Edmondson 216
2538 McCarthy Mall
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-6451
Fax: (808) 956-9111

Dean: Aloysius G. Helminck
Associate Dean: Alison R. Sherwood

Departments and programs: Chemistry and Biochemistry, (Computer Sciences, Information and Computer Sciences), Mathematics, (Astronomy, Astrophysics, Physics), School of Life Sciences (Biology, Botany, Marine Biology, Marine Option Program, Microbiology, Molecular Cell Biology, Zoology)

General Information

The mission of the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) is to:

  • prepare students to function in a world of rapid scientific and technological change;
  • teach the meaning and role of scientific method and its importance to society;
  • prepare students for significant positions in the increasingly technological societies of Hawai‘i, the U.S., the Pacific Rim or the nations of the world;
  • ensure that students understand the meaning and importance of scientific ethics;
  • create new knowledge in Mathematics, Information and Computer Science, the Physical Sciences and the Life Sciences; to apply that knowledge for the betterment of people everywhere; and
  • cultivate a sense of excitement about important scientific discoveries, both old and new.

CNS subscribes to the value of a liberal arts education that stresses the integration of knowledge to enhance students’ understanding of life, the human condition, and the world in which we live. The curriculum also entails critical thinking, which enables students to evaluate arguments, ideas, and theories, and to develop creative and meaningful applications of what they learn. The curriculum gives students the tools of inquiry, enabling them first to identify important questions and then to seek, analyze, and interpret possible answers to issues of their lives, world, and universe. The curriculum also provides opportunities to develop students’ artistic and creative imaginations and their oral and written communication skills so that they can effectively present their ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Since values guide human actions, the curriculum allows students to examine their own values and learn about those of others in order to help students understand themselves and others around the world.

Students who earn their degree in CNS will find that an ideal education, based in the liberal arts, prepares students for productive lives and careers, enlightened citizenship, and lifelong learning. The college enhances students’ learning opportunities by promoting active participation.

Accreditations and Affiliations

All academic programs are reviewed and evaluated regularly by campus and external faculty committees. Some academic programs, because of the nature of the discipline, are also accredited or certified by national organizations. Check with individual academic departments and programs for their accreditation status or affiliation with national or international organizations.

Scholarships and Awards

CNS and its departments provide scholarships and awards to exceptional students. For a selective list of scholarships, see “Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid.” If you wish specific information on prizes or scholarships offered through CNS, contact the appropriate department.

Honor Societies

Honor societies in CNS include Golden Key National Honour Society (undergraduate), Lambda Delta (freshmen), Mortar Board (seniors), Phi Beta Kappa (liberal arts and sciences), Phi Eta Sigma (freshmen), and Phi Kappa Phi (general scholarship).

Student Organizations

Societies and clubs associated with many departments within CNS give students opportunities to explore a field from an informal perspective, get acquainted with other students with similar interests, and learn of the options available upon graduation. CNS highly recommends active student involvement in these associations for the academic and professional enhancements they provide. Check with your major department’s advisor for information.

Undergraduate Programs

CNS offers Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees in 13 different majors. In addition, CNS offers numerous minors and certificates. Detailed program information is available from departments and advising offices.

Throughout their time at UH Mānoa, CNS students should meet with both their college and major advisors to discuss their educational plans.

Students interested in a CNS major should declare their major no later than the end of their sophomore year by submitting a Declaration of Major form to the appropriate advising office. Students are encouraged to declare their CNS major as soon as possible, preferably during the freshman year, because they require courses that must be taken in a specific order. Information on specific majors, minors, and certificates is available through the respective academic departments and their websites.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for CNS are the same as those for UH Mānoa. Some majors and programs, however, have additional admission requirements (see departments’ sections).

Steps to Graduation

  1. Complete the five requirement areas for undergraduate degrees as described in the following section and remain in good academic standing (see “UH Mānoa Graduation Requirements” under “GPA”).
  2. File for graduation one to three semesters in advance by following the instructions provided by the CNS Advising Office.
  3. Pay the UH Mānoa diploma fee in order to receive a diploma.

Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees from CNS

Students are encouraged to explore connections between disciplinary fields, engage in co-curricular activities, and develop unique combinations of majors, minors, certificates, and electives.

CNS students must fulfill the following five areas of requirements: UH Mānoa General Education Core; UH Mānoa Graduation; CNS Degree; College of Natural Sciences; and CNS Major. When selecting courses and making plans, students should refer to their respective “Bachelor Degree Program Sheets” and “Sample Four Year Academic Plans” on the OVPAE bachelor degree program sheets website (programsheets/).

General Education Core Requirements

CNS students must fulfill the UH Mānoa General Education Core, which consists of Foundations and Diversification requirements. Some of the courses that fulfill these Core requirements may be double dipped with other requirements (see “General Education”).

The minimum course grade to fulfill Core requirements is a D (not D-). These requirements must be taken for a letter grade, unless the course is offered only with the CR/NC grade option.

UH Mānoa Graduation Requirements

CNS students must fulfill the UH Mānoa Graduation requirements, which consist of Focus, Hawaiian or Second Language (HSL), credit, and grade point average (GPA) requirements (see “General Education” and “Undergraduate Education”).

The minimum course grade to fulfill Focus and HSL requirements is a D (not D-). These requirements must be taken for a letter grade, unless the course is offered only with the CR/NC grade option.


  • Students must earn a minimum of 120 total applicable credits, of which at least 45 credits must be upper division (300-level and above) and at least 30 credits must be completed in residence at UH Mānoa. CNS majors should contact their advising office for information on their upper division requirement, which may be modified for certain CNS degrees.
  • Students must complete their academic work and apply for a degree in a timely manner (see “Excess Credit Policy”). Grade Point Average (GPA)

To graduate, students must earn at least a 2.0 GPA (C average) for all UH Mānoa registered credits and must not be on academic action (i.e., probation, suspension, dismissal). Some majors or programs have specific GPA requirements (see departments’ sections). Students with a cumulative GPA lower than 2.0 will be placed on academic action.

CNS Degree and College Requirements

CNS offers Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees; the BS degree has specific requirements as listed below. Courses used to fulfill these requirements can double dip with UH Mānoa General Education Core, UH Mānoa Graduation, and CNS Major requirements.

Bachelor of Science (BS)

  • Calculus I: MATH 215, 241, or 251A (these courses also satisfy the UH Mānoa General Education Core “FQ” requirement)
  • Calculus II: MATH 216, 242, or 252A
  • Chemistry: CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L, or 171/171L, or 181A/181L
  • Physics: PHYS 151/151L and 152/152L, or 170/170L and 272/272L

(These Chemistry and Physics lecture courses also satisfy the UH Mānoa General Education Core “DP” requirement, and these lab courses also satisfy the UH Mānoa General Education Core “DY” requirement.)

Note: Many introductory language, science, and mathematics courses require an assessment examination to determine appropriate placement. Information about assessment exams appears each semester in UH Mānoa’s Guide to Registration or Placement Exams and Course Placement at

Credit Maximums*

Practicum courses: 12 credits
Directed reading and research (-99) courses: 9 credits
Activity courses (such as KRS): 8 credits

*CNS students can take as many credits in these areas as they would like, but only credits up to these maximums apply to the total 120 credits needed for graduation.

“Requirements that may be double-dipped” (Please go to the “Undergraduate General Education Requirements” section of the Catalog.) “This double dip chart applies only to CNS degrees/majors on a 2002-2003 core year or later, and applies only to majors in the former Colleges of Arts and Sciences (this includes majors in the College of Natural Sciences, the College of Social Sciences, and the College of Arts, Languages, and Letters)”

CNS Major Requirements

Major requirements are explained in the department sections in this Catalog and on department websites.

