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M.A. Counseling FAQs and Tuition/Fees

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

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What are the tuition and fees?

Palo Alto University's Tuition Stabilization Plan guarantees that students pay the same tuition and fees each year they are enrolled with no tuition increases.

For students enrolled during the 2016-17 academic year total tuition and fees for the full 93-unit program is $48,453. This is based on:

  • Tuition charged at $488 per unit
  • Fees charged at $33 per unit


In addition to tuition and fees, students are responsible for textbooks, online computer equipment, parking passes and American Counseling Association Student Membership fees. They also are responsible for their travel expenses to the one-week residency, if applicable.

Is a psychology Bachelor's degree required to apply?

No. for students whose undergraduate major was not psychology, four additional courses are strongly recommended: developmental psychology, physiological or biological psychology, personality or abnormal psychology, and statistics. These classes can be taken at a community college or state university extension. However, these are not required for admission to the M.A. Counseling program.

Does PAU accept transfer units taken at another university?

Yes. If the classes are similar to courses offered in the PAU program, the student 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.

Are there fellowships available?

PAU fellowships are not available at the Master's level. However, financial aid is available in the form of student loans. Students need to apply for aid through the Palo Alto University Financial Aid Office to see what aid they are eligible for.

Can students maintain employment while enrolled in this program?

During the first year of the program most students can maintain full-time employment during the day, and study in the evenings and on weekends. During the second year students should be aware that evening and weekend practicum placements are extremely hard to find. Most students will need to adjust their schedules in order to spend two days during the normal workweek to complete their practicum experience.

When are 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

  • Priority Deadline: June 30
  • Regular Deadline: July 31

    Rolling admissions on a space-available basis until full.

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.

Summer (June Start) - Palo Alto, San Mateo, and Online

  • May 31

    Rolling admissions on a space-available basis until full.

Do students need to be in the United States to enroll?

No. The M.A. Counseling program’s global online format enables students from around the world to enroll. Through the Palo Alto University Global Advancement of Counseling Excellence initiative, Palo Alto University has established partnerships in several countries as well as contacts on all seven continents. This enables students to combine online coursework with local "on-the-ground" training. The M.A. Counseling program has several cohorts in China (See PAU China.)

Contact the Master's Admissions Office for information about local resources.

Do online formats take place entirely online?

The online format includes a one-week residency that requires all U.S. and international students, except those in PAU's China cohort, to attend a one-week residency at the Palo Alto campus. Students outside California (U.S. and International) fulfill practicum/fieldwork requirements in their home city, state or country. 

How much of the on-campus format is online?

The PAU on-campus option is a blended format that requires students to attend approximately two-thirds of classes on campus and one third online. Taking two courses per quarter on campus and one course per quarter online enables students to take three classes per quarter. Classes take place on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, in addition to occasional Friday and weekend workshops.

Where do residency and fieldwork take place?

Currently, all students except those enrolled in a China cohort are required to attend a one-week residency at the PAU main campus in Palo Alto, California.

All students outside California complete their practicum/fieldwork locally, in their home city, state or country.

  • M.A. Counseling students in the U.S.

    • Residency: Come to Palo Alto for one-week intensive
    • Fieldwork: Complete practicum/fieldwork in home city/state
  • M.A. Counseling students, International (except China cohort)

    • Residency: Come to Palo Alto for one-week intensive (PAU assists students with obtaining a visa.)
    • Fieldwork: Complete practicum/fieldwork in their home country. Students must be able to find an appropriate local site for their practicum placement. PAU admissions officers can answer questions about this requirement.
  • M.A. Counseling students, China cohort

    • Residency: Complete one-week intensive in China, but have the option of coming to Palo Alto if they wish
    • Fieldwork: Complete practicum/fieldwork in China at sites established by PAU in Shanghai or Beijing. They may complete practicum/fieldwork in their home city, if an opportunity exists there and is approved by PAU faculty advisers.

What types of practicum placements are available?

Palo Alto University works with students to find practicum placements that match their specific interests. In Northern California, PAU works work with a wide variety of mental health agencies in San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties, where students have been placed in school districts, teen counseling centers, adult psychological service agencies, aging senior counseling centers, and with organizations such as the Salvation Army and the YMCA.

Students have also been placed with counseling agencies that serve specific populations such as Catholic, Jewish, Asian, and Latino communities.

Through the Global Advancement of Counseling Excellence initiative, PAU works with agencies in students' home countries to provide appropriate practicum placements.

What can I do after I graduate?

Graduates who choose to pursue licensure must work as a registered intern and accumulate a specified number of hours or supervised work experience before taking their licensing examinations.

  • MFT Licensure requires a minimum of two years (104 weeks) as a registered intern and a total of 3,000 hours of supervised work experience.
  • LPCC licensure requires a minimum of two years (104 weeks) as a registered intern and a total of 3,000 hours of supervised work experience.

Graduates initially register as interns and then work under the supervision of another licensed professional in a variety of practice settings.

After achieving licensure, graduates can work independently in their own private practice, assume wider responsibilities in a group practice, or provide leadership as a licensed practitioner in a mental health-related agency.

Students who defer intern registration and licensure may seek teaching or administrative positions, or continue their education at the doctoral level.

Will I have an advisor?

Yes. Students are assigned an academic advisor upon entering the program. See Student Services.



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Palo Alto, CA 94304

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