Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Hawaii?


By Sara Walters

Aside from beautiful beaches and scenery, Hawaii offers many benefits for degree-seekers. Hawaii's in- and out-of-state tuition rates are comparable to California and Oregon. Students can choose from more than 25 private and public institutions in the Aloha State, including 11 two-year schools and 12 four-year colleges.

Graduates of colleges for psychology in Hawaii enjoy a positive employment outlook. Hawaii ranks ninth in the nation for lowest unemployment rates. U.S. News & World Report ranks Hawaii as the best state for healthcare quality and third best for healthcare access, making it a great place for practicing psychologists to reach and serve patients. The state's student loan default rate also sits relatively low, with just 9.3% of borrowers in default.

What to Expect in a Hawaii Psychology College Program

Each Hawaii college for psychology offers students a different, unique experience, but some commonalities exist. To practice psychology clinically in Hawaii, students need a doctoral degree. This means at least 10 years of higher education: four for a bachelor's degree, 2-3 for a master's, and an additional four years (minimum) for a doctorate. This timeline varies, depending on students' enrollment type and school requirements.

Generally, psychology programs require some form of internship or supervised practice hours. Distance learners outside Hawaii may work with their school to coordinate an internship in their hometown. Many graduate psychology programs allow students to focus their degree in a specialization, giving degree-seekers the opportunity to take courses and potentially complete an internship in their desired area.

In 2018, Hawaii awarded 247 psychology degrees, ranking 44th in the U.S. for number of degrees conferred. This number could potentially mean more focused attention from professors, smaller classes, and less competition in the local job market.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Psychology Degree Program in Hawaii?

The best psychology schools in Hawaii offer a variety of courses at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Students often take general courses at the bachelor's level, then specialize as they progress through the graduate levels. See below for some common courses at Hawaii colleges for psychology.

Survey of Psychology

This bachelor's-level introductory seminar provides a broad overview of psychology. Degree-seekers explore topics in behavior, cognition, social psychology, and psychophysiology.

Behavioral Psychology

Offered at multiple levels in different forms, this course explores topics in human personality development and behavior. Students examine the fundamental theories that make up behavioral psychology, exploring them more in depth at the graduate level. The course also covers other topics in the social sciences and their intersection with behavioral sciences.

Developmental Psychology

This course covers the development of human behavior and cognition from birth to death. At the graduate level, students may take multiple courses that cover different areas of the lifespan. Learners explore the impact of cultural, social, and physical influences on development.

Research in Psychology

This course covers the different research methods commonly used in psychological research. Students learn both qualitative and quantitative methods, and explore the rationale for using different methodologies for different types of research. At the graduate level, learners may engage in research by developing their own study.

Abnormal Psychology

This course explores the various types and causes of mental illness and psychosis. The undergraduate course offers a general overview of topics in abnormal psychology, while graduate-level courses involve more in-depth study or allow students to pursue research in specific disorders and treatments. The course addresses cultural views on mental disorders and clinical methods for diagnosis and treatment.

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Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Hawaii

To practice clinical psychology in Hawaii, psychologists need a doctoral degree. Prior to earning a doctorate, individuals must earn a bachelor's and master's degree. Generally, master's programs in psychology look for applicants with a bachelor's in the field. However, many programs allow applicants with a bachelor's in any area. Some doctoral programs allow students to earn a master's as part of the degree requirements.

To practice clinical psychology in Hawaii, psychologists need a doctoral degree.

Learners who study psychology throughout their undergraduate and graduate careers complete the necessary requirements for admission to doctoral programs and licensure. This includes completing internships and field experience sometimes required for admission to doctoral programs and supervised clinical practice hours for licensure. Many master's programs include supervised hours and clinical experience, preparing learners to pursue master's-level counseling practice or to enter psychology doctoral programs.

Hawaii requires 1,800 hours of supervised postdoctoral experience prior to licensure. Often, aspiring psychologists in Hawaii complete their supervised practice hours within their chosen specialty area, such as school psychology or substance abuse rehabilitation. Some specializations may require additional certification. However, a doctoral degree in psychology remains the basic requirement to practice general psychology in Hawaii.

Hawaii Licensing for Psychologists

Hawaii, along with every other state, requires professional licensure to practice psychology. Hawaii's Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Professional & Vocational Licensing Division (PVL) handles all psychology licensure. Psychologists must hold this important credential in order to legally practice, as it ensures they meet educational requirements and adhere to ethical and professional policies.

Why Get Licensed in Hawaii?

Hawaii offers a variety of methods for acquiring a license to accommodate applicants from different backgrounds. The psychology license covers general psychology practice, with no specific stipulations for specializations. However, Hawaii's Mental Health Counselor Program provides guidelines for those who want to practice mental health counseling. These professionals follow different guidelines and licensure rules than clinical psychologists.

Licensing Criteria for Hawaii

Students exploring the best colleges in Hawaii for psychology may benefit from specifically researching the state's psychology doctoral programs since a doctorate is the basic requirement for earning licensure to practice. Hawaii's PVL sets the guidelines and rules for licensure for many professions in the state, including psychology.

Prospective psychologists may apply for licensure through several methods, including methods for previously licensed psychologists and state reciprocity. The basic requirements for licensure include a doctoral degree in psychology from a regionally accredited institution, 1,900 internship hours (one year) completed during the program, and 1,800 hours of supervised postdoctoral experience.

Individuals graduating from programs not approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) must submit coursework details along with their application. Hawaii lacks any specific state guidelines for specializations like school psychology. However, many employers in specialized areas may require supervised experience in that area.

