Health Professions at UHM

Health Professions at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa offers a variety of different health professions and health profession resources.

Communication Sciences and Disorders: SLP (Master’s Degree)

Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a focus in Speech-Language Pathology is an exciting and diverse field that addresses people’s speech therapy.

Speech-Language Pathology is a clinical health professions under the umbrella field of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD). Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) address problems with speech production, rhythm and fluency, vocal quality, and cognitive impairment as a result of stroke, brain injury, cerebral palsy, cleft palate, developmental delays, mental retardation, hearing impairment, or emotional problems. They also address swallowing difficulties and work with people who wish to improve their communication skills, by modifying an accent, for example.

Work Setting

SLPs work in programs, medical centers, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. Some work in public or private practice in fields such as administration, research and education. Although some specialize, most SLPs treat a wide variety of people, from infants to senior citizens, and often collaborate with other professionals, such as teachers, physicians, social workers, and psychologists.

For more information on job outlook, click here.

Related Careers: speech and hearing sciences, counseling, education.

Years of Schooling Required to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist:

~7 years of education

  • Undergraduate Preparation (~4 years);
  • Speech-Language Pathology Program (~2 years);
  • Clinical Fellowship (1 year).

Many schools require a bachelor’s degree. Although not all schools list a bachelor’s degree as a requirement for admission, few students are admitted without one. For those schools that do not require a bachelor’s degree, completing a bachelor’s degree is highly recommended. Admission to speech pathology programs is highly competitive, and a bachelor’s degree significantly strengthens a student’s application and provides students with greater options for advancement and career opportunities. For help choosing a major, please see the “Choosing a Major for Professional Schools in Health” webpage.

Degree Conferred

Upon completion of a speech-language pathology program, students are awarded a master’s degree such as the Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) in SLP, among others. All master’s-level SLP degrees are equivalent with respect to licensure and professional practice.

Many schools offer bachelor’s degrees in CSD, which are intended to prepare students for graduate-level CSD programs but are not required by all SLP programs. Two schools currently offer a clinical doctorate, either the Doctor of Clinical Science (CScD) or Doctor of Speech-Language Pathology (SLPD), which include additional semesters of study in areas such as clinical practice, research, and administration. Students interested in research can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in SLP, either in place of or in addition to the clinical master’s, or can complete only the Master of Science (MS) with a research focus.

What to Expect in an SLP Program

The curriculum for most SLP programs will cover academic and clinical preparation for practice in areas of communication and swallowing across the lifespan. The two years will mainly consist of didactic instruction and may occasionally include clinical rotations. After graduation from the program, students must complete a Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY) at an approved setting in order to be eligible for ASHA licensure.

The Licensing Examination(s)

Most states require SLPs to be licensed by ASHA, which can be done through the Praxis examination, administered by Educational Testing Services (ETS). Praxis scores are submitted to the national American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) as part of the application for ASHA’s Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC-SLP for Speech-Language Pathology). To become licensed in Hawai`i, you must complete an accredited graduate-level degree and the CFY, obtain national ASHA certification, and then take a written state examination. To maintain certification, SLPs must pay an annual certification fee and meet ASHA re-certification requirements. All speech-language pathologists must be licensed to practice.

Contact Information

Communication Sciences and Disorders Department
University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, John A. Burns School of Medicine
677 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 625
Honolulu, HI 96813

Phone: 808-692-1581
Fax: 808-566-6292

For more information, click here and read through the website thoroughly prior to e-mailing or calling the department. The website includes information on the prerequisites for SLP programs.

Dental Hygiene (Bachelor’s Degree)

Dental hygienists are healthcare professionals who work closely with dentists to prevent and treat oral diseases and to protect patients’ oral and overall health.

Dental hygienists perform a number of services, including patient screening (e.g., assessment of oral health, reviewing patient histories, dental charting), taking and developing dental radiographs (X-rays), performing dental cleanings (e.g., removal of calculus and plaque, applying preventive materials to teeth), educating patients about nutrition and oral hygiene strategies, and office management.

Work Setting

Although most dental hygienists work in dental offices or clinics, some work in hospitals, universities, corporations, governmental and non-profit agencies, and other settings. Career opportunities in dental hygiene are abundant, and in addition to clinical practice, include jobs in education, oral health research, administration, public health, and entrepreneurship.

For more information on job outlook, click here.

Related Careers: dentistry, dental assistant, dental laboratory technician, nursing.

