Master's in Counseling On-Campus & Online

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Palo Alto University offers students access to an excellent education without uprooting their lives. PAU’s residential hybrid (on-campus) and distance learning (online) formats give students the ability to complete a master's degree in counseling while working, raising a family or managing the many responsibilities of their lives.

Residential Hybrid (On-Campus) Format

In the on-campus format, the majority of courses are conducted in a campus setting, and other courses are conducted live, online, via Zoom. Students typically take two courses on campus and one course online each quarter. The time-saving from the online class enables students to take three classes per quarter. All skill-based clinical work is done in an appropriate clinical or classroom setting.

  • Campus Location: There are two campus locations in Palo Alto, California and Los Altos, California. 
  • Class Times: The program is offered weekday evenings. Classes take place Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 6 - 8:50 pm at the PAU campus locations or live via Zoom.
  • Fall Enrollment: Starts September, 9 quarters to graduate.
  • Spring Enrollment: Starts in late March or early April, 9 quarters to graduate.  
  • Cohort model: The on-campus format uses a cohort system. Students form a cohort and are given the same schedule and sequence of courses for their entire program. They are expected to be enrolled continuously and to complete their degree on schedule with their cohort. The advantage of the cohort system is the support and openness it creates. The cohort becomes a valuable resource for several reasons. Students study together. They encourage and assist one another when needed. They also become comfortable with one another to the point of being able to discuss tough issues and personal experiences. Since a higher level of openness is attainable, a higher level of learning is also possible.
Distance Learning (Online) Format

In this online format, students attend all classes online and also attend two residential training experiences at the PAU campus locations during the program. The residencies provide an opportunity to meet professors and classmates face-to-face, and to work on clinical skills development.

  • Class Times: Online classes take place at 6 pm Pacific time. Distance learning student who start the program in the fall quarter may have the option to take classes at 4 pm PST.  
  • Fall Enrollment: Starts September, 9 or 11 quarters to graduate.
  • Spring Enrollment: Starts in late March or early April, 9 quarters to graduate.  
  • Residential Training Experiences: This format enables students to take all classes online and complete practicum and master's-level internship locally, in their home community. Students attend two residential training experiences at the PAU campus location. The residency is an opportunity to meet professors and classmates face-to-face. It includes intensive study and competency based skill training and culminates in a clinical interviewing assessment that is a prerequisite for clinical fieldwork. Please note that online students must be located in a state in which we are authorized to provide online education.


Students can begin the program two times per year: Fall (September) or Spring (April). Each start term, an orientation is held for incoming students. This orientation is required so that students can learn the foundations of the program before classes begin

Zoom Virtual Classrooms Support Online Learning Experiences

  • Palo Alto University utilizes the Zoom videoconference platform for weekly live virtual remote classes for all online courses.
  • Classes include real-time lecture, discussion and clinical skills training enabled by videoconference technology.
  • Online classes give students the opportunity to interact with a diverse student body and learn clinical skills through real-time interaction with instructors.

Field Placements in the Home Region Help Establish Students in Their Communities

  • Palo Alto University assists students in finding suitable practicum/internship placements in their communities.
  • Students receive ongoing support throughout the practicum/internship experience.
  • Supervision takes place at the student’s field placement site and from Palo Alto University faculty online.

Get the Best of Both Worlds

Staying local while participating in a distance learning (online) master’s degree program gives students the best of both worlds. Palo Alto University offers students a multicultural focus that emphasizes culture, social justice and families that students experience in weekly live virtual remote classes. Students benefit from the latest academic research and clinical approaches while tailoring their experience to the culture and community in which they live and practice, all in a program format that fits into their busy lives.

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