Master’s Degree in Counseling Program

M.A. Counseling Areas of Emphasis:

  •  Marriage, Family, and Child (CACREP accredited)
  •  Clinical Mental Health (CACREP accredited)

What is CACREP

In the field of mental health counseling programs, the accreditation most often associated is CACREP: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program. In order for any organization to get CACREP accreditation, they must adhere to the standards set forth by the council.

What are the benefits of being CACREP accredited?

  • Universities that are accredited reflect meeting and/or exceeding those standards of quality within their program as set forth by the council
  • Accreditation also reflects the institutions commitment to providing the highest level of care for its student
  • CACREP provides guidance to institutions in determining acceptability of transfer credits in to a CACREP program
  • Graduates from a CACREP program have the tools to perform better on their Licensure exam and certification
  • CACREP programs are easily portable across other states to meet the education requirements for licensure
  • Various government agencies primarily hire CACREP graduates, for example, the Veterans Health Administration

Palo Alto University CACREP Accredited Counseling Program

  • Palo Alto University was accredited in January 2017 and received the maximum of eight (8) years CACREP accreditation
  • Palo Alto has two areas of emphasis accredited in its master’s in counseling program
    • Clinical Mental Health
    • Marriage, Family and Child 
  • Palo Alto University has faculty that is CACREP trained which adds to the institutes commitment in providing education at the highest levels of quality 
  • The master’s in counseling program is offered both Online and On-Campu
  • The master’s in counseling program is designed to provide the tools for individuals to became qualified and trained clinician

Master's in Counseling Online Program




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Palo Alto University’s master's degree in counseling program prepares students to serve their communities as licensed mental health professionals. This master's in counseling degree can expand career options or retool a career in a profession that makes a difference to the community. The M.A. Counseling program became CACREP accredited in January 2017. 

California graduates of this program can pursue both the Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) licenses. Graduates living in other states can pursue similar licenses (see your state's licensure board regulations for qualifying degree requirements).  

Masters in Counseling Program Online Format
  • 2-3 classes per quarter
  • All classes offered in the evening
  • Interactive online synchronous classroom 
  • 2 years 9months

Master's in Counseling On-Campus Program

With residential hybrid (on-campus) and low-residency distance learning (online) options and evening class schedules, the program offers flexibility to students who want to pursue graduate studies without needing to relocate.

This program offers a Master of Arts in Counseling with two areas of emphasis, both preparing students to pursue licensure:

This program focuses on developing and strengthening skills in four core areas: assessment, intervention/counseling, research/critical thinking, and ethics/professional practice.

Masters in Counseling Program Residential/hybrid Format
  • 3 classes per quarter
  • All classes offered in the evening
  • 2 years 3 months

Mission of the M.A. Counseling Degree Program

The M.A. Counseling program is a diverse and dynamic community dedicated to the development of highly effective mental health counselors, future leaders and innovators in the counseling profession. In and 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. The program is committed to five core values: creating and nurturing a diverse and inclusive learning community for all students, faculty, and staff; providing excellent education and clinical supervision for students; promoting healing and empowerment by addressing social privilege and oppression; generating knowledge through research and scholarship of the highest level; and providing services to the local, national and international community informed by science and scholarship.

Program and Student Learning Outcomes of the M.A. Counseling Degree Program

OUTCOME 1-Assessment and research acumen. Graduates will acquire, refine, and demonstrate appropriate Master's level ability to assess client issues and to incorporate evidence-based counseling practices in a variety of settings.

OUTCOME 2- Professional identity. Graduates will develop a professional identity as a counselor as well as the dispositions related to effective practice, including integrity, sensitivity, flexibility, insight, compassion, and personal presence.

OUTCOME 3- Leadership. Graduates will become an organizational leader, a group process expert, and a positive force in achieving high levels of participation, cooperation and cohesion. 

OUTCOME 4- Social justice. Graduates will develop an understanding of various cultures and the implications of diversity for social justice. They will demonstrate insight into the social and psychological implications of socioeconomic position and how poverty and social stress can affect an individual's mental health and recovery.

OUTCOME 5-Wellness and resilience orientation. Graduates will incorporate the principles of optimal career and lifespan development towards promoting a resilience and wellness across the lifespan.

OUTCOME 6- Ethical Compliance and risk management. Graduates will learn to manage the risks of a professional counseling practice, ensure personal and client safety, and remain compliant with all laws and regulations and moral and ethical guidelines.

OUTCOME 7- Systemic practice. Graduates will integrate a systems approach to conceptualizing client development, presenting issues, and counseling strategies and approaches. 

OUTCOME 8- Credentialing and Licensure. Graduates will demonstrate knowledge of how to become a licensed Professional Clinical Counselor or Marriage or Family Counselor in California or achieve a similar license in the other states and territories of the United States, Canada and other international partners.

OUTCOME 9 (MCFC Track Only)-Professional Practice. Graduates will acquire, refine, and demonstrate appropriate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to effectively work with couples, families, and other systems in a variety of settings.

OUTCOME 10 (CMHC Track Only)-Professional Practice. Graduates will acquire, refine, and demonstrate appropriate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to effectively assess, diagnose, and treat clients in a variety of settings.

M.A. Counseling Program Contact and Application Information

Call or email the Master's program staff today to find out more, or apply online.

Location & Online

Palo Alto Campus
1791 Arastradero Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304

Online Via Live Videoconference
RSVP for an online info session to experience PAU's virtual classroom.