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Online MSW Programs in Hawaii

By Michael McCarthy | Updated 12/7/2022

A Master of Social Work (MSW) degree teaches methods for preventing, intervening in, and treating a variety of social and behavioral problems. Hawaii offers two MSW programs that meet the industry's quality standards, which may help prepare you to get licensed to do social work in the state.

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Are There Online MSW Programs in Hawaii With CSWE Accreditation?

There is currently only one CSWE-accredited online MSW program in Hawaii, offered by Hawai'i Pacific University. Hawai'i Pacific University is located in Honolulu and has an average graduate tuition of $20,600 per year.

MSW Programs in Hawaii

Traditional MSW degrees immerse students in social work theory through 40-60 credit hours covering human social behavior, government policy, and treatment intervention techniques. They also require an internship period of 1,000-1,200 hours to help put academic knowledge into practice.

These degrees typically last 2-3 years depending on full- or part-time status. However, you may enroll as an advanced-standing student and skip some of the introductory classes if you have a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW). This can shorten the time needed to complete the MSW.

It's important to attend a program that has Council for Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation. This organization ensures that curricula and faculty meet certain standards of excellence in the social work field. CSWE accreditation is generally required for clinical licensure, and many employers will only consider social work candidates who graduated from one of these programs.

There are only two CSWE-accredited MSWs offered in all of Hawaii: Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) and the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa (UHM). The following table gives details on each.

Hawaii Pacific University

Formats Offered:

  • Traditional or advanced standing
  • On campus, online, or hybrid

Cost Per Credit:
$1,125

Number of Credits:

  • 57 credits for traditional students
  • 30 credits for advanced-standing students

Optional Concentrations:
Military and veteran affairs

University of Hawai'i at Manoa

Formats Offered:

Cost Per Credit:

  • $1,101 (in-state)
  • $1,853 (out-of-state)

Number of Credits:

  • 57 credits for traditional students
  • 30 credits for advanced-standing students

Optional Concentrations:

  • Behavioral mental health
  • Child and family
  • Gerontology
  • Health
School Formats Offered Cost Per Credit Number of Credits Optional Concentrations
Hawaii Pacific University
  • Traditional or advanced standing
  • On campus, online, or hybrid
$1,125
  • 57 credits for traditional students
  • 30 credits for advanced-standing students
Military and veteran affairs
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
  • $1,101 (in-state)
  • $1,853 (out-of-state)
  • 57 credits for traditional students
  • 30 credits for advanced-standing students
  • Behavioral mental health
  • Child and family
  • Gerontology
  • Health

Admission Requirements

Both accredited MSWs in Hawaii call for the following items during admission:

  • Official undergraduate transcripts attesting to a minimum 3.0 GPA (if applying for advanced standing, transcripts must prove a CSWE-accredited BSW with a minimum 3.0-3.25 GPA in social work courses)
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Resume

You must start your MSW program in the fall along with the rest of your cohort. The exception is advanced-standing students at HPU, who take an introductory class in the summer.

Online MSW Programs in Hawaii

HPU's online courses are asynchronous, with no set meeting times. Instead, you sign in to a learning management system to view and submit assignments, interact with professors and classmates in forums, and access readings and recorded lectures.

UHM's hybrid program features synchronous classes that you attend over a video conferencing app. This program also requires some face-to-face instruction throughout the course of the degree. In addition, both HPU and UHM require in-person internships, which are an important part of any MSW.

Social work students aren't necessarily bound by the practicalities of geography, so check out our list of the best online MSW programs if you're interested in an online degree.

How To Become a Social Worker in Hawaii

You can take more than one path to become a social worker in Hawaii. Some careers may only call for a BSW, but others might require an MSW. All social worker positions require licensure through the state's Professional & Vocational Licensing Division (PVLD). You must renew each license every three years, which requires proof that you've completed continuing education credits.

We list several types of social work below, along with how to get started on each career path in Hawaii.

Becoming a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker in Hawaii

With a bachelor's degree, you can earn your licensed bachelor social worker (LBSW) designation. This lets you work in any of the first four areas of social work practice codified in Hawaii Statute 467E-1. These areas are as follows:

You're eligible to be a school social worker in Hawaii once you have an LBSW credential. However, some schools may choose to advertise for MSW-qualified candidates. To earn this license, you need a CSWE-accredited BSW degree. You also need to pass the bachelor's-level exam from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) and pay a $281 application fee. 

