Since 1988 the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health has provided opportunities for residents on our neighbor islands (Hawai‘i 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.