MS in Psychology (PhD Prep) Program Palo Alto University

MS in Psychology (PhD Prep) Program Palo Alto University

Palo Alto, CA
student ratio
total students
average amount to complete degree
June 30
fall application deadline
acceptance rate
1 Degree Offered
degrees offered


Distance Learning MS in Psychology Offered by Palo Alto University

Palo Alto University (PAU) is a private university located in Palo Alto, California that offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs in psychology. Founded in 1975 as Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, the school offers a distance learning Master of Science (MS) in Psychology degree program, which is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Non-Clinical Master's for Advanced Study of Psychology

The Distance Learning (DL) MS in Psychology program at Palo Alto University was developed for individuals who are in work situations in which earning advanced degrees in psychology provides these individuals with additional job or advancement opportunities. The program is also geared toward students who have long-standing interest in psychology and want to investigate it further.

The degree may be undertaken as a terminal degree program, as a bridge to the PhD in Clinical Psychology at PAU, or as preparation for doctoral programs at other universities. Graduates who have successfully completed the program will have the opportunity to apply to the PhD degree program in Clinical Psychology at PAU, and if admitted, transfer in credit earned in the M.S. program and enter as second year students.

Because the program does not offer an applied clinical component, the degree is not designed for people who want master's degrees in order to see patients in clinical settings. Palo Alto University offers a separate M.A. in Counseling program primarily via distance learning for students who wish to become professional counselors.

Program Requirements and Schedule

The DL MS in Psychology at Palo Alto University consists of 46 quarter-units of coursework typically taken over a 2-year period during the standard academic year. There is no thesis required. Prerequisite courses are required for students who come from a non-psychology background.

Students start once a year, in September, and are required to take part in online orientations; they cannot enter once the program has started. Classes end in mid-June. The courses are structured so that most quarters there are only 2 courses running at any given time.

The online program reaches each student where she or he lives. Students enrolled in the DL program are situated in many different locations across the US, Canada, Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia, and South America. The only synchronized part of the coursework is chat rooms or conference calls, which are scheduled by individual instructors at times that work best for their students.

Course Content and Curriculum

The Web-based curriculum consists of the same courses offered on campus and taught by the same faculty members, ensuring a high quality of instruction in the DL program.

The courses for the DL MS are the same courses as those offered to doctoral students in the first year in PAU's residential PhD degree program, with the exception of Introduction to Psychotherapy, Psychometric Theory, and Intellectual Assessment. While some of the course content is relevant to clinical psychology, the courses are instructional in nature and have no applied clinical components.

A sample DL course curriculum for the first year may include: History and Systems; Child and Adolescent Development; Adult Development and Aging; Cognitive Bases of Behavior; Affective Bases of Behavior; Neuropsychology; Ethics in Clinical Psychology; Psychopharmacology; Social and Personality Bases of Behavior; and Clinical Interviewing, which has a one-week on-campus component.

The second year curriculum may include Psychopathology 1 and 2; Research Methods Lecture and Labs 1 and 2; Advanced Research Methods Lecture and Labs 1 and 2; and Statistics 1 and 2 Lecture and Labs.

Delivery and Performance Assessment

DL students need PCs with broadband Internet access to efficiently download all the necessary materials throughout the course of the program.

A combination of technology and teaching techniques are leveraged to deliver course content. These include PowerPoint slides accompanied by lecture notes, audio tracks so that students can listen to the instructor, threaded discussion groups, and chat rooms that provide a forum for students to ask questions of the professor. GoToMeeting technology is used to enable the instructor to show his or her computer screen simultaneously to all students. This allows students to interact in videoconference calls while simultaneously viewing the same materials -- all in a live, real-time integrated desktop format.

Instructors evaluate student performance in a variety of ways -- assigned papers, tests, or both. Students identify individuals in their communities who can receive the test materials (i.e. librarians), supervise the administration of the test, and return the materials to the instructor. Students are required to submit written evaluations of each class and instructor each quarter.

Accomplished Faculty Members Teach On Campus and Online

Distance Learning courses in the MS in Psychology program are taught by highly accomplished, fulltime PAU faculty members who teach the same courses on campus as they do in the DL program.