If you're licensed in another state, you may be able to get a reciprocal license in Hawaii . In most cases, all you need is proof that you've passed the ASWB basic exam and a testament from your state's licensing board that you're in good standing.

Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Hawaii

In Hawaii, a licensed social worker (LSW) credential qualifies you for three duties in addition to those that LBSWs perform:

This license requires you to have a CSWE-accredited master's or doctorate in social work, and you must pass an intermediate or advanced ASWB exam. Holding a similar license in another state may qualify you for reciprocal licensure in Hawaii as long as you're in good standing and provide the necessary documentation.

Becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Hawaii

Becoming a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) requires the most stringent guidelines in Hawaii. As for the LSW, you need an accredited MSW or doctorate, but you also need to pass the clinical ASWB exam and demonstrate 3,000 completed hours of clinical social work under the direction of an LCSW in good standing.

With your LCSW credential, you can perform psychotherapy on clients to help diagnose and treat mental illness and behavioral issues. This job carries a lot of responsibility, which is why the criteria are stricter. As with other licenses, you might qualify for a reciprocal license if you're licensed in good standing elsewhere.

To learn about online MSW programs and social worker requirements in other states, explore our list of CSWE-accredited online MSW programs by state below.

CSWE-Accredited Online MSW Programs by State

Social Work Jobs in Hawaii

With an MSW, you may be eligible for many careers in social work in Hawaii. Here are a few varieties of social work:

Child and family social workers often work for government agencies providing assistance to families in need and referring them for extra services. 

Clinical social workers are mental health counselors who help with a variety of psychological issues.

Healthcare social workers help patients navigate complex healthcare systems, procedures, and facilities. 

School social workers meet with students and their families to solve behavioral problems and help them get the necessary educational assistance. 

An MSW may also qualify you for work outside strict social worker roles, especially in other community health or community and social service fields.

Social Work Salary in Hawaii

We've listed the median annual salaries for different types of social workers below. All data comes from hourly wages given by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and assumes a 40-hour workweek.

  • Child, family, and school social workers: $60,258
  • Healthcare social workers: $77,272
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers: $63,710
  • Social workers, all other: $90,542

Social Work Outlook in Hawaii

The BLS expects the social work field to expand by 9% nationwide during 2021-2031, but it's unclear how many new positions Hawaii will add during that time. The analytics company, Lightcast, notes that employers in Hawaii posted 522 ads for family, school, and general social workers in the last 12 months, along with 138 ads for medical and clinical social workers. The number of open social worker positions in Hawaii has steadily increased from a recent low of 85 jobs in 2017. 

FAQs About Online MSW Programs in Hawaii

Do Universities in Hawaii Have Social Work Programs?


Two Hawaiian universities offer MSW degrees: UHM and HPU. At the time of writing, there were three schools in Hawaii offering BSW degrees, namely UHM, HPU, and Brigham Young University - Hawaii. Only UHM features an online option, which is open only to in-state residents.

Which Undergraduate Degree Is Best for an MSW?


You can be accepted to an MSW program with any undergraduate degree, but a BSW might be the best for two reasons:

  1. It shows graduate admissions officers that you're passionate about social work and already have an idea of what you're committing to.
  2. It may grant you advanced standing that lets you skip some introductory courses and potentially graduate early.

How Do I Become a Social Worker in Hawaii?


Earning either a BSW or an MSW is your first step to become a social worker in Hawaii. You need to graduate from a CSWE-accredited program in order to earn a license, which is the next step. With an LBSW at the bachelor's level, you may be able to work as a healthcare social worker, school social worker, or child and family social worker. 

Some employers hire for positions that call for one of the advanced licenses — the LSW and LCSW — both of which require at least an MSW.

How Much Do Licensed Social Workers Make in Hawaii?


The median annual salaries range from $60,258-$90,542 for social workers in Hawaii. Child, family, and school social workers are at the low end of the range, with the general BLS class of "social workers, all other" at the high end. 

Some types of social workers earn relatively high pay in Hawaii, but their salaries may not stretch as far because Hawaii has the highest cost of living of any state.

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