Course Listing

The following 2017 – 2018 course information will assist you in understanding our credit requirements for graduation and our programming procedures. Punahou awards a diploma to each student who earns at least 22 credits during four years of high school and who meets the course requirements described below. It is the responsibility of each student to take all required courses needed to meet graduation requirements.

A full-time student in the Punahou Academy (Grades 9 through 12) must be enrolled in at least five half-credit courses per semester (excluding PE and JROTC), four of which must be letter graded.

All semester grades, with the exception of Credit/No Credit courses, are weighed equally to compute Grade Point Average (GPA). With the exception of School Year Abroad (SYA) and Global Online Academy (GOA) courses, only graded courses taken at Punahou are reflected in Punahou’s GPA. Each course earns one-half credit per semester except JROTC, which earns one-half credit per year, and ASPE, which earns one-quarter credit per quarter.

Graduation Requirements

It is the responsibility of each student to take all required courses and to be accountable for meeting graduation requirements.

A student needs to earn a total of 22 credits in the following subject areas.

Subject Area Requirement
English Four credits
Language Two credits
Mathematics Three credits
Physical Education Two credits
Science Two credits
Social Studies Three and one-half credits
Visual and Performing Arts Two credits
Electives Three and one-half credits

Critical Thinking Requirement

Through Critical Thinking, students develop an understanding of what thinking is, how to evaluate it and how to promote the intellectual traits required for effective reasoning. These goals reflect a common set of principles:


  • Understanding is produced through reasoning and can be constructed and created only in the minds of learners.
  • Understanding is only as sound as the reasoning that produced it; therefore, to evaluate knowledge, it is necessary to evaluate the reasoning that produced it.
  • Reasoning well improves our understanding of all areas of our lives; understanding how we think makes it possible to use knowledge effectively in novel situations.


Elements and standards of critical thinking have been embedded in the required sophomore English course, so that all Punahou students will have an introduction to Critical Thinking concepts and strategies during the sophomore year.

Spiritual, Ethical, Community Responsibility Requirement

In order to educate the heart as well as the mind, Punahou students are asked to explore their spirituality, examine their ethical systems, and develop their roles in communities. Courses with a Spiritual, Ethical and Community Responsibility (SECR) credit focus on two of three areas:

Spirituality: students explore their potential for spirituality by practicing ways of understanding that are not grounded in factual analysis and which allow for mystery.

Ethics: students use empathy, imagination, and dialogue to examine and develop complex understandings of ethical issues.

Community Responsibility: students participate in 14 hours of service inte- gral to the course. They are encouraged to see themselves as part of a larger self – the earth and its inhabitants – and to understand the value of serving their communities.

All students select at least one SECR course during their high school career. SECR courses are listed here; full course descriptions can be found in the appropriate academic department section of this catalog.

Spiritual, Ethical, Community Responsibility Courses


  • Arts & Letters (ID)


  • American Literature – Nature 
  • Arts & Letters (ID) 
  • The Bible as Literature 
  • Buddhist Philosophy and the Game of Go 
  • Creative Writing 
  • Magical Realism 
  • Speech: Art of the Spoken 
  • Words R Us 


  • Hawaiian IV
  • Japanese IV Honors
  • Mandarin Chinese IV Honors
  • Spanish IV Honors

Physical Education

  • ISPE Yoga I
  • Yoga I Hybrid (summer)
  • ISPE Yoga II
  • ISPE Yoga II Hybrid

Psychosocial Education

  • Peer Helping
  • Womb to Tomb: Psychology Across the Lifespan

Social Studies

  • Asian History – Year
  • Capstone Alaska (summer 2017)
  • Capstone Bhutan (summer 2017)
  • Capstone New Zealand (summer 2017)
  • Gender Studies
  • Hawaiian Culture II
  • Introduction to Social Studies – Hawai‘i (summer 2017)


An elective is any course that exceeds departmental requirements for graduation or those courses that are not identified as meeting departmental requirements for graduation.

Important Information

Credit/No Credit Option Courses (CR/NC)

Students are permitted to enroll in specified courses on a Credit/No Credit option basis. The objective of this privilege is to encourage students to extend their academic horizons in courses of interest, which will benefit their general education, without the pressure of letter grades.

Students may elect Credit/No Credit status in any course if graduation requirements have been met in the subject area for which they wish to declare CR/NC. In order to earn a credit (CR), students must meet the teacher’s expectations, which shall be no less than a C (2.00) grade, unless otherwise announced. Advanced Placement courses may not be taken CR/NC.

Some independent study and teaching assistant courses must be taken for CR/NC, but they still count toward the credit requirement for graduation.

In addition, all PE courses may be taken CR/NC. In any semester, a student must be enrolled in a minimum of five or a maximum of six half-credit courses, excluding PE. Four of the courses must be taken on a graded basis. Declaration of CR/NC status by students must be made by the deadline stated in the Academy Daily Bulletin each semester.

Programming Process

At class assemblies, the deans brief students about graduation requirements and course offerings.

From early February until mid-March, deans meet with individual students to enroll them in courses. At the end of the third quarter, a list of the selected courses is sent home with third quarter grades. Changes from that point on will depend on availability; some courses will be closed and changes will not be possible.

Although students may choose from many courses, they must choose carefully. With as few exceptions as possible, Punahou programs, schedules, and staffs courses according to demand. This accommodation rarely happens in other schools, and it requires that the course request counts be accurate.

Course offerings depend upon sufficient enrollment and available staff. Some combinations of courses may result in scheduling conflicts and in some cases students may have to alter their course selections.

Global Online Academy (GOA) Programming

Registration for online courses offered through GOA is done during general course registration with the deans. Students may enroll in only one GOA course per semester and, due to limited class size, selection may be by lottery if necessary. Preference is given to juniors and seniors.

Travel and Study Abroad Programming

In order to make the necessary travel arrangements, the application deadlines for these programs vary. Please read the Travel and Study Abroad section in this catalog for specifics. Students may contact their deans or Wo International Center, depending on the program, for more information and an application.

Students must also register for the related Summer School course as described for each program in the relevant academic department section. This is done during course programming with deans.

Summer School Programming

Each rising freshman may register for one Summer School course only (English, Math, Science, Social Studies), with the following exception: freshmen may register for two Art courses, or an Art course and a PE course.

Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors may register for a total of one (1) credit during the summer. For example, they may take a ½ credit course in Art or PE along with an English or Social Studies course. However, they may not register for both an English course and a Social Studies course. If they enroll in a one (1) credit Math or Science course, they may not sign up for another Summer School course.

Summer School registration for credit-bearing courses takes place during course programming in February. Registration for non-credit courses, including SAT Prep, Driver Education, Music School and Dance School courses, is completed through the Summer School Office.
Summer School courses may sometimes be overenrolled and, because of limited space, students are not guaranteed their first choice in course selection. In such cases, priority is given to seniors first, then juniors and so on. All things being equal, a lottery may be held to determine which students are placed in a particular course.

All course offerings are subject to sufficient enrollment.

Please check the Summer School section in this catalog for the dates and times courses will be offered.