Among them are Rowena Gomez, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Training, Ph.D. Program, whose interests include aging, neuropsychology, and depression; Kimberly Balsam, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Co-Director of the Center for LGBTQ Evidence-Based Applied Research (CLEAR), and the Co-Director of the LGBTQ Emphasis Area, whose interests include LGBT psychology, women and gender, same-sex and heterosexual couples, trauma, and CBT; and Wendy Packman, Ph.D., J.D., Professor and Director, Joint J.D.-Ph.D. Program in Psychology and Law Chair, Institutional Review Board Research Group Advisor, Pediatric Psychology Research Group Advisor, Psychology and Law, whose interests include pediatric psychology, chronic illness, bereavement, psychology and law.

Tuition and Financial Assistance

The tuition for the DL program is the same as it is on campus, but spread across 2 years. However, because students do not use PAU campus facilities, fees are considerably lower. A recently adopted tuition stabilization plan guarantees that tuition and fees will not increase once students are enrolled in the program.

Financial assistance is available to eligible graduate students in the form of grants, fellowships, scholarships, loans (repayable with interest), and on-campus employment (teaching assistants, research assistants and student assistants). While independent professional schools have no state support or extensive endowments, some type of government subsidy or alternative student loan funding is available to almost all students.

Location & Contact

MS in Psychology (PhD Prep) Program

Palo Alto University

935 East Meadow Drive
Palo Alto, CA 94303-4232
United States

Dr. Kristel Nazzal

Associate Director M.S. Psychology, Masters Programs


Mrs. Deanna Berger

Assistant Director of Admissions

Phone: 650-417-2023

Request More Info

Degrees & Award

  • Degrees Offered
    • Major Degree Levels Offered
    • Psychology Master of Science (MS)
  • Degrees Awarded
    • Master's Degrees 10
    • Doctoral Degrees Not reported
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported
    • * Shows the number of degrees awarded for the last academic year that data was reported.
  • Earning Your Degree
    • Part-time study available? Yes
    • Evening/weekend programs available? No
    • Distance learning programs available? Yes
    • Terminal master's degree available? Not reported
  • Degree Requirements
    • Master's Degrees
    • Doctoral Degrees Not reported
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported


96% of applicants are admitted.
  • Acceptance Rate
    • Applied 26
    • Accepted 25
    • Acceptance Rate 96
    • Enrolled 20
  • Applying
    • Application Fee - Domestic $40
    • Application Fee - International $40
    • Electronic applications accepted? Yes
    • Applications processed on a rolling basis? Yes
  • Application Deadlines
    • Type Domestic International Priority Date
    • Fall deadline June 30th June 30th Yes
    • Winter deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
    • Spring deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
  • Entrance Requirements
    • Master's DegreesGRE General exam is not required, but students intending to apply for the Ph.D. program will need to submit GRE scores at the time of their Ph.D. application, Undergraduate degree in Psychology, and with a minimum GPA of 3.30. If undergraduate degree was in a different field, there are 4 prerequisite courses for the program.
    • Doctoral's DegreesNot Reported
    • First-Professional's DegreesNot Reported
    • Other Advanced DegreesNot Reported
    • International DegreesTOEFL required

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition & Fees *
    • Tuition & Fees$43,818
    • *Average dollar amount (tuition & fees) required to complete the degree
  • Financial Support
    • Financial award applicants must submitFAFSA
    • Application deadlines for financial awardsJanuary 15
    • Types of financial support availableFederal Work-Study, Scholarship and/or loans

Student Body

  • Gender
    • Total Graduate Students35
    • Female Percentage77%
    • Male Percentage23%
  • Participation
    • Total Graduate Students35
    • Part-time Percentage100%
    • Full-time Percentage0%
  • Ethnicity
    • Hispanic / Latino17%
    • Black / African American9%
    • White / Caucasian51%
    • American Indian / Alaskan Native3%
    • Asian17%
    • Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander0%
    • Two or more races0%
    • Unknown3%


  • Faculty Breakout
    • Total Faculty3
    • Full-time Percentage0%
    • Part-time Percentage100%
    • Female Percentage67%
    • Male Percentage33%





Forgot Your Password?

To reset your password, simply enter your email address in the field below and click the Reset Password button. You will receive an email with a link and instructions to reset your password.

Check your email.

Please check your email and click on the link provided in the message to reset your password.