Years of Schooling Required to Become a Dental Hygienist:

3+ years of education

  • Certificate or Associate’s Degree (2-3 years) or
  • Bachelor’s Degree (4 years);
  • Master’s Degree (~2 years, optional).

Degree Conferred

Upon graduation from a dental hygiene program, students are awarded the Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene (ASDH), Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene (BSDH), or Master of Science in Dental Hygiene (MSDH), among others, depending on the program they enrolled in. Graduates of accredited certificate, associate’s, and bachelor’s degree programs are eligible for licensure and professional practice; master’s programs prepare students further in areas of education, administration, and research.

What to Expect in a Dental Hygiene Program

Dental hygiene programs consist of roughly 2,900 hours of curriculum, including didactic instruction in areas such as English, social sciences, basic sciences, and dental sciences, as well as supervised clinical instruction. Most programs also require a clinical rotation in a community or public health setting.

Program Options

Although all entry-level (certificate, associate’s and bachelor’s) degree programs prepare students for clinical practice, dental hygienists who hold bachelor’s degrees are more competitive for hiring and promotion, have greater career options in areas such as education and public health, and are eligible to pursue advanced degrees. All programs provide around the same number of didactic and laboratory hours, although bachelor’s degree programs typically provide more clinical hours and additional instruction in written communication, chemistry, oral health counseling, and patient management. Degree completion programs are available for licensed dental hygienists who hold a certificate or associate’s degree who wish to complete a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene or a related field.

The Licensing Examination(s)

Licensure requirements for dental hygienists are set by individual states. Most states require, in addition to state-based examinations and other requirements, that students obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, a written comprehensive exam. Licensed dental hygienists hold the title of “Registered Dental Hygienist” (RDH). All dental hygienists must be licensed to practice.

UH Mānoa’s Dental Hygiene Program

Prospective students must be a UH Mānoa student and have a UHM GPA at the time of application. A total of 29 prerequisite courses must also be completed before submitting an application.
PHYL 103/103L or PHYL 141/141L and 142/142LHuman Physiology and Anatomy or Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II5 or 8 cr.
CHEM 161 or CHEM 151 or BIOC 241 General Chemistry I or Elementary Survey of Chemistry or Fundamentals of Biochemistry3 cr.
MICR 130/140L
General Microbiology
5 cr.
FSHN 185The Science of Human Nutrition3 cr.
COMG 151 or 251Personal and Public Speech or Principles of Effective Public Speaking3 cr.
ENG 100
Composition I
3 cr.
SOC 100Introduction to Sociology
3 cr.
PSY 100Survey of Psychology3 cr
Applications are usually available from Dec.1 – Feb.1.

Contact Information

School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene
Webster 201
2528 McCarthy Mall
Honolulu, HI 96822

Department of Dental Hygiene
Hemenway 200-B
2445 Campus Road
Telephone: (808)956-8821

For pre-admission advising, contact:
Pam Sunahara, RDH, MEd
Kristine Osada, RDH, BSDH, MEd

Dietetics (Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees)

Registered dietitians, or RDs, are experts in applying the science of nutrition to assessing or developing plans involving the diets of individuals and the community as a whole. RDs often provide nutrition counseling, develop diet plans, and educate people about nutrition. They can also work in large-scale food service operations and ensure that they are sanitary, cost effective, and capable of meeting the nutritional needs of the target population. Clinical RDs can specialize in nutrition-related diseases (such as diabetes) or the health of different age groups.

The terms “Registered Dietitian,” “Professional Dietitian,” and “Dietitian” are protected by law, and only those who have met the educational requirements and qualifications mandated by their state can use the title. The term “Nutritionist” is not protected, and can be used by people with different levels of training.

Work Setting

RDs can work in a variety of settings, including clinics, hospitals, food service and processing, private practice, government and non-profit organizations, and education.  The job description of an RD is highly dependent on the setting they work in.

For more information on job outlook, click here.

Related Careers:  dietetic technician, food service management, health education, public health nutrition, and nutrition research.

Years of Schooling Required to Become a Dietitian:

4½+ years of education

  • Bachelor’s Degree (~4 years);
  • Certificate or Master’s Degree (1-2 years, optional);
  • Internship (½-1 year).

