Natural Science

Program Chair: Jené Michaud, Ph.D.

Natural Sciences Division Office:
Office: Life Sciences, Room 2
Tel: (808) 932-7506/7507


Area Advisors:

The interdisciplinary Natural Science program prepares students for careers that require a broad background in science fundamentals. The degree was designed for students that wish to teach science at the intermediate level or in rural high schools. The program also provides training for students with broad interests who intend to pursue non-teaching careers in interdisciplinary arenas.

Students in the Natural Science program take foundational courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science. They then take additional advanced courses in one of these disciplines. This gives students an area of specialization. The curriculum is aligned with the competency requirements of the National Science Teachers Association. Graduates of the Natural Science program meet the subject matter entrance requirements of the UH-Hilo Master of Arts in Teaching program, which leads to licensure as a secondary science teacher. It is also possible to earn a Subject Certificate in Educational Studies while pursing a bachelors degree in Natural Science.

Goals for Student Learning in the Major

The primary educational objective of the Natural Science program is the development of a solid foundation in the concepts, goals, methods, and societal relevance of the basic sciences, and advanced competency in either biology, biology chemistry, physics, or earth/space science.

Students can expect to deepen their knowledge through hands-on laboratory investigations, to develop observational and experimental skills, and become familiar with safety protocols appropriate to teaching laboratories. Students will develop critical thinking skills and a more detailed understanding of scientific concepts in their area of concentration, and through completion of upper division coursework in science subjects outside of their concentration. Students will be able to communicate their knowledge, orally and in writing, to a variety of audiences.

Special Aspects of the Program

UH Hilo is surrounded by tropical ecosystems, world-class astronomy observatories, active volcanoes, and tropical coral reefs. Some courses in the Natural Science program emphasize field trips that use Hilo’s extraordinary location as a “living laboratory.” The plants, animals, volcanoes, ocean, and observatories of the Big Island are unique and bring to life the study of biology, geology, oceanography, and astronomy.