State Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi's contract ends on June 30.
And either Linda Chen or Christina Kishimoto will be taking her place.
The two finalists for the position were selected from some 92 applications, 17 of whom are from Hawaii.
Chen and Kishimoto have Hawaii ties, but neither has ever worked in Hawaii schools.
"I think the reason these two rose to the top was because of their experience, their expertise, their interviews. They engaged well with us," Board of Education Chairman Lance Mizumoto said.
Chen taught in public schools in Seattle and New York, and held administrative positions in Boston and Philadelphia. She is now an education consultant in Baltimore who touts her experiences as preparation to be the "lead learner in Hawaii."
Kishimoto is superintendent of public schools in Gilbert, Ariz. She also worked as the schools superintendent in Hartford, Conn.
She calls herself a "ready leader who values community driven initiatives supported by progressive policy, leadership and design structures."
"They were very well aware of our single district state," Mizumoto said. "They were excited about the opportunity of working in this type of environment. They understand the challenges but also the opportunities."
The teachers union leaders will have a chance to meet the candidates before one is selected. "One of the biggest priorities is someone that starts looking at the whole child, rather than just looking at tests," said Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee. "If the superintendent holds those values I think it's a good step."
The Board of Education will interview Chen and Kishimoto on May 11, and then will decide who gets the job.
An announcement will be made after a contract is finalized.