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General Education

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GenEd overview
Core: Foundations & Diversification
Graduation: Focus & Hawaiian/Second Language

The purpose of the University of Hawai�i at Mānoa is to provide an environment in which both faculty and students can discover, examine, preserve and transmit the knowledge, wisdom, and values that will enrich present and future generations. General Education at UHM is a modern, flexible, diverse and multicultural curriculum supported by excellent teachers, classrooms, and information technology. The University�s special and global distinction is found in its Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific orientation. The academic program structure and research enterprise take special advantage of Hawai�i�s unique location, physical and biological environment, and cultural setting.

The General Education Core and Graduation requirements develop a deeper appreciation of the complexities and potentialities of the human experience from the perspectives of the arts, humanities, and the natural and social sciences while encouraging an understanding of imagination and creativity through the application of abstract and intuitive thinking.

Upon graduation, students will be able to:

  • appreciate the values and ideas of cultures as they have evolved and as they find expression in literature, history, philosophy, religion, art, and music;
  • reason and analyze effectively;
  • communicate clearly and effectively in Standard English;
  • know the aims and methods of science;
  • recognize the ways in which humans organize and how social institutions shape human behavior.
There are two components to the General Education requirements: Core requirements and Graduation requirements.
  1. Core requirements include Foundations and Diversification requirements.
  2. Graduation requirements include Focus requirements and Hawaiian or a Second Language.

Approved General Education courses are offered at the undergraduate level only (courses numbered 100-499).

CORE: Foundations & Diversification

Foundations courses are intended to give students skills and perspectives that are fundamental to undertaking higher education. Students complete their Foundations course requirement during their first year at UHM.

The Diversification requirement is intended to assure that every student has a broad exposure to different domains of academic knowledge, while at the same time allowing flexibility for students with different goals and interests. Courses are offered at the 100- to 400-level and in several different colleges/schools. Most students start taking Diversification courses during their first year and complete the Diversification requirement during their junior or senior year.


Foundations (12 credits)

Diversification (19 credits)



GRADUATION: Focus & Hawaiian/Second Language

The Focus requirements identify important skills and discourses necessary for living and working in diverse communities. The Focus requirements can be satisfied through major courses and Diversification courses. In addition, a course may have more than one Focus designation. Students take Focus courses throughout their academic career.

Most students are UHM are required to demonstrate competency in Hawaiian or a second language. Knowledge of a second language increases the student's ability to understand other people; it encourages deeper awareness of the structure of language and its relation to thought; 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 greater insight into the workings of one's native language.

Students who are required to demonstrate competency in a second language do so during their first or second year at UHM.


Focus (course requirement, not a credit requirement)

Hawaiian/Second Language (competency requirement; varies by UHM college/school)




Last updated December 15, 2014; report errors to gened@hawaii.edu