As the study of mind, behavior and experience, psychology is an exciting multi-faceted discipline offering many benefits and opportunities to students to better understand themselves, other living organisms, and society. These include: the biological basis of mental processes and health; how humans and non-humans perceive, learn, encode and make decisions about their world; skills in evaluating behavioral and psychological evidence; an understanding of personality and emotions, insights into how humans develop and behave in social settings and communities; the wide range of functional and dysfunctional mental behavior; the professions of mental health counseling and clinical psychology; and how aging, relationships and cultural diversity can be understood from a psychological perspective.

Celebrating over 40 years of awarding BA degrees in Psychology, the Department of Psychology is one of the largest undergraduate majors with one of the highest annual graduation rates at UH Hilo. The undergraduate program offers students a rich and rigorous academic experience covering the major branches of psychology, a variety of upper level electives in specialized areas of psychology, and opportunities for applied learning experience working alongside faculty in their laboratories or gaining valuable practical experiences in the community. The Department also hosts the Student Chapter of Psi Chi, the International Honors Society in Psychology. In addition to its undergraduate program, the Department of Psychology also offers an MA degree in Counseling Psychology. Over 120 mental health counselors have been awarded degrees.


The overall mission of the Psychology Department is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the foundations and branches of psychology, to train students in critical thinking and the skills for conducting and evaluating psychology research, to provide students with practical experiences in psychology, and to prepare students for either integration into a community workforce or for graduate and professional school career paths where they can receive training for working in specialized psychology fields and related fields, such as medicine, education, management, and social work or to gain skills useful for work in many other occupations. In general, Psychology is useful for any career that involves studying behavior and working with or relating to people and that means nearly every job in our society.



The Department offers a variety of upper- and lower division undergraduate courses, which cover all major branches in Psychology as well as methodological issues. At the graduate level, the Department offers over 20 courses in counseling psychology. In addition to foundational courses in the many branches of psychology, a variety of upper level specialization courses in psychology are offered every semester. The Department also provides students with opportunities to obtain research and practical experiences. Psychology courses at UH Hilo are popular and fill up quickly during pre-registration. Students are advised to sign up for the courses they need as early as possible.


The Department of Psychology has one of the largest numbers of students of any department at UH Hilo. Each academic year, the Department hosts over 250 undergraduate majors and approximately 40 graduate students. Students in psychology represent the broad diversity found on campus and in our community. Because the undergraduate major is only 41 credits, many psychology majors double major in another discipline to enhance their future career opportunities.

An Award Winning Faculty

The Department currently consists of 11 full-time faculty, several part-time lecturers and a statistics tutor. All of our full-time faculty hold terminal degrees in their fields of study. Areas of faculty expertise include, but are not limited to, Animal Behavior, Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Community Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Cross-Cultural Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Neuroscience, Physiological Psychology, Social Psychology, and Vocational Psychology. Our professors are known as passionate, dedicated instructors, many of whom have been recognized for their skills and commitment with various teaching awards such as shown below ( = 2 or more awardees).

  • Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence
  • UH Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching
  • UH Hilo College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Achievement Award
  • Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation
  • Fellow, American Psychological Association (Divisions 17, 29 & 45)
  • Fellow, Asian American Psychological Association
  • Fellow, International Academy of Intercultural Research
  • Outstanding Advisor/Mentor Award
  • Apereo Teaching and Learning Award

Scholarly Activities

Full-time faculty in the Department of Psychology have thriving research careers and several provide students applied learning and skill development experiences in their laboratories including in neuroscience, interpersonal relationships, marine mammal behavior and communication, mental health services for children, trauma and anxiety disorders, and cancer survivorship. Many research programs conducted by the department's faculty have been supported by major grants from various federal agencies, and through these employ undergraduate and graduate students, who have not only actively participated in research, but also made conference presentations and co-authored papers published in scholarly journals. Over their collective careers, the Department's full-time faculty have achieved a high level of research and scholarship. These include:

Over 600
Peer-reviewed Publications, Books and Book Chapters

Over 600
Peer-reviewed Conference Presentations

Over 25,000
Citations to Published Works

Over 37
million dollars in Grants

Updated: January 2021