Earth Sciences Department Laptop Policy


The Department of Earth Sciences at UH Manoa is committed to the use of technology in classrooms to develop a deeper, more innovative learning experience for our students. As scientists-in-training, students need laptop computers to participate fully in the degree programs. Tablets and phones are inadequate. Therefore, all students are required to have a wireless laptop computer for use in their classes.

The Department does not specify make and model. The dynamic and diverse character of the computer marketplace would rapidly obsolete any such specification. Instead, we encourage students to make their own choices, with the minimum requirements below as guidance.

We suggest you shop around for the best pricing on laptop computers that meet the minimum requirements and your preferences. Reliability and support should be important factors in your decision. There are many free sources of independent laptop evaluation available on the internet, and you should also seek recommendations from current laptop users. If you are uncertain what to purchase, please meet with your undergraduate or graduate advisor.

Minimum Requirements

The performance of a laptop depends on the processor and amount of RAM installed. Most modern laptops have enough memory, disk space and CPU power for instructional and scientific software.

Look for laptops (in 2020) with:

If you can afford more memory and especially, disk capacity, your laptop will remain viable longer.


Your laptop must be configured with basic software, such as a browser and office suite software. Any office suite (LibreOffice,, MS Office, etc.) that supports either Open Document Format (.odt, .ods, .odp) or legacy MS formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt) should be sufficient.

While instructors strive to use software that works on all operating systems, some courses may require Windows-only software. If you have a Mac laptop, the department will provide technical expertise in setting up a dual-boot system.

Various types of software, including important anti-virus software, may be freely available or discounted for UH students. For current availability, please contact UH Information and Technology Services, (ITS), or inquire at the SOEST Research Computer Facility (RCF).

Graduate Students

For the computer intensive applications used by graduate students, we recommend a laptop computer that exceeds the minimum requirements. Please consult with your advisor before purchasing new equipment. When research projects require computational resources exceeding the power of a laptop, advisors are expected to provide them.

Technical Support

The UH system provides a robust help desk system. SOEST RCF can help with more difficult technical issues.


The laptop requirement means that the costs of a laptop are a legitimate use of most scholarship funds. To obtain financial assistance for laptop purchase, you can apply for financial aid. Contact the UH Financial Aid office, state your program of study, and inquire about adding a laptop to your Cost of Attendance. Loaner machines can sometimes be found (we will do our best to help you find one) but that should not be relied on.


Please direct questions to or your academic advisor.


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