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In addition to improving written and oral communication and reasoning skills, proficiency in Hawaiian or a second language (HSL) is an integral part of the university's mission to "prepare students to function effectively in a global society," to "preserve and promulgate Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific language, history, and culture and [to] provide students an education experience with an international dimension" (The University of Hawai'i Strategic Plan 1996-2001: "Goals," sec. 111, C: p. 5; "Action Strategies," sec. V, 2; p. 9).

The Hawaiian or Second Language (HSL) requirement varies by UHM college/school. Half require that students demonstrate competence at the 202 (or equivalent) level in Hawaiian or a second language by doing one of the following:

  1. Completing a four-semester sequence (usually 101, 102, 201, and 202) in a single language.

  2. Demonstrating competence by taking a UHM exam if one is offered. Check with the language department in question.

  3. 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 for further information.

HSL requirements by college/school (as of October 2008)

Students should check with their college advisor to learn about their requirements. Advisors may also consult the Hawaiian/Second Language Requirement Waivers Policy for Colleges and Schools.

College/School HSL requirement (last updated August 2017)
Arts & Sciences 202-level competency

Business Administration replaced by 12 credits of approved courses

Education no HSL requirement for BS and BEd

Engineering no HSL requirement for BS

Hawaiian, Asian, & Pacific Studies 202-level competency

Interdisciplinary Studies 202-level competency

Medicine no HSL requirement for BS in Medical Technology

Nursing & Dental Hygiene no HSL requirement for BS

Ocean and Earth Science and Technology no HSL requirement for BA or BS, effective Fall 2015 (previously 102-level competency)

Social Work 202-level competency OR 102-level competency and 2 culture classes

Travel Industry Management 202-level competency

Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources varies by major

Back Credit Policy & Data

Students placed at levels above the 101 level in a second or foreign language offered at UHM can receive, at no additional cost, credits for the course(s) they are exempted from upon completing the next course in the sequence with a letter grade of C (not C-) or better. Those whose level is above that of 202, including native speakers of the languages, can receive credit for the 4-semester course sequence provided they complete, with a letter grade of C (not C-) or better, any course above 202 in any field in which the student makes significant use of the language, (e.g., history, literature, culture, language, Hawaiian Studies, anthropology, education, or musicology courses). The judgment as to significant use should normally be made by the instructor of the course the student has taken.

Additional restrictions apply. Read the policy and check with the appropriate language department for details.
TIP FOR STUDENTS: The language course must be taken for a letter grade. Courses offered as Credit/No Credit may not be used.


- Summary of back credits earned, June 2003-June 2008

Petition Form for Back Credits

Students may complete this form and submit it to the appropriate language department for processing.

Important: Restrictions apply. Students should read and understand the back credit policy before petitioning or taking a course.

Forms require Adobe Acrobat 6.0 or higher. (Download free software from www.adobe.com if needed.)

Petition Form - form-fillable (complete online & print immediately)

Petition Form  (print, and then complete)

HSL Assessment

Assessment Report

Assessing the Language Component of the Manoa General Education Requirements [41 pages, April 2004]

May 7, 2004 (system) workshop

Presentation of assessment data by Dr. Kimi Kondo-Brown:


last updated October 8, 2018; report errors to gened@hawaii.edu