Palo Alto University

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Updated August 6, 2020

Palo Alto University appears in our ranking of the 10 Most Affordable PhD in Family Counseling Online Programs.

Palo Alto University originated in 1975 when the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology was opened for non-profit brain and behavior study. First accredited in 1986, it acquired land from the American Institutes for Research to develop a three-building Silicon Valley campus in 2008. The next August, the Palo Alto University name was officially adopted. By 2015, PAU had solidified partnerships with Stanford, Foothill College, De Anza College, and the College of San Mateo. In 2016, the Institute for Global Mental Health was opened to extend to China, Rwanda, and Latin America. Meanwhile, Palo Alto accepted the Insight Into Diversity HEED Award four straight years. Budgeting $32.3 million yearly, PAU now educates 1,152 students, including Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology majors, with 81 faculty on-site and online. The U.S. News & World Report ranked Palo Alto University the 87th best clinical psychology school. College Factual named PAU America's third most focused psychology institution with the 45th most diversity. The National Research Council also placed Palo Alto 173rd overall.

Palo Alto University Accreditation Details

On July 20, 2018, Palo Alto University received formal notification from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission that it passed the evaluation visit for eight-year Level V accreditation under its third president, Dr. Maureen O'Connor, who received the 2014 NYSPA Margaret Floy Washburn Mentoring Award. Based 44 miles north on Route 92 in Alameda, this nine-territory Pacific accreditor is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to check the academic standards of PAU's two baccalaureate, four master's, and two doctoral offerings. Palo Alto earned specialized approval from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in 2017. The American Psychology Association (APA) Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation reaffirmed the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology through 2023 too.

Palo Alto University Application Requirements

The Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University is competitive with just 76 of the 251 Fall 2016 applicants enrolling for 30.27 percent acceptance. Hopeful post-grads must have finished 120 semester or 180 quarter credits for an accredited bachelor's degree. Social science majors are preferred to fulfill the four prerequisites: Biopsychology, Abnormal Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and Statistics. Three-year foreign programs might qualify if reported via the World Education Services. Non-U.S. residents must display English fluency with a minimum 550 TOEFL pBT or 6.0 IELTS score. Strong candidates have a cumulative undergrad GPA of 3.3 or higher. Transferring master's courses must be graded "B" or better for a minimum 3.5 GPA. Critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills are evaluated in an interview. The GRE General Test is also required for composite scores above 305.

Palo Alto University admits Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology cohorts each Fall after the November 15th Early Consideration deadline and January 3rd Final deadline. Interested students use the PSYCAS System to file secure applications online. First-time fees are $50, but subsequent tries cost $35 each. Official transcripts are mailed directly to their processing center at PO Box 9138 in Watertown, MA 02471. Graduate Record Exam marks are filed electronically by code 7483. Additional requested items include the 1,000-word autobiographical sketch, three letters of recommendation, résumé or CV, and scholarly writing sample. Only IELTS score reports can be mailed to the Graduate Pacific School at 1791 Arastradero Road in Palo Alto, CA 94304. Please contact (800) 818-6136 or for further doctoral help.

Tuition and Financial Aid

For 2018-19, Palo Alto University is billing Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology students flat-rate tuition of $15,731 per quarter full-time. The comprehensive fee adds $1,778 each quarter. Term totals are $17,509 and yearly attendance equals $45,783. During the APA-approved internship, doctoral candidates pay just $2,261 per quarter with the $1,701 fee for $3,962. During the dissertation phase, the Ph.D. charges $12,054 per quarter with the $1,701 fee for $13,755. In comparison, it's cheaper that the Stanford Psy.D. Consortium that costs $16,488 by term and adds a bigger $2,122 comprehensive fee.

According to the NCES College Navigator, the Financial Aid Office on El Camino Real gets 72 percent of full-time PAU students enrolled in assistance plans that average $8,738 apiece. The Ph.D. General Fellowship gifts $20,000 over three years for exceptional post-grads. Minorities can obtain the $20,000 Diversity Fellowship to follow commitments to clinical behavioral health. The Student Job Board lists open campus positions paying at least $15/hour. Federal Work-Study openings are reserved for graduate GPAs topping 3.0. Submitting the FAFSA application coded 021383 would determine Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Grad Plus loan eligibility. Some qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program later. Armed Forces members can utilize VA benefits and programs like the California National Guard Education Assistance Award. Suggested external funds include the Local Pride Scholarship, Newsome Melton Leadership Scholarship, Strong Arm Leukemia Scholarship, Willis & Ethel Clark Foundation Scholarship, Hispanic Scholarship, AAMFT Scholarship, and Benton-Meier Scholarship.

Online Degree(s) Available

The Distance Learning Division at Palo Alto University utilizes Canvas plus Zoom video conferencing to enroll online learners in two undergrad and three post-grad programs. Four quarters year-round, virtual courses with a 14:1 student-professor ratio require live weekly meetings at night for active behavioral science discussions. Other benefits include the ProctorU testing, eBook rentals, Stanford University Consortium, APA accreditation, Omar Seddiqui Research Library journals, IT Helpdesk services, free Symantec AntiVirus software, Gronowski Clinic access, and 97 percent internship rate. Here's an overview of the quality PAU doctorate.

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

Since 1988, the Pacific Graduate School has awarded the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology to PAU practitioner-scientists seeking advanced research competence for evidence-based solutions to improve mental health functioning. The 171-unit, five-year hybrid program chaired by Dr. Kimberly Balsam, an APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award recipient, blends Bay Area residencies with some online learning. Intensive courses are specialized in seven tracks: Child & Family, Diversity & Community Health, Forensic Psychology, LGBTQ Psychology, Meditation, Neuropsychology, or Trauma. Before the EPPP licensing exam, students complete 2,000 internship hours at agencies like Patton State Hospital, Waianae Coast Center, Marin County Health & Human Services, Columbia Medical Center, and Saint Elizabeth's Hospital. Doctoral candidates also utilize cutting-edge facilities, including the Ethnic Minority Health Lab, College Substance Abuse Lab, and Personality Studies Lab, to tackle the 30-unit original dissertation.

Learn about other online options, such as the B.S. in Psychology & Social Action, B.S. in Business Psychology, M.A. in Counseling, and M.S. in Psychology, at the Palo Alto University website.

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