Cover Photo Image


O'ahu, Hawai'i, USA

Program Description

This program offers a single course that is cross-listed as MUS 200 and MUS 498. MUS 200 will satisfy 3 credits of students' Arts and Humanities General Education requirements in the Visual and Performing Arts area. MUS 498 can be counted for Music majors as an elective.

This course will provide hands-on learning experiences as students are submersed first-hand into the traditional and current experiences of this Pacific culture, learning from and engaging with the musical culture of the Hawaiian Islands.

Without the need for a passport, students will travel overseas to learn more about the official 50th state of the United States of America. While Hawai’i is our “newest” state, it’s civilization dates back to as early as 400 A.D. Hawai’i still prides itself on staying true to its Polynesian roots, which can be heard in the sweet sounds of traditional and popular Hawaiian music. This summer session includes unique opportunities to understand this exotic culture while fulfilling 3 credits of General Education requirements while living like the locals do… spending 3 weeks exploring two Hawaiian Islands, unique terrain, music, dancing, and cuisine. Students will attend and actively participate in the Hawaii Songwriting Festival (open to those who appreciate all genres of music, with no musical background or professional experience); visit important historical sites such as Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and the Hawai’i National Volcanoes Park (visiting both Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes and Maunaloa, the world’s largest active subaerial volcano). Students will experience the fusion of Pacific and Western Cultures in Waikiki and check-out the world-renown surfing realm of the North Shore. Enjoy learning about the hula - the storytelling dance of the Hawaiian Islands - and dine in restaurants that honor the traditional cooking methods of the early Polynesian people. The opportunities to explore the most exotic state in the United States of America are boundless.

Students do not need to have a passport, speak another language, play a musical instrument, or read music to participate in this study abroad session. All majors are welcome! The only requirement is that you are intrigued to learn more about the beautiful and culturally rich islands of Hawai’i.

Location Description

Students will spend a bulk of their three-week study abroad adventure on the third largest of the Hawaiian islands, O’ahu. Home to the State Capital of Honolulu, as well as the iconic historical site of Pearl Harbor, O’ahu is sometimes called “The Gathering Place.” This well-deserved nickname honors O’ahu’s diverse population, a fusion of East and West cultures rooted in the values and traditions of the Native Hawaiian people. This stark and fundamental contrast between the ancient and the contemporary, marked in the bustling city life of Waikiki to the laidback surf towns near North Shore, is what makes this island so unique and inviting.


Amy Birdsong | | School of Music


Students will be housed primarily in student housing at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. The University of Hawai'i at Manoa is located in lush Manoa valley, on the main island of O'ahu, approximately 8 miles from Honolulu International Airport, 4 miles from downtown Honolulu, and just 2.5 miles from world-famous Waikiki. This 4-year public institution was founded in 1907 (one year prior to JMU’s inception), and boasts approximately 14,000 undergraduate students who have the opportunity to study over 200 degrees in one of its 17 programs/schools. Like JMU, the University of Hawai’i at Manoa is classified as a R1 Carnegie rated institution, with heavy evidence of strong research in their graduate programs. The University enjoys a strong Division 1 Athletic presence nationally, while also heavily supporting the performing arts in their Department of Music. Their Music Department offers both Western music via private studios, orchestra, choirs, bands, theory, and musicology—alongside a staggering range of Eastern and non-traditional musical options—from jazz and pop to Asian-Pacific chamber ensemble and Hawaiian music courses.

Student housing includes single or double occupancy rooms, minimally shared bathrooms, community kitchen, game room, wi-fi, furnishings, air-conditioning, lounges, and laundry rooms.

Public transportation is easily available to students via TheBus, the Honolulu city bus system which regularly stops on campus and other nearby locations.

Once in Hawai’i, students will be provided 2 meals per day. Students should allocate money for a third meal daily.

Additional Items to Consider

Documents for travel to/from Hawaii and within the Hawaiian Islands are the same for any other U.S. state; students will only need a valid government photo ID.

Cell phone usage in Hawai'i is is easy. If you have a mobile phone plan with a U.S. carrier, you should have coverage in Hawaii without any additional fees or roaming charges.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Open to students of all majors and class levels.

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay
  • Resume
  • Academic References
  • Interview with Program Director may be required
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students; Unofficial transcript required for JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in.

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


MUS 200: Music in General Culture (3 credits) GEN-ED CREDIT

MUS 498: Selected Topics in Music (3 credits) ELECTIVE CREDIT

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


Back to Top