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MSW: DE Option

Join us at a virtual information session about the Distance Education (DE) Option of the MSW Program!

Click on this link to view the powerpoint presentation for the informational sessions.

Our current group of Informational Sessions has concluded. Please check this site at a later date to see the schedule for our next round of informational sessions.

For more information on HOW TO APPLY see our MSW Program Admissions website. 

Master of Social Work (MSW) Program, Distance Education (DE) Option


Since 1988 the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health has provided opportunities for residents on our neighbor islands (Hawaii Island, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai) to complete  graduate degrees in social work. In 2007, the program was switched from a traveling degree program to a distance education technology-mediated degree and has since graduated over 200 students. Beginning in Fall 2020, the DE Option of the MSW Program will be available to students statewide. 

Classes in the DE Option are held on weeknights and delivered via a hybrid, or blended approach, using interactive television (called HITS), online computer-based technology, and occasional face-to-face onsite instruction. The HITS site locations include (UH Hilo, Hawaii Community College – Palamanui, Kauai Community College, UH Maui College Lanai Education Center, UH Maui College, UH Maui College Hana Education Center, UH Maui College Molokai Education Center, UH West Oahu). Students are required to attend a meeting on Oahu once a year to receive training, advising and other educational content.

Distance education students follow the three-year MSW Plan that is also offered to campus-based students, which includes four semesters of field education (practicum). Although students can usually remain employed while enrolled in the DE option, they are expected to make arrangements with their employment to accommodate their field education schedules. Not all specializations of the MSW Program are available via the DE Option, and students progress through the program in cohort formats of up to 30 students.

An Advanced Standing option is available for any applicant holding a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from a CSWE accredited program which was awarded within seven years of the anticipated MSW graduation date. Acceptance as an advanced standing student is not guaranteed. Being awarded Advanced Standing means following either a one or two-year, rather than a three-year program of study. While the three-year DE MSW option is available only to people who reside in Hawaii, residents of Guam with a BSW degree from CSWE-accredited programs may apply to the Advanced Standing option.  

Licensure and State Authorization

Once the student has completed the Master’s of Social Work Degree program and has successfully completed the application paperwork with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, including passing the ASWB’s Masters examination, they will be eligible to obtain a state license as a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) in the State of Hawaiʻi. The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health, Department of Social Work may not be able to confirm whether a particular program meets the professional licensure requirements outside of the State of Hawaiʻi and recommends that the student contact the respective professional licensing board to determine the licensure requirements in the state in which the student wishes to practice.

University of Hawaii at Manoa OVCAA Professional Licensure Disclosure 

Technology Requirements

It is essential for students enrolled in the DE option to have an updated computer and reliable, high speed access to the internet. For more specific information about software and hardware requirements, please click on this link.


Want to apply?

Click here for MSW Application forms and instructions: MSW Application

For questions regarding the application and admissions process, please contact:

Department of Social Work

Admissions and Student Services Office

(808) 956-3833 


Want more information? 

Click here to refer to our events page for a list of Upcoming Information Sessions

For questions and more information regarding the Distance Education Option, please contact:

Department of Social Work

Distance Education Options

(808) 956-9470 

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