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Application Process

What are the admission requirements?

Applicants to PAU graduate programs must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution (or the international equivalent). 

  • Online Application via PsyCAS
  • Application Fee
  • Official Transcripts
  • Resume or CV
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal statement

We do not require the GRE and will not consider test scores, even if applicants submit them.

All of these documents must be submitted directly to PSYCAS in order to complete the application. Your completed application is ready for review after it has been verified by PSYCAS. For additional program-specific requirements, review the information below and visit the programs' individual admission page, linked on the left.

When is the application deadline?


Early consideration*

Regular deadline*

PGSP-Stanford PsyD Consortium

December 1, 2023

January 7, 2024

PhD in Clinical Psychology
We encourage all applicants to apply as soon as possible to have their applications reviewed earlier.


January 7, 2024

MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling 
Spring, 2024


March 3, 2024

MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Fall, 2024


July 28, 2024

MS in Psychology


August 4, 2024


*All applications close on their respective dates at 11:59 pm eastern time. We recommend submitting your application earlier than the deadline.

What is PSYCAS? Why do I apply there instead of to PAU?

PAU uses the American Psychological Association’s (APA), Psychology Centralized Application Service, PSYCAS.

Using PSYCAS makes it easier for applicants to apply to multiple programs and helps us evaluate applicants in a fair and consistent way.   

How does the application process work?

Each graduate program has its own unique process, but applicants can expect the following general steps:

  1. Submit the application and all application materials to PSYCAS.
  2. An Admissions Committee gives each complete application a comprehensive review.
  3. Based on the initial review, qualified applicants are invited to interview. Interview details such as format and time may vary from program to program.
  4. Applicants will be notified of their admission decision via email. The amount of time it takes to receive a decision varies by program.

Qualified applicants who are invited to interview will receive more details via email about their respective program’s interview process. Most interviews are virtual, although the doctoral programs may have in-person interviews or events. 

Can someone walk me through the process of completing an application?

Due to the high volume of applications, we cannot always provide individual guidance on how to complete an application. We recommend watching our admissions webinars for step-by-step guidance on how to complete the application. Additionally, the PSYCAS Help Center offers extensive details on each application section.

How much does it cost to apply?

The application fee is $80.00 for the first program application in PSYCAS and $40 for subsequent applications to additional programs. The APA offers a fee waiver opportunity for students who qualify. PAU does not require an additional application fee.

What is the admissions policy at PAU?

If you are offered admission, Palo Alto University reserves the right to withdraw that offer of admission if:

  • You have misrepresented yourself in the application process.
  • We learn that you have engaged in behavior prior to matriculation that indicates a serious lack of judgment or integrity.
  • You show a significant drop in academic performance or fail to graduate.
  • The class fills to capacity prior to a student completing the Enrollment Agreement.

All applicants to and students enrolled in the program should be assured PAU practices a nondiscrimination policy regarding disability, gender, military status, age, race, color, sexual orientation, and national and ethnic origins in admission, employment, and in the administration of its program and activities. Any otherwise qualified student or applicant with a disability may request reasonable accommodations regarding the application process and services as a prospective or enrolled student.

Requests for accommodation of a disability should be submitted to:

Sharyn E. Moore
Accessibility Specialist
Palo Alto University, Allen Calvin Campus
1791 Arastradero Road - Bldg. 3, Room 305
Palo Alto, CA  94304

When will my application be reviewed?

We will review your application when it is complete (including all transcripts and three complete evaluations) and verified by PSYCAS. To check the status of your recommendations and evaluations, navigate to the Supporting Information section of your application, then Evaluations.

Entering Academic History

Report all institutions attended regardless of their relevance to the programs you are applying to. Failure to report an institution may cause your application to be undelivered. This can significantly delay the processing of your application. Report all institutions attended, including but not limited to:

  • Courses taken in high school for college or university credit
  • Summer courses
  • Community college courses
  • US military academies (note that this does not include courses on SMART or JST transcripts)
  • Post-baccalaureate, graduate, and doctoral work
  • Study abroad, Canadian, and foreign work, etc. 

Application Materials

Where do I send my transcripts?

PAU uses the American Psychological Association’s (APA), Psychology Centralized Application Service (PSYCAS). In preparation for applying, you will need a copy of your transcript(s) available for your review. 

Send all application materials, including transcripts, to PSYCAS. Follow the instructions in the application to submit materials electronically or send mailed materials to this address: 

PSYCAS Transcript Processing Center
P.O. Box 9138
Watertown, MA 02471

After adding a college or university to your application, click the "Order" button under your school’s name. Select Option 1 to order an electronic transcript or Option 2 to submit a copy via mail. All transcripts should be sent directly to PSYCAS electronically or to the following address:

Additional Information

  • Classes taken during high school do not need to be entered. However, if you attended a college or university both in high school and in college, those courses will appear on that school’s transcript and will be reflected in the GPA calculation on that transcript.
  • PSYCAS requires transcripts from all colleges and universities attended post-high school graduation. This is the case even if transfer credit appears on a more recent transcript.
  • All students must complete manual entry of their courses into PsyCAS in addition to sending transcripts. This can take time and is tedious! Please plan ahead. This is required so that PSYCAS can fairly calculate GPAs for students who attend different schools with different grading scales.
  • List all institutions on your application even if the coursework completed there was transferred to another institution.
  • Report each institution only once, regardless of the number of degrees earned or gaps in the dates of attendance.
  • Send official transcripts directly to PSYCAS for each institution.

Sending Your Official Transcripts to PSYCAS

Do I have to submit all transcripts or just the transcript where I earned my degree?

