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MS in Psychology Program Admissions

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The MS in Psychology program admits students on a rolling basis for the fall term, which starts in September.

The program offers four concentrations, all offered in a synchronous, online format.

  1. Technology and Mental Health Concentration (6 quarters)
  2. Generalist Concentration (6 quarters)
  3. Forensic Psychology Concentration (6 quarters)
  4. PhD Prep Concentration (7 quarters)

All four concentrations require the same application materials and process.

Admission Requirements

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution or the international equivalent. A GPA of 3.3 or higher is recommended. However, we do a comprehensive review of all your application materials.
  • For applicants to the MS in Psychology program, you must be located in a state in which we are authorized to provide online education.
  • 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.
  • International students may apply for the program if they plan to remain in their home country while enrolled. PAU is unable to enroll students on a student visa into this program. 
General Requirements for Grad All Programs Start Your PsyCAS Application

Application Deadline

August 4, 2024: Regular Deadline
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


After applications are received, applicants who satisfy admission requirements are selected for a one-on-one interview with a faculty interviewer via video Zoom. Complete applications will be reviewed within a few weeks of completion. Interviews are scheduled on a rolling basis and applicants typically receive an admission decision 4-6 weeks after interviewing.

Acceptance and Enrollment

Students accepted into the MS in Psychology 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 FAFSA. Once the FAFSA is complete, the PAU Financial Aid office will send the student a PAU financial aid application.

MS in Psychology and PhD in Clinical Psychology Open House

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements to apply?

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally-accredited institution (or the international equivalent) and a suggested minimum 3.3 GPA. If you have questions about your GPA, reach out to an admissions counselor.

Complete Application

  • PsyCAS Application
  • Application Fee
  • Resume or CV
  • Statement of Purpose
  • 3 Recommendation Letters
  • Official Transcripts

If the undergraduate major was not psychology, four prerequisite courses are required for the MS in Psychology program:

  • Developmental psychology
  • Physiological or biological psychology
  • Personality or abnormal psychology
  • Statistics

Can I complete this program online from anywhere?

Students can complete the MS from any authorized US state. 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 and complete the program from your home country.

Review Authorized States

What are you looking for in the statement of purpose?

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 psychology.

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.

Are there any required prerequisite courses?

Yes, the following courses are required for entry into the MS Psychology program.

Applicants who majored in Psychology do not have to complete the prerequisites.

  • Biopsychology (e.g. Sensation and Perception, Brain and Behavior)
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Statistics

Learn more about the prerequisites here

What should I include in my statement of purpose?


  • 2-3 pages
  • 1.5 line-spaced
  • 12-point font
  • 1-inch margins

The paper should include:

A brief autobiographical sketch, including what led to an interest in a psychology graduate program. Details of goals and purpose in applying to Palo Alto University and how this applies to future career goals. Strengths and accomplishments thus far that have prepared the applicant for graduate psychology education.
Personal qualities that will be important assets as a psychologist or in your chosen career field.

What is the GPA requirement?

We recommend a 3.3 cumulative GPA. However, we do a comprehensive review of all your application materials.

What is the transfer policy?

Graduate Level

Only graduate-level courses are acceptable for transfer credit. A graduate-level course is any course for which a student received graduate credit at their previous institution(s). This may include graduate-level courses the student took as an undergraduate.

Acceptable Grades

A grade of “B” or better is required in a graduate-level course to be acceptable for transfer credit.


Previous graduate work must have been completed at a regionally accredited institution. International coursework must be in English in order to be evaluated for transfer.

Time Limit for Requesting Transfer Credit

Requests for transfer of units must be completed by the posted deadline.

Maximum Units

A maximum of five units may be transferred into the MS program. If a student receives a waiver of courses beyond the transferable units, they must take elective units to meet the total unit requirement for graduation from PAU.

Units Awarded

Any course can only transfer in the number of transfer units equal to the comparable course at Palo Alto University, despite the number of units previously assigned to the course. The number of units of a course the student wishes to transfer must be equal to or greater than the units of the corresponding Palo Alto University course. Palo Alto University operates on quarter academic terms. Semester credits will be converted to quarter units for evaluation using a 1.5 quarter unit per 1.0 semester unit conversion.

Course Obsolescence

Theory (T courses) may be considered for transfer if they have been completed within ten years prior to the time of matriculation at PAU. For all other courses, courses must have been completed within five years prior to the time of matriculation at PAU.


Students must provide a syllabus/syllabi for the course(s) they would like to transfer. Course descriptions are not acceptable.

Appeals and Exceptions

Credit transfer decisions may be appealed in writing to the Curriculum Committee.

Transferable Courses

  • PSYS500    History & Systems

  • PSYS501    Child & Adolescent Development

  • PSYS502    Cognitive Bases of Behavior

  • PSYS504    Affective Bases of Behavior

  • PSYS505    Biological Psychology

  • PSYS507    Adult Development & Aging

  • PSYS509    Psychopharmacology

  • PSYS511    Social & Personality Psychology

  • STAT510     Research Methods & Statistics II

  • STAT511     Research Methods & Statistics III

Students may not receive transfer credit for any additional courses, including electives.

Admissions Snapshot 2021-22 Application Cycle
MS Total Applicants 92
Admit Rate 87.1%
Final Cohort Size 36

Demographic Summary: Fall 2022 Deposited MS in Psychology Students

Self-Reported Race

Hispanic 13.89%
American Indian N/A
Asian 13.89%
Black 5.56%
Pacific Islander 2.78%
White 36.11%
Two or More Races 25.00%
No Response 2.78%

Gender Identity

Male 25.00%
Female 72.22%
Decline to State 2.78%


Average Cumulative Undergraduate GPA 3.23

Other Demographics

Average Age at Application 27.6 (Range: 21-43)
US Citizenship 100%
First Generation 41.67%
Native Languages Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese, English, Spanish


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.

Email Admissions