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M.S. Psychology Online Format

Online Virtual Classroom and One-Week Residency

Screenshot from Palo alto University online class. Click to view a gallery of images from Palo Alto University online classes.

View a gallery of images from Palo Alto University online classes.

The M.S. in Psychology program is a part-time, online program. Students take all classes synchronously online, and come to the Palo Alto campus for one week during summer quarter of the first year.

The schedule is planned for students who are working part-time or full-time, with coursework that can be completed during evenings and on weekends.

An online orientation for new students, held before classes begin, ensures that all students understand the basics of Palo Alto University's unique online format.

Location Restrictions

Applicants for the MS in Psychology program must be located in a state in which we are authorized to provide online education. 

Online Teaching Methods

Palo Alto University uses a number of methods to accomplish the program's educational goals. Every class includes real-time interaction in a virtual classroom as well as materials that students read and complete on their own. Instructional techniques include:

  • Weekly evening remote classes in a virtual classroom, where the instructor shares a screen with all students simultaneously and the class can talk in a conference call while viewing the same materials.
  • Threaded discussion groups, where students discuss course materials with each other and the instructor.
  • Chat rooms or conference calls hosted by the professor that provide a forum for questions and dialog.
  • Audio and video conferencing

The Convenience of Online Study

Some portions of each course are completed on the student's own time, at their convenience. Palo Alto University has partnered with an educational technology company that hosts courses and course materials in a web-based learning management system. Many classes use PowerPoint slides accompanied by lecture notes. A number of classes include an audio track so students can listen to the instructor. Readings in PDF format and streaming or video downloads for all classes are available through the learning management system.

Interaction at Scheduled Times

Courses also include chat rooms, video conferences or conference calls, which individual instructors schedule at times that work for their enrolled students. Real-time classes typically take place between 8 A.M. and 7 P.M. Pacific time, Mondays through Thursdays, and between 8 A.M. and 5 P.M. Pacific time on Fridays. Because students may be attending from around the world, scheduling can be tricky, but every reasonable effort is made to schedule class meetings at times when all students can attend. If this is not possible, students can view the event after the fact because all lectures and discussions are recorded by the video conference technology.

Assessing Online Coursework

Student performance is assessed in a number of ways, including exams, papers, and project assignments.

Proctors for Exams

Independent third parties are engaged to proctor exams. Students are responsible for identifying proctors in their community, such as public or community college librarians or private testing centers, such as Kaplan or Sylvan. In some classes, students have the opportunity to receive proctoring online through ProctorU.com. The proctor receives test materials from the PAU instructor, supervises the administration of the test, and returns the materials to the PAU instructor.

Annual Schedule

While giving students the flexibility to take many courses on their own time, the overall program is highly structured. This program begins in fall quarter (September) each year. Once classes have started, new students cannot enter the program until the following September.

Computer and Equipment Requirements

A computer with internet connection is the virtual campus for this program. Students will need access to a reliable computer with an internet connection to participate. A powerful computer with a DSL or cable modem connection is recommended to participate in online classes and download course materials. Students also need a headset with a microphone to join video and phone discussions.

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