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MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Admissions

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The MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program admits students on a rolling basis - for the spring term, which starts in April, and the fall term, which starts in September.

  • Both starts offer an Online delivery option. 
  • Fall start offers students a Hybrid delivery option and the opportunity to complete the program in either 9 or 11 quarters.

Admission Requirements

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally-accredited institution or the international equivalent. For applicants to the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Online program, you must be located in a state in which we are authorized to provide online education. 
  • While no prerequisites are required to apply, we strongly recommend applicants to have related volunteer or work experience in the mental health field.
  • GRE scores are not required for admission to PAU master's degree programs. GRE scores will not be considered in the review of applications, even if students provide them.
General Requirements for All Grad Programs Start your PSYCAS Application

Application Deadlines

Spring Start: April 2024

Regular Deadline: March 3, 2024 11:59 PM ET

Fall Start: September 2024

Regular Deadline: July 28, 2024 11:59 PM ET

MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Open House

Learn more about our MACMHC degree.

Watch on Palo Alto University's YouTube Channel

Applicants are encouraged to review the information below carefully, and to plan plenty of time to complete the application process.

Quick Application Checklist

  • Online Application via PSYCAS
  • Application Fee
  • Official Transcripts
  • Resume or CV
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose



Once Your Application is Complete


Complete applications will be reviewed within a few weeks of completion. Successful applicants will be invited to participate in a group interview that lasts approximately two hours. Participants are evaluated by both current students and MA in Counseling faculty. Interviews are scheduled on a rolling basis.

Acceptance & Enrollment

Students accepted into the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program receive an official acceptance letter by e-mail. To enroll in the program, students who have been accepted must submit an enrollment agreement after receiving their acceptance letter to secure their place.

Financial Aid

For students who wish to secure financial aid, it is important to begin that process as soon as possible by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Once the FAFSA is complete, the PAU Office of Financial Aid will send the student a PAU financial aid application.

Start Your FAFSA Today

International Students

International students are eligible to apply for the online Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program if they intend to remain in their home country while enrolled in the program.

International students currently living in the U.S. in F-1 status, and students who would need to receive an F-1 visa in order to study in the United States, are not eligible to apply for PAU Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling on-campus format.

Where to Send Application Documents

Most documents can be submitted electronically via the application process in PSYCAS. Transcripts and test scores should be sent directly to PSYCAS. Instructions can be found via the PSYCAS Applicant Help Center. Paper transcripts can be mailed to the following address:

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

After enrolling in the program, conditionally admitted students must submit final official transcripts directly to the Office of Admission 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.

PsyCAS Transcript Instructions

Contact Us

Application and MA Program Questions

Contact the Office of Admissions at 650-417-2039 or email

Financial Aid Questions

Contact a Financial Aid counselor at 650-433-3824or email



MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling FAQ's

Are there any required prerequisite courses?

No. The MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling does not require prerequisite courses.

What should I include in my statement of purpose?


  • Maximum of 2 pages
  • 1.5 line-spaced
  • 12-point font
  • 1-inch margins

The paper should address the following questions:

  • What does being a professional counselor mean to you?
  • Why have you chosen to pursue a career in professional counseling?
  • How have your previous school, work, or training experiences prepared you to pursue graduate studies in counseling?
  • What personal characteristics or strengths will contribute to your being an effective counselor?

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 statement of purpose is the primary way for the Admissions Committee to hear your voice. There is no need to rehash your resume – take the opportunity to talk about your passions and interests specific to 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 statement of purpose 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 statement of purpose.

What is the GPA requirement?

We recommend a 3.0 cumulative GPA. However, we do a comprehensive review of all your application materials.

What is the transfer policy?

Admitted students can request to transfer up to 9 semester units or 13.5 quarter units of prior graduate work. Previous coursework cannot be more than 5 years old and must be completed with a grade of “B” or better. Transfer coursework is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and students must submit a comprehensive syllabus for each requested transfer course. A Palo Alto University faculty member then reviews the documentation and either accepts or rejects the course for transfer credit. Students have access to the transfer unit request form after they confirm their enrollment in the program.

Not all courses are eligible for transfer credit – only those listed below. Students should also be aware that in order to receive transfer credit, the previous course must be at least as many units as the PAU equivalent. For semester-based programs, courses to be reviewed for transfer must be 3 units, and for quarter-based programs, courses to be reviewed for transfer must be 4.5 units to be considered.

  • CLIN601: Multicultural Counseling Theories and Techniques (4.5 units)

  • CLIN604: Addiction Counseling (4.5 units)

  • CLIN610: Legal & Ethical Foundations (4.5 units)

  • CLIN618: Family Systems Theory (MCFC) (4.5 units)

  • CLIN619: Couples Counseling (MCFC) (4.5 units)

  • CLIN634: Human Sexuality (4.5 units)

  • CLIN651: Community Mental Health (4.5 units)

  • CLIN680: Psychopharmacology (4.5 units)

  • COUN600: Counseling Theory (4.5 units)

  • COUN603: Appraisal & Assessment in Counseling (4.5 units)

  • COUN612: Life Span Development (4.5 units)

  • COUN634: Diagnosis (4.5 units)

  • COUN641: Research & Program Evaluation (4.5 units)

  • COUN661: Career Development Theories and Techniques (4.5 units)

  • Approved Counseling Elective (CMHC) (4.5 units)

Do I have to choose a cohort when I submit my application?

No. If admitted to the program, students will let us know their preferred cohort via their Enrollment Agreement form. The Counseling Department will try to match students to their preferred cohort; however, cohort assignments are based on space availability and are not guaranteed.

Can I complete this program online from anywhere?

Please review our list of unauthorized states. If you are located in an unauthorized state, we will not be able to consider your application for admission. If you live outside of the US, you may apply, but please check your country’s counseling licensure information to determine if this program meets your professional needs.

PAU State Authorizations

Am I guaranteed a spot with the cohort that I select on my application?

You will confirm your final cohort preference if you’re admitted and commit to attending PAU. Cohorts are assigned based on space available and not guaranteed. Students receive their cohort assignments and class schedules approximately one month before classes. Requests to change cohorts must be evaluated by the department at that time and changes are not guaranteed.

MA Application Summary 2021-22
MA Spring Cohort Total Applicants 87
Admit Rate 73.1%
Final Cohort Size 48

MA Fall Cohort Total Applicants 254
Admit Rate 85.3%
Final Cohort Size 120

Demographic Summary: Spring 2021 and Fall 2022 Deposited MA in Counseling Students

Self-Reported Race

Hispanic 8.72%
American Indian N/A
Asian 20.13%
Black N/A
Pacific Islander N/A
White 48.99%
Two or More Races 18.12%
No Response 4.03%

Gender Identity

Male 12.08%
Female 84.56%
Gender Non-Conforming 2.01%
Transgender .67%
Decline to State .67%


Average Cumulative Undergraduate GPA 3.36

Other Demographics

Average Age at Application 31 (Range: 20-60)
US Citizenship 91.95%
First Generation 34.23%
Native Languages Arabic, Cantonese, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Telugu


Office of Admissions and Outreach

Palo Alto University’s Office of Admissions and Outreach is eager to answer all your admissions questions and connect you with helpful resources as you embark on your application process. 

Please direct all general inquiries to, or you can call 650-417-2039. Due to our remote work, our phone line is not staffed live. Please leave us a message, and we will return your call shortly.

Contact Admissions Today