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Degree, Minors and Certificates Offered

General Information

Undergraduate Programs

Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences



College of Natural Sciences
Edmondson 216
2538 McCarthy Mall
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8303
Fax: (808) 956-4745
Undergraduate Advising Email:


*H. G. de Couet, PhD (Chair)—molecular cell biology, development biology, evolution
*J. H. Bailey-Brock, PhD—invertebrate zoology, reef ecology, Polychaetes
*K. M. Bennett, PhD—bioimaging, physiology, biophysics
*M. Butler, PhD—evolution ecology, adaptive radiation, functional morphology, biomechanics
B. Chong, PhD—evolution, genomics, and symbiosis
*K. Cole, PhD—ichthyology, behavioral ecology, reproductive biology, morphology and morphogenesis, microgravity 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
*M. Porter, PhD—evolution and ecology of vision, crustacean phylogenetic
*F. A. Reed, PhD—population genetics
*A. D. Taylor, PhD (Interim Associate Dean)—population and community ecology, applied statistics
*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
*A. N. Wright, PhD—population ecology, community ecology, conservation biology
*M. Yoshizawa, PhD—evolutionary developmental biology, neuroscience, quantitative genomics

Cooperating Graduate Faculty in Zoology

R. Alegado, PhD—bacterial pathogenesis, microbial evolution and ecology
B. Bowen, PhD—phylogeography and conservation genetics of marine vertebrates
R. Cowie, PhD—origins and determinants of biological diversity in Pacific islands
M. Donahue, PhD—spatial population dynamics; marine community ecology; habitat selection, scaling of ecological processes
D. Duffy, PhD—conservation biology, sea birds
E. Franklin, PhD—marine ecology coral reefs, fish and fisheries, invasive species, restoration ecology
R. Gates, PhD—molecular biology, developmental genetics, cell biology, physiology and ecology of corals
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
K. Y. Kaneshiro, PhD—systematics, evolution, insect behavior
M. O. Lammers, PhD—marine bioacoustics
P. Lenz, PhD—neuroecology of zooplankton sensory systems
M. McFall-Ngai, PhD—animal-bacterial symbioses, molecular design of tissues that interact with light
M. Medeiros—evolutionary biology, ecology of infectious pathogens
R. Richmond, PhD—invertebrate zoology, conservation biology
E. Ruby—microbe-host signaling, comparative genomics and population biology
R. Toonen, PhD—molecular genetics of marine organisms
J. Yew—chemical communication of insects, neurobiology of chemosensory perception, mass spectrometry methods for natural product chemistry

Affiliate Graduate Faculty in Zoology

R. Allison, PhD—systematics, biogeography and ecology
C. Birkeland, PhD—conservation biology regarding coral
A. Friedlander, PhD—marine ecology, marine conservation biology
P. E. Nachtigall, PhD (Emeritus)—behavior and sensory processes of marine mammals

Degrees Offered: Undergraduate Certificates in Mathematical Biology and in Marine Option Program, BA (including minor) in biology, BS in biology, BS in marine biology, BA (including minor) in zoology, BS in zoology, MS in zoology, PhD in zoology

The Academic Program

The Department of Biology (BIOL) provides an academic home to students who wish to pursue a broad training in the biological sciences. It offers a BA degree and a BS degree in biology, a BS degree in marine biology, a minor in biology, an MS in zoology, and a PhD in zoology.

Biology is of fundamental importance in a science or liberal arts education, as it provides students with a keener insight into and a deeper appreciation of the many facets of living systems. Most students plan to use their training as preparation for professional work, such as aquaculture, biotechnology, biological research, dentistry, marine biology, medicine, optometry, park services, pharmacy, and teaching. Our graduates have an outstanding record of acceptance in advanced degree programs at dental, medical, pharmacy, and graduate schools. Many of our graduates also become teachers after obtaining a post-baccalaureate teaching certificate at the College of Education.

The biology curricula are designed to provide students with a strong background in the principles of biology and with rigorous upper division instruction in a number of basic areas. This combination of breadth and in-depth instruction allows students to develop the intellectual foundations and the skills necessary to deal with the specific biological concerns of today and the flexibility to meet the needs of the various professions. From this base, our graduates can pursue future specialization with confidence.


Undergraduate student advising is mandatory. Prospective majors should visit or contact to meet with an advisor to design a curriculum that satisfies program requirements.

