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Degree, Minors and Certificates Offered

General Information


Undergraduate Programs

Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences

Professional Programs



College of Natural Sciences
Edmondson 216
2538 McCarthy Mall
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-9017 / (808) 956-7315
Fax: (808) 956-9812
Email: biology@hawaii.edu
Web: manoa.hawaii.edu/biology


*S. Robinow, PhD (Chair)—neurogenetics
*J. H. Bailey-Brock, PhD—invertebrate zoology, reef ecology, Polychaetes
K. M. Bennett, PhD—neuroscience and nephrology utilizing magnetic resonance imaging
*D. Carlon, PhD—evolution population biology, invertebrate biology
*K. Cole, PhD—ichthyology, behavioral ecology, reproductive biology, morphology and morphogenesis, microgravity biology
*H. G. de Couet, PhD—molecular cell biology, development biology, evolution
*L. A. Freed, PhD—evolutionary and behavioral ecology, ornithology, conservation biology
M. A. Hixon, PhD—marine ecology and conservation biology
*C. L. Hunter, PhD—conservation biology, coral reef ecology, biology and ecology of marine invertebrates
S. D. Kraft-Terry, PhD—academic advising and assessment
P. B. J. Marko, PhD—biogeography, evolution and conservation
A. L. Moran, PhD—marine ecology and evolution
*F. A. Reed, PhD—population genetics
*A. D. Taylor, PhD—population, theoretical, and insect ecology
*R. Thomson, PhD—evolutionary biology and phylogenetics
*T. Tricas, PhD—marine animal behavior
*L. Watling, PhD—impacts of humans on benthic environments; crustacean biology
*C. Z. Womersley, PhD—environmental physiology, biochemical adaptation, parasitology

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

D. Duffy, PhD—conservation biology, sea birds
R. Gates, PhD—molecular biology, developmental genetics, cell biology, physiology and ecology of corals
E. G. Grau, PhD—comparative endocrinology, environmental physiology
D. K. Hartline, PhD—quantitative neurophysiology and simulation of simple networks
B. S. Holland, PhD—conservation biology of Native Hawaiian tree snails
K. N. Holland, PhD—physiology, behavior, ecology of aquatic organisms
T. D. Humphreys, PhD—cellular, molecular, biochemical, develop-mental biology in marine organisms
P. J. Jokiel, PhD—coral reef biology, biogeography and ecology
K. Y. Kaneshiro, PhD—systematics, evolution, insect behavior
S. A. Karl, PhD—molecular ecology, systematics, and phylogeography of marine animals
P. Lenz, PhD—neuroecology of zooplankton sensory systems
P. E. Nachtigall, PhD—behavior and sensory processes of marine mammals
R. Richmond, PhD—invertebrate zoology, conservation biology
F. I. Thomas, PhD—marine ecology, biology of larvae
R. Toonen, PhD—molecular genetics of marine organisms

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

G. Aeby, PhD—coral reef ecology
R. Allison, PhD—systematics, biogeography and ecology
C. Birkeland, PhD—conservation biology regarding coral
A. Friedlander, PhD—marine ecology, marine conservation biology
S. Miller, PhD—ecosystem and population conservation biology

Degrees Offered: BA (including minor) in zoology, BS in zoology, MS in zoology, PhD in zoology

The Academic Program

The Department of Biology at UH Manoa offers a zoology minor and graduate programs that offer master of science and PhD degrees. Of particular note is the department's emphasis on tropical marine biology and evolutionary biology. There are few places in the U.S. where these emphases can be pursued more productively or in a more practical setting.

Undergraduate Study

There is no admittance to the BA and BS in Zoology degrees effective Spring 2013.

