Palo Alto University


Psychology and Counseling Degree Programs at Palo Alto University

Palo Alto University appears in our ranking of the Top 25 Master’s Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy Online.

Palo Alto University has a commitment to helping students understand the important concepts in psychology and counseling. It offers two bachelor’s degree programs (on campus or online) that give students the option of taking night and weekend courses or daytime classes. Though both are Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs, students can study business psychology or psychology and social action. The business program includes courses in both fields, including Business Communication, Business Ethics, Psychology of Leadership and Team Development and Developmental Psychology. Students in the psychology and social action program do internships and take courses that include Psychology of Gender, Psychology of Learning and Memory, Philosophy of Science and Cultural Anthropology.

At the graduate level, the university offers a Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology and a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling. Both are available online or on campus. The psychology program features 44 units of classes that students take over two years and a residency that they complete on the Palo Alto campus. They usually take three classes each semester, including Ethics in Clinical Psychology, Professional Standards, Child and Adolescent Development and Research Methods and Statistics. The counseling program allows students to pick from emphasis areas in marriage and family therapy or clinical mental health counseling. Both programs include several practicums and courses such as Group Counseling and Human Sexuality. The university offers the counseling program both on the Palo Alto campus and online.

Palo Alto University offers two doctoral programs too. One is a clinical psychology doctoral program with emphasis areas in seven fields, including LGBTQ psychology, trauma, diversity and community mental health and children and family. Students will need to do internships and practicums and a dissertation. All the electives they take must relate to the emphasis areas they choose. The university also offers a clinical training program that is designed with Stanford University and its School of Medicine. This program includes five years of work. Students take classes during the first three years before taking an internship prep course and doing an internship in the fourth year. The fifth year requires that they commit their time to an extensive internship.

About Palo Alto University

Palo Alto University is a private and senior university that offers a small number of options for undergrads. Established in 1975 as the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, it originally only offered courses and programs for students who already completed their undergrad studies. Located in Palo Alto, California, it later changed its name to pay homage to that city and to show students that they could earn bachelors and doctoral degrees through the university. It focuses heavily on clinical and practical training and allows students at all levels to do practicums and internships.

Also called PAU, it has deals with several community colleges and smaller schools in California that allow students of those schools to transfer to the university after they finish two years or 60 credits of work. U.S. News and World Report ranked its doctoral program with Stanford as the 87th best doctoral psychology program in America. Graduate and doctoral students can work in the university’s clinic and provide care to those from lower income brackets who live in the Bay area. PAU has an enrollment of more than 1,000 students today.

Palo Alto University Accreditation Details

PAU can allow students to use the FAFSA and get government aid because it has regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The APA granted the university accreditation for its doctoral programs in clinical psychology. APA accreditation applies to both the internships and work that students do in the field as well as all the courses they take.

Palo Alto University Application Requirements

PAU accepts undergrads all year long because it has a rolling admissions policy. As long as it receives an application by the end of August, the student can start in the fall semester the following month. It will only accept students who already finished at least two years of study at another college or university. Students will provide transcripts to show that they completed a minimum of 60 credit hours of work or the equivalent number of semester hours of work. They also need to take some prerequisites, including six units of science classes and nine units of social science courses. Undergrads can both apply for financial aid and submit the PAU application online.

Though graduate students can also use an online application, they will use the PSYCAS application instead. This application website lets them complete most of the admissions requirements and pay their fees online. They will also provide a CV or resume that shows the volunteer and/or professional experiences they have in psychology or counseling and a statement of purpose that explains why they choose PAU and what the program will do for them. The university requires both letters of recommendation and official transcripts too. Those applying to a doctoral program must meet the early application deadline of November 15 or the standard deadline of January 3 and do an interview with faculty members from the psychology department.

Tuition and Financial Aid

The cost that grad students pay is the same for both online and residential programs. Students pay $523 per unit and fees of $35 per unit, which brings the total cost of finishing the program up to around $52,000. The only type of financial aid awarded to graduate counseling and psychology students is a loan. Those students will need to submit the FAFSA and complete loan counseling to get PLUS or unsubsidized loans. They can also use alternative loans and external scholarships. Doctoral students pay the same tuition and can use the same financial aid. Students also pay fees when doing internships and working on their dissertations.

Undergrads attending PAU pay $7,584 per quarter for their tuition and fees. The online and evening program costs slightly less at $5,688 per quarter. Students can pay their costs with a check, credit card or wire transfer and with the financial aid that they receive. PAU asks that students file for financial aid as soon as they decide to attend the university. Undergrads can get subsidized students loans, government grants and jobs that are part of the Federal Work Study program. Any student attending Palo Alto University with an interest in psychology or counseling can apply for financial aid.