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Undergraduate General Education Requirements

General Education Overview

UH Manoa Core Requirements

1. Foundations Requirements

  • Written Communication (FW*; 3 credits)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (FQ*; 3 credits) replaces Symbolic Reasoning (FS*; 3 credits) effective Fall 2018
  • Global and Multicultural Perspectives (FGA, FGB, FGC*; 6 credits)

2. Diversification Requirements

  • Arts, Humanities, and Literatures (6 credits from 2 categories)
    – Arts (DA*)
    – Humanities (DH*)
    – Literatures (DL*)
  • Social Sciences (DS*; a total of 6 credits from 2 different departments)
  • Natural Sciences
    –Biological Science (DB*; 3 credits)
    –Physical Science (DP*; 3 credits)
    –Laboratory (science) (DY*; 1 credit )

UH Manoa Special Graduation Requirements

3. Focus Requirements

  • Contemporary Ethical Issues (E or ETH**; 1 course, 300- or 400-level)
  • Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Issues (H or HAP**; 1 course, any level)
  • Oral Communication (O or OC**; 1 course, 300- or 400-level)
  • Writing Intensive (W or WI**; 5 courses, at least two of which are at the 300- or 400-level)

4. Hawaiian or Second Language (HSL*; competence at the 202 level)

(Some colleges/schools have waived or modified this requirement. Consult your college/school advisor.)

* These abbreviations appear after course descriptions to identify courses that meet specific requirements. See the “Courses” section in this Catalog to view course descriptions.

** The STAR Degree Check indicates Focus classes by “H,” “E,” “O,” and “W.” Check “Class Availability” at uhdad/avail.classes?i=MAN, indicates Focus sections with “ETH,” “HAP,” “OC,” and “WI.”

To obtain an undergraduate degree from UH Manoa, a student must satisfy: (a) General Education requirements, (b) requirements of the student’s college or school, and (c) requirements of the student’s specific academic major. Consulting the college/school advising office can help a student select courses that simultaneously satisfy more than one requirement. This section of the Catalog describes the four components of the UH Manoa General Education requirements:

  1. Foundations
  2. Diversification
  3. Focus
  4. Hawaiian or Second Language

Foundations and Diversification together are UH Manoa Core requirements. Focus and Hawaiian or Second Language together are UH Manoa Special Graduation requirements.

Students who transfer to UH Manoa having completed the Foundations/Basic requirements at another UH System school are considered to have fulfilled UH Manoa Foundations requirements. Students who transfer to UH Manoa having completed the Diversification/Area requirements at another UH System school are considered to have fulfilled UH Manoa Diversification requirements. Finally, students who transfer to UH Manoa having completed both the Foundations/Basic and the Diversification/Area requirements at another UH System school are considered to have fulfilled the UH Manoa Core (Foundations and Diversification) requirements.

A grade of D (not D-) or higher is required for a course to fulfill General Education requirements. The Credit/No Credit option is not allowed for any course taken to fulfill a General Education requirement, with the exception of those courses offered only for CR/NC. (See “Grades” of the Catalog for additional information.)

1. Foundations Requirement: 12 credits

The Foundations requirements are intended to give students skills and perspectives that are fundamental to undertaking higher education. Students should complete the Foundations requirements during their first year at UH Manoa. Courses taken to fulfill the Foundations requirements may not be used to fulfill Diversification or Focus requirements.

  • Written Communication (FW): 3 credits

Written Communication (FW) courses introduce students to the rhetorical, conceptual, and stylistic demands of writing at the college level. Students receive instruction in composing processes, search strategies, and how to access and use various types of primary and secondary materials.

FW Courses

  • AMST 111 Introduction to American Studies Writing
  • ENG 100, 100A Composition I
  • ENG 190 Composition I for Transfer Students to UH Manoa
  • ESL 100 Composition I for Second Language Writers

To enroll in a course that meets the Written Communication requirement, students must first determine their course eligibility by visiting gened/foundations. Non-native speakers of English should visit hawaii.edu/eli or contact the English Language Institute at (808) 956-8610, uhmeli@hawaii.edu.

