MS in Psychology Program Admissions

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MS in Psychology Application Deadline Apply by August 4, 2023 Apply on Psycas
MS in Psychology Diversity Scholarship Learn more

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

The deadlines listed below are final, 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 and ensure space is still available.

April 28, 2023: Priority Deadline
August 4, 2023: Regular Deadline

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

How to Apply

Online ApplicationToggle Accordion

Applicants must complete the online application for the MS in Psychology program in PSYCAS. Before applying, please make sure you are located in a state in which we are authorized to provide online education.

Start you PSYCAS Application

Review Authorized States for Online Program

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit applications well in advance of deadlines. Allow plenty of time for transcripts and letters of recommendation to arrive at Palo Alto University. Applications submitted closer to the deadline frequently cannot be reviewed because supporting documents are not received in a timely manner.

Application FeeToggle Accordion

A non-refundable application fee must be paid to complete the application. In PSYCAS, the first application fee is $80, and subsequent application fees for additional programs are $40 each. PSYCAS offers a fee waiver opportunity for students who qualify.

PSYCAS Application Fees and Fee Waivers

Official TranscriptsToggle Accordion

Transcripts from undergraduate and graduate institutions attended must be sent directly from the institution, even if a degree was not awarded. Official transcripts should be mailed or electronically delivered by the issuing institution directly to the PSYCAS Transcript Processing Center. Instructions for submitting transcripts can be found on the PSYCAS website.

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.

International Applicants

If you attended an institution outside of the U.S., PAU requires that your transcript be evaluated and, if applicable, translated. 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. More information on submitting foreign coursework to PSYCAS can be found within the application and via the Application Help Center.

Palo Alto University 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.

International Education Evaluations, LLC

SpanTran: The Evaluation Company


Resume or Curriculum VitaeToggle Accordion

The resume or CV should list professional and academic experience, education, awards, publications, etc.


Letters of RecommendationToggle Accordion

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. If you have questions about whether a recommender is acceptable, please email our admissions counselors.

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

Submitting Evaluations to PsyCAS

Personal StatementToggle Accordion

The personal statement serves as a sample of the applicant's ability to write in an academic and professional manner. It should be two to three 1.5-line-spaced pages and should represent the highest quality of expression and scholarship.

Review the following points to cover in the Statement of Purpose:

  • 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.


TOEFL or IELTSToggle Accordion

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. Scores can be submitted 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.

Sending TOEFL Scores to PsyCAS

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. 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 of their interview.

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.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements to apply?Toggle Accordion

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

TranscriptsToggle Accordion

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. 

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:

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

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 we 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

Entering Academic HistoryToggle Accordion

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.

Entering Academic History

Study Abroad TranscriptsToggle Accordion

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

When will my application be reviewed?Toggle Accordion

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.

Can I complete this program online from anywhere?Toggle Accordion

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.

Review Authorized States

I haven’t been to school in several years, and I have not worked full time for many years. Whom can I ask to write my letters of recommendation? Toggle Accordion

Three letters of recommendation are required 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. You may reach out to your Admissions Counselor if you have concerns about your references.

What are you looking for in the statement of purpose?Toggle Accordion

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.

Do I have to complete the “Experiences” section of the application?Toggle Accordion

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 helpful to at least enter the highlights of your experience in this section so 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 counseling. 

Can I transfer units to PAU from previous graduate programs?Toggle Accordion

Students can transfer up to 5 units of prior graduate work to the MS program. Coursework cannot be more than five years old. Transfer coursework is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The student 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.

Are there any required prerequisite courses? Toggle Accordion

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? Toggle Accordion


  • 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?Toggle Accordion

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

What is the transfer policy? Toggle Accordion

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.
MS in Psychology Admissions Deep Dive

Learn more about the step-by-step application process in the recorded webinar with Office of Admissions staff.

MS in Psychology Student and Alumni Panel Webinar
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

You may direct general inquiries to: or call 650-417-2039

Please note that due to remote work, our phone line is not staffed live. Please leave us a message and we will return your call shortly.