How to Get Licensed in Hawaii

In addition to earning a doctoral degree from a regionally accredited institution, prospective psychologists in Hawaii must meet a variety of other criteria prior to licensure. Applicants who graduated from a program not approved by the APA must submit additional documentation on their graduate coursework, ensuring they completed the required courses in the required subject areas.

All applicants must have completed 1,900 internship hours during their doctoral program, and 1,900 hours of additional clinical experience supervised by a licensed psychologist. After submitting a complete application to the state board, applicants may receive approval to take the required examination.

All applicants must take and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) offered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. Candidates can take the EPPP at a test center in Oahu and must earn a score between 450 and 500, or at least a 75%, to pass.

License Renewal in Hawaii

In Hawaii, psychologists must renew their licenses every two years by June 30 of even-numbered years. Depending on when applicants earn licensure, their continuing education (CE) requirements may vary due to changes in the state's renewal policy. Psychologists licensed between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018 need no hours, while all other licensees must complete 18 CE hours every two years.

Licensed psychologists who let their license lapse must restore the license within one year of expiration or reapply as a new applicant.


Hawaii Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends

Graduates of colleges for psychology in Hawaii enjoy positive job and salary prospects in the state. According to BLS data, Hawaii ranks third in the country for the top-paying states for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists. Hawaii's average wages for clinical, counseling, school, and general psychologists has increased in recent years, meeting or exceeding the national averages for these occupations.

The industry a psychologist works in can also impact earning potential.

Although projected job growth for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Hawaii is slightly lower than the projected national growth rate, jobs are still projected to grow by 12.7% by 2026. Nearby states Oregon, Washington, and Alaska are projected to experience a higher rate of psychology job growth than Hawaii, while California is projected to experience a lower rate.

The significant increase in wages for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Hawaii from 2016-17 could potentially contribute to the field's projected growth rate. The industry a psychologist works in can also impact earning potential. Many psychologists earn more working in private offices and specialty hospitals. Prospective psychologists in Hawaii can take advantage of this growth after earning their degrees at the best colleges in Hawaii for psychology.

Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
  2016 2017
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Hawaii $79,800 $78,690
Psychologists, All Other in Hawaii $87,110 $94,650
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Nationally $78,690 $81,330
Psychologists, All Other Nationally $94,650 $93,440

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Mean Wage For Psychologists In Hawaii and Nearby States (2018)

  • Nationally

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $85,340

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,610

  • Hawaii

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $94,550

    Psychologists, All Other: $94,260

  • California

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $108,350

    Psychologists, All Other: $114,860

  • Oregon

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $103,870

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

  • Washington

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $73,840

    Psychologists, All Other: $102,760

  • Alaska

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $91,450

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

Source: BLS

Projected Job Growth for Psychologists (2016-2026)
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Psychologists, All Other
Nationally 14.2% 10.3%
Hawaii 12.70% N/A
California 12.50% 13.00%
Oregon 15.5% -5.0%
Washington 21.50% 10.00%
Alaska 15.40% N/A

Source: Projections Central

Psychology Programs and Licensing in Hawaii Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Get a BA or BS in Psychology?

This depends on what you wish to do with your degree. The bachelor of science (BS) emphasizes the sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy, while the bachelor of arts (BA) track emphasizes the liberal arts and humanities. Both degrees adequately prepare students for graduate study. However, the BS may better suit students wishing to pursue psychiatry, or medical studies in psychology.

Do I Need a Bachelor's in Psychology to Get a Master's in Psychology?

Some master's programs in psychology allow applicants with a bachelor's in any subject. Other programs may specifically require applicants to hold a bachelor's in psychology or a closely related field, such as social work or behavioral science. Whether you need a bachelor's in psychology depends on individual program requirements.

Are Hawaii Psychology Licenses Valid in Other States?

Hawaii psychology licenses may maintain validity in many states, depending on that state's reciprocity regulations. Each state maintains its own licensing rules for psychologists. Licensed psychologists who wish to transfer their license to another state must generally prove that the requirements from the licensing state meet or exceed the requirements in the new state.

Can I Get Licensed If My Degree Is From an Unaccredited Program?

All licensure applicants in Hawaii need a doctoral degree from a regionally accredited institution. The board prefers degrees earned from APA-approved programs. However, students can still earn their license if they graduated from a non-approved program. These graduates simply must submit additional documentation regarding their academic history.

What Happens If I Don't Renew My License?

In Hawaii, psychologists must renew their licenses every two years on even-numbered years. Professionals who fail to renew their license in the required timeframe have one year to restore it. After that year, they must reapply for licensure as a new applicant.

Psychology Resources for Hawaii


  • Hawaii Board of Psychology This state website details licensure requirements in Hawaii, including statutes, rules, and application forms. Users can apply for and renew licenses through this website.
  • Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards Prospective psychologists in Hawaii can access this site to learn more about the EPPP, the required exam for licensure in the state. The association also offers study materials and a candidate handbook.
  • American Psychological Association This organization offers a database of approved programs, CE information, and a variety of useful scholarly publications.
  • Hawaii Board of Psychology Meetings This website provides the meeting minutes for the Hawaii Board of Psychology meetings. Practicing and prospective psychologists in the state can use these to stay informed on policy changes and field developments.
  • Professional Development Resources This APA-approved resource offers a database of available CE opportunities for psychologists. Licensed psychologists in Hawaii must complete 18 hours of CE every two years to renew their license.