Students can satisfy the FW requirement by earning a score of 4 or 5 on either of the Advanced Placement (AP) English examinations; see admissions/pdf/AP.pdf for details.

  • Quantitative Reasoning (FQ) 3 credits

Effective Fall 2018, Quantitative Reasoning (FQ) replaces Symbolic Reasoning (FS) as a General Education requirement. To ensure there is adequate time for students who entered the UH System prior to Fall 2018 to complete their FS requirement, FS courses will be offered through Summer 2023 at UH Manoa and through Summer 2020 at UH community colleges.

The primary goal of FQ courses is to develop mathematical reasoning skills at the college level. Students apply mathematical concepts to the interpretation and analysis of quantifiable information in order to solve a wide range of problems arising in pure and applied research in specific disciplines, professional settings, and/or daily life.

Students entering the UH System in Fall 2018 and beyond may select courses with the FQ designation. Students who entered the UH System prior to Fall 2018 and have been continuously enrolled should refer to their original catalog year requirements. Students should contact their designated college/school academic or faculty advisor for more information.

FQ/FS Courses

  • BUS 250* Applied Math in Business
  • ICS 141 Discrete Mathematics for Computer Science I
  • MATH 100 Survey of Mathematics
  • MATH 112* Math for Elementary Teachers II
  • MATH 140** Precalculus: Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry
  • MATH 161 Precalculus and Elements of Calculus for Economics and the Social Sciences
  • MATH 203** Calculus for Business and Social Sciences
  • MATH 215** Applied Calculus I
  • MATH 241** Calculus I
  • MATH 251A** Accelerated Calculus I
  • NREM 203 Applied Calculus for Management, Life Sciences, and Human Resources

FQ Courses

  • ANTH 220 Quantitative Reasoning for Anthropologists
  • ATMO/GG/ERTH/OCN 150 Introduction to Quantitative Earth and Environmental Science
  • COMG 102 Everyday Communication with Numbers: A Survival Guide
  • GG/ERTH 102/SUST 113 Quantifying Global and Environmental Change
  • PH 210 Quantitative Reasoning for Public Health
  • PHIL 111 Introduction to Inductive Logic
  • SOC 176 Introduction to Data Analysis

* Course has a prerequisite.
** Requires placement by Math Department’s Precalculus Assessment; visit math.hawaii.edu.

  • Global and Multicultural Perspectives (FG): 2 courses, 6 credits

Global and Multicultural Perspectives (FG) courses provide thematic treatments of global processes and cross-cultural interactions from a variety of perspectives. Students will trace human development from prehistory to modern times through examination of narratives and artifacts from diverse cultures. At least one component of each of these courses will involve the Indigenous cultures of Hawai‘i, the Pacific, and Asia.

FG Courses

To satisfy this requirement, students must take a total of six credits; the six credits must come from two different groups.

Group A (FGA; courses cover the time period prehistory to 1500)

  • ANTH 151, 151A Emerging Humanity
  • ART 175 Survey of Global Art I
  • CLAS/LLEA 151 World Myth to 1500 C.E.
  • HIST 151 World History to 1500
  • HIST 161A World Cultures in Perspective
  • OCN 105/SUST 115 Sustainability in a Changing World
  • PHIL 130 Introduction to World Philosophy I
  • REL/WS 149 Introduction to the World’s Goddesses
  • WS 175 History of Gender, Sex, and Sexuality in Global Perspectives to 1500 CE

Group B (FGB; courses cover the time period 1500 to modern times)

  • AMST 150 America and the World
  • ANTH 152, 152A Culture and Humanity
  • ART 176, 176A Survey of Global Art II
  • FSHN 141 Culture and Cuisine: The Global Diversity of Food
  • GEOG 102 World Regional Geography
  • HAW 100 Language in Hawa‘i: A Microcosm of Global Language Issues
  • HIST 152 World History since 1500
  • HIST 162A World Cultures in Perspective
  • LING 105 Language Endangerment, Globalization, and Indigenous Peoples
  • PHIL 131 Introduction to World Philosophy II
  • POLS 150 Introduction to Global Politics
  • POLS 160/SOCS 180 Introduction to International and Global Studies
  • TIM 102 Food and World Cultures
  • WS 176 History of Gender, Sex and Sexuality in Global Perspective, 1500 CE to the Present