Degree Conferred

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND) is the accrediting body for all registered dietitian (RD) programs. To become an RD, students must hold a bachelor’s degree, graduate degree, or certificate of completion from an ACEND-accredited didactic program, complete an ACEND-accredited internship, and satisfy state licensure requirements. Students with a non-dietetics bachelor’s degree may opt to complete a certificate or master’s degree instead of completing a second bachelor’s. Some schools also offer coordinated programs, which combine a bachelor’s or master’s degree and the internship into a single program.


Graduates of accredited didactic programs are eligible to apply for internships. The internship requires a competitive application process, and consists of at least 1200 hours of supervised practice under an RD.  An internship can also be obtained through the UH Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) program. The ISPP program offers the opportunity for twelve UH Mānoa dietetics graduates who were not accepted to mainland internship programs to complete an internship in Hawai`i. For more information about this program, you can visit the UH Manoa Dietetics website.


RDs interested in specializing can apply for specialty certification from the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Areas for specialization include gerontological nutrition, sports dietetics, pediatric nutrition, and renal nutrition.

The Licensing Examination(s)

Forty-six states have enacted legislation regulating the profession of dietetics. The Registration Examination for Dietitians is a national exam administered by the CDR, which may be required for licensure depending on the state in which you intend to practice. Students who have completed a dietetics internship or coordinated program are eligible to sit for the exam. A list of state licensure agencies is provided by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Upon completion of required training and licensure, dietetic professionals hold the title of “Registered Dietitian” (RD). All dietitians must be licensed to practice. 

Becoming an RD in Hawaiʻi

To become a registered dietitian nutrition (RDN) in Hawaiʻi, the successful completion of these components is required: 1. An accredited/coordinated program (CP) or an approved didactic (instructional) program in dietetics. A Bachelor’s degree is acquired upon completion of this program. 2. Dietetic internship (supervised practice) 3. The Dietetic Registration exam. 4. Apply for state licensure as applicable.

Beginning in January 1, 2024, the entry-level registration eligibility education requirements for dietitians will change from a baccalaureate degree to a minimum of a graduate degree. A graduate degree includes a master’s degree, practice doctorate, doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D., Ed.Dor, D.Sc.) All other entry-level dietitian registration eligibility requirements remain the same.

Contact Information

For UHM Dietetics Program information, transfer credit evaluations, and academic plans:
CTAHR Undergraduate Advising
3050 Maile Way
Gilmore Hall
Honolulu, HI 96822

Schedule an appointment:

For information regarding the dietetics internships within the program:
Dietetics Program Director:  Dr. Monica Esquivel
1955 East West Road
AgSci 314 L
Honolulu, HI 96822

Phone: 808-956-8691
Fax: 808-956-4024


Medical Technology (Bachelor’s Degree)

Medical technology, also known as clinical laboratory science (CLS), is a healthcare profession in which practitioners help diagnose, monitor, and treat diseases by performing laboratory procedures including venipuncture and microscopic examinations. The field encompasses many disciplines, such as microbiology (isolating and identifying organisms and testing antimicrobial agents); immunohematology (blood banking); clinical chemistry (measuring chemical components of blood and bodily fluids); hematology and hemostasis (diagnosing disorders using a microscope and cell analyzers); and others (e.g., urinalysis, serology, immunology, molecular diagnostics).

Work Setting

Practitioners, called medical laboratory scientists (MLS),  work in hospital or clinic laboratories, but many also work in reference labs, physicians’ offices, research and DNA laboratories, medical examiners’ offices and crime labs, veterinary clinics, and laboratory industries. Some practitioners go on to pursue careers as forensic scientists, researchers, educators, or health administrators.

For more information on job outlook, click here.

Related Careers: medical laboratory technician (MLT), forensics, pathology (MD or DO), and biomedical research.

Years of Schooling Required to Become a Medical Laboratory Scientist:

4+ years of education

  • Bachelor’s Degree (4-5 years).

Degree Conferred

Medical laboratory technicians (MLT), related professionals under the umbrella of clinical laboratory science, complete an associate’s degree (2 years) prior to earning a national certification as MLT. Medical laboratory scientists (MLS), however, complete a bachelor’s degree prior to earning a national certification as MLS. Some programs, including UHM’s, offer articulated degrees in which students with an MLT degree and/or certification can complete a bachelor’s degree without retaking overlapping courses. Consult with a Medical Technology academic advisor regarding the step required for you to become an MLS.

Post-Baccalaureate Program/Options

In some universities, post-baccalaureate degrees (masters and doctorate) are available for MLS who desire advanced training. Becoming a laboratory director usually requires a doctorate in a related field, such as the biological sciences, chemistry, management, or education.