BA Degree


  • BIOL 171/171L and 172/172L
  • BIOL 265/265L
  • BIOL 275/275L
  • CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L
  • CHEM 272/272L and 273
  • BIOC 441 or BIOL 402 (cross-listed PEPS 402 or MBBE 402) (biochemistry lab not required)
  • MATH 215 or 241, or equivalent college-level calculus

Students must take an additional 20 credit hours, including:

  • ZOOL 490
  • Three laboratory courses from the following areas:
    • Developmental (ZOOL 420/420L)
    • Physiology (ZOOL 430/430L, BIOL 407 or 408/408L)
    • Ecology and Behavior (ZOOL 306/306L, 439/439L, or 470/470L)
    • Genetics (BIOL 375/375L)
    • Morphology and Taxonomy (ZOOL 320/320L, 340/340L, 465/465L, or 475/475L; PEPS 363)
  • Non-laboratory courses applicable toward (20 credits): ZOOL 399, 499
  • ZOOL courses numbered 300 and above

Zoology courses at the 200 level carry no major credit. MATH 216 or 242 and a year of college physics are strongly recommended for students planning graduate study.

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to www.manoa.hawaii.edu/ovcaa/programsheets/.

BS Degree


Students must complete 78 to 82 credit hours, including:

  • BIOL 171/171L and 172/172L
  • BIOL 265/265L
  • BIOL 275/275L
  • BIOL 375/375L
  • CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L
  • CHEM 272/272L and 273
  • BIOC 441 or BIOL 402 (cross-listed PEPS 402 or MBBE 402) (labs not required)
  • PHYS 151/151L, 152/152L; or PHYS 170/170L, 272/272L
  • MATH 215 and 216, or 241 and 242 or 252A
  • ZOOL 320/320L, or 475/475L, or PEPS 363
  • ZOOL 430/430L
  • ZOOL 490
  • ZOOL 492 (1 credit hour)
  • ZOOL 499 (Minimum of 4 credit hours)
  • Nine credits of zoology electives (300 level or above in ZOOL or approved BIOL courses), 6 credits in science electives (300 level or above in approved courses in natural sciences).

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to www.manoa.hawaii.edu/ovcaa/programsheets/.



(At least 15 credits from the following courses, including 2 lab courses from 2 of the following 5 areas)

I. Development

  • ZOOL 420/420L

II. Genetics

  • BIOL 375/375L

III. Physiology

  • BIOL 275/275L, 407, ZOOL 430/430L, 432

IV. Ecology and Behavior

  • BIOL 265/265L, ZOOL 200/200L, 306/306L, 439/439L, 470/470L

V. Morphology and Taxonomy

  • ZOOL 320/320L, 340/340L, 465/465L, 475/475L

Other Courses Applicable Toward Minor in Zoology

  • BIOL 408
  • Any ZOOL courses numbered 300 and above

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to www.manoa.hawaii.edu/ovcaa/programsheets/.

Graduate Study

The department offers programs of graduate study and research leading to the MS and PhD degrees. The major strengths of the graduate program in zoology are in the areas of animal behavior; cellular, molecular, and developmental biology; and evolution and ecology. Especially strong programs have developed in areas that utilize the resources of Hawai'i's unique island setting, including developmental biology, marine biology, and ecology, evolution and conservation biology. Much of the research in the department emphasizes the animals of Hawai'i: marine invertebrates, terrestrial arthropods, fishes, and birds.

Graduate students in zoology may join three interdisciplinary graduate specializations; the Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB); and the Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (EECB) Program. The department also hosts the Hawai'i Cooperative Fishery Research Unit and has active affiliations with Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology, Kewalo Marine Laboratory, Békésy Laboratory of Neurobiology, and the Center for Conservation Research and Training.

Recipients of the MS degree usually teach, pursue careers in research or government service, or pursue further graduate training. Those with the PhD ordinarily seek teaching positions in colleges and universities or research careers in university, government, or private laboratories.

A brochure listing research interests and publications of the members of the zoology graduate faculty, as well as summarizing admissions and program requirements and opportunities for financial aid, is available on request from the department; a separate graduate student handbook describes the details of program requirements and procedures. This information also is available on the Web at manoa.hawaii.edu/biology/sites/manoa.hawaii.edu.biology/files/downloads/graduate-student-handbook.pdf. The following sections summarize the admissions and program requirements, but the department brochure and handbook should be consulted for complete details.


Students are admitted to the graduate program only in the fall semester; the application deadline is January 15. Applicants must submit a completed graduate application form, the official record of performance on the GRE General Test, transcripts for all previous undergraduate and graduate studies; and letters of recommendation from three persons who can appraise the student's aptitude for graduate study. It is strongly recommended that students take the GRE Biology subject test, and include an official record of performance in their applications. An applicant also must be sponsored by a member of the graduate faculty who has indicated his or her willingness to advise the student; the applicant should communicate with prospective faculty sponsors well in advance of the application deadline.