Group C (FGC; courses cover the time period prehistory to modern times)

  • BOT 107, 107A Plants, People, and Culture
  • ERTH 135 Natural Disasters and Human History
  • GEOG 151 Geography and Contemporary Society
  • HIST 156 World History of Human Disease
  • HIST 157 Global Environmental History
  • MUS 107, 107A Music in World Cultures
  • POLS 140 Introduction to Indigenous Politics
  • REL 150 Introduction to the World’s Major Religions
  • SLS 150 Learning Languages and Communicating Interculturally in a Global Multilingual World

For Non-UH System Transfer Students Only

Students who transfer from a non-UH System school with one or more western civilization courses will be required to take only three credits of Foundations-Global and Multicultural Perspectives. If the course or courses that they have taken are time-period specific, the credits that they take at UH Manoa must cover a different time period.

2. Diversification Requirement: 19 credits

The Diversification requirements are intended to assure that every student has exposure to different domains of academic knowledge, while at the same time allowing flexibility in choice of courses for students with different goals and interests.

Students can complete the Diversification requirements over the full four years of their academic program. Students may satisfy the Diversification requirements by taking approved courses for which they meet course prerequisites. Some courses that satisfy Diversification requirements may also simultaneously satisfy Focus and/or major requirements. (See the “Can a single course satisfy more than one requirement?” table)

Can a single course satisfy more than one requirement?

Requirements Hawaiian/ Second Language Foundations Diversification Focus Major Minor/ Certificate
Hawaiian/ Second Language no no yes no no
Foundations no no no yes no
Diversification no no yes yes no
Focus yes no yes yes yes yes
Major no yes yes yes no
Minor/ Certificate no no no yes no
  • Arts, Humanities, and Literatures (DA, DH, DL): 6 credits

To satisfy this requirement, students must take six credits; the six credits must include two of the three different areas: Arts “DA,” Humanities “DH,” and Literatures “DL.”

  • Social Sciences (DS): 6 credits

To satisfy this requirement, students must take a total of six credits from two different departments.*

  • Natural Sciences (DB, DP, DY): 7 credits

To satisfy this requirement, students must take three credits in Biological Science “DB,” three credits in Physical Science “DP,” and one credit of Science Laboratory “DY.”

Diversification Courses

Diversification courses are identified in this Catalog in the “Courses” section with the following letters after the course description:
DA = Arts
DB = Biological Science
DH = Humanities
DL = Literatures
DP = Physical Science
DS = Social Science
DY = Laboratory (science)

*Some departments have multiple course alphas. Students who take their two DS courses from the same department but with different course alphas are considered to have fulfilled the DS requirement. For example, the Family and Consumer Sciences Department offers two course alphas: Human Development & Family Studies (HDFS) and Fashion Design and Merchandising (FDM). A student who takes HDFS 230 and FDM 200 is considered to have fulfilled the DS requirement.

3. Focus Requirements

The Focus requirements identify important additional skills and knowledge necessary for living and working in diverse communities. Courses fulfilling Focus requirements are offered in departments across the curriculum and vary each semester. To meet a Focus requirement, a course must have an official UH Manoa Focus designation during the semester in which it is taken. Courses taken outside the UH System cannot be used to fulfill Focus requirements. Instead, non-UH System transfer students’ Focus requirements are adjusted according to the number of credit hours awarded by UH Manoa for non-UH System courses.

  • Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Issues (H or HAP): 1 course, any level

These courses focus on issues in Native Hawaiian and Asian or Pacific cultures and history; they promote cross-cultural understanding between nations and cultures.

  • Contemporary Ethical Issues (E or ETH): 1 course, 300- or 400-level

These courses involve significant readings on, and discussion of, contemporary ethical issues; they give students tools for the development of responsible ethical judgments.

  • Oral Communication (O or OC): 1 course, 300- or 400-level

These courses provide students with training in oral delivery and give them the opportunity to do individual and/or group oral reports.

