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MA in Counseling FAQs



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MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Admission Information

These are many of the common FAQs that students inquire about, but if you have any specific information you need, please contact us.


What are the tuition and fees?Toggle Accordion

PAU's tuition stabilization policy ensures that tuition is predictable over the course of a student's academic program. 

For students enrolled during the 2022-2023 academic year total tuition and fees for the full 94.5-unit program is $58,873.50*. This is based on:

  • Tuition charged at $566 per unit
  • Fees charged at $57 per unit

*Students who take additional units of practicum in order to meet the program fieldwork requirement are billed for additional units at the same per unit rate.

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?Toggle Accordion

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?Toggle Accordion

Students can request to transfer up to 9 semester-units or 13.5 quarter-units of prior graduate work after they are admitted into the program. Prior coursework cannot be more than five 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. Transfer credit requests must be made by the posted deadlines and will not be accepted after the first day of classes.

Are there scholarships available?Toggle Accordion

A limited number of Diversity Scholarships are available at the Master's level. Additional financial aid is available in the form of student loans. Students can apply for aid through the Palo Alto University Financial Aid Office to see what aid they are eligible for.

MA in Counseling Diversity Scholarship

Can students maintain employment while enrolled in this program?Toggle Accordion

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 (on-campus format) or third year (online format) when students complete their clinical fieldwork, students are typically at their fieldwork site 20-25 hours per week or more. Students should be aware that evening and weekend practicum placements are extremely hard to find. Most students will need to adjust their schedules during the clinical training year in order to spend at least two to three full days during the normal workweek to complete their clinical fieldwork training.

When are application deadlines?Toggle Accordion

The MA in Counseling program admits students on a rolling basis. Applications are reviewed and admissions interviews are scheduled as soon as all application materials are received. Applicants are typically notified of their admission decision within a few weeks after their interview. The deadlines listed on our admissions page are final deadlines, but applicants are encouraged to apply early for early consideration. Although applications will be accepted until the posted deadlines, space in the program may fill up before then. Applicants are encouraged to apply early to ensure space is still available. 

See our Admissions page for upcoming application deadlines. 

Do online formats take place entirely online?Toggle Accordion

The distance learning online format includes two residential training experiences that require all students to attend residencies at PAU campus locations. Students outside California (U.S. and International) can fulfill practicum/fieldwork requirements in their home city, state or country.  

How much of the on-campus format is online?Toggle Accordion

The PAU residential hybrid on-campus option is a blended format that requires students to attend approximately one-third of classes on campus and two-thirds online. Taking one course per quarter on campus and two courses 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.

I'm an F-1 student, can I apply to a PAU Masters program?Toggle Accordion

F-1 International students who plan to be in their home country while being enrolled in an online PAU Master's program are eligible to apply. International students currently living in the U.S. in F-1 status and those interested in becoming F-1 international students for studying in the U.S. are not currently able to apply to PAU Master's Programs. PAU has a pending application on file with U.S. immigration/DHS, that if/when it is approved, will allow F-1s to apply. Please contact your PAU admissions staff for updates on this issue.

What types of practicum placements are available?Toggle Accordion

Palo Alto University works with students to find practicum/internship placements that match their specific interests. For students in the residential hybrid format of the program, PAU works 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.

For students living outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, the program faculty and staff work with students to find individual practicum/internship sites near their home communities. 

What can I do after I graduate?Toggle Accordion

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.

  • California 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.
  • California 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.

Pre-licensure experience requirements vary from state to state. To find information on state boards and requirements, visit the AASCB website

Graduates of the program initially register as post-master's interns (or associates) in their state, and then work under the supervision of another licensed professional in a variety of practice settings in order to accrue the necessary hours to be eligible to sit for licensure exams.

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, advising, or administrative positions in an educational setting, or continue their education at the doctoral level.

Will I have an advisor?Toggle Accordion

Yes. Students are assigned a faculty advisor upon entering the program.

What do the elective requirements for the CMHC emphasis entail?Toggle Accordion

The CMHC emphasis has two elective courses as part of the program of study. Students can select from a list of approved electives to fulfill this requirement. Please note that if you take the Introduction to Play Therapy course as one of your electives, there is an additional residential requirement.

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