Combined Pathway Guidelines for Bachelor's and Master's Degrees

Guidelines for combined bachelor’s and master’s degrees pathways at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa were approved in February 2017. By establishing formalized degree pathways leading to master’s degrees, the University hopes to recruit and retain competitive students to Mānoa and increase the number of students who earn advanced degrees. Guidelines were developed and reviewed by the OVCAA, the Office of the Registrar, the Graduate Division, Graduate Council, Mānoa Deans, and the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education. Advantages to the student include: a) allowing up to 9 credits (two 600-level courses and one 400-level course) across the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs; b) undergraduate students can begin graduate-level work at undergraduate tuition rates.

If your program is interested in developing an accelerated degree pathway, review the guidelines and contact Dean of Graduate Education, Krystyna Aune, and/or Program Officer, Wendy Pearson, in the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs office. To request approval for a combined bachelor’s/master’s degree pathway, please use this memo format and print it on letterhead.


Credits: Minimum 141 credits total for both bachelor’s and master’s degree with a minimum of 21 hours of master’s coursework (inclusive of thesis or capstone hours) not double counted.

Double counting: Nine (9) credits identified by the program may be double-counted for both the bachelor’s and master’s degree including two (2) 600-level courses and up to one (1) 400-level course.

  • The courses to be double counted must be:
    • specified courses; a list of choices from which to select up to 9 credits may not be used;
    • credits also acceptable to meet bachelor’s degree requirements;
    • taken at UHM (not transferred in from another university) and
    • courses that are not x99 courses, practicum, internship, or related courses.
  • Once approved, these courses may not be substituted or changed without undergoing the program modification process.

Thesis/Non-thesis: At least 12 credits at the 600-level or above for thesis option, or 18 credits at 600-level or above for non-thesis (capstone) option, excluding 699 and 700, must be completed for the master’s program.

Eligibility and Application: Eligibility and deadlines vary by program, but would be due during the junior year (5th or 6th semester).  Students must submit the Graduate Admissions Application and fee as well as all required program admission materials, including GRE/GMAT, etc. if required by the program. Programs must identify “gateway” course(s) that are part of the bachelor’s degree program that must be passed with a minimum grade of B or higher in order to be considered for admission. Projected admission to the graduate program would be in the first term of the senior year (7th semester). Overall cumulative GPA shall be at 3.0 or higher.

Admission: Students receive notice of “Admission” in spring of the junior year (6th semester). Fall of Senior Year (7th semester) students begin the double-counted coursework at the undergraduate tuition rate and are considered dual program students.

Bachelor’s Degree: The bachelor’s degree would be conferred after successful completion of all coursework required, including meeting UH Mānoa’s upper division credit requirement (currently 45 credits) for the undergraduate degree. (Ideally the 8th semester).

Graduate Enrollment: Student begins the 9th semester as a “graduate student” and continues the program at the graduate tuition rate. Continuous enrollment after conferral of the bachelor’s degree is required.

Leaves of Absence: Should a student take a leave of absence (LOA), the undergraduate process would follow until the undergraduate degree is conferred.  For graduate students, once classified, they would need to be enrolled in at least one semester before being eligible to take a LOA.

Approval: The Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs will approve combined degree pathways upon the recommendation of the programs and their respective Dean of the School/College, Graduate Division, Graduate Council, and the Office of Undergraduate Education. Please consult with Krystyna Aune, Dean of Graduate Division, and Wendy Pearson, Academic Program Officer, before starting this process and for more information.


Undergraduate Program Advising: Interested and eligible pathway students will need to be advised appropriately throughout this process, and Graduate Student Services must be kept informed about pathway students’ application and baccalaureate degree attainment. Specifically, a list of eligible pathway students shall be sent to Graduate Student Services as early as possible in the term in which they will be submitting their graduate admission application. Then, in the term of degree conferral for the bachelor’s degree, a list of all projected pathway students admitted into the graduate program will be sent to Graduate Student Services.

Undergraduate Excess Credits: This policy may be used with the double counted credits as long as the total to be counted is less than half of the number of credits required for the master’s degree (i.e., 14 credits or less for a 30-credit degree).

  • UHM undergraduate seniors may already earn credits toward master’s degrees for certain courses completed during the final two semesters of undergraduate study. Credits from upper division 300-400 or 600-700 level courses must be in excess of the bachelor’s degree requirements. Conferral of the bachelor’s degree is required in order to request these credits to count toward a UHM master’s degree. These credits are separate from the double counted 9 credits. See here for further information:
  • Including Undergraduate Excess Credits in the pathway should only be done if the majority of pathway students will be capable of taking excess credits in the last year of their bachelor’s degree.