Undergraduate Study

BA Degree in Biology

Requirements (C [not C-] grade minimum)

  • BIOL 171, 172, 275, and 375 plus laboratories
  • BIOL 305
  • ZOOL 480
  • One course from each of the following areas:
    • Biochemistry or Molecular Biology (BIOC 441; BIOL 402 or 407)
    • Physiology (BOT 420; MICR 431; PHYL 301; ZOOL 430)
    • Morphology and Biodiversity with laboratory (BOT 420; MICR 351/351L/ PEPS 363/363L/ ZOOL 320/320L or 475/475L)
  • 3 credit hours in approved upper-division biology elective courses

Related Requirements (C [not C-] grade minimum)

  • CHEM 161, 162, 272 plus laboratories and 273
  • PHYS 151 and 152 or 170 and 272 plus laboratories
  • MATH 215 or 241 or 251A

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to

BS Degree in Biology

Requirements (C [not C-] grade minimum)

  • BIOL 171, 172, 275, and 375 plus laboratories
  • BIOL 305
  • ZOOL 480
  • One course from each of the following areas
    • Biochemistry or Molecular Biology (BIOC 441; BIOL 402 or 407)
    • Physiology (BOT 420; MICR 431; PHYL 301; ZOOL 430)
    • Morphology and Biodiversity with laboratory (BOT 420; MICR 351/351L/ PEPS 363/363L/ ZOOL 320/320L or 475/475L)
  • 9 credit hours in approved upper-division biology elective courses

Related Requirements (C [not C-] grade minimum)

  • CHEM 161, 162, 272 plus laboratories and 273
  • PHYS 151 and 152 or 170 and 272 plus laboratories
  • MATH 215 and 216 or 241 and 242 or 251A and 252A
  • ECON 321 or NREM 310 or SOCS 225 or MATH 243 or 304 or 372 or 373 or 472

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to

BS Degree in Marine Biology

Requirements (major of 2.5 GPA or higher)

  • BIOL 171, 172, 265, 275, and 375 plus laboratories
  • OCN 201
  • BIOL 301 plus laboratory
  • BOT 480
  • ZOOL 475 plus laboratory
  • MICR 401 plus laboratory
  • 4 credits of directed research in approved disciplines or BIOL 403
  • BIOL 404
  • 9 credit hours in approved courses

Related Requirements (major of 2.5 GPA or higher)

  • CHEM 161, 162, and 272 plus laboratories
  • PHYS 151 and 152 or 170 and 272 plus laboratories
  • MATH 215 and 216 or 241 and 242 or 251A and 252A
  • ECON 321 or NREM 310 or SOCS 225 or MATH 373 or MATH 472

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to

BA Degree in Zoology

There is no admittance to the BA in Zoology effective Spring 2013. Degrees must be completed by Spring 2018.


  • 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

Minor in Biology

Requirements (C [not C-] grade minimum)

Students must complete BIOL 265/265L, 275/275L, and 375/375L; and a minimum of 3 credits from the following:

  • BIOL 301/301L, 331, 363, 390, 395, 401, 402, 407, 408/408L, 425, and 499
  • Approved upper level botany, biochemistry, microbiology, physiology, and zoology courses

Undergraduate Certificate in Marine Option Program

The Marine Option Program (MOP) is a unique opportunity for undergraduates with an interest in the ocean. It is open to students in all fields and provides a clearinghouse for marine-oriented experiential education as well as a chance for students with common interests to meet. MOP sponsors a wide variety of marine activities, including field trips, workshops, seminars, symposia, and noncredit courses.

A certificate is awarded to undergraduates who successfully complete at least 12 credit hours of marine-related courses (including OCN 201, ORE 202, ZOOL 200, or an equivalent survey course; one 3-credit interdisciplinary ocean course; 6 credit hours of marine electives). In addition, students must complete the MOP Seminar (IS 100/BIOL 104) followed by the MOP skill project. The unique MOP skill project (worth 3 or more credits, e.g. IS 400/BIOL 400) allows students to design and conduct a personal marine or aquatic project related to their educational goals. Past projects have run from scientific research to endeavors in the arts.

Students interested in MOP or in marine careers and curricula should visit the Marine Option Program offices in Dean Hall, room 105A; tel. (808) 956-8433; email;; Facebook ID: uhm mop.

Graduate Study in Zoology

The Department of Biology offers programs of graduate study and research leading to the MS and PhD degrees in Zoology. 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#8216;ii: marine invertebrates, terrestrial arthropods, fishes, and birds.

Graduate students in zoology may join two interdisciplinary graduate specializations; the Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB); and the Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (EECB) Program. The department has active affiliations with Hawai#8216;ii 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. 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 December 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.

Incoming graduate students are expected to have demonstrated proficiency in the biological sciences, typically by having completed a bachelor’s degree in biology or other life sciences field similar to a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology at UH Manoa. Typical minimum preparatory undergraduate course work includes: 

  • 18 semester hours or 27 quarter hours of biology [note that 2 semesters = 3 quarters] 
  • 3 semesters or 5 quarters of chemistry (general and organic) 
  • 2 semesters or 3 quarters of physics 
  • 1 semester or 2 quarters of biochemistry or molecular biology 
  • 1 semester or 2 quarters of calculus (note that calculus is a required prerequisite for the graduate course in Biometry ZOOL 631)

General Requirements

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.

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. 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 5 semesters of entering the program; this examination will emphasize the student’s research area but may cover any facet of zoology. Upon passing the comprehensive exam, the student is advanced to candidacy for the PhD program.

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 Other inquiries may be sent to

BIOL Courses