  • Writing Intensive (W or WI): 5 courses, including at least two at the 300- or 400-level

These courses collectively help students both to learn course content and to communicate through writing. Small writing-intensive classes, in which instructors work with students on writing related to course topics, are offered in nearly all departments.

Note: Students are strongly encouraged to satisfy the Foundations-Written Communication (FW) requirement before they enroll in writing-intensive courses.

Focus Courses

Focus courses change each semester. Therefore, Focus designations are not shown in this Catalog, but appear each semester on Class Availability at uhdad/avail.classes?i=MAN. Focus designations are indicated in the GenEd/Focus column as ETH, HAP, OC, and WI.

Focus Requirements for Students with Non-UH System Credits

Students who transfer credits from a non-UH System institution may have adjusted (“prorated”) Focus requirements. The adjustment is based on the number of non-UH System transfer credit hours accepted when a student is admitted to UH Manoa as a degree-seeking student. Non-UH System credits completed while an active UH Manoa student are not included in proration (summer courses, Study Abroad, National Student Exchange, etc.).

Focus Requirement
Number of accepted non-UH credit hours: W H E O
0–36 5* 1 1 1
37–54 4* 1 1 1
55–88 3* 1 1-E or 1-O
89+ 2* 1 0 0
*At least two “W” courses must be numbered at the 300- or 400- level.

Focus Requirements for UH System Transfer Students

Students who enter the UH System in Fall 2011 and thereafter must meet all of the Focus requirements. Students who entered the UH System from Spring 2005 through Spring 2011 must meet requirements given in the following table. Students who entered UH prior to Spring 2005 should check with a UH Manoa college/school advisor to determine their Focus requirements. Depending on the number of UH transfer credit hours accepted, E and O requirements for transfer students may be reduced. The W and H requirements are not affected, since students may transfer approved UH System courses to help them satisfy the W and H Focus requirements.

Focus Requirement
Number of accepted UH credit hours: W H E O
0–54 5* 1 1 1
55–88 5* 1 1-E or 1-O
89+ 5* 1 0 0
*At least two “W” courses must be numbered at the 300- or 400- level.

Exemption from a Focus Requirement

Students who have engaged in one or more extraordinary educational experiences that took place outside of the ordinary university curriculum may request exemption from up to three Focus requirements that are directly related to the educational experience(s). To earn exemption, students must demonstrate to the General Education Committee that the experience(s) fulfilled the goals of the requested Focus area(s). Approved exemptions reduce the number of courses required for the approved Focus area(s); however, they do not reduce the total number of credit hours needed to graduate. Students are limited to three exemptions. Restrictions apply. For more information, consult a college/school academic advisor or visit gened/students/exemptions.

4. Hawaiian or Second Language Requirement

Knowledge of a second language encourages deeper awareness of the structure of language and its relation to thought. It develops sensitivity to other ways of ordering personal experience and social institutions, provides a direct way of comparing another culture to one’s own, and provides insight into the workings of one’s native language.

Before graduation, students must show competence at the 202 (or equivalent) level in Hawaiian or a second language by doing one of the following:

a. Completing a four-semester sequence (usually 101, 102, 201, and 202) in a single language.
b. Demonstrating competence by taking a UH Manoa language-competency exam if one is offered. Check with the language department in question.
c. Receiving a language-requirement waiver by demonstrating 202-level second language competency. For example, waivers may be given to students who are native speakers of a language other than English. Contact an academic advisor in your college/school for further information.

Important Note: The Hawaiian or Second Language requirement has been modified or waived for students in the following colleges/schools: Shidler College of Business; College of Education; College of Engineering; John A. Burns School of Medicine; School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene; School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology; Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work; College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. (See gened/req/hsl/ for additional information.) Students in these colleges/schools should consult a college/school advisor.

Students should be aware that changing their major may involve a change in their college/school and thus a change in their Hawaiian or Second Language requirement. A list of majors and their respective colleges/schools can be found in the “Degrees” section.

