Ph.D. Clinical Psychology: Admissions

Application review begins November 1, 2019. Apply by January 3, 2020 for early consideration.


Applications for Fall 2020 open on September 13th, 2019. 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. 


The Ph.D. program requires the following prerequisites for entry into the Ph.D. Clinical Psychology program:

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

The four mentioned courses will help ensure that all incoming students have a smooth and easy transition into graduate school.

Application Deadlines

Completed applications for Fall 2020 will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning in November:

Priority Application Deadline: January 3, 2020
Final Deadline: August 14, 2020 

Applications received after the priority application deadline are still encouraged, and are reviewed based on space availability.


Based on an initial review of Ph.D. applicants, a designated group may be invited to visit the PAU campus for an Interview Day to meet faculty and students, as well as learn more about the program and co-curricular offerings.

Application Checklist

Please note: All materials should be submitted through the PSYCAS system, not directly to the PAU Admissions Office. 

1. Application Form

You may file an application online in the PSYCAS system.

2. Application Fee

The application fee is $50.00 for the first program application in PSYCAS, and $35 for subsequent applications to additional programs. The APA offers a fee waiver opportunity for students who qualify. 

3. Resume/Curriculum Vitae

Please include a resume or CV that lists all employment, training, and any volunteer work relevant to the field of psychology as well as other full-time employment.

4. Official Transcripts

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 by the issuing institution directly to the PSYCAS Transcript Processing Center. Instructions for submitting transcripts can be found here

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

If a transcript was obtained from an international institution, PAU requires that international transcript be evaluated and translated. PAU's preferred evaluation/translation service is World Educational Services (WES), and applicants can request a WES evaluation through the PSYCAS system.

World Education Services
Bowling Green Station
P.O. Box 5087
New York, NY 10274-5087

(212) 966-6311

5. GRE Test Scores

The Graduate Record Examinations Scores are required for all Ph.D. programs. The GRE Psychology subject test is not required. The PAU institutional code for receipt of GRE scores is 7483.

6. Statement of Purpose

Please answer the following questions in the statement of purpose:

(Please type, double space, and maximum 1,000 words)

  1. Brief autobiographical sketch, including what led to your interest in the practice of clinical psychology.
  2. Details of your goals and purpose in applying to Palo Alto University.
  3. A discussion of your future career goals as a clinical psychologist and addresses why you want to become a clinical psychologist and how the PhD program will help you reach these goals.
  4. Your strengths and accomplishments thus far that have prepared you for graduate psychology training (i.e., your professional development to this point, including course preparation for research projects, history of publications and presentations at professional conferences, and clinical training.)
  5. The qualities you possess that you think will be important assets as a practicing clinical psychologist.

7. Letters of Recommendation

Please provide three (3) letters of recommendation from individuals who are familiar with the applicant's ability and/or potential for rigorous graduate study, clinical work, and/or research. Whenever possible, they should be faculty members in psychology or practicing professionals in psychology or other mental health discipline. Letters of recommendation should be submitted through the PSYCAS system.  

8. International Students

For students whose first language is not English, a demonstrated proficiency in English is required for admission. PAU recognizes the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) as measures of English language proficiency.

If you are submitting a TOEFL score to PSYCAS, please be sure to use the code #B515.

If you are submitting the IELTS, please be sure to have it mailed to our main campus located at:

Palo Alto University Admissions Office
1791 Arastradero Rd
Palo Alto Ca, 94304

Candidate Selection

PAU aims to attract and educate students who are distinguished by their academic achievement, capacity for critical thinking, interpersonal skills, motivation to become exceptional clinicians, and commitment to service.

Each application is given a comprehensive review by the admissions committee. All aspects of the application, including academic record, general GRE scores, professional and/or research experience, and strong recommendations are qualities carefully considered. In addition, PAU also assumes that recruitment of a student body that is both highly qualified and diverse are both very important to the assessment process. Thus, factors such as the quality of early educational environment, socioeconomic status, culture, race, ethnicity, and life or work experiences are also considered.

Admission Policy

If you are offered admission, the Palo Alto University reserves the right to withdraw that offer of admission if:

  1. You have misrepresented yourself in the application process.
  2. We learn that you have engaged in behavior prior to matriculation that indicates a serious lack of judgment or integrity.
  3. You show a significant drop in academic performance or fail to graduate.

All applicants to, and students enrolled in, the program should be assured PAU practices a nondiscrimination policy regarding disability, gender, military status, age, race, color, sexual orientation, national and ethnic origins in admission, employment, and in the administration of its program and activities. Any otherwise qualified student, or applicant, with a disability may request reasonable accommodation regarding the application process and services as a prospective or enrolled student.

Requests for accommodation of a disability should be submitted to the Vice President of Student Services, Palo Alto University, 1791 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto, CA  94304; telephone 650-433-3818.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.     I am interested in applying to both PAU’s PGSP Ph.D. program and PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium.  Do I need to submit two different Statements of Purpose?

Yes, although both programs are committed to training clinical psychologists, the programs have different strengths, training missions, structure, and faculty. You do need to write two separate statements of purpose for each program.

2.     Does PAU offer fellowships?

Yes, we have a limited number of fellowships that we distribute based on several broadly defined criteria including merit, diversity, and financial need. Interested applicants should complete a fellowship application including the FAFSA to our admissions office.

3.     What is the Priority Consideration application process?

There is no difference in the application process itself aside from the application deadlines. Students who apply earlier in the process are usually offered an interview earlier and may be offered admission earlier in the cycle. 

5.     Are there teaching or research assistantships available to students?

The program does have several teaching assistantships available to students after they complete the first year of the program. Teaching assistantships are granted on a course-by-course basis, and students may apply for more than one during their time in the program. Unlike traditional Ph.D. programs, we do not offer formal research assistantships. Several faculty in the program have research grants, though, and do hire student assistants as part of their ongoing research programs. Students interested in pursuing this kind of funding are encouraged to contact the faculty that they may want to work with to determine availability.

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