Master of Social Work (MSW) Online | Hawai‘i Pacific University

Master of Social Work Online


The online Master of Social Work (MSW) from Hawai‘i Pacific University prepares aspiring social work leaders who are drawn toward learning about multicultural social work practice and/or military/veteran social issues. 

In this online MSW program, it is recognized that social justice and healing are the backbone of social work. As such, the faculty view social work — in the context of this program — as an embodied practice that challenges the status quo. 

When you earn your Master in Social Work online from Hawai‘i Pacific University, you’ll graduate prepared to pursue licensure, become a fierce advocate for social and economic justice, and empower diverse communities affected by systemic inequities.

An Advanced Standing track is available for applicants who earned a Bachelor of Social Work within the last five years.

As stated by the Council on Social Work Education, the profession of social work promotes human and community well-being. Socials workers focus on social and economic justice at the local, national, and global level. They are often pioneers - challenging the status quo and working tirelessly to help others help themselves. 

  • Social workers have many options for specialization. Choose what impassions you in areas such as: child or adult protective services, health care, mental health, individual and family counseling, criminal justice, or social agency administration. 

  • Career opportunities include health care services, schools and universities, youth development, senior services, adoptions and foster care, community development, child and family services, mental health services, government and not-for-profit organizations. 

Master of Social Work Focus Area Options

During the program’s foundation year, you’ll learn to approach their social work practice from a Native Hawaiian perspective. Then, after the online MSW foundation year, you’ll choose from two focus areas: 

Global and Indigenous Focus

Learn a reciprocal, interdependent approach to understanding various cultures and Indigenous worldviews, which often strive for balance and harmony in relationships with the environmental, spiritual, and human realms. Understand social work practice from an interwoven approach that incorporates both Indigenous and Western worldviews. 

Military and Veteran Affairs (MLVA) Focus

Learn the nuances of social work practice within local, state, and federal government programs when engaging, assessing, and treating active-duty military, family members, and veterans. Specialize your studies to further your knowledge on problem areas impacting military service members, families, and veterans, including homelessness, substance abuse, deployment stressors, family dynamics, war-zone traumatic stress, and military sexual trauma.

Program Tracks

The online MSW program offers two track options, depending on your academic social work background. Both tracks equip you with a variety of skills and tools you will need to deliver effective social services to individuals, families, and communities from multicultural backgrounds.

Traditional Track 

This 57-credit curriculum combines up to 19 courses, two concentration options, and in-person clinical experiences. Complete in 18 months full time, or in 36 months part time.

This track is for candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than social work.

Advanced Standing Track

This 30-credit curriculum combines up to 10 courses, two concentration options, and in-person clinical experiences. Complete in 12 months full time or 24 months part time.

This track is for candidates who have earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited program within the last five years, with at least a 3.25 GPA in social work courses.

The Master of Social Work degree program goal is to prepare graduates to become advanced generalists with a focus on culturally competent practice. The program provides structure with the knowledge, values, and skills needed for advanced practice and leadership. Because HPU sits at a global crossroads, students have firsthand experience providing services to diverse populations. 

  • The learning environment at HPU is truly multi-cultural, with students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries. 

  • HPU understands the needs of working adults and offers flexible scheduling options. Majority of the classes are offered in the evenings and on weekends, while students can also choose from online and hybrid courses. 

  • In addition to being committed teachers, researchers, and scholars, faculty in the MSW program are also veteran practitioners. You will greatly benefit from their experience as community leaders and advocates. 

The goals of the Master of Social Work degree program are:

  1. To prepare graduates who will demonstrate competence in social work practice at an advanced level with client systems of all sizes.
  2. To prepare graduates who will be able to work effectively with diverse populations in multicultural settings.
  3. To prepare graduates who understand the social contexts of social work practice at micro, mezzo, and macro levels, including the changing nature of those contexts, and who advocate for social and economic justice.
  4. To promote the values and ethics of professional social work in the program and in its graduates’ practice.
  5. To develop in graduates an appropriate foundation for and valuing of lifelong learning, leadership, and generation of knowledge.

In the
online Master of Social Work at Hawai‘i Pacific University, you will master the nine competencies of social work practice, as declared by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and become a reflective and culturally humble social work practitioner. Hawai‘i Pacific University also added a tenth competency which aligns with the values of the university and cultural foci.

You will learn to:

  • Demonstrate ethical and professional behaviors.
  • Engage diversity and difference in practice.
  • Advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice.
  • Engage in practice-informed research and research-informed practice.
  • Engage in policy practice.
  • Engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
  • Assess individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
  • Intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
  • Evaluate practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. 
  • Engage, honor, and respect Indigenous Culture towards decolonized, professional practice.

Click here to see sample MSW degree plan.

*Please note this is only a sample degree plan. Please meet with your academic advisor prior to registration to formulate your own plan. 

Applicants to the Master of Social Work must submit the following materials to apply:

  • Online application
  • Résumé (optional, but can help with practicum placement)
  • Transcripts: Transcripts must be submitted from all postsecondary institutions. Unofficial transcripts can be submitted for application review. Official transcripts must be submitted within the first semester of entry.
  • Two letters of recommendation (academic and/or professional) 
  • Essay that states your purpose in undertaking graduate study at Hawai‘i Pacific University

Learn more about eligibility requirements, as well as guidelines for international applicants.

In our online Master of Social Work you will learn to facilitate community care in the face of economic and social injustice. You can graduate ready to work effectively and respectfully in a range of social work roles with and on behalf of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and non-profit organizations, as well as other roles in: 

  • Health care services
  • Veteran centric organizations 
  • Senior, aging services
  • International non-profits
  • Community development
  • Mental health services
  • Government
  • Not-for-profit organizations

Additional Requirements

In addition to the general admissions requirements, international applicants must also submit: 

  • TOEFL scores for applicants whose first language is not English

  • International transcript evaluation: All international transcripts not from an English-speaking institution must be translated and evaluated by a reputable credential evaluation service

*Please refer to the Office of Graduate Admissions for additional materials required for admission to Hawai'i Pacific University

Applicant must be enrolled or have recently enrolled in a graduate social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). In addition to the requirements for regular Master of Social Work degree status (or MSW Advanced Standing status) transfer applicants must submit: 

  • A personal statement that reflects reasons for wanting to transfer to the School of Social Work at Hawai'i Pacific University

  • Letter of good standing from the Dean or the Director of the program (or their designee)

  • Field evaluation of any fieldwork accomplished up to this point

  • A syllabus and course catalog description for each course you wish to transfer for credit (up to 15 credits). *Note: these documents are required only after being accepted into the program. 

Applicants whose overall GPA is below 3.0, on a 4.0 scale may be considered for admissions on a case-by-case basis. Students in this category will be restricted to nine credit hours of course work during the first semester and must earn a B grade or higher in each of the courses. Students who fail to earn a B grade or higher in each course will be dismissed from the Master of Social Work degree program at the end of the fall semester. 


Learn to develop a multicultural social work practice and empower diverse communities affected by systemic inequities within civilian and military-focused areas.

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