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MS in Psychology FAQs

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Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by MS in Psychology applicants. If you don't see the information you are looking for, please feel free to reach out to our admissions team at

We also encourage you to view the recorded Deep Dive below, which walks students through the PsyCAS application process.

MS in Psychology Admissions Deep Dive

Frequently Asked Questions: MS Admissions

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

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. State Authorizations

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.


Ready to Take the Next Steps?

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Contact Admissions.

Chelby Tookey
Senior Admissions Counselor

PSYCAS offers an online centralized application portal for you to apply to master’s and doctoral programs across the discipline of psychology.
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