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CalMHSA Project Cultivate

Application Deadline How to Apply

CalMHSA Behavioral Health Master’s Level Training Program 

Palo Alto University has been awarded $5.2 million five-year contract from the California Mental Health Services Authority to prepare and educate 50 current California county employees to earn a mental health counseling degree from PAU. There will be two cohorts of county employees who will be selected from rural counties with exceptionally inadequate mental health services and from under-represented communities to support the goals of diversifying the mental health profession.   The contract will cover tuition and fees for the 50 county employees, faculty expansion as needed to maintain quality, faculty/student accreditation ratios, staff to assist in the administration of the program and clinical training, and funds to support staff and faculty to develop a peer support and professional development series for students to gain an in-depth understanding of working in the public behavioral health system.


Applicants must be a current CA County employee, and must be invited to apply for the program by their supervisor. Interested applicants should not apply until they have been pre-approved by CalMHSA.

All other interested students should apply to the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program through the regular admissions process.

MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program offers a diverse and dynamic community dedicated to the development of highly effective mental health counselors, future leaders, and innovators in the counseling profession. Through its training of burgeoning counselors, the program strives to benefit society and reduce human suffering by promoting mental health, wellness, social justice, education, and vocational well-being. Courses are designed to explicitly address the implications of ethnic and cultural diversity on assessment and treatment.   Our Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program (CACREP) to meet rigorous standards of quality and prepare students for successful completion of licensing exams and certification.  
Learn More About the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Counseling Residency IV

About the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA)

The California Mental Health Services Authority is a Joint Powers of Authority (JPA) formed in 2009 by counties throughout the state to work on collaborative, multi-county projects that improve behavioral health care for all Californians. By pooling resources, forging partnerships, and leveraging technical expertise on behalf of counties, CalMHSA develops strategies and programs with an eye toward transforming community mental health; creates cross-county innovations; and is dedicated to addressing equity to better meet the needs of our most vulnerable populations.   CalMHSA is committed to strengthening the workforce of county behavioral health and nurturing the next generation of leaders. We recognize the value of the current workforce and aim to support their professional development and retention. In partnership with local county behavioral health plans, we are pleased to offer a unique opportunity for professional and educational advancement through a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. The county behavioral health plan will cover tuition fees for the master's training program, with the understanding that the prospective student will accept a service commitment with the county behavioral health plan for a designated length of time. This program provides a win-win situation for both the student and the county behavioral health plan, ensuring the availability of highly trained professionals who are committed to serving their communities.  
Learn More About CalMHSA

For questions about the CalMHSA Behavioral Health Master’s Level Training Program please reach out to 

For questions about the PAU MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program or application process please email

CalMHSA Behavioral Health Master’s Level Training Program Specifics

  • Program Awardees receive full funding for the costs of tuition and fees for the entire program, to be completed in nine terms. Additional costs, such as books and supplies, are covered under the Student Stipend of $10,000. Students are responsible for the cost of repeated courses or additional courses. 
  • Students may petition CalMHSA and Palo Alto University to take fewer than three courses per term; however, part-time enrollment is not guaranteed.  
  • Participants will work with their County supervisors to arrange an adapted work schedule to accommodate class participation, homework, and practicum hours.
  • Participants must participate in two in-person week-long intensive sessions held by the university. Housing and transportation costs for this in-person training are covered under the $10,000 Student Stipend.
  • Participants will sign a Behavioral Health Master’s Level Training Program – Tuition Repayment Agreement with CalMHSA. This contract will outline participation expectations, including policies and procedures administered by CalMHSA, not Palo Alto University. 
Campus Life at Palo Alto University
Project Cultivate Online Delivery

- Three classes per quarter
- All classes offered in the evening
- Interactive, online synchronous classroom
- Two in-person, on-campus intensives
- Program is offered in a 9-quarter format
- Practicum placements within the county behavioral health system

Approval and Application Process

  • Referral for prospective students must be made to CalMHSA by county behavioral health plans. CalMHSA will contact prospective students referred by county behavioral health plans via email.
  • CalMHSA will review the Tuition Repayment Agreement with each prospective student. Prospective students are required to enter into an agreement directly with CalMHSA and comply with the terms of the agreement. 
  • Prospective students will receive an invitation by Palo Alto University Office of Admissions to apply via PSYCAS. Students will be issued an application fee waiver by the university to cover the application costs. Students should not apply for admission until they receive the fee waiver. Student admission into the program is not guaranteed. All prospective students must meet Palo Alto University’s admission requirements. 
  • Applications will be accepted by the university on a rolling basis, meaning applications are accepted until all available slots are filled. Early applications are strongly encouraged.
  • Applications are reviewed, and admissions interviews are scheduled by the university as soon as all application materials are received. 
  • After applications are received by the university, applicants who satisfy admission requirements are selected for group interviews with university faculty and student interviewers via video Zoom. 
  • Applicants are typically notified of their admission decision within a few weeks of their interview. 
  Application Deadlines For April 2024 start: Applications open through March 3, 2024, or until slots are filled. For September 2024 start: Applications open through July 30, 2024, or until slots are filled.
Ulrich Wu
Project Cultivate Applicant Advising

For questions or to set up an advising appointment via phone or zoom, contact:

Ulrich Wu
Graduate Admissions Advisor