The Licensing Examination(s)

Graduates of accredited programs are eligible to sit for the national certification exam, offered by organizations such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). Some states, including Hawai`i, also require professional licensure. State laws on licensure vary but usually include minimum competency requirements, continuing education requirements, and licensing fees. In Hawai`i, all medical technologists must be licensed to practice!

Contact Information

UHM’s Department of Medical Technology
Office: Biomedical Sciences C-206
Phone: (808) 956-8557
Mailing address: 1960 East-West Road; Honolulu, HI  96822

KCC’s Medical Laboratory Technician Program
Health Sciences Department
Phone: (808) 734-9270
Mailing address: 4303 Diamond Head Road, Kauila 122; Honolulu, HI 96816

For advising at UHM, contact:
Dick Y. Teshima, MPH, MT (ASCP), Department Chair
Biomedical Sciences C-206
Phone: (808) 956-8557

*Students interested in the BS in Medical Technology are urged to contact the Department advisor to learn about the new 2+2 MLS curriculum. There is a nation-wide shortage of qualified medical laboratory professionals. Please call or stop by the office to make an appointment with an advisor.

Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program

Veterinarians work with animals to help not only animals but also people live longer, healthier lives. They diagnose and treat sick and injured animals, prevent animal diseases, improve the quality of the environment, ensure food safety, prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans, and advise animal owners, from livestock companies to individual pet owners.

Veterinary medicine continues to expand rapidly and now offers 22 specialties: anesthesiology, animal behavior, dentistry, dermatology, emergency and critical care, internal medicine, laboratory animal medicine, microbiology, nutrition, ophthalmology, pathology, pharmacology, poultry veterinary medicine, private practice, preventive medicine, radiology, sports medicine and rehabilitation, surgery, theriogenology (reproduction), toxicology, veterinary practice, and zoological medicine.

Work Setting

Veterinarians work in a wide variety of areas, including private practice, zoos, private industry, mobile services, research laboratories, government institutions, the military, wildlife organizations, racetracks, and circuses. Veterinarians work in public health, inspection, and regulatory agencies, and in government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Department of Agriculture, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Food and Drug Administration. Although most veterinarians are in clinical practice, some also choose to conduct research or teach in higher education.

Related Careers: animal health technician, animal research, animal science, animal training and breeding, animal welfare, environmental management, hospital administration, marine biology, veterinary assistant, veterinary technician, and wildlife preservation.

Veterinary Technicians and Assistants are health professionals that assist the veterinarian in providing high quality care to animals and people. They assist the veterinarian through gaining background histories in appointments, handling laboratory results, monitoring animals in treatment, and other needed tasks. Most states require veterinary technicians to be licensed from an accredited veterinary technology program. In Hawaiʻi, Windward Community College (WCC) offers a veterinary technology and assisting program that awards a Certificate of Achievement in Veterinary Assisting and/or Associates in Science in Veterinary Technology after completion of the program. If you are interested in learning more about the veterinary technology program at WCC, you may visit their website here.

Years of Schooling Required to Become a Veterinarian:

8 to 13 years of education

  • Undergraduate Preparation (~4 years);
  • Veterinary Medical School (4 years);
  • Internship (1 year, optional);
  • Residency (2-4 years, optional).

Many schools require a bachelor’s degree. Although not all schools list a bachelor’s degree as a requirement for admission, few students are admitted without one. For those schools that do not require a bachelor’s degree, completing a bachelor’s degree is highly recommended. Admission to veterinary schools is highly competitive, and a bachelor’s degree significantly strengthens a student’s application and provides students with greater options for advancement and career opportunities. For help choosing a major, please see the “Choosing a Major for Professional Schools in Health” webpage.

Degree Conferred

Upon completion of veterinary medical school, students are awarded either the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or Veterinary Medical Doctor (VMD). Both degrees are equivalent with respect to licensure and professional practice.

2015-2016 Admissions Cycle Matriculation Statistics:

ApplicantsMatriculantsPercentage of Applicants that Matriculate
UH Mānoa Applicants24729.17%

Based on data acquired by the National Association of Academic Advisors for Health Professions (NAAHP).

What to Expect in Vet School

The first two years of veterinary school are usually spent in classrooms and laboratories studying the basic sciences, including anatomy, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. Year three and/or four are devoted primarily to clinical rotations.

