A private, nonprofit, accredited educational institution, founded in 1975 as the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology (PGSP).

M.A. Counseling Admissions

Areas of Emphasis:
   -Marriage, Family, and Child (MFT)
   -Clinical Mental Health (LPCC)

Palo Alto · San Mateo · Monterey Bay · Online

Palo Alto University admits students on a rolling basis to its Master's degree programs in counseling and psychology.

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Quick Application Checklist

  1. Online application
  2. Application fee
  3. Resume or CV
  4. Statement of Purpose
  5. Letters of Recommendation
  6. Transcripts

See Application Details, below for complete instructions on submitting materials.

Please note: Beginning September 15, 2016, PAU will begin using PSYCAS for all graduate applications. Winter 2017 and Spring 2017 applicants who began their applications prior to Sep. 15th in the PAU portal should complete their applications in the PAU portal. 

Application Deadlines

The M.A. Counseling program admits students on a rolling basis. Applications are reviewed and admissions interviews are scheduled as soon as the application is complete. Applicants are typically notified of their admissions decision within a few weeks after applying.  The deadlines listed below are final deadlines, but applicants are encouraged to apply early for early consideration.

Fall (September Start) - Palo Alto, San Mateo, Monterey Bay, and Online

  • June 30: Priority Deadline for admissions and early acceptance eligibility. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by July 15 and receive priority enrollment for available slots.
  • July 31: Regular Deadline
  • August 31Rolling Admissions on a space-available basis.

Winter (January Start) - Palo Alto and Online

  • December 7

    Rolling admissions on a space-available basis until full.

Spring (April Start) - Palo Alto and Online

  • February 28

    Rolling admissions on a space-available basis until full.


Where to Send Documents

Please note: Beginning September 15, 2016, PAU will begin using PSYCAS for all graduate applications, and materials should be submitted through PSYCAS, not directly to the PAU Admissions Office. Instructions on how to submit materials through the PSYCAS system can be found here

Applicants who began their Winter 2017 or Spring 2017 applications before September 15, 2016 should complete them through the my.paloaltou.edu portal.  

For Winter 2017 and Spring 2017 applicants who applied before Sep. 15th only:

Paper Documents

Mailing address:

Palo Alto University
Office of Admissions
1791 Arastradero Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304

Digital Documents

Applicants (who applied prior to Sep. 15th) will receive an email with instructions for electronically uploading materials and requesting letters of recommendation within 24-48 hours after they submit the PAU online application form. PDF, Microsoft Word or other e-documents may also be emailed to the Office of Admissions at MastersAdmissions@paloaltou.edu.

Online Payment

Application fees can be paid when submitting the application form, and tuition deposits can be paid online in the applicant portal. 


Admission Requirements

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally-accredited institution, or the international equivalent.

Admission Recommendations

A GPA of 3.0 or higher is recommended. For those whose undergraduate major was not psychology, four additional courses are recommended, but not required, for the M.A. Counseling program: 

  • Developmental psychology
  • Physiological or biological psychology
  • Personality or abnormal psychology
  • Statistics

GRE scores are not required for admission to Master's degree programs. Applicants who have taken the GRE may submit their scores as an additional consideration with their application.

For overseas international applicants remaining in their home country to apply for the online format of the program, the TOEFL exam is required (ets.org/toefl).  For international students who earned their bachelor's degree in the U.S. or other English-speaking countries, the TOEFL is not required.  For English proficiency requirements for the China cohort, please visit www.PAUChina.com.


Application Details

1.  Online Application

Applicants must complete the online application in PSYCAS for their degree and format of choice.

2.  Application Fee

A nonrefundable application fee must be paid to complete the application. In PSYCAS, the first application fee is $50, and subsequent application fees for additional programs are $35 each. The APA offers a fee waiver opportunity for students who qualify.  

Applicants who began applying for Winter 2017 or Spring 2017 prior to Sep. 15th only: A nonrefundable application fee of $40.00 must be paid to complete the application. This fee can be paid online or by mail at the address above. Checks should be made payable to Palo Alto University.

3. Official Transcripts

College transcripts verifying a Bachelor's degree are required. Only official, sealed transcripts from the Registrar's office of each institution are acceptable.

International transcripts must be translated through the World Education Service website, www.wes.org. It is the student's responsibility to have transcripts translated before applying. Contact the PAU Admissions Office, admissions@paloaltou.edu, with any questions before incurring the expense of translating documents.

Official transcripts should be mailed by the issuing institution directly to the PSYCAS Transcript Processing Center. Instructions for submitting transcripts can be found here

Applicants who began applying for Winter 2017 or Spring 2017 prior to Sep. 15th only: Official transcripts should be mailed by the issuing institution directly to the address given above.

4.  Resume or Curriculum Vitae

The resume or CV should list professional and academic experience, education, awards, publications, etc.

5.  Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation from two academic or professional references are required. Letters can be requested and submitted through the PSYCAS system.  

Applicants who began applying for Winter 2017 or Spring 2017 prior to Sep. 15th only: Letters are submitted electronically by the persons making the references.  Applicants will receive an email with instructions for electronically requesting letters of recommendation after they submit the PAU online application form.

6.  Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose serves as a sample of the applicant's ability to write in an academic and professional manner. It should be no longer than two 1.5- line-spaced pages and should represent the highest quality of expression and scholarship.

Points to cover:

  • A brief autobiographical sketch/background, including what led to an interest in counseling.
  • Details of goals and purpose in applying to Palo Alto University and how this applies to future career goals.
  • Strengths and accomplishments thus far that demonstrate preparation for graduate psychology education.
  • Personal and professional qualities that will be important assets as a practicing clinical counselor or therapist.


After applications are received, applicants who satisfy admission requirements are selected for interviews with the Program Director via videoconference.

Acceptance and Enrollment

Students accepted into the M.A. Counseling program receive an official acceptance letter by e-mail and mail. To enroll in the program, students who have been accepted must submit a $250 tuition deposit within two weeks after receiving their acceptance letter to secure their place. The tuition deposit can be submitted online, or mailed to the address above.

Transferring Units In

Students can request to transfer up to 15 units of prior graduate work.  Prior coursework cannot be more than 5 years old.  Transfer coursework is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  Students must submit a course description and supporting documentation (e.g. a comprehensive syllabus) for each transfer course.  A Palo Alto University faculty member then reviews the documentation, and either accepts or rejects the course for transfer credit.

Financial Aid

For students who wish to secure financial aid, it is important to begin that process as soon as possible after being accepted into the program by completing the FAFSA. Once the FAFSA is complete, the PAU Financial Aid office will send the student a PAU financial aid application.

Admissions Contacts

Application questions

Contact the Master's Programs Admissions Office at (650) 417-2034.

Financial aid questions

Contact a Financial Aid counselor, financialaid@paloaltou.edu.

Questions about academics, locations and formats

Email or call one of the Master's Program Contacts.


Contact Us

1791 Arastradero Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304

Phone: (800) 818-6136 Fax: (650) 433-3888