PAC Tip:

Are you taking UH summer courses, and are eligible for finanial aid? Apply for summer financial aid at

mymanagement/summer.php. The deadline to apply is April 17th.


Overview of Service

Hours of Operation

Choosing a Career

*Programs Not Offered in Hawai'i


Dental Hygiene

Forensic Science


Medical Technology










Occupational Therapy*



Physical Therapy*

Physician Assistant*

Public Health

Social Work/Welfare

Speech Pathology & Audiology

Veterinary Medicine*

Mandatory Advising


Ho'ola Malamalama

Current Opportunities

Clubs and Organizations

Info Sheets

Essential Websites


Current News in Health

Current News in Law


Contact Us

Meet the PACies


Visitor Parking Map

Contact PAC

2600 Campus Road
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
Honolulu, HI 96822


(808) 956-4045


Monday - Friday
8:30 am - 4:00 pm

Pre-Social Work Preparation at UHMānoa

(Text compiled from the UHM 2013-2014 Catalog, UHM's Schools of Social Work website, National Association of Social Workers website, and the International Federation of Social Workers website

Hawai'i Social Work program: UH Mānoa Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work

Social Work Degree Programs
Prerequisites for Admission
What makes a strong candidate?
Researching Schools
Entrance Exam
The Application Process
Additional Information
Downloadable Brochure

Social work promotes individual and collective well-being through advocating for justice, providing effective programs and services, and enhancing individual and family development. Founded on principles of human rights and social justice, social work’s primary responsibility is to the most vulnerable groups and individuals of our society. Social workers view differences among people as enriching the quality of life for all.

Social workers help people prevent and overcome social and health problems such as poverty, mental illness, child abuse and neglect, elder abuse and neglect, emotional instability, illness, economic uncertainty, domestic violence, homelessness, and drug abuse. Social workers enhance opportunities for individuals, especially for those who have been historically oppressed, and seek to maximize individuals’ and groups’ participation in society using theories of human behavior, relationships, and social systems.

Social workers work directly with individuals, couples, families, and groups to make the most effective use of their abilities and to identify and overcome obstacles preventing them from participating fully in society. Social workers may also work with communities, organizations, and social systems to improve services and to administrate social and health programs. When adequate services do not exist in a community, social workers sometimes develop new services.

Social workers practice in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals and clinics, schools, public welfare departments, family and child welfare agencies, mental health clinics, gerontology and geriatric programs, legal administration, immigrant and refugee centers, private practice, and so on. They also practice in a wide variety of formats, from assisting individuals to advocating for specific populations, from home visits to office appointments, from working with people to
filing reports. Some social workers also teach or conduct research in academia.

back to top

Social Work Programs

Social work is one of the few healthcare fields that provide job opportunities at all three levels, Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral. Different jobs in social work require different degree levels; for more specific information, contact UHM’s Career Development and Student Employment office or UHM's School of Social Work.

Becoming a social worker requires approximately 4 to 10 years of education:

  • BSW, or Bachelor of Social Work (4-5 years);
  • MSW, or Master in Social Work (2-3 years); and
  • Ph.D., or Doctor of Philosophy in Social Welfare (3 or more years).

The BSW provides students with the knowledge, skills, and values of the profession, integrated with a liberal arts education. The BSW prepares students for beginning-level generalist practice and for advanced study in social work.

The MSW provides students with the knowledge and competence for working with diverse populations. The MSW prepares students for advanced practice with individuals and families within the context of their communities.

The PhD prepares social workers for leadership roles in social work and social welfare. The program requires advanced scholarship and encourages inquiry into Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Asian cultures in our community, state, and the Pacific region.

back to top

Prerequisites for Admission

Prerequisites vary widely from school to school. Students must research the individual program at each of the institutions to which they intend apply. The following guidelines pertain only to the School of Social Work at UH Mānoa.

Bachelor Level: UHM's School of Social Work builds its curriculum upon a foundation of liberal arts education and typically admits students at the Junior level. To be admitted to the BSW program, applicants must:

  • be admitted to UH Mānoa;
  • have completed, or be in the process of completing, UH's General Education Core requirements (special consideration is given to second-semester sophomores requesting early admission);
  • have a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher;
  • be able to provide evidence of motivation for and commitment to social work education (e.g., personal, volunteer, or social-work-related experience); and
  • have completed, or be in the process of completing, the following knowledge-based courses with a grade of 'C' or better:
SW 200
The Field of Social Work
Phil 110 or 111
Introduction to Deductive or Inductive Logic
Psy 100
Survey of Psychology
Psy 260 or 270
Psychology of Personality or
Introduction to Clinical Psychology
Introductory-level course in political science (Pols 110 recommended)
Any course on human biology

Visit to see the School of Social Work's current list of prerequisites. Note that the School offers recommendations for GenEd core courses. Finally, contact the School if you have questions about which courses to take or about the evaluation of transfer courses.

