MFT California
Compare masters programs that meet the MFT licensure requirements in California.

Palo Alto University

Palo Alto University


M.A. in Counseling: Emphasis in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling

Online & Campus-Based Programs

On-Campus Location:

Palo Alto University
1791 Arastradero Road
Palo Alto, CA94304

 (800) 818-6136

PAU M.A. in Counseling MFCC Emphasis Program Page

Program details below are quoted from program websites, supplied here for informational purposes only, and subject to change at any time. Refer to the program website for current information, deadlines, complete admission requirements, etc. It is the responsibility of the prospective student to verify with program administrators program details and that the program still meets BBS requirements for licensure in the state of California.

Program Snapshot



Concentrations/Specializations Offered


Length of Program

Students can enroll part-time online and complete the program in 11 to 12 quarters, or enroll full-time at an on campus location and complete the program in 9 to 10 quarters as the desired fieldwork placement can be secured. The M.A. Counseling program requires nine to eleven quarters of coursework over a minimum of two years and three months of study.


Residential Hybrid (On-Campus) Format
In the on-campus format, the majority of courses are conducted in a campus setting, and other courses are implemented online. Students