Applicants must report all schools attended on their application and submit all transcripts, including those from transfer schools, study abroad, or graduate school. 



Do I have to complete the transcript entry section of the application?

Yes. Alternatively, you can pay for PSYCAS’s professional transcript entry service. 


Do I have to have three recommendations?

Yes. Letters of recommendation from three academic or professional references are required. Personal references, such as family, friends, therapists, or informal mentors, will not be accepted. They should be faculty members in psychology or practicing professionals in psychology or another mental health discipline whenever possible. If you have questions about whether a recommender is acceptable, please reach out to your Admissions Counselor.

Letters are requested and submitted through the PSYCAS system. Applicants will electronically submit their recommenders' names and email addresses who will receive a request to complete the recommendation form. Three letters are required.

I graduated from school long ago and have no recent work experience. Who should I ask to write my recommendations?

We require all applicants to have three letters of recommendation from professional and/or academic references. Professional references may include managers from part-time employment or volunteer coordinators if you have volunteer experience. If you have no work, school, or volunteer experience, we recommend volunteering with a local organization to gain experience.

How do I change my evaluators or resend them to the PSYCAS Recommender Portal?

You can manage your evaluation requests in PSYCAS.


Do I have to take an English proficiency exam?

For international applicants remaining in their home country and applying to the online format, and those whose undergraduate studies were in a language other than English, the TOEFL or IELTS exam is required. Submit your score report through PSYCAS. For international students who earned their bachelor's degree in the U.S. or other English-speaking countries, these exams are not required. We suggest a minimum score of 100.


I completed my degree(s) outside of the US. Do I have to send in my foreign transcripts?

PAU requires all transcripts or transcript evaluations if you completed a degree overseas. You may select any vendor that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluations Services (NACES). Please visit for a complete list of members. Your course-by-course evaluation should be sent directly to PSYCAS when possible.


PAU has partnered with the following agencies to provide applicants with convenient ordering sites and direct delivery of evaluations to the Office of Admission. If choosing one of these agencies, applicants are encouraged to use the links below. (*Discount available via the links.)

International Education Evaluations, LLC

SpanTran: The Evaluation Company *

What should I include in my personal statement?

The most important piece of advice is to respond to the questions asked in the prompt and to adhere to length and style requirements. Beyond that, the personal statement is the primary way for the Admissions Committee to learn more about you. There is no need to rehash your resume – take the opportunity to talk about your passions and interests specific to psychology or counseling.

You are welcome to address personal circumstances or hardship in your application if it helps frame your interest in the field. Please remember, however, that your personal statement is not a diary entry or a counseling session. Oversharing can raise concerns about boundary issues and personal judgment. If you address a past hardship, we encourage you to provide analysis and self-reflection of the situation rather than just a description of what happened. If the situation is too fresh, and you feel you cannot distance yourself enough to provide analysis yet, it may be best to choose another topic for your personal statement.

Review each program's individual admissions page for program-specific criteria.  You can check out Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab for guidance on writing a personal statement.

What should I include in my resume or CV?

The resume or CV should list professional and academic experience, education, awards, publications, etc. Check out PrepScholar’s website for guidance on writing a resume for graduate school. 

Do I have to complete the experiences section of the application?

The following sections are optional:

  • Experiences
  • Achievements
  • Licenses and Certifications
  • Fellowships

While it is not required that you also enter work experience, volunteer experience, etc. into PsyCAS, it can help to at least enter the highlights of your experience in this section, so the admissions committee members can see it at a glance. Feel free to include unpaid or internship experiences if they are related to your interest in psychology or counseling.


If I’m not admitted, can I use the same application next year?

If your current application is in good standing, you can apply next year as a re-applicant.

Personal information, coursework, official test scores, and attached transcripts can be copied into the new application.

Letters of evaluation, essays, payments, and program-specific information cannot be copied into the new application.


Study Abroad Transcripts

How you enter transcripts for study abroad programs will vary given the nature of the courses and whether you took them from your home institution or another institution. Please read the instructions from PSYCAS carefully to determine how to enter these courses. 

Sending Study Abroad Transcripts

Eligibility and Admissions Decisions

I haven’t finished my bachelor’s degree yet. Can I still apply?

Yes. Conditional admissions may be offered to applicants whose bachelor’s degrees are still in progress. After enrolling in the program, conditionally admitted students must submit final official transcripts as soon as possible. Failure to submit final official transcripts by the first day of classes will result in a registration hold. Any student who does not submit final transcripts by the end of the first quarter will be dropped from their courses.

Who is a good candidate for PAU graduate programs?

PAU aims to attract and educate students who are distinguished by their academic achievement, capacity for critical thinking, interpersonal skills, motivation to become exceptional clinicians and psychologists, and a commitment to service and to serving diverse populations. Given the rigor of PAU programs and the university's core values, we seek students who embody:

  • Unshakable ethical standards
  • Resilience
  • Cultural humility
  • Openness to learning and to others' lived experiences
  • A belief in the inherent dignity of all humans
  • A desire to improve the human condition
  • Self-awareness
  • Seeks and is open to constructive feedback
  • Empathy and kindness

I am seeking an F-1 visa. Am I eligible for PAU’s graduate programs?

Students seeking an F-1 visa are eligible for our doctoral programs but not the master’s programs. Learn more about international student services here.

When will I receive an update on my application status?

All master’s applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. We typically complete reviews within four weeks after the application is complete and verified.

We recommend checking your PSYCAS account regularly for application status updates. 

Doctoral program applicants will receive updates by March 15 at the latest.