The minimum course grade to fulfill major and majorrelated requirements is a C (not C-), unless otherwise indicated on degree program sheets. These requirements must be taken for a letter grade, unless the course is offered only with the CR/NC grade option.

CNS students should meet regularly with their advisor to ensure their progress and to graduate on time.

Multiple Majors/Degrees and Minors

Students are encouraged to consider applying for additional majors/degrees, minors, certificates, or a combination. Pursuing additional academic fields of study can benefit students in many ways, including the opportunity to discover relationships across disciplines, develop diverse perspectives, strengthen one’s appreciation for the acquisition of knowledge in more than one academic field, and enhance one’s ability to problem solve and communicate in a variety of settings.

Multiple Majors/Degrees

To be eligible, applicants for multiple majors/degrees and minors must be:

  • enrolled as a classified student in CNS;
  • in good academic standing (have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher); and
  • able to complete all requirements and still graduate in a timely manner.

To apply for multiple majors/degrees, students should visit the CNS advising office for instructions and the application form. Applicants will need to submit:

  • an application form (UHM-3);
  • an academic plan showing timely graduation; and
  • a brief but formal written statement explaining why the student would like to pursue multiple majors.

Second Major Option

Students who have already graduated with a baccalaureate degree and wish to add just another major (as opposed to an entire second baccalaureate degree) should enroll as a Post-Baccalaureate Unclassified (PBU) student. Students interested in pursuing the post-baccalaureate Second Major Option should meet with an advisor to request permission and to identify remaining requirements for the major.

Second Baccalaureate Degree

Students who have already graduated with a baccalaureate degree and wish to add another degree (with major as well as General Education requirements) should apply as a second degree student.

Priority for admission into any CNS baccalaureate program is given to students seeking their first undergraduate degree. Applicants must meet all admission requirements for the degree program to which they are applying, and applications must be received by the Office of Admissions by established deadlines.

Applications for a second baccalaureate degree will be considered only if there is a demonstrable difference in curricula and objectives between the student’s previous degree and the one to which the student is applying. Course work used towards a major/minor/certificate in the first degree cannot be used to satisfy requirements for the second degree, excepting only when the exact same course with no alternative option is required by both.

Students must earn a minimum of 30 credits in courses taken at UH Mānoa after admission as a second baccalaureate degree candidate while continuously enrolled in the colleges. For more information, see the CNS Advising office.

Minors and Certificates

In addition to the major concentrations that are part of every bachelor degree, students may choose to pursue one or more minors and/or certificates in an area of personal interest. Minors and certificates signify that a student has completed a defined body of work in a particular department or program.

Minors are part of the undergraduate degree and are conferred by UH Mānoa’s Office of the Registrar when students graduate.

The Board of Regents has granted specified programs and departments the right to confer certificates, and certificates can be conferred as soon as the student completes the program’s requirements. Some certificates are only for graduate students.

CNS offers numerous minors and certificates. Most minors and certificates require a minimum of 15 credits of upper division course work, completed with a grade of C (not C-) or better and with an overall GPA of 2.5 or higher. Information on specific minors and certificates can be obtained from the appropriate department or program

To add a minor or certificate, students submit a “Certification of Minor” form.

Graduate Programs

CNS offers Masters of Arts (MA), Masters of Science (MS), and Doctoral (PhD) degrees in 10 academic majors. Information regarding graduate programs and admission is in the “Graduate Division” section of the Catalog. Check each department’s section for information about their specific program(s) and requirements.

Professional Programs

Pre-professional students, i.e., students who plan to pursue careers in professional fields such as Education, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Social Work, etc., often need extra course work, extracurricular activities, exams, and preparation and should seek academic advising as early as possible.


Within the context of a liberal education, the College of Natural Sciences assists students in clarifying their life and career goals, developing meaningful educational plans, and preparing for productive lives, enlightened citizenship, and lifelong learning. Students are expected to be active partners in the advising process by initiating contact with their advisors and by coming to advising sessions prepared.

