Psychological researchers are in constant pursuit of individual difference characteristics, such as Emotional Intelligence (EI), that can help explain why some people are successful (in work, love, and/or life) while others are not. Since its introduction, EI has been used throughout educational programs and business organizations for hiring and training efforts. Despite widespread public interest in EI, research in this area has remained controversial. The primary limitations that plagued much of the early EI research are: (1) a lack of clarity between the mixed and ability models of EI, and (2) simplistic research designs focused primarily on zero-order correlations between EI and workplace or educational outcomes. Partially due to the limitations listed above, evidence of the relationship between EI and performance has been mixed. The strength of the relationship varies and is influenced by the type of EI being measured as well as the presence of confounding variables. In recent years, however, an increased emphasis has been placed on evaluating the incremental predictive power of EI beyond that of cognitive ability and personality. Additionally, recent research has suggested that the relationship between EI and performance may moderated by variables such as cognitive ability or emotional labor demands (ELD). The current study attempted to evaluate the construct and criterion-related validity of EI for performance in an academic setting. An overview of the two models of EI (performance-based ability and self-report mixed models) and their respective correlates is presented. Further, an overview of the mixed criterion-related validity evidence for EI is provided and explanations are proposed regarding why the growing body of evidence is not providing a clear picture of EI as a predictor. Specifically, this study evaluated a compensatory model of EI that suggests that cognitive ability moderates the relationship between EI and performance. Emotional labor demands were also evaluated as a moderator in the EI-academic success relationship. The study sample consisted of 60 undergraduate students from a small non-profit, baccalaureate-granting institution in the Southwestern United States. Measures of mixed-model EI, ability EI, Big Five personality factors, and cognitive ability were administered in a computer-based format. In addition, academic major, academic performance data, and demographic information was collected for all participants. Correlations were computed across all predictor and outcome variables, and hierarchical multiple regression and moderated multiple regression analyses were utilized to analyze the hypothesized relationships. Support for several hypotheses relating EI with personality and cognitive ability was found, and, consistent with previous research, the two models of EI had different patterns of relationships with each, providing further evidence that mixed model EI and ability EI are in fact, distinct constructs. Generally, hypotheses relating the Big Five, cognitive ability and EI with academic performance were not supported; however, when branch level scores of ability EI were investigated, the managing emotions branch was related to academic performance. Finally, a relationship between perceived emotional labor demands and academic major was found in the current study. It is important to study this relationship further so that educators and administrators can ensure the emotional labor demands placed on students in post-secondary settings are justified. Overall, the emotional intelligence literature is expanded by the current study by providing further evidence of the nomological network surrounding mixed EI, ability EI, and the ability EI branches.