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Psychology Programs in Hawaii

Hawaii can offer the degree programs and practical opportunities that many psychology students and aspiring psychology professionals are searching for. In 2019 the University of Hawaii Board of Regents budgeted $2.6 million toward increasing the number of on-campus psychologists throughout the university system. Around the same time, two of the state’s private universities added doctoral programs in psychology.

It’s not just universities that are prioritizing mental health. Honolulu is home to the National Center for PTSD, Pacific Islands Division, one of the leading recipients of research and training dollars for trauma in the U.S. The center hosts multiple postdoctoral fellowships and doctoral internships.

Whether you are searching for a psychology degree at the associate or doctoral level or anywhere in between, educational institutions in Hawaii may offer a program that fits your needs.

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Hawaii Psychology Programs

If you’re looking for psychology programs in Hawaii, you’ll discover a small, approachable list. That’s because the Aloha State has only a few four-year universities, most of them in Honolulu. Two of them recently began offering psychology doctorates, bringing the total number of doctoral programs in the field to three. These complement a group of bachelor’s and master’s offerings from both public and private universities.

Chaminade University of Honolulu (Honolulu)

Tiny Chaminade is home to the Center for Medical Psychology (CMP), which conducts research and offers clinical health-related services. The center provides opportunities for undergrads and grads alike to support their education by working in a real-world environment.

Bachelor’s students can either major or minor in psychology and have the option of taking the major online. At the graduate level the university offers a master’s in counseling psychology and a doctorate in clinical psychology (the school took over the doctoral program from Argosy University when it abruptly closed in 2019).

Tuition for undergrads is $26,134 per academic year, including fees. Online courses are $550 per credit, and graduate tuition is $1,000 per credit.

University of Hawaii–Hilo (Hilo)

The UHH Department of Psychology is that university’s largest department by enrollment, which means it can support a variety of courses. Faculty specialize in niche areas such as animal behavior, cross-cultural psychology, and vocational psychology. The school offers both a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in counseling psychology. The latter is taught via videoconference, with students able to join courses from classrooms on other islands.

Tuition for full-time undergrads is $3,672 per semester for residents, $10,152 for nonresidents. Undergraduate tuition for students from the Western Undergraduate Exchange states and Pacific Islanders is $6,912 per semester and ranges from $5,868 to $13,284 for grad students.

University of Hawaii–Manoa (Honolulu)

UH Manoa has the Aloha State’s only psychology program ranked by U.S. News & World Report. It’s also the biggest, with 20 faculty members. Ph.D. students can go into one of three focus areas: clinical studies; cognition, neuroscience, and social; or community, cultural, and developmental psychology. Undergraduates can choose a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science; the B.A. is also available in a hybrid online format.

In-state tuition is $6,093 per term for residents and $17,109 for nonresidents. Resident and nonresident graduate tuition is $8,407 and $19,147, respectively.

University of Hawaii–West Oahu (Kapolei)

In 2007 UH West Oahu became a public four-year college, Hawaii’s third. The school is small but has grown fast. Its B.A. in social sciences allows for a concentration in psychology, in which students select courses from four clusters: human development, social psychology, experimental psychology, and clinical and applied psychology. At the end of their senior year students must complete a capstone course in which they research and write about a topic in psychology.

Full-time tuition mirrors UH Hilo rates: $3,672 per term for residents and $10,152 for nonresidents.

Hawaii Pacific University (Honolulu)

HPU has psychology programs at three levels: a B.A., an M.A. in clinical mental health counseling, and a Psy.D. in clinical psychology (which was introduced in 2020). The school uses a liberal arts approach to psychology, so there’s a mix of research, clinical activities, and other practical applications. The B.A. is available online.

For undergraduates tuition is $14,400 per semester. The M.A. program costs $1,125 per credit, and the Psy.D. program costs $1,200 per credit.

Brigham Young University–Hawaii (Laie)

One of just a few U.S. colleges affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), BYU Hawaii aims to produce psychology graduates who can work in entry-level positions or move into a graduate program. Its B.S. in psychology has two tracks: general/experimental and clinical/counseling. There is also a minor in psychology and a minor in organizational behavior—which is a good choice for students who are interested in going on to study industrial-organizational psychology at the graduate level.

Tuition for LDS members is $7,627 per year; non-church members pay $15,253.

How to Become a Psychologist in Hawaii

Qualifying to become a psychologist in Hawaii involves two parts: getting the proper doctoral degree and then completing the steps for licensure.

Education Requirements for Psychologists in Hawaii

To become a psychologist in Hawaii you need a doctorate in the discipline. The degree can be either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. The former is generally geared toward researchers, while the latter is a more recent degree created for practitioners.

