Semester Spotlight


hawaii tuition breakdown

The Semester At-a-Glance


13 Weeks

College Credits

16 Credits

Program Cost

$10,000 - $20,000 sliding scale


Mix of hotels, hostels, homestays (fall 2021), base houses, and student residences

Included Meals

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Anticipated Course Selection

  • Sociology of Identity
  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Special Topics in Hawaii
  • World Literature
  • Rhetoric & Research

Upcoming Program Dates

* Limited Availability *February 19th – May 17th, 2021, Spring 2021 Semester

September – December, Fall 2021 Semester


Location Focus


Spend eight weeks of your Verto semester on the Big Island of Hawaii and a month in Maui. Please note that the below itinerary is a sample schedule – students are placed in small group cohorts with staggered itineraries to support their experiential learning! While studying Cultural Anthropology, learn how Hawaii’s history has shaped its unique culture. Explore Hawaiian values, customs, and traditions through interviews, field notes, and incredible local experiences. While taking a Sociology course focusing on Identity, Politics, and Equity, learn from local NGOs and activists how identity can shape activism and lead to positive social change. Get out and explore some of the island’s most beautiful coastal and inland locations including Waipiʻo Valley and Volcano National Park. Study Hawaii’s natural history and the impact of climate change on Hawaii’s natural environment during your Environmental Science course. Take part in projects rooted in preserving culture and aimed at conserving native species and their habitats through field work in stunning and vulnerable marine habitats.

Arrive in Hawaii

Week 1: Orientation

Aloha! Welcome to Hawaii. Arrive at Kona International airport. Have orientation to the semester in the hills of Kona. Settle into the beautiful eco-lodge that will be your home for the next four weeks. Learn from Ranch staff about the principles of permaculture and the importance of connecting with the land in Hawaiian culture. 

Week 2

Spend a few days working alongside University of Hawaii students and the Department of Land and Natural resources on an ongoing project to replant native species. Speak with Hawaiians about the role of European and American colonialism. In your ethnographic research delve into pre-colonial Hawaiian history and ways in which the culture has and has not been preserved

Week 3

Spend your days working at the farm and learning about the tenets of permaculture and the importance of avoiding monocultures as it relates to Hawaiian traditions, values, spirituality, and social structures. Work on tools of anthropology in participant observation and interviews during your field work. 

Week 4

Visit a nearby Hydrogen lab to learn about alternative energy sources. Learn how solar energy is converted into hydrogen and stored in fuel cells, with excess energy stored in batteries that can be used to power entire homes, and even power grids on a larger scale. Think about sustainable solutions and how this plays into what you’ve been learning about the evolution of Hawaiian culture, and also how you might apply this to your environmental science course later in the semester. 

Week 5

Relocate to the eastern coast of the Big Island to experience a different side of Hawaiian culture. Critically analyze how identity — as defined by others and oneself — shapes culture, politics, and the distribution of power. Partner with various NGOs in the region focusing on ways to maintain Hawaii culture. Learn about the crossroads between land stewardship/conservation and the preservation of indigenous cultures. 

Week 6

Spend a few days living and working with the Pohaha I Ka Lani NGO learning about native Hawaiian culture and agriculture. Connect anthropological studies to positive social change. Knowing where we’ve come from can better guide us toward where we are going. 

Week 7

Speak with representatives from the Protect Mauna Kea Movement to learn about the movement for indigenous land rights, and how their mission ties into the history of native peoples and immigration in Hawaii. Learn about the relationship between identity and activism. 

Week 8

Take some time this week to work on your assignments while visiting Volcano National Park, enjoying some Kona Coffee and the unique landscape of the south side of the Big Island. Visit the cultural center in Volcano and learn about Hawaiian language. Hawaii is in the minority of states that teach a native-indigenous language in the public school system. Study the relationship between power, identity, and language.

Continue on to Maui

Week 9

Pack your bag and say goodbye to the Big Island as you head to the picturesque island of Maui. As a tourism economy that has a historical and cultural connection to the land, Hawaii is at the forefront of balancing the benefits of tourism to the local economy with the importance of conservation. Spend some time working with partners learning about the effect of tourism on the natural environment. 