Students at UH Mānoa have exceptional freedom in crafting their college experience. Students are able to explore connections between fields, engage in co-curricular activities, and develop unique combinations of majors, minors, and certificates. In addition to meeting all mandatory advising initiatives required by their major departments, declared Natural Sciences majors meet with their advisors throughout their career at UH Mānoa for clarification of degree requirements, individual concerns, and resolution of complex academic issues.

Advising Offices

Hamilton Library 002K
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-5911
Fax: (808) 956-9111

Instructional and Research Centers

The Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit

3190 Maile Way
Room 408
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-0808
Fax: (808) 956-4710

Director: S. Honarvar

The mission of the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit (PCSU) is to protect and restore Hawai‘i’s native species, ecosystems, and cultural resources. With a staff of over 300, PCSU has a 45-year history of working to protect cultural and natural biodiversity in the Pacific, while encouraging a sustainable economy.

Degrees, Minors and Certificates

Bachelor’s Degrees: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS)
Master’s Degrees: Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS)
Doctoral Degrees: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

College Certificate

Mathematical Biology Undergraduate Certificate

The purpose of the certificate is to encourage students to pursue the interdisciplinary study of biology and mathematics together with research. The course work will be similar to, but less than, that required to receive a minor in mathematics or biology. However, the students will also have to do a substantial amount of research in addition to the course work. The emphasis in the certificate is different, however, in that the majority of the work is interdisciplinary

Students will be considered accepted into the Mathematical Biology Certificate Program upon formal request for acceptance and completion of either MATH 304 or 305 with a grade of C or better. To receive the certificate, students must complete 15 credits of approved course work with no grade below a C and attain a GPA of 2.5 in the collection of courses used to satisfy the certificate requirements. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the certificate, 6 credits of required electives will differ depending on a student’s major. Courses used towards the certificate can only be double-dipped with focus requirements.

Participation in an interdisciplinary Mathematical Biology research project is required. These projects must be substantial, requiring at least the effort of a 3 credit 400-level course; examples include a senior honors research project, summer Research Experiences for Undergraduate programs, and the Undergraduate Biology and Mathematics Research Program; students are advised to discuss their projects with an advisor from the Mathematical Biology Certificate Coordinating Committee before commencing. A research report based on this research project must be submitted to and approved by the committee. Students are expected to present their research to an approved symposium or conference. Students may enroll for 3 credits of MATH 499, BIOL 499, HON 496 or other approved course so long as the project is approved by the Mathematical Biology Certificate Coordinating Committee.

Prerequisites to the Certificate

  • BIOL 171 (lab not required)
  • CHEM 161 or 171 (lab not required)
  • year of calculus (MATH 215/216, MATH 241/242, MATH 251A/252A
  • electives may have additional prerequisites

Requirements for the Certificate (15 credits)

  • Required courses (9 credits): MATH 304, 304L, 305, 305L, MATH/BIOL 490 (capstone); Math majors may replace MATH 304 or 305 by a 3 credit course covering their research project, as described above.
  • Certificate Electives (6 credits):
    • Math majors: BIOL 172 (lab not required) and one additional biology course approved by the committee;
    • Life science majors: two courses selected from MATH 243/253A, 301, 302, 303, 307, 311, 371, 373, 402, 403, 407, 414, 471, or 472. Life science majors may replace one of these courses by a 3 credit course covering their research project, as described above;
    • Other majors: at least 6 credits of electives approved by the Committee.

Honor Societies

Honor societies at UH Mānoa in the College of Natural Sciences include Beta Phi Mu (library science), Golden Key National Honour Society (undergraduate), Lambda Delta (freshmen), Mortar Board (seniors), Phi Beta Kappa (liberal arts and sciences), Phi Eta Sigma (freshmen), Phi Kappa Phi (general scholarship), Sigma Pi Sigma (physics), and Sigma Xi The Scientific Research Society (sciences).