Graduate Student Handbook

Classification of Graduate Students

Regular Admission

Regular admission may be granted to applicants who hold a baccalaureate degree with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better for the last 60 semester credits (or equivalent), or who hold a graduate degree with a GPA of 3.0 or better from an accredited institution. Determination of acceptance, however, is made by the admissions committees of individual programs. Students accepted by program admission committees are defined as “classified students.”

Provisional Admission

An applicant whose GPA in the last 60 credits (or equivalent) falls between 2.75 and 2.99 may be admitted under provisional status. To be accepted, the applicant must have program approval and otherwise meet program requirements. If accepted provisionally, these conditions apply:

The student must:

  1. Sign and return a form acknowledging receipt and understanding of the conditions listed in the acceptance letter and agreeing to the conditions;
  2. Attain B- grades or higher in all classes required by the graduate program in the first academic year;
  3. Register for the same classes required of other students entering the same program. The program will monitor the student’s academic progress at the end of the first semester to confirm that conditions have been successfully met.
  4. Complete any additional required coursework as specified by the Program Director in the provisional acceptance letter. Coursework may be required to be completed prior to enrollment in the graduate program or during enrollment in the program.

A hold will be placed on the student’s record to prevent registration for courses in the second and third semesters (the hold will be removed once the program reports satisfactory progress to the Graduate Division). Failure to meet the conditions will result in dismissal from the program.

Denied Admission

Students whose academic records do not meet the minimum requirements, whose applications are incomplete, and/or whose admission is not supported by the program and the Graduate Division, will be denied admission.

Visiting Graduate Student

Applicants who are pursuing an advanced degree at another institution and who wish to study at UH Hilo for a limited time may apply for admission as visiting graduate students. To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled in and actively pursuing a graduate degree at a regionally accredited institution of higher education or an equivalent degree at a recognized non-U.S. institution of higher learning, and be in good academic standing. Current transcripts from the home institution must be provided in order to determine academic standing and eligibility for specific classes at UH Hilo.

Visiting graduate students register on a space available basis and only in courses for which they are judged to be eligible by the instructor of the course and the chair of the individual graduate program.
Generally, visiting graduate students are limited to two (2) semesters of study.

Visiting Graduate Students must provide the same application materials as applicants for regular admission: the application, the application fee, statement of research interest/goals in the program, resume, three letters of recommendation, and official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. The exception is that Visiting Graduate Students do not need to provide official GRE scores.

The program chair must approve their acceptance into the program. Visiting Graduate Students will be accepted as “classified graduate students.”

Visiting international graduate students must comply with certain application and enrollment regulations in order to qualify for an I-20 certificate of eligibility, which permits them to request an F-1 student visa. Regulations include providing a copy of a current passport, providing proof of adequate financial support, and maintaining full time enrollment (6 credits per semester) while at UH Hilo. Please contact the UH Hilo Graduate Division for details.

Admission as a visiting graduate student does not guarantee subsequent admission as a regularly admitted graduate student. A visiting graduate student who decides to apply for admission as a regular graduate student must apply for acceptance via the standard admissions process as do all other applicants.

Visiting graduate students who later become admitted as regular students may request to have courses taken under the visiting student status credited toward the new degree objective. They should consult with their graduate programs. The visiting student will submit the form Petition to Substitute and/or Waive Courses-Graduate to the Graduate Division

Unclassified Graduate Student

Students with documented baccalaureate degrees who do not meet the minimum requirements for admission to a program, or who for any other reason have not been formally accepted into a program, may attempt to register for selected graduate level courses.

Such registration is done on a space-available basis, and is at the discretion of the Graduate Program Chair of the program that the course falls within., Permission to enroll as an unclassified student may be granted with the permission of the instructor and the graduate program chair using the Permission to Enroll in Graduate Coursework as an Unclassified Student. The form must be accompanied by a brief statement of objectives specific to each class in which the applicant hopes to enroll and should be submitted to the Graduate Division.

Admission into a course as an unclassified graduate student does not guarantee admission as a regularly classified graduate student at a future date.

Applicants who are sponsored by an educational institution or governmental agency and who wish to undertake a special program of study, research, or training without a degree objective may apply as unclassified graduate students.

All applicants for unclassified graduate student status are required to submit the following:

  1. A UH Hilo application (Please see Unclassified Graduate Status for more information)
  2. Proof of baccalaureate degree if earned degree was outside of the UH System;

Unclassified graduate students are not required to submit the application fee, GRE scores, or letters of recommendation. If an unclassified graduate student later applies, and is accepted, into a graduate program, the student may petition for acceptance of credits taken while in unclassified status, but acceptance of the petition by the graduate program is not assured.

Taking Graduate Level Coursework as an Undergraduate Student

Undergraduate students with senior standing, and with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5, before being granted a baccalaureate degree may petition to take graduate coursework for credit in the status of an Unclassified Graduate Student. Permission must be received from the student’s undergraduate academic advisor, the graduate course instructor, and graduate program chair. This coursework must be in excess of the requirements for the baccalaureate degree. Submit the completed form Permission to Enroll in Graduate Coursework as an Undergraduate Student (PDF) to the Graduate Division.

Completion of graduate coursework does not guarantee future admission into a UH Hilo graduate program.

Additional Considerations

Concurrent Degrees

An applicant may apply to more than one graduate program but may enroll in only one program initially. Concurrent enrollment in more than one program is strongly discouraged. The individual programs applied for, however, will determine individually what constitutes the minimum course load, and the student (with the approval of both program chairs) may decide to attempt both programs.


Applicants who have been denied admission to a graduate program at UH Hilo because of failure to meet academic standards may reapply for admission after completing additional credits of post-baccalaureate course work and attaining a GPA of at least 2.75 in the last 60 credits. If subsequently accepted with a recalculated GPA of between 2.75-2.99 in the last 60 credits, the student will begin the program under provisional acceptance policies.

Completion of additional course work does not guarantee admission. To be reconsidered for admission, applicants must follow the standard application process and will be considered along with all other applicants.

If Admitted, But Not Enrolled

Admission may not be postponed or deferred. Newly-admitted students who do not register during the semester for which they are admitted or who withdraw from all courses before the last day to drop are considered no-shows. Their admission status will be rendered invalid. To reapply for admission, they must contact the Graduate Division for instructions.

Returning Student

If a student has not registered continuously, that student must reapply for admission. Readmission is not guaranteed. Please see the policies on Continuous Registration and on Leave of Absence in this Handbook.

International Student Documents

International student documents are processed by the Graduate Division in consultation with the International Admissions Officer. Visa questions will be handled by International Student Services.

Appealing an Admission Decision

Individual graduate programs may have processes in place for instances when students believe they have been unfairly denied acceptance to the program. Please consult the Graduate Program Chair of the program you have applied for.