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BOR approves new M.A. and B.S. degrees at UH Hilo

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Date: Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Contact: Dr. Christopher Lu, (808) 974-7707

For Immediate Release

The University of Hawai'i Board of Regents (BOR) approved the establishment of a master of arts degree in counseling psychology and changed the status of the bachelor of science degree in biology at the University of Hawai`i at Hilo at its Board meeting held May 17, 2002 on O'ahu.

"The overall mission of the proposed master of arts program in counseling psychology is to offer student-centered, cross-cultural graduate training in counseling psychology," said UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng in her remarks to the BOR. "The program will enable students to function as professional counselors in schools, government agencies, and social service programs in the community."

The program's curriculum is designed to prepare students to meet the school counselor requirements of the state Department of Education, the licensure requirements established by the new state law for marriage and family therapists, and the national certification requirements of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), Tseng explained. The MA program begins Fall 2003.

The counseling program addresses a need among members of the Big Island community as well as a strong interest expressed by UH Hilo students and graduates, most of whom could not pursue graduate study in the field without leaving family, job, and other commitments. Graduate level training would enhance their professional competence and enable them to compete more effectively with non-residents with graduate degrees.

"The island of Hawai'i suffers from the highest level of health, economic, social, and psychological problems in the state," said Tseng. "The magnitude of these problems has increased as a result of the economic and social effects of the events of September 11. The program can help alleviate some of these problems by offering trained counselors who can assist those in need."

A proposal for the M.A. in counseling psychology was submitted by UH Hilo in 2000 to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), which accredits the University. While impressed with the proposed program and acknowledging the need for it, WASC deferred final action until the UH Graduate Council had approved the proposed program and until the University could demonstrate adequate resources would be available. The Graduate Council and the System Academic Affairs Council recently approved the proposal.

Tseng said the financial resources to support the program will come from a combination of existing UH Hilo resources and additional funding requests to the State Legislature.

The BOR also approved a change of status for the bachelor of science degree in biology from provisional to established in the College of Arts and Sciences. The biology department currently offers a bachelor of arts
degree with a track in cell and molecular biology (CMB) and ecology, evolutionary biology, and conservation biology (EECB). Five years ago, a bachelor of science degree in biology that offers advanced coursework in
chemistry, physics, and mathematics was given provisional status by the BOR.

"This rigorous curriculum would give top-notch students the background and prerequisites required by prestigious Division I universities for entry into their cell and molecular graduate programs," Tseng said. "In the past five years dozens of students have taken advantage of this option and a number are now enrolled in graduate cell and molecular biology programs.

"The biology faculty are confident that this bachelor of science option will continue to be popular with students and continue to attract students to the biology program at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo."

Tseng said no additional resources are required for the implementation of the change in status. All courses required for the degree are in place in the chemistry, physics, mathematics, and biology departments.

The expected outcome is for 10 percent or more of prospective biology majors to choose this rigorous curriculum in order to gain entrance to cell and molecular biology graduate programs at Division I schools. For more information, contact Dr. Christopher Lu, vice chancellor for academic affairs, at (808) 974-7707 or

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