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

M.A. Counseling FAQs and Tuition/Fees

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

Palo Alto · San Mateo · Monterey Bay · Online

Palo Alto University's Tuition Stabilization Plan guarantees no tuition increases for the duration of your M.S. in Psychology or MA in Counseling program.

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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 2015-16 academic year total tuition and fees for the full 90-unit program is $44,910. This is based on:

  • Tuition charged at $467 per unit
  • Fees charged at $32 per unit

In addition to tuition and fees, students are responsible for textbooks, online computer equipment, parking passes, test proctoring, 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 Quarter Admission (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 31: Rolling Admissions on a space-available basis. Space is still available for Fall 2015 - applications will be accepted during August.

Winter Quarter Admission (January Start) -- Palo Alto and Online only

  • November 30: Final Deadline

Spring Quarter Admission (April Start) -- Palo Alto and Online only

  • February 28: Final Deadline

Summer Quarter Admission (June Start) -- Palo Alto, San Mateo, Monterey Bay, and Online

  • May 31: Final Deadline

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 Global Advancement of Counseling Excellence (GACE) initiative, Palo Alto University has well-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 Denise Daniels (ddaniels@paloaltou.edu) for information about local resources.

Do online formats take place entirely online?

The online format includes a one-week residency that requires students in the U.S. to attend a one-week residency at the Palo Alto campus. Students outside the U.S. who are enrolled in a Global Online program do not attend the one-week on campus residency, but meet this requirement and practicum requirements in their home country through the Palo Alto University Global Advancement of Counseling Excellence initiative.

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.

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.


Contact Us

1791 Arastradero Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304

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