Credits for Previous Language Experience

All students under the current General Education requirements with experience in a language other than English (including native speakers) may earn “back credits.” These students may take any UH Manoa course appropriate to their level of proficiency in which there is significant use of that language. (Appropriate level is determined by a placement exam or an advisor; significant use is determined by the course content.) Upon completion of this course, students will receive between 3 and 16 back credits if they earn a letter grade of C (not C-) or better. (The course must be the first Hawaiian or second language course taken since high school; and it must be taken for a letter grade, not CR/NC.) Back credits may be earned for only one language. Other restrictions apply. Check with the appropriate language department for details and forms. Information is also available at gened/req/hsl.

Languages in which a Four-semester Sequence is Offered

American Sign Language, Arabic, Cambodian (Khmer), Chamorro, Chinese (Mandarin), Filipino, French, German, Greek, Hawaiian, Hindi/Urdu, Ilokano, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Maori, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Samoan, Sanskrit, Spanish, Tahitian, Thai, Tongan, Vietnamese.

Some language courses are not offered regularly, and this is noted in the course description section of this Catalog.

Academic Planning: Tips for New Students

UH Manoa has a wide range of fields, majors, and courses from which to choose and build a dynamic and satisfying academic program. Here are some tips to help students get started:

  • Contact an advisor. Assistance in planning an academic program is available. Resources include:
    –New Student Orientation, (808) 956-3667;
    –College/school and major advisors. (See undergrad/caa/directory/)
  • Explore different academic areas. Most freshmen are exploring possible majors during their first year. These students may select General Education Foundations and Diversification courses that allow them to sample different fields, which can help in deciding on a major. See Foundations Requirements for a list of Foundations courses; see the “Courses” section of this Catalog to find courses with a Diversification designation. The “Courses” section also lists course prerequisites.
  • Plan ahead. Majors and colleges/schools may have requirements that should be met in the first year. Once students decide on a major, they should find out what particular courses are required for the major and also by the college/school in which the major is located. (Program requirements and four-year academic plans for all undergraduate majors can be found at programsheets.) Students who have not yet decided on a major should become familiar with potential majors and with their college/school requirements in order to take recommended courses when possible.
  • Enhance educational experience through special opportunities. Consider participating in one of the following:
    –First-Year Programs, (808) 956-8626, undergrad/freshman/;
    –Honors Program, (808) 956-8391, undergrad/honors/;
    –Student Life and Development, (808) 956-8178, manoa.hawaii.edu/studentlife/;
    –A research project or internship (see major department);
    –Civic and Community Engagement, (808) 956-4641, undergrad/servicelearn/;
    –National Student Exchange, (808) 956-46422, diversity/nse/index.php; and
    –Study Abroad Program, (808) 956-5143, (808) 956-6958, studyabroad.hawaii.edu.

Transfer Students

Transfer students should contact an advisor as soon as possible. An advisor can often help a transfer student make choices that will help the student make steady progress toward graduation. Students with a major should contact an advisor from the college/school in which the major is located; students who have not yet chosen a major should contact the Manoa Advising Center (undergrad/mac/). Students needing assistance in the transfer process should contact the UH Manoa Transfer Coordination Center (undergrad/Transfer/).

Many requirements, including General Education Foundations, Diversification, and Hawaiian or Second Language requirements, may be met by transferring articulated courses from other campuses. Students can check the UH Transfer Credit Database at transferdatabase/.

Important: Transfer students should consult the UH Manoa college/school advising office for their major to find out about their major’s requirements and about recommended General Education course choices.

General Education Goals

UH Manoa is committed to providing a quality liberal education that is globally distinguished by its unique Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific orientation. One way in which that commitment is furthered is through the General Education requirements.

Through General Education at UH Manoa, students attain the skills and knowledge that support the training provided in their major courses. The requirements are intended to help undergraduates place the specialized study undertaken in the major within a broader context, providing scope and balance to their degree. The requirements also help to advance UH Manoa’s undergraduate learning objectives:

  • Know: Students develop their understanding of the world with emphasis on Hawai‘i, Asia, and the Pacific.
  • Do: Students improve their abilities to think critically and creatively, conduct research, and communicate and report.
  • Value: Students demonstrate excellence, integrity, and engagement through continuous learning and personal growth, respect for people and cultures, stewardship of the natural environment, and civic participation in their communities.