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Masters of Arts in Counseling Palo Alto University

  • Palo Alto, CA
  • Private
  • Suburban
  • 79%21%
    student ratio
  • Not Reported
    total students
  • $39,480 | $39,480
    in-state tuition | out-of-state tuition


A Flexible, Blended Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling

Palo Alto University (PAU) offers a flexible master's degree program aimed at students who wish to pursue careers in mental health counseling. The 3-year program provides students with the core knowledge and hands-on training necessary to become successful mental health practitioners.

The mental health counseling master's program at Palo Alto University is available for full- and part-time students and is delivered in a blended format that combines distance learning, local internships, and 2 on-campus summer residencies. Because 98 percent of the coursework is completed online, the program does not require relocation.

Palo Alto University is a private, independent professional school located in the San Francisco Bay Area. The school was founded in 1975 as the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology; PAU changed its name and moved to its current location in 2009.

Convenient Online Courses and a Supportive Learning Environment

During the first 2 years of the program, students complete coursework in 4 core areas: assessment; intervention and psychotherapy; research and critical thinking; and ethics and professional practice. All courses are held online, and students use PAU's online course reserve system to access resources like slide shows, recorded lectures, and reading materials. Students also have opportunities to interact with professors and classmates via conference calls and webinars.

Students enter mental health counseling master's program in cohorts. In a cohort system, students remain in the same group as they progress through the program -- this approach helps create a supportive, close-knit learning community.

Valuable Real-World Experience

Students in PAU's mental health counseling master's program each complete 2 on-campus residencies. The week-long residencies give students the opportunity to build the clinical skills necessary for future field work and internships. Students each complete one residency in the summer after the first year of the program; they each complete another residency in the summer after the second year.

During the third year of the program, students in the mental health counseling master's degree program at PAU must complete approximately 700 internship hours. Relocation is not required for the internship; PAU faculty members work with students to find local opportunities. During their internship year, students receive support from professors at PAU. Students build clinical portfolios as part of their internships.

Pre-Licensing Workshops at PAU

To meet guidelines set by the California Board of Psychology, students who wish to become licensed mental health counselors in the state of California complete 5 specific courses: Child Abuse: Assessment and Reporting; Human Sexuality I and II; Substance Abuse Detection and Treatment I and II; and Spousal and Partner Abuse: Assessment, Detection, and Intervention. PAU students, alumni, and faculty members may take these courses at PAU in the form of workshops.

A Highly Specialized Research Library

The Omar Seddiqui Research Library at Palo Alto University is home to an expansive collection of resources including books, journals, videos, a variety of psychological tests, and student dissertations. The library also houses a computer lab equipped with a printer and a scanner. Distance learning students have access to the library's resources through an online database.

Students can also obtain library cards from nearby universities, including Stanford, UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and UC Medical Center in San Francisco.

Applying to the Program

Students applying to the mental health counseling master's program at Palo Alto University must have bachelor's degrees. A degree in psychology is not required for admission into the program, but students who did not major in psychology will be required to take 4 prerequisite courses: developmental psychology; physiological or biological psychology; personality or abnormal psychology; and statistics.

To be considered for admission to the mental health counseling master's program, a student must submit an online application; an application fee; transcripts from every college or university attended; a personal statement; and 3 letters of recommendation. International students must have a TOEFL score in the 50th percentile or higher, if necessary.

Required Materials

Because the majority of the program is delivered online, students in the PAU mental health counseling program need to have computers with broadband cable, DSL, or satellite Internet access. Students are also encouraged to have Microsoft 2007, as well as Windows Media Player and Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Distinguished, Experienced Faculty Members

Professor Rebecca Jackson is the director of the mental health counseling program at PAU. Dr. Jackson is an experienced researcher and clinician, and she has recently published a textbook, "Learning Forensic Assessment." In 2008, Dr. Jackson received the Theodore Blau Award for Outstanding Early Career Contributions from the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Foundation.

Associate Professor Martha L. Chiu holds a BA, an MA, and a PhD in East Asian studies from Harvard University; she also holds a second PhD in counseling from Stanford University. Dr. Chiu specializes in mental health services for culturally diverse populations. In addition to her work as a professor in PAU's distance learning program, Dr. Chiu is currently working to establish an anxiety and depression clinic at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China.

A Variety of Financial Aid Options

Students at Palo Alto University in need of financial assistance may apply for scholarships, loans, graduate fellowships, and grants.

PAU also offers on-campus employment opportunities. Students may apply for positions as teaching assistants and research assistants, as well as general assistants in departments and offices across the campus including the library, psychology department, the admissions office, and student services. Students can also work as tutors.

To qualify for financial aid at Palo Alto University, students must maintain GPAs of 3.0 or higher.

Location & Contact

Masters of Arts in Counseling

Palo Alto University

Palo Alto, CA

Contact school now

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition & Fees
    • In-state tuition *$39,480
    • Out-of-state tuition *$39,480
    • International student tuitionNot Reported
    • *Typical tuition for this insitution for full-time graduate students per academic year
  • Fees
    • Per-academic year feesNot Reported
    • Per-term feesNot Reported
    • One-time feeNot Reported
    • *Typical fees for this insitution for full-time graduate students per academic year
  • Financial Support
    • Financial award applicants must submitNot Reported
    • Application deadlines for financial awardsNot Reported
    • Types of financial support availableNot Reported



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