Pre-Social Work at UH Mānoa

Text compiled from UHM’s Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work website, National Association of Social Workers (NASW) website, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) website, the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) website, SocialWorkLicensure.org, and the UHM 2013-2014 Catalog.

Social Work Programs in Hawai`i: UH Mānoa Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, Hawai’i Pacific University School of Social Work

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

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.

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

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Social Work Programs

Becoming a social worker requires 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.

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.

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.

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Prerequisites for Admission

Most importantly, remember that requirements vary from school to school! You must research to create a list of all the prerequisites you will need to apply to the schools you are interested in attending.

The following guidelines pertain only to the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at UH Mānoa.

Bachelor’s 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 courses with a grade of ‘C’ or better:
SW 200The Field of Social Work3 cr.
PHIL 110 or 111Introduction to Deductive Logic or Introduction to Inductive Logic3 cr.
PSY 100Survey of Psychology3 cr.
PSY 260 or 270Psychology of Personality or Introduction to Clinical Psychology3 cr.
POLS 110 (recommended)Introduction to Political Science3 cr.
Human Biology Course

Visit www.hawaii.edu/sswork/forms/bsw/bsw_00_overview.pdf 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’s Level: Admission to the MSW program requires:

  • a completed bachelor’s 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 the Fall 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.

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What makes a strong candidate?

Schools need to be certain that the students they accept are capable of completing the social work curriculum and are likely to become good social workers.

Are you capable of completing the social work curriculum?

Admissions committees seek students who have:

  • completed the prerequisites
  • a high overall GPA
  • performed well on the GRE (if applicable)
  • balanced their courseload so it is challenging yet realistic

Are you likely to become a good social worker?

Admission committees seek students who have:

  • demonstrated empathy, compassion, and a commitment to social justice
  • high ethical and moral standards and a conscientious work ethic
  • demonstrated maturity (judgment, responsibility, dependability)
  • a broad liberal arts education that includes the humanities and social sciences
  • experience in the field and with what social work entails
  • a well-rounded life that balances academics, community service, social activities, and personal interests (hobbies, skills, sports, etc.)
  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • excellent interpersonal skills
  • strong letters of recommendation (if applicable)

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Researching Schools

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

Although there are resources that “rank” schools, the rankings are rarely pertinent for individual applicants. More important is whether there is a good match between applicant and school.  For a list of accredited social work programs, please visit the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) website.

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.

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Entrance Exam

Some graduate social work programs may require applicants to take a standardized test called the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

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 in a social work program, but also the most difficult scores to improve.

GRE Summary: The GRE assesses your knowledge and skills in Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing, and Quantitative Reasoning. The test requires approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete. The GRE is offered in computer-based and paper-based formats, and is offered year-round for computer-based administrations and up to three times per year for paper-based administrations.

GRE Scoring: The Verbal and Quantitative sections each receive a score between 130 and 170, in 1-point increments.  The Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, in half-point increments. GRE scores are often reported as percentiles, with the median score (50th percentile) among examinees being 150 for the Verbal and Quantitative sections and 3.5  for the Analytical Writing section. Scores at around the 50th percentile or higher are considered competitive for social work programs.

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 Breakdown

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The Application Process

For all social work programs, students need to apply directly to the individual school or program.  Before applying, students are strongly encouraged to meet with an academic advisor to evaluate their résumés and applications.

To apply to UHM’s School of Social Work, visit www.hawaii.edu/sswork/bsw-forms.html for instructions and downloadable forms. Note that the website includes information on financial aid and on available scholarships.

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

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

 

Additional Information

UH Mānoa’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
www.hawaii.edu/sswork
sswadmit@hawaii.edu
UHM's School of Social Work Advising Office(808) 956-7182
Henke Hall 230
UHM’s BSW Organizationwww.hawaii.edu/~bsworg/
National Association of Social Workerswww.socialworkers.org
International Federation of Social Workerswww.ifsw.org/home
Council on Social Work Education (Contains Directory of Accredited Programs)www.cswe.org
Preparing for Graduate School by the Honors Programpreparingforgraduateschool.weebly.com/

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