Note that there are a number of careers in psychology that don’t require a doctorate. However, you can only be called a psychologist with a doctorate—with one exception: School psychologists are under the jurisdiction of the Hawaii Department of Education, and they only need a master’s degree.

Before applying for a doctorate you first need a bachelor’s degree. A master’s in psychology isn’t necessary, and in fact many schools don’t offer one because a doctorate is required to practice. However, some students find that a master’s degree dissertation and coursework requirements help them decide on a specialization or practice for a doctorate.

As of 2020, the American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes 17 psychology specialties. The most common, which you’ll find in several of the Hawaiian universities listed above, are clinical psychology and counseling psychology. With a limited number of doctoral psych programs in Hawaii, outside graduates in other specializations may be able to fill crucial professional roles on the islands.

Hawaii Psychology Licensing and Exams

The role of the Hawaii Board of Psychology is to regulate the profession in the state, which includes overseeing the licensure process. The standard route to becoming a licensed psychologist in Hawaii is through an examination. To qualify for the exam, you need the following:

  • A doctorate in psychology, educational psychology, or clinical psychology from a board-recognized program
  • At least six semester credits in six different specialty areas: biological bases of behavior, cognitive-affective bases of behavior, social bases of behavior, individual differences, psychodiagnosis and individual assessment, and therapy
  • At least three semester credits each in ethics, history and systems, research design and methodology, and statistics
  • 1,900 supervised hours of postdoctoral experience

You must then pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology with a score of 500 or higher, pay a $50 fee, and submit the application. The application includes a summary of education and work experience, a training report detailing the credits you took, an internship verification form, and a postdoctoral verification form.

There are other ways to apply for licensure that don’t involve an exam. Psychologists licensed in other states are eligible, as are diplomates from the American Board of Professional Psychology, holders of a Certificate of Professional Qualification in Psychology, or psychologists with a credential from the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology.

Licenses are only good for up to two years and must be renewed by June 30 on even-numbered years. Between the time of licensure and renewal, psychologists must attain 18 continuing education credits approved by the APA or one of its state or provincial branches. (See the Resources section for organizations that run continuing education courses.)

Psychology Specializations in Hawaii That Do Not Require a Doctorate

Hawaii recognizes several mental health professions that don’t require a doctorate. For some, these may be a weigh station on the road to a psychology career. However, if their descriptions match your career goals, they could be your final destination.

  • Marriage and family therapist: To apply for an MFT license you must have at least a master’s degree in a field related to mental health counseling plus 1,000 hours of supervised experience in marriage and family therapy. If you pass the National Marital and Family Therapy exam, you can then work solo with couples and family members, imparting communication and interpersonal skills that can turn conflict into family growth.
  • Mental health counselor: To become licensed as a mental health counselor in Hawaii, you will need a master’s or doctorate in mental health counseling or a related field. There’s also a 3,000-hour minimum for supervised postgraduate experience. Once you meet those requirements, you must pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification. As a licensed mental health counselor you can work with families or individuals to follow through on treatments for common conditions. Clients may be struggling with depression, grief, anxiety, or other issues. As their counselor you can provide them with tools to manage their mental health.
  • Social worker: Social workers identify people who need assistance and then link them to resources, refer them to medical or other help, mediate conflicts, and provide some therapy. There are three types of social worker licenses in Hawaii: licensed social worker (LSW), licensed bachelor social worker (LBSW), and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). To be an LBSW you must pass the Association of Social Work Board’s exam and have a bachelor’s in social work. As an LSW you must also have a master’s in social work and have passed the intermediate level of the national exam. To be an LCSW you will need to meet the LSW requirements plus accrue 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience.
  • Substance abuse counselor: Substance abuse counselors screen potential clients to determine whether they’re abusing drugs and/or alcohol, create an individualized treatment plan, counsel clients in individual and group settings to find alternative coping mechanisms, refer them to services, and step in during crises. To become a certified substance abuse counselor in Hawaii, you must have 6,000 hours of supervised experience. College education is not necessary but can be counted toward those hours. Alternatively, you can apply to become a certified prevention specialist with 120 hours of prevention education and 2,000 hours of supervised work. As an advanced practitioner you can become a certified clinical supervisor with 10,000 hours of experience, 30 hours of education across multiple areas, and either a master’s degree in human services or other professional credential from the Hawaii Department of Health’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division.
  • Behavior analyst: Behavior analysts design, conduct, and assess treatments that change human behaviors. The discipline falls outside of the testing, diagnosis, and therapies learned by psychologists. Instead, it has more do with changing a person’s physical environment to alter undesirable behaviors. To become a behavioral analyst in Hawaii, you must pass the Board Certified Behavior Analysis exam to earn a license. Alternatively, you can apply with an endorsement from another state.

