Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs about the Program

Are the graduates of the program eligible for licensure to practice counseling/psychotherapy in the state of Hawai╩╗i and elsewhere?

Yes, our program is a clinical mental health counseling program and our curriculum meets the educational requirements for licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in the state of HawaiÔÇÖi. See the mental health counselor webpage at the HawaiÔÇÖi Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs for additional information. Our graduates also have been licensed in other states. States vary in their requirements for licensure as a mental health counselor. If you want to practice as a mental health counselor in a state other than Hawai╩╗i, you should research licensure and certification requirements in the specific states you are interested in. Other states may refer to what are called LMHCs in Hawai╩╗i with different terminology, e.g., as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). The American Counseling Association maintains a web page with links to all of the state licensing boards for mental health counselors .

Is the program nationally accredited?

Yes, our program is accredited by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) through its Masters in Psychology Accreditation Committee . MPCAC accredits academic programs in psychology and counseling, which promote training in the scientific practice of professional psychology and/or counseling at the masterÔÇÖs level. Accredited programs must demonstrate a commitment to science-based training in all aspects of psychology and to enhancing services to the consumer and the public at large.

Can the program's graduates work in the Hawai╩╗i State Department of Education?

Yes, many of our graduates have obtained positions within the Hawai╩╗i DOE as School-based Behavioral Health Specialists (SBBHs). SBBHs provided counseling/therapy services to eligible students in the schools. Also, some of our graduates have been hired as school counselors in the Charter Schools within the Hawai╩╗i public educational system.

What are the differences between Mental Health Counseling and other helping professions?

Mental health counseling , school counseling , and marriage and family therapy are different, but related, specialty areas. Although they all fall under the umbrella of helping professions, the three specialty areas have different curricular content. Similar to other license-eligible helping professions, Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs) are able to engage in Private Practice and receive third-party reimbursements (e.g., from HMSA).

Where do students in the program gain practicum and internship experiences?

During the Spring semester of their first year, the students meet with the program's Field Placement Coordinator to discuss possible practicum/internship placements for the second year. Here are some of the local institutions, agencies, and private practitioners who have provided practica and internship placement sites for our students:

  • Big Island Substance Abuse Council (BISAC)
  • Bobby Benson Center
  • CARE Hawai╩╗i
  • Catholic Charities
  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Assistance Center/Sex Offender Treatment Program
  • Hawaii Department of Education, School-Based Behavioral Health
  • Hawaii Department of Education, Waipahu Community School for Adults
  • Hawaii Department of Health, Regional Family Guidance Centers
  • Hawaii Department of Health, Youth Correctional Facility & Detention Home
  • Hilo Vet Center
  • Hope Services
  • Hui M─ülama Ola N─ü ╩╗┼îiwi
  • I Ola Lahui
  • Kauai Community College, Hale Malama Care Center for Student Mental Health & Wellness
  • North Hawaii Hospice
  • Parents and Children Together (PACT)
  • University of Hawai╩╗i at Hilo Counseling Center
  • University of Hawai╩╗i at Manoa Counseling and Student Development Center
  • Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center
  • YWCA of Kauai

Where are the employment opportunities for the program's graduates?

Graduates of the program will be able to seek employment as professional mental health counselors. Graduates who later obtain a doctoral degree in counseling or clinical psychology will be able to seek employment as professional psychologists. Employment prospects for mental health counselors are good in HawaiÔÇÖi and in many other areas of the United States. Currently a shortage of qualified counselors exists, and employment opportunities in this field are expected to grow at a faster than average rate over the coming years.

Professional mental health counselors may find employment in a wide variety of settings, including the following: community mental health clinics, public and private elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, correctional facilities, vocational rehabilitation centers, job training and career counseling centers, residential care facilities, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs and agencies, private practice settings, mental hospitals and psychiatric wards, general medical hospitals and other healthcare facilities, employee assistance programs, child welfare and other family assistance agencies, and military counseling settings.

For graduates of our program who are licensed and in private practice, they have vendorship rights. This means that they are able to receive third-party payments from health insurance companies.

Here are some of the places where our graduates are (or have been) employed:

  • Abbott House (South Dakota)
  • CARE Hawai╩╗i
  • Child and Family Service
  • De Silva Elementary School
  • Dorrance Scholarship Programs (Arizona)
  • Family Support Hawai╩╗i
  • Hawai╩╗i Behavioral Health
  • Hawai╩╗i Community College (as counselors and adjunct faculty)
  • Hopsice of Hilo
  • The Institute for Family Enrichment
  • Kailua High School (Oahu)
  • Kanu o ka ╩╗Aina New Century Public Charter School (Waimea)
  • Ke Ala Pono Recovery Center
  • Kua O Ka L─ü Charter School (Puna)
  • Mililani Uka Elementary School (Oahu)
  • Lewis and Clark Behavioral Health Center (South Dakota)
  • Nana╩╗ikapono Elementary School (Oahu)
  • The Nevada Children's Center (Nevada)
  • Private practice
  • Regional Behavioral Health Authority of Maricopa County (Arizona)
  • UH Hilo Career Development Center
  • UH Hilo Counseling Center
  • UH Hilo Department of Psychology (as adjunct faculty)
  • Windward Community College (O╩╗ahu)
  • Windward School for Adults (O╩╗ahu)
  • YWCA Enhanced Healthy Start Program
  • YWCA Sex Assault Support Services Program
    (please send new site listings for this section to Dr. Charmaine Higa-McMillan

FAQs about Admissions

Do I have to apply by the priority deadline?

In order to receive full consideration and to be eligible for scholarships, applications must be submitted by the priority deadline. However, applications can be accepted until the admission cap has been reached.

If I satisfy some, but not all of the minimum admission requirements, can I still apply and be admitted?

No, applicants who do not meet the minimum requirements cannot be considered for admission.

What is the GRE?

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized test, which has been traditionally used to assess cognitive preparedness for graduate study. What do I need to do in order to take the GRE? The GRE is administered by the Educational Testing Service in an electronic format. The test can be taken on the UH Hilo campus and at many other locations. For information and to sign up for the GRE, call 1 (800) 473-2255 or go to the GRE web site . The test scores should be forwarded directly to the admissions office (enter the UH Hilo code, 4869, when taking the test). GRE scores are valid for 5 years, but the test can be re-taken, in which case the Educational Testing Service reports all scores received over the past 5 years.

Is there a "passing" GRE score?

No, whereas all applicants are required to take the GRE, the Department of Psychology does not require a particular score for admission. GRE is used as a source of complementary information about the applicants.

When taking the GRE test, where do I send the scores? How?

When taking the test, please enter the UH Hilo code provided in the test materials. You can also indicate that the scores should be sent to the Admissions Office . Your scores will be sent to the university within 2 to 3 weeks from the test date.

What is the TOEFL?

TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language) is a standardized test of fluency in the English language for non-native speakers. TOEFL is used to assess the applicant's ability to take graduate courses, which require advanced reading, writing, and speaking skills.

Where can I take the TOEFL test?

Generally, you should be able to take TOEFL at your undergraduate institution. If at UH Hilo, please contact the Student Support Services.

I have been born and raised in a foreign country, but attended an American college and graduated from that college with a bachelor's degree. Do I still need to take TOEFL?

No, foreign students who have been awarded a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college in an English-speaking country do not have to take the TOEFL test.

Who can I contact to obtain more information about the program?

Potential applicants can contact the Program Director, Dr. Charmaine Higa-McMillan , to obtain more information. In addition, the other faculty members also will be happy to communicate with potential applicants.