Internships and residencies are available for veterinarians who wish to gain advanced training or specialization. In their senior year, veterinary students can apply through a matching program for an internship in small-animal medicine, large-animal medicine, or surgery. Veterinarians can often command a higher starting salary after completing an internship. The most prestigious internships are at veterinary medical colleges or large private veterinary hospitals. Ranking for internship is based upon academic performance and faculty recommendations.

Veterinarians who have completed an internship or who have two years of private practice experience can apply for residency programs. Residencies are 2- to 4-year programs that provide further specialization in 11 areas: internal medicine, surgery, cardiology, dermatology, ophthalmology, exotic small animal medicine, pathology, neurology, radiology, anesthesiology, and oncology. Some residencies combine research and graduate studies and confer a master’s degree. Upon successful completion of residencies, veterinarians are certified by the appropriate veterinary medical specialty board.

The Licensing Examination(s)

The North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) is an examination for veterinary medical licensure in the United States. Students in their fourth year of veterinary medical school are eligible to sit for the exam. To sit for the exam, students must submit two applications, one to the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME), and one to the licensing board of the state in which they intend to practice (if required). All veterinarians must be licensed to practice.

Contact Information

Pre-Veterinary Program Advisor
Jenee Odani, DVM, DACVP
Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
1955 East-West Road, Ag Sci 314I

Phone: (808) 956-3847

Public Health (Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral Degrees)

The Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) defines public health as “the science and art of protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention.

“Public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood, or as big as an entire country. Public health professionals try to prevent problems from happening or re-occurring through implementing educational programs, developing policies, administering services, regulating health systems and some health professions, and conducting research. Public health professionals also analyze the effect on health of genetics, personal choice, and the environment in order to develop programs that protect the health of your family and community.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, public health in the twentieth century dramatically increased the quality of life and average lifespan of Americans by developing programs for vaccination, motor vehicle safety, workplace safety, controlling infectious diseases, family planning, ensuring safer and healthier food supplies, and fluoridation of water, to name only a few.

Public health encompasses a wide variety of disciplines, such as biology, sociology, mathematics, anthropology, public policy, medicine, education, psychology, computer science, business, engineering, and more. Consequently, there is no single pathway to public health and there is no “typical” public health job.

Because public health is so broad, students pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree choose an area of specialization, or concentration. Schools vary in which concentrations they offer, but all accredited schools offer the five core disciplines.

Core Disciplines

Behavioral Sciences/Health Education focuses on ways that encourage people to make healthy choices. These include the development of community-wide education programs that range from researching complex health issues to promoting healthy lifestyles in order to prevent disease and injury.

Biostatistics identifies health trends that lead to life-saving measures through the application of statistical procedures, techniques, and methodology.

Environmental Health studies the impact of our surroundings on our health and how to reduce environmental risk factors.

Epidemiology investigates the cause of disease and controls its spread. Epidemiologists do fieldwork to determine what causes disease or injury, what the risks are, who is at risk, and how to prevent further incidences. They spot and understand the demographic and social trends that influence disease and injury and evaluate new treatments.

Health Services Administration/Management combines politics, business, and science in managing the human and fiscal resources needed to deliver effective public health services. Health services administration studies health care systems, health care reform, health care law, financial management, clinic management, and policy analysis.

Additional Concentrations:

International/Global Health addresses health concerns among different cultures in countries worldwide.

Maternal and Child Health improves the public health delivery systems specifically for women, children, and their families through advocacy, education, and research.

Nutrition examines how food and nutrients affect the wellness and lifestyle of populations. Nutrition combines education and science to promote health and disease prevention.

Public Health Laboratory Practice tests biological and environmental samples in order to diagnose, prevent, treat, and control infectious diseases. Practitioners include bacteriologists, microbiologists, and biochemists.

Health Policy works to improve the public’s health through legislative action at the local, state, and federal levels.

Public health professionals work in both public and private sectors, including local, state, or federal health departments, non-profit organizations, pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies, and universities.

Related Careers: social work, health administration, law, medicine, and dentistry.

Years of Schooling to Become a Public Health Professional:

4+ years of education

  • Bachelor’s Degree (~4 years);
  • Master’s Degree (~2 years); and/or
  • Doctorate (~4-5 years).

The public health curriculum varies from school to school, but often includes courses in each of the five core disciplines, courses within the area of concentration (sometimes called the major), electives, practicum experiences, and a final, culminating experience, often conducted in a work environment.

