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Policies about Credit

Each ELI course is a 3-credit course for registration purposes. This is important when you consider how many courses to take to meet full-time status for visa purposes or for financial aid purposes (for example, if you were to take two ELI courses (6 credits) and two other 3-credit courses, you would have a total of 12 credits, which is considered full-time for undergraduate students). This is important because it allows you to avoid overloading yourself with too many courses, especially at the beginning when you need to improve your academic English and get accustomed to a new campus.

However, there is some bad news. Unfortunately, ELI courses numbered below 100 (ELI 70, 72, 73, 80, 82 and 83) are not counted toward graduation. It becomes confusing if you look at your STAR report (or official transcript) at different times during or after a semester. During registration and during the semester, you’ll see that each ELI course is counted as 3 credits:


However, after grades have been posted, suddenly you’ll see that you earned 0 credits for your ELI courses, even though you passed with a grade of “CR” (“CR” means “credit” via the “credit/no credit” system):


This is actually normal for ELI courses at UHM (and at most other American universities, as well), but it can be a shock for students if they were not expecting it. It is especially important for you to be aware of this when you plan how long it will take you to graduate.

There is one ELI course that is an exception to this UHM policy: ESL 100 (Composition I for Second Language Writers). ESL 100 fulfills the General Education Core requirement for Foundations in Written Communication (FW). It is graded A-F, and undergraduate students do earn 3 credits toward graduation for this course.

In the ELI, we are very aware that English is one of your additional languages, and we wish it could be counted toward the “Hawaiian/Second Language” requirement. However, UHM has set a policy that, because English is the primary medium of instruction here, the university does not consider ELI courses as “second” or “foreign” language courses. Please note that the ELI does not agree with this policy, and we have tried in the past to have it changed.

There is one thing that you can do to help balance out the fact that you ELI course credits do not count toward your degree. If your native language is one of the foreign languages taught at UHM, you can earn “back credits” (as many as 16 credits in total) for your ability in that language.

For more information about back credits, read the information for ELI students. For even more information, you can look at the information about forms and policies.

In summary:

  • Unfortunately ELI courses below the 100 level (that is, all ELI courses except ESL 100) do not count toward your degree or toward graduation.
    However, ELI courses do count as three credits at the time you register — for registration purposes and for visa purposes (and, in some cases, for financial aid purposes).
  • To help . . .
    • Undergraduate students: We recommend that you pursue back credits for your ability in your native language.
    • Graduate students: The ELI is happy to work with your advisor if there is a need for a more flexible schedule for ELI course completion.