MA admission and degree requirements


Applicants should have some knowledge of the geographical features, cultural characteristics, and history of the Pacific Islands region, as well as some familiarity with contemporary issues and concerns. Normally 12 credits (or the equivalent) of appropriate Pacific-related course work are expected to satisfy this requirement. In exceptional cases, a student may take prerequisites concurrently with courses meeting degree requirements.

In addition to the application materials required by the UH Graduate Division, applicants must submit a writing sample and three letters of recommendation. The writing sample might be a short term paper or thesis chapter, and should demonstrate an ability to write clearly and knowledgeably about a Pacific-related topic. Letters should normally be solicited from individuals familiar with the applicant’s undergraduate performance who can address questions of academic potential and readiness for graduate level work. The admissions committee is looking for individuals with strong academic backgrounds, whose interests fit well with program requirements and emphases. The committee pays particular attention to the Statement of Objectives section of the general application for evidence of this fit.

Applications for the fall semester, along with supporting documents, must be received by 1 February. The deadline for the spring semester is 1 September.


Language Requirement

On entry, or before graduation, students are required to have a second-year level of competence in an indigenous language of the Pacific, or a pidgin/creole language such as Tok Pisin, Solomons Pijin, or Bislama. The language should be related to the student’s research interests. Competence in an administrative language of the Pacific such as Spanish, French, German, or Japanese may be used to satisfy the requirement, provided this is not the student’s first language, and there is a demonstrated connection with research activities. Language competence is demonstrated by successful completion of appropriate course work, or through an examination conducted by a suitably qualified individual.


Degree Requirements

All MA students are required to complete a minimum of 30 credits of course work, which must include three core seminars, Learning Oceania (PACS 601), Re/Presenting Oceania (PACS 602), and Researching Oceania (PACS 603). The core seminars introduce students to key issues of learning and research in the field of Pacific studies. The seminars are taught in sequence, with PACS 601 and PACS 602 offered in the fall, and PACS 603 in the spring. In addition, students take at least two focus courses (6 credits) directly related to their research or specialty interests. A list of preferred Pacific-related courses offered across the UHM campus serves as a guide in the selection of other courses that will count toward the degree. Courses are selected in consultation with a faculty adviser to form an integrated program of study that strengthens a student’s general knowledge of the region, as well as providing a particular concentration of interests. Students in both the thesis and MA portfolio plans choose a three-person faculty committee to supervise their work, and to evaluate the final product or products. The MA committee must review and approve a comprehensive thesis or portfolio proposal (usually produced as part of the requirements for PACS 603) before the student embarks on the MA thesis or on major components of the portfolio.

All students must pass the MA Written Examination, which provides an opportunity to demonstrate understanding of significant issues in the field of Pacific studies, as well as general knowledge of the region as a whole. Students normally sit the examination at the end of the third semester in the MA program. Successful performance on the examination advances the student to candidacy. A student failing the examination may take it one more time. A second failure results in the student being dropped from the program.


Thesis Requirements

Students selecting the thesis option complete 6 credits of focus course work directly relevant to their research interests, and produce a scholarly, research-based thesis on a Pacific-related topic. The thesis should demonstrate an ability to conduct independent research and represent a significant contribution to this interdisciplinary field of study. It should address a significant question, issue, or theme, and include a thorough review of relevant written and other resources. Students are expected to cross established disciplinary boundaries and explore topics using multiple conceptual lenses. The thesis must include a substantial written component that is normally at least one hundred pages (or 30,000 words) in length. It can include performance, creative writing, or multimedia components in dialogue with the text to better communicate the scholarly work.

Students pursuing the thesis option satisfy credit requirements as follows:

Core seminars (PACS 601, 602, 603)
09 credits
Focus courses
06 credits
Elective courses
09 credits
Thesis credits (PACS 700)
06 credits
Total
30 credits

At least 15 credit hours of this course work must be in courses numbered 600 and above (excluding PACS 700). Normally, only 3 credits of Directed Reading and Research (PACS 699) can be used to satisfy the focus requirement.


MA Portfolio Requirements

Students selecting this option identify and explore a Pacific-related specialty area. Expertise in the specialized subject matter is demonstrated through an integrated program of study that includes (1) 6 credits of focus course work directly relevant to the specialty area; (2) an essay or research report of at least 25 pages in length (approximately 8,000 words) that explores a central aspect of the specialty area; and (3) a substantial performance, multimedia, artistic, or written product directly related to the specialty area. This component of the portfolio will normally complement the essay or research report described above, and can be combined with it to form a single product of at least 50 pages in length (approximately 16,000 words).

Students pursuing the portfolio option satisfy credits requirements as follows:

Core seminars (PACS 601, 602, 603)
09 credits
Focus courses
06 credits
Elective courses
09 credits
MA projects (PACS 695)
06 credits
Total
30 credits

At least 18 credit hours of course work must be in courses numbered 600 and above (excluding PACS 695). Normally, only 3 credits of Directed Reading and Research (PACS 699) can be used to satisfy the focus requirement. Students earn 3 credits of Master’s Project (PACS 695) for their work on the essay or research report, and a further 3 credits for the third component of the portfolio.


Performance, Creative Writing, Artwork
and Multimedia Options

Innovative approaches to knowledge production are encouraged. MA projects (thesis or MA portfolio) must include a substantial analytical, text-based component, but can incorporate elements of performance (eg, dance, theater), creative writing (eg, fiction or poetry), artwork (eg, painting, photography), or multimedia (eg, video, audio, digital media). Students intending to include performance, creative writing, artwork, or multimedia components must satisfy the MA committee that they have or will acquire the appropriate proficiencies. The issue of proficiency should be addressed in the project proposal with reference to relevant course work, academic background, or prior experience. Performances must be supervised by members of the MA committee, fully rehearsed, and videotaped for submission, along with the written component, to the center and, in the case of theses, to Graduate Division.


MA Committees

All MA students form a three-person committee to supervise their work and evaluate the thesis or MA portfolio products. Graduate Division requires that committee members be UH Mānoa graduate faculty, although students can petition for exceptions to this rule. The chair and at least one other member should be members of the core or affiliate faculty of the Center for Pacific Islands Studies. Students normally form the committee toward the end of their first year in residence, or after they have prepared a comprehensive thesis or MA portfolio proposal.

 

 

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