Degree Conferred

Schools of public health offer a variety of degrees, which can be separated into two categories: professional or academic. Professional degrees (e.g., Master of Public Health (MPH), Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), Master of Health Administration (MHA)) are oriented toward practice in public health settings. Academic degrees (e.g., Master of Science (MS), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Science (ScD)) are oriented toward careers in research or university teaching.

Combined Degree Programs

Because public health incorporates such a broad spectrum of disciplines, many students pursue a public health degree in tandem with a second degree related to their intended area of specialization. Joint/dual degrees can be completed simultaneously or sequentially. Some of the most common joint/dual degrees include: MPH/MSN (nursing), MPH/MPP (public policy), MPH/MD (medicine), MPH/DDS (dentistry), MPH/JD (law), MPH/MBA (business administration).

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Office of Public Health Studies (OPHS) currently offers the following degree programs:

Bachelor of Arts (BA)*Public Health
Master of Public Health (MPH)Epidemiology
Health Policy and Management
Social and Behavioral Health Sciences
Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health
Master of Science (MS) in Public Health**Epidemiology
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)Community-based and Translational Research
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)Epidemiology
Graduate CertificateGlobal Health Protection and Security

* The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Public Health is intended as a generalized health science degree to prepare students for graduate studies in public health, medicine, and other health professions. Students are still able to obtain careers with a Bachelors in public health. Please remember that if students want to pursue a career in a specific concentration of public health, the typical entry-level degree for public health practice is a MPH or any other variation of such degree (MSPH, MS, etc.)

** The Master of Public Health (MPH) degree provides a set of skills and principles essential for students who intend to apply their training in a professional setting, provide leadership in a specific health specialty, and improve and protect the health and well-being of populations. In general, the MPH degree will include coursework in a number of public health disciplines, such as administration, epidemiology, environmental health, and behavioral health. The MS in Public Health degree prepares practitioners for a career that includes research in a specific aspect of public health. It provides a set of skills in research design, data collection, analysis and application of research in public health intended to improve and protect the health of populations. The degree is suited for students with good quantitative and/or qualitative skills and an interest in the science of public health and a comprehensive research experience. The MS degree usually requires completion of a research project.

Contact Information

University of Hawai`i Office of Public Health Studies
1960 East-West Road
Biomed D204
Honolulu, HI 96822

Phone: (808) 956-8577

EpidemiologyDr. Andrew Grandinetti
(808) 956-7495
Health Policy and ManagementDr. Tetine Lynn Sentell
(808) 956-5781
Native Hawaiian and Indigenous HealthDr. Alan Katz
(808) 956-5741
Behavioral Health SciencesDr. Claudio Nigg
(808) 956-2862
Community-Based and Translational ResearchDr. Kathryn Braun
(808) 956-5768

Social Work and Welfare (Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral Degrees)

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.

Work Setting

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.

Related Careers: counseling, clinical psychology, occupational therapy, law, health administration.

Years of Schooling Required to Become a Social Worker:

4 to 11+ years of education

  • Bachelor’s Degree (4-5 years);
  • Master’s Degree (2-3 years);
  • Doctorate (3+ years).

Upon graduation from a social work program, students are awarded the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), Master of Social Work (MSW), Doctor of Social Work (DSW), or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work, depending on the program in which they enrolled. All graduates of accredited programs are eligible for licensure and professional practice, although certain areas of social work are restricted to those with advanced degrees.

Degree Conferred

The Bachelor of Social Work (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 Master of Social Work (MSW) prepares students for advanced practice or specialization, and is required to provide certain services such as therapy or to work in certain settings such as psychiatric hospitals or mental health clinics.

The Doctor of Social Work (DSW) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work prepare social workers for leadership roles in social work and social welfare. Both programs require additional years of study in areas such as clinical practice, administration, and research, however they differ in that the DSW is oriented toward clinical practice and the PhD is oriented toward research or teaching.

The Licensing Examination(s):

Licensure requirements for social workers are set by individual states, and vary depending on applicants’ degree level. Most states require, in addition to state-based requirements, that students obtain a passing score on the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Examination, a national licensing exam. Most social workers must be licensed to practice.

Contact Information

UHM’s Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work
Gartley Hall
2430 Campus Rd
Honolulu, HI 96822

Phone: (808) 956-7182

To schedule an advising appointment with a Pre-BSW Peer Advisor, contact: or call the phone number listed above.