with the least student debt and tied for No. 3 with the highest ethnic diversity, among regional colleges in the West. UH West Oʻahu was also the No. 24-ranked regional college in the West, and No. 19 for social mobility among regional colleges in the West.

Ranking categories

UH Mānoa and UH Hilo were included in the national universities category, which featured institutions that offer a full range of undergraduate majors, master’s and doctoral programs, and emphasize faculty research or award professional practice doctorates. UH West Oʻahu is in the regional colleges in the West category, which includes schools that focus on undergraduate education and grant fewer than 50% of their degrees in liberal arts disciplines.

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