General Education Requirements

General Education (Gen Ed) at UH Mānoa involves a flexible and diverse multi-disciplinary curriculum. Through Gen Ed coursework, students are exposed to different domains of knowledge and modes of scholarly inquiry. Students develop skills in written and oral communication, ethical and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and information literacy that are transferable across the curriculum. Gen Ed coursework also fosters a deeper understanding of, an appreciation for, Hawaiian culture and history.

Core Requirements – Foundations• Written Communication (FW)
• Quantitative Reasoning (FQ)
• Global and Multicultural Perspectives (FGA/B/C)
Core Requirements – Diversification• Arts, Humanities, and Literatures (DA/H/L)
• Social Sciences (DS)
• Natural Sciences (DB/P/Y)
Special Graduation Requirements – Focus• Contemporary Ethical Issues (E)
• Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Issues (HAP)
• Oral Communication (O)
• Writing Intensive (W)
Hawaiian or Second Language Requirements GES students are exempt from HSL requirement

For a list of the courses that fulfill the requirements above, visit the UH Mānoa Undergraduate General Education Requirements.

Major Requirements

Aside from core university requirements, the Bachelor of Science in GES program has core requirements of two basic types: basic sciences and derivative sciences. The former provides the foundation to understand and appreciate the latter in the context of basic skills in mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics. Both GES core requirements provide the necessary cognitive skills to deal with the higher academic level courses within the GES curriculum. These include required foundation courses in GES and Coupled Systems courses. It is within this latter category of coursework that the formal course program will be tailored to the individual student’s needs. For example, we anticipate that most students will follow closely a natural science track of study. However, because of the human dimensions issues involved in the subject matter of environmental change, some students may wish to expand their academic program into the social sciences that bear on the issues of global change.

A minimum grade of C must be obtained in all GES required courses.

Click here for sample Program Sheets and Four-year Plan Templates. (Scroll down to School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.)

The current curriculum is in effect for students entering the Program in Academic Year 2023-2024.

Core Basic Sciences Requirements (36 credits)BIOL 171 , BIOL 171L (W), BIOL 172, BIOL 172L, CHEM 161, CHEM 161L, CHEM 162, CHEM 162L, ERTH 250 or ICS 110C or ICS 110P, MATH 241, MATH 242, MATH 307 or OCN 312, OEST 100, PHYS 170, PHYS 170L
Core Derivative Sciences Requirements (11 credits)ATMO 200, ERTH 101 and ERTH 101L or ERTH 170, OCN 201, OCN 201L
Core Foundation Requirements (21-22 credits) GES 100, GES 102, GES 311 (E, W), GES 319L or OCN 318 or OCN 418, GES 320 (W), GES 371, GES 401 (W), GES 471
Research Requirements (Thesis and Presentation) (min. 6 credits)GES 302, GES 490 (O), GES 499 (min. 3 credits)
Coupled Systems (12 credits; 4 courses of 3 credits each)Approved Coupled Systems courses effective Spring 2024 (PDF) Current as of October 6, 2023
Current Approved Coupled Systems courses (PDF) Updated September 20, 2023

Note on Coupled Systems courses:

  1. Always check well in advance (at least two semesters prior) with the department offering the course to see if it will be offered in the semester you plan to take it.
  2. Labs cannot count as Coupled Systems courses.

Course Work and Sequencing

Precalculus is required for admission to the GES program and appropriate high school preparation in mathematics and science, including biology, chemistry, and physics, is highly recommended. GES core requirement courses and the foundation courses are taught a minimum of once per year. Students should take the core requirements in sciences before progressing to the foundation courses. The foundation courses then act as the cornerstone for the Coupled Systems courses which are electives and can be tailored to the individual student.

Computing Requirement and Data Collection

All GES students will become facile with computers and software packages designed for scientific work. This requirement will be satisfied by

  • ERTH 250: Scientific Programming or ICS 110: Introduction to Computer Programming (C) or ICS 110P: Introduction to Computer Programming (Python);
  • GES 371: Environmental Data Science; and
  • GES 471: Advanced Environmental Data Science.

These courses will use large databases in global and environmental sciences (including those available from NOAA, NASA, etc.) in the context of problem solving; good computing skills will be necessary to work with these databases in this context.

Undergraduate Research Thesis and Oral Presentation

GES 302: GES Thesis Proposal, GES 499: Undergraduate Thesis, and GES 490: Communication of Research Results are required of all students in order to graduate from the GES program. Students will learn how to approach a mentor about a research opportunity, how to construct a realistic research experience timeline, how to identify required resources, and other important components and elements of the research proposal.

The undergraduate thesis will be the result of research done under the auspices of one or more of the GES faculty members in SOEST, although other faculty within the University are also available to mentor a student. In either case, the faculty research mentor would coordinate with the advisor assigned to the student upon entrance into the program. The Department of Oceanography and SOEST have many ongoing research programs, including those of a theoretical, field (observational), and experimental nature. Students are expected to act as apprentices in one of these programs or another of their choosing in consultation with their advisor.

Research for the thesis is generally conducted during the junior year while the communication course will be taken during the student’s final semester, to prepare them for a presentation. This presentation allows students to share their results with the public at the GES Symposium and to develop oral communication skills important in today’s job place.

Advising and Support

GES students receive dual advising from the SOEST Student Academic Success (SAS) as well as the GES program, both of which track the student’s degree progress.

SAS helps students transition to UH Mānoa campus, refers campus resources, and advises on matters related to UH Mānoa degree requirements including general education and focus requirements. SAS also assists students in declaring a double major or a minor, filing for graduation, and other related paperwork.

After approximately four semesters in the program and/or completing GES 311, students will then be assigned a GES faculty advisor based on research interests and who will advise them on selecting courses, internships, and career exploration.

In addition to Mandatory Advising every semester, students are encouraged to meet with either advisor at any point during the semester for advice.

Note about graduating in eight semesters*: students must average 15 credits per semester (15 credits per semester x 8 semesters = 120 credits). Also note that 45 credits (i.e. four full semesters) of classes with college-level prerequisites (upper division) are needed. * Assumes student places in MATH 241 (Calculus I) and CHEM 161.

Updated June 29, 2023