Job Growth and Psychologist Salary in Hawaii

Hawaii has the highest cost of living in the U.S., so it’s important that professionals make a good salary to offset these costs. Psychologists and other mental health professionals do tend to earn higher salaries than the national average, sometimes by as much as 50%.

Career2018 Median SalaryExpected Job Growth (2016 – 2026)
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists$78,440+13%
Psychologists—All Other$104,490no data available
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors$58,970+10%
Licensed Clinical Social Workers—All Other$85,060+7%
Marriage and Family Therapists$75,040no data available
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselors$48,760no available data

All data from CareerOneStop

Hawaii Psychology Scholarships

Finding scholarship opportunities is fairly straightforward. You can start by looking at our general scholarship page, which has scholarships from many states and for many majors, and then narrow the search to awards specific to psychology students in Hawaii. Universities or individual departments may offer awards to their students that you can automatically apply for just by enrolling.

Outside of universities, several Hawaiian organizations also fund psychology students. Available awards include:

  • Hans and Clara Zimmerman Foundation Health Scholarships: This award, open to college seniors and grad students majoring in clinical psychology, provides money to Hawaiian residents with at least a 3.0 GPA and financial need. It’s administered by the Hawaii Community Foundation.
  • Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship: Candidates for a clinical psychology doctorate are eligible for this award from Papa Ola Lokahi, as long as they are native Hawaiians. The program awards monthly stipends and pays a sizable chunk of students’ college expenses. In exchange, recipients agree to work in their field within Hawaii for two to four years after graduation.
  • Kalino Foundation Scholarship: The Kalino Foundation gives out two $3,300 awards—one based on merit and one on need—to students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in a health and wellness field, including psychology.

Hawaii Internships and Fellowships

As a doctoral student, you must complete intervention hours as part of your program. Often these come from internships. After graduating, you must accrue another 1,900 hours with clients through a fellowship before you can become licensed to practice independently. The Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) maintains a searchable directory of postdoctoral programs in Hawaii and elsewhere.

Finding doctoral student internships isn’t always as simple. Below we list some of the internships available on the islands. You can also check out job sites such as Indeed and LinkedIn or look at Chegg Internships.

  • University of Hawaii at Manoa, Counseling and Student Development Center (CSDC) Doctoral Internship: D. and Psy.D. candidates in counseling or clinical psychology can apply for this internship once they’ve completed at least 500 intervention hours with their university’s program. The CSDC provides mental health services and career counseling for UHM students and staff, so interns get to conduct a mix of individual therapy, couples therapy, and career counseling, along with group psychotherapy, crisis management, and intake interviews. The $26,500 stipend covers the 500 intervention hours interns earn.
  • Family Strengthening Center Doctoral Clinical Psychology Internship: Family Strengthening Center at Family Programs Hawaii (FSC), a nonprofit community center for mental health, offers an internship for those in a clinical psychology doctoral program. During the internship you will learn about psychosocial support systems and juvenile and family courts on the islands. Additionally, you’ll be asked to conduct psych evaluations on both children and adults. The internship pays $24,000 a year.
  • VA Pacific Islands Health Care System Internship: This Honolulu-based internship, which comes with a $29,000 stipend, has two possible tracks: generalist and rural health/generalist. As an intern you can go on two six-month rotations with the aid of both supervisors and mentors. Possible rotations include outpatient treatment for behavioral health, geriatric and residential care, homeless care, rural mental health, and military sexual trauma.

Hawaii Psychology Resources

  • Hawaii Psychological Association: HPA is the Hawaii state chapter of the American Psychological Association. Its members can take discounted continuing education courses while having their policy views represented in the Hawaiian legislature. Student members can be paired with mentors and get connected to internships.
  • Hawaii Board of Psychology: As the state’s regulatory body for psychologists, the board of psychology facilitates licensure, audits licensees to ensure they’ve met continuing education requirements, and protects consumers by maintaining a database of licensed psychologists.
  • Hawaii Counselors Association: The local branch of the American Counseling Association, HCA admits members who work in counseling or other forms of human development. It has separate divisions for mental health, counselors who work in government, career counseling, and multicultural counseling. Students in related programs are welcome to join.
  • Hawaii Association of School Psychologists: HASP members can attend continuing education courses and network with school psychologists at other events. Students pay just $20 to become members, which gives them access to resources from the National Association of School Psychologists.
  • Hawaii Association of Addiction and Drug Abuse Counselors: HAADAC is part of the national NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals. Hawaiian members can seek out certifications and get free continuing education credits via webinars. Students pay a fraction of the full membership rate.