MA in Counseling Psychology

Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQs about the Program

Are graduates of the program eligible for licensure to practice counseling/psychotherapy in the state of Hawaiʻi 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 Hawai’i. See the mental health counselor webpage at the Hawai’i 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 Hawaiʻi, 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 Hawaiʻi 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 master’s 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 Hawaiʻi State Department of Education?

Yes, many of our graduates have obtained positions within the Hawaiʻi 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 Hawaiʻi public educational system.

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

Mental health counseling , school counseling , marriage and family therapy , and social work, are different, but related, specialty areas. Although they all fall under the umbrella of helping professions, thesee 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 (i.e., from insurance companies).

FAQs about Course of Study

What courses do I have to take?

All of the core courses are required.

Can I complete the program as a part-time student?

Yes, however, admission priority is given to students applying for full-time enrollment. Depending on program needs, a few outstanding applicants for part-time enrollment may be admitted.

Can I work full-time while also completing the program?

The program is rigorous and time-intensive. Most courses during the Fall and Spring terms are synchronous during the day meaning that you must devote approximately two full days during the week to attend class. Additionally, the practicum and internship in the second year of the program requires that students spend approximately 15-25 hours on-site at a field placement site. Given all of this, we discourage full-time work while completing the program. Students that must maintain full-time employment during the program are encouraged to inquire about completing the program on a part-time basis.

What happens if I fail to take a required course when recommended?

You may have to wait until next academic year (or even two years, in some cases) in order to take that course. If the course serves as a prerequisite for other courses you may have to postpone taking those as well.

How are practicum and internship field placement sites assigned?

During the spring semester of the first year in the program, students meet with the program's Field Placement Coordinator to review existing field placement sites. The Field Placement Coordinator works with students to match them to a placement that meets their career goals and population/settings of interest while also considering supervisor and site availability. While we do our best to accommodate students at a practicum and internship site on the student's home island, site placements are competitive and we cannot guarantee that a particular placement site will be available.

Do I have to write a master's thesis?

No, the thesis is optional. Some students may elect to write a master’s thesis in preparation for application to a doctoral program.

If I elect to write a master's thesis, do I still have to complete the practicum and internship?

Yes, the practicum and internship are required components of the program. Students who elect to write a thesis still complete the practicum and internship. Students who write a thesis replace their elective courses with three credits of PSY 699 Directed Studies (To Be Arranged) and six credits of PSY 700 Thesis Research (1–6) . Please review the Program Handbook for more details about the thesis.

Can I take courses in the program if I am not enrolled as a student in the program?

Courses are reserved for students who are admitted to the program. However, on occasion, students may be allowed to enroll in some of the courses as an unclassified student for specific reasons such as for professionals who already hold a license in another state who need one or two courses to meet the Hawai'i mental health counselor licensure requirements. In these situations, prospective students should contact the program director and the course instructor to request permission to enroll as an unclassified student.

FAQs about Distance Education

Can I attend the program while residing in another state?

No, you must reside in the State of Hawaiʻi while completing the duration of the program.

I work full time. Do I have to attend class?

Yes, during the fall and spring semesters students must attend synchronous classes (via video software). These classes are typically held on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule from approximately 9:30am thru 3:45pm with a short 45-minute lunch break. Additionally, during the second year of the program, it is expected that students will create time in their schedule during the work week to complete their Practicum and Internship experiences.

Is travel to Hilo required?

Yes, students who reside outside of Hilo should budget for four visits to Hilo to complete several in-person meetings/classes. Please see the Distance Education Policy for more details about travel requirements.

FAQs about Admissions

Do I have to apply by the priority deadline?

In order to receive full consideration and to be eligible for scholarships, we recommend submitting a completed application by the priority deadline. However, applications can be accepted until the final deadline.

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. Please see the Admissions page for more information about the minimum requirements.

Can I take a course from a massive open online course (MOOC) such as from Coursera or edX to meet the minimum course requirements?

You are welcome to enhance or refresh your skills in this manner but such courses cannot be used to fulfill the minimum course requirements. Courses used to meet the minimum requirements must be taken from a regionally-accredited institution.

I have many years of experience in the field. Can experiences replace the course work requirements?

No, experiences in the field may not be used to meet the minimum course requirements. However, we encourage you to list this experience on your resume or curriculum vitae as well as describe these experiences in your personal statement.

As long as I meet all of the minimum requirements, will I be admitted to the program?

No, selections for the program are competitive. Our three-year admission rate is 33%. We only admit 20 students per year. Selections are determined by GPA (last 60 credits), resume/CV, personal statement, and letters of recommendation. Please see the Admissions page for more details about the selection process.

Is the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) required?

No, the GRE is no longer required for admission consideration to the program.

Does it matter who I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

Recommendations from professors who are familiar with your work are preferred. We will also accept letters written by supervisors who have observed your work in the human service field or research activities. We discourage letters from co-workers, friends, family members, and members of the clergy (unless they supervised your work).

What is the recommended length for personal statements?

There is no minimum/maximum length for the personal statement, however, successful statements are typically between 700 and 1000 words in length.

What is the TOEFL and where can I take it?

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. Generally, you should be able to take TOEFL at your undergraduate institution.

I was 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.

I took some graduate courses at another institution. Can I transfer these credits to your program?

Yes, students may transfer a maximum of 12 semester hours (or its equivalent) provided those courses were not used toward another earned degree. Only courses that are equivalent to those taught at UH Hilo can be transferred and only credit hours with a grade of B or better from accredited universities are transferable. Credit hours for practicum and internship courses are not transferable. Transfer credit hours must have been completed within five years prior to admission. Requests for transfer of credits must be made during the first semester in which the student is enrolled in the program. Students need to obtain program approval for all credit transfers. All requests for transfer of credits must be accompanied by a transcript and course syllabi.

Do you admit students year round?

No, we operate a cohort model which means that students are admitted once a year. Priority applications are due in mid-January with a June (summer) start.

When are admission decisions made?

In general, for applications received by the priority deadline, the admission decisions will be finalized by mid-February and notifications sent soon thereafter. Applications received after the priority deadline and before the final deadline are typically informed of their acceptance by April 1.

FAQs about Tuition and Financial Aid

What is the cost of the program?

Students in this program pay the Graduate Tuition Rate. Resident and Non-Resident rates are available. Please click here for the current UH Hilo Tuition Schedule and the UH Hilo Fees Schedule. The program is 60 credits and students are charged tuition on a per credit hour basis up until 12 credits per semester. This does not include the cost of textbooks, which is individually determined based on the needs of each course. Additionally, non-resident students may qualify for the Western Regional Graduate Program, which provides a tuition rate of 150% of resident graduate tuition for residents of qualified states and who are admitted to a participating UH Hilo graduate program.

How much will it cost to live in Hilo?

You should budget approximately $38,000 (residents) and $50,000 (non-residents) per year for tuition, books, housing, food, and personal expenses. More information can be found on Financial Aid - Estimated Cost of Attendance page.

Is financial aid available?

Yes, students may qualify for financial aid. Please visit the UH Hilo Financial Aid Office for more information. Native Hawaiian students who need assistance with applications and/or scholarships please contact Kipuka Native Hawaiian Student Center. International students may also qualify for certain scholarships.

Are there options available for graduate students to pay back loans?

Yes, graduates may qualify for loan forgiveness. Please visit the Hawai‘i/Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center for more information on loan repayment option(s) for primary care and behavioral health providers.

Does the program have graduate or teaching assistantships?

Unfortunately, the program does not currently offer graduate or teaching assistantships.