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Denise Daniels, Ph.D, Director Masters' Programs, Palo Alto University, joins us today to discuss their online Master of Science program in Psychology.

1. Can you tell us about your online Master's program(s) offered at Palo Alto University?

With more than 15 years of online teaching experience, Palo Alto University offers an innovative and highly structured part-time, two-year master's degree in psychology that can be undertaken as a potential bridge to a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University or as a master's degree. The PAU M.S. Psychology program is ranked among the Top 20 Online Master’s in Psychology programs by the non-profit organization, GoGrad, which ranks non-profit online programs based on academic quality and affordability, among other criteria.

Palo Alto University also has a global online M.A. Counseling degree in which graduates can apply for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist or a Professional Clinical Counselor. Students enroll from many countries in the world including several cohorts of students in China.

2. How long does a typical Master's program take at Palo Alto University? What is the maximum and minimum time of completion?

The global online M.S. Psychology program is seven quarters, slightly less than two years.  There are approximately two online courses per quarter, and one on-campus one-week intensive course during the Summer.

The global online M.A. Counseling program is 11 quarters, slightly less than three years.

3. What do you think makes Palo Alto University’s online Master’s program stand out from other programs offered by similar schools?

Palo Alto University’s master's program key differentiators include:

  • A potential acceptance to the Palo Alto University Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology program
  • Live video conferencing discussions with professors and students included in online courses
  • The Pacific School of Graduate Psychology within Palo Alto University is considered the premier clinical psychology graduate school in Northern California.
  • Palo Alto University is a not-for-profit private University.
  • Outstanding clinical training program with practicum placement for the M.A. Counseling program.

4. Does your online Master’s in Psychology program offer any concentrations or dual enrollment opportunities?

Palo Alto University also offers a M.A. in Counseling degree.  Some students elect to accomplish both a M.S. Psychology degree and a M.A. Counseling. Other students decided to transfer to the M.A. Counseling program to obtain a licensable degree.

5. How important would you say accreditation is when choosing a Master’s in Psychology?

Regional, but not professional accreditation is important at the master's level. The American Psychological Association does not offer professional accreditation at the master's level.  Professional accreditation is not important at the master’s level.  However, Palo Alto University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission and this is important for a master's degree.

6. What kind of student characterizes your ideal candidate in the Master’s in Psychology program (i.e. personality traits, background, interests, career aspirations, etc.)?

A strong interest in clinical psychology at the doctoral level or a strong interest in applying psychology in the work setting is important.  An undergraduate GPA of 3.3 is recommended, however Palo Alto University looks at the whole person when admitting candidates.  Experience and relevant course work to clinical psychology is also important.

For the M.A. Counseling program, it is recommended that students have a 3.0 GPA.

7. What are your class sizes for courses in the online Master’s in Psychology degree program?

Online class sizes range from 25 to 30.

8. What are the advantages to earning a Master’s in Psychology degree in general and where are you seeing employer demand for this degree?

The Palo Alto University M.S. Psychology program is designed for students to qualify for admission to the Palo Alto University Ph.D. program. The goal of the program is to educate well-rounded psychologists who are capable and competent as both researchers and clinicians. Students are taught to be science-minded while appreciating the larger role of psychology in alleviating suffering in the world. This balance includes learning to value evidence-based clinical models while maintaining the responsibilities psychologists have to their community, society, and profession.

This program leads to three possible academic outcomes:

  • Ph.D. studies at Palo Alto University. All students in this program have an opportunity to gain acceptance to Palo Alto University's residential Ph.D. program in clinical psychology.
  • Ph.D. studies at another institution. The program provides excellent preparation for other universities' Ph.D. programs.
  • Master of Science degree in psychology. Students who successfully complete all coursework and choose not to continue to doctoral studies are awarded a terminal M.S. degree in psychology that can be applied to careers in human services and related non-profit causes, publishing, technology, assisting in psychological research, teaching at the community college level, or other professions and businesses.

The M.A. Counseling degree leads to careers as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) in California or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in many of the 50 U.S. states and other countries.

9. Is your university linked with any Government, Educational, or Industrial Partnerships to provide internships or practicum experiences for enrolled students?

Palo Alto University’s global online M.A. in Counseling Program has relationships with over 60 practicum sites in the United States and abroad.

10. Does Palo Alto University offer job placement for students who graduate with a Master’s in Psychology?

See answer 9 above.

11. What type of financial aid packages are available for students in Psychology? Are there any fellowships, grants and scholarships available?

Palo Alto University’s financial aid department works to help students apply for federal student loans.  There are also opportunities for student assistant and teacher assistant work study positions.  At the doctoral level fellowships are available.

12.  Are graduate students enrolled in the online Master’s in Psychology program offered assistantships for teaching or research?

Yes.  At Palo Alto University, students can apply for Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant and Student Assistant positions.

13. Do you have any advice for students enrolling in a Master’s in Psychology program for the first time?

The best advice is to understand the difference between a licensable degree and a non-licensable degree.  At Palo Alto University the M.A. Counseling degree allows graduates to apply for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist or a Professional Clinical Counselor.  At the doctoral level, graduates can apply to be a licensed clinical psychologist.

14. What do you enjoy most about your position at Palo Alto University?

The University has faculty who are very strong in both clinical psychology and counseling, as well as a supportive and respectful culture.  Palo Alto University is known for it excellence in diversity and has received several diversity awards.

For more information on the online Master’s in Psychology programs offered at Palo Alto University, visit them online.

Thank you Denise Daniels, for sharing and participating in this piece.

That concludes our interview!

Learning Format:

Campus + Online


APA Accredited


  • Tuition for full time students (In State): Approximately $ 37,668.00/year
  • Graduate Out of State Tuition: Approximately $ 37,668.00/year
  • Average Books/Supplies Cost: $ 0.00
  • Off Campus Room Board Average Cost: $ 0.00
* Based on 2012 data

Psychology Degrees Offered:

  • M.S. Psychology (Ph.D. Prep)
  • M.A. Counseling (MFT/LPCC)


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Editor's Notes

Palo Alto University allows students to earn their Master's degree in Psychology through online courses. This program is designed to be learned over a two year time span, and offers a unique and innovative opportunity to study part time or through distance education to prevent students in other regions from the necessity of moving to attend class. The faculty at Palo Alto University is compiled of a well-trained, highly competent staff of professors who are well accomplished in their fields of learning. The Master of Science program creates an educational bridge to more advanced ranges of study including a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, which students can enroll in as second year students of the doctoral program after an interview within the department.


Palo Alto University has programs in the following specializations: Clinical Psychology


Palo Alto University has campus locations in: California

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