Week 10

Partner with local leaders working on the conservation of Maui’s oceans and marine habitats. Learn about the efforts of local NGOs, government offices, and citizens to preserve the beauty of Hawaii’s oceans and coasts. This will serve to deepen the conversation you are having in your environmental conservation course. Learn about the efforts to control climate change and the vulnerable position of islands like Hawaii in a warming world.

Week 11

Explore more of Maui as you visit Haleakala National Park and contribute to ecological projects in the area. Learn how globalization has changed the ecology and environment of Hawaii throughout history from when polynesians first brought non-native species to Hawaii through to modern times when the introduction of invasive species has become a more pronounced issue. 

Week 12

Spend your last week in Hawaii enjoying some of the famed sites. Hang out at the beach, grab a surfboard, eat some poke and choose your own adventure a bit. Work on your final assignments while enjoying the beauty around you.



College Readiness Curriculum Seminar

In collaboration with Verto faculty, Program Leaders will facilitate workshops to help students develop study habits to help them be a successful college student. They’ll learn how to manage their time, study efficiently and effectively, read academic text, prepare for exams, and build confidence in their academic capabilities. Activities in the College Readiness Curriculum are hands-on and directly related to creating strong academic habits that will serve students well beyond their Verto semesters.

Purpose-Finding Workshop

Throughout the semester, Program Leaders will facilitate small group workshops to help students discover their purpose and create an action plan for how to follow through on their goals. Each student is assigned an individual Program Leader mentor who helps students set goals for the program and meets with the student regularly to provide feedback and support around the challenges associated with being abroad. This workshop will help students understand culture shock, cross-cultural communication, mindfulness, and help put their semester abroad into the context of their life and the future.

Community Building

Verto Program Teams will create purposeful activities to build a strong community amongst Verto students. The connections you make during your Verto semester will last a lifetime! In addition to the College Readiness and Purpose-Finding workshops, Program Teams will cultivate a community of acceptance, connection, openness, and support amongst Verto students. There are built-in opportunities for students to learn and grow together as a group with an emphasis on peer relationships and teamwork.

Request More Info

Think this might be a good fit?

Let us know and we’d be happy to send you over a detailed overview of the semester and what to expect.

Request More Info Now

Important Information

Details about Verto Hawaii Semester:


Students will live in a mix of hotels, hostels, homestays (fall 2021), base houses, and student residences. All accommodations are approved through Verto’s thorough vetting process and deemed safe and appropriate for students.


3 meals / day are included in the semester fee.


Students are responsible for booking their flights to and from their homes at the beginning and end of the semester (international airfare).

Verto will book flights between the Big Island and Maui.


Excursions built into the semester include taking part in Hawaiian traditions and cultural practices like wayfinding as well as snorkeling, surfing, hiking, waterfalls, plenty of beach time, coffee plantation tours, and a lot more. Your Program Leaders will make sure you know your itinerary at the beginning of each week.


Recommend ~$100 per week. Because all expenses are covered in this semester, students should not need much spending money unless they wanted to purchase snacks, souvenirs, or personal items.

The Cost of Your Semester Includes:

  • 3 meals per day during the semester
  • Drinking water
  • All accommodation while overseas
  • All scheduled events
  • Park entry fees

The Cost of Your Semester Does Not Include:

  • Internal Airfare
  • Snacks
  • Fruit shakes, soft drinks, additional drinks at mealtimes
  • Souvenirs and gifts
  • Medical insurance and treatment
  • Laundry
  • Visa fees
  • Optional activities and associated equipment
  • Food, travel, and accommodation when traveling to, from, or between programs
  • Airline change fees or new tickets for flights to and from programs
  • Any costs associated with early departure from the program
  • Books and other course materials


Classes delivered in Hawaii are, in no particular order:

  • Sociology of Identity
  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology 
  • Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Special Topics in Hawaii
  • Rhetoric and Research / World Literature (full semester)

Let’s Get Started

Ready for the Experience of a Lifetime?

Request More InfoStart Your Application