Master Level: Admission to the MSW program requires:

  • a completed Bachelor degree from an accredited college or university, or the equivalent from a foreign institution;
  • a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average;
  • a liberal arts background;
  • a record of scholarship that indicates the ability to do satisfactory graduate work;
  • evidence of personal qualifications, motivation, and social work or related experience; and
  • the potential for successful graduate education and professional practice in social work

The School of Social Work admits students to the MSW program in Fall semesters only; the application deadline is February 1st.

Doctoral Level: Admission to the PhD program is competitive, based upon evidence of potential for leadership and scholarly inquiry, and is decided on a case-by-case basis. For more information, contact the chair of the PhD program at UHM’s School of Social Work.

back to top

What makes a strong candidate?

UHM's School of Social Work is looking for students who:

  • have met the prerequisites (see above);
  • demonstrate compassion, empathy, and a commitment to social justice;
  • have high ethical and moral standards;
  • are able to work in a variety of settings;
  • are able to handle stressful environments;
  • are able to incorporate a variety of liberal arts disciplines into their work;
  • live a well-rounded lifestyle and are able to balance professional and humanitarian interests;
  • have excellent logic and reasoning skills;
  • have strong oral and written communication skills.

back to top

Researching Schools

There are now over 400 accredited undergraduate and graduate social work programs, each one unique in its mission, philosophy, criteria, and strengths.

Although there are resources that “rank”, the rankings are rarely pertinent for individual applicant or specific programs. More important is whether there is a good match between applicant and school. For a list of all accredited social work programs, please visit

To find schools that are good a fit for you:

  1. Assess your individual strengths and weaknesses, your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
  2. Start by considering all schools, which usually includes all 400+ schools;
  3. Create your “Long List” by omitting the schools that do not match your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
  4. Once you have your GRE scores, create your “Short List” by categorizing the schools into ‘Reach’, ‘Match’, and ‘Safety’, ranking the schools by preference, and finally choosing how many schools to apply to.

If possible, visit the schools to see their facilities, talk to Admissions Directors, and chat with students.

back to top

Entrance Exam

Some schools may require applicants to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) before applying to a graduate program.

Preparation: Your most important preparation for the GRE is your undergraduate courses, many of which sharpen your writing and verbal reasoning skills.  Remember that the verbal sections are not only the most accurate predictor of how well you will do at the graduate level, but also the most difficult scores to improve.

GRE Summary: The GRE is administered year-round, appointments are scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis, and is available only in computer-based format. The test requires approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete and assesses your skills in Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing, and Quantitative Reasoning.

GRE Scoring: Scores for the Verbal and Quantitative sections each yield a scaled score of 130 to 170, in 1-point increments. The Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 in half-point increments, and you will receive a single score for your overall performance in this section.
Official Test Preparation Material:

  • The Official Guide to the GRE revised General Test from ETS
  • Practice Questions on GRE website
  • Free diagnostic exam on GRE website

Click Here for the GRE Overview

back to top

The Application Process

For all social work programs, you will need to apply directly to the individual school or program.  Before applying, you should first meet with an academic advisor to assess your resume.  To apply to UHM's School of Social Work, visit for instructions and downloadable forms. Note that the website includes information on applying for financial aid and on available scholarships.

As part of your application, you will need to submit:

  • the application form;
  • a statistical information form;
  • a personal statement;
  • official transcripts from all institutions of higher education that you have attended; and
  • three letters of recommendation.

Note: Application deadlines are February 1 for the Fall semester (BSW, MSW, and PhD), and October 1 for the Spring semester (BSW only).

Before applying, you should first meet with an academic advisor at UHM's School of Social Work (see below) to assess your resume.


back to top

Additional Information

UHMānoa's Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center (PAC) has reference books, lists of volunteer opportunities, academic planning worksheets, and one-on-one advising by peers who can help you prepare for your social work programs.

UHM's School of Social Work
Henke Hall 224, 1800 East-West Road
(808) 956-6300
UHM's School of Social Work Advising Office is located in Henke Hall 230. Call (808) 956-7182
UHM’s BSW Organization
National Association of Social Workers
International Federation of Social Workers
Council on Social Work Education (Contains Directory of Accredited Programs)

Preparing for Graduate School by the Honors Program

back to top