Intended candidates for the MS or PhD degrees in zoology are expected to present a minimum of 18 credit hours of undergraduate course work in zoology and/or biology and to have completed at least three semesters of chemistry (inorganic and organic), one year of physics, and at least one course each in calculus and botany. Deficiencies in undergraduate preparation must be rectified within the first 2 years, without graduate credit, except that biochemistry or molecular biology may be taken for graduate credit if it is at the 400-700 level. A course in biochemistry or molecular biology is required of all students, but it may be taken for graduate credit.

General Requirements

To ensure that students have broad competence in zoology, they must take a written diagnostic examination at the start of their first semester. This examination seeks evidence of competence at the level of the undergraduate major (for MS students) or the master's degree (for PhD students) in the areas of molecular-cellular, organismic, and supraorganismic zoology. Students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher on any of these sections of the GRE biology test are exempted from the corresponding section of the diagnostic exam. Students who do not perform satisfactorily on the diagnostic examination will be required to take remedial course work, which must be completed within two years.

All entering students are required to take ZOOL 691C. All graduate students are required to take at least one graduate seminar or topics course each year.

Master’s Degrees

Thesis (Plan A) and non-thesis (Plan B) programs leading to the MS degree in zoology are available. In addition to the thesis, Plan A requires a minimum of 24 credit hours of course work and 6 credit hours of ZOOL 700 (thesis). The 24 credit hours must include at least 12 credit hours of 600- or higher-level course work. The 24 credit hours may include up to 6 credit hours from related departments and up to 2 credit hours of ZOOL 699.
Plan B is a non-thesis program and requires a minimum of 30 credit hours in 400- through 700-level courses.

The 30 credit hours must include at least 6 but not more than 16 credit hours from related departments (excluding courses cross-listed in zoology or applicable to the zoology BA degree) at least 2 but not more than 5 credit hours of ZOOL 699, and at least 18 credit hours of 600 or higher level course work. A research paper based on original scientific work is required.

Doctoral Degree

Many applicants to the PhD program will have completed a master's degree, but well-qualified applicants without a master's degree may be admitted directly into the PhD program. Students currently enrolled in the master's program also may apply for admission into the PhD program without completing the master's degree.

Course Requirements

For students matriculating with a master's degree in zoology (or equivalent), there are no course requirements for the PhD degree other than the general requirements (ZOOL 691C in the first year, and at least one graduate seminar or topics course each year), and any courses required by the student's dissertation committee.

For students matriculating with a bachelor's degree, general course requirements are very similar to the requirements for students receiving a Plan A master's degree. A minimum of 24 credits are required in courses numbered 400-800. Additionally, 6 credits are required of ZOOL 800 (dissertation), for a total of 30 credit hours. Students are required to enroll in ZOOL 800 during the term in which their degree will be conferred. At least 12 of the 24 credits of required course work should be in 600-700 level courses, not counting ZOOL 699. The Department of Biology requires that 1 of the 24 course work credits include ZOOL 691C. Of the 24 required credit hours, student may include a maximum of 2 credit hours from ZOOL 699, and up to 6 of the 24 credits are allowed from courses in related departments. All courses cross-listed with zoology, and all biology courses which can be counted towards a zoology BA or BS, are considered zoology courses, not courses in a related department.

Other Requirements

An oral comprehensive examination must be passed within one year of admission to candidacy; this examination will emphasize the student's research area but may cover any facet of zoology.

The research project culminating in the dissertation is the most important part of the PhD degree program. The dissertation is to be an original contribution based on independent research, carried out under the guidance of the advisor and dissertation committee. The completed dissertation is defended at a public final examination, conducted by the dissertation committee and including a public research seminar by the candidate.

Further Information

Further information about the graduate program in zoology, including full details of admissions and program requirements, may be obtained from the biology department or at manoa.hawaii.edu/biology. Other inquiries may be sent to biology@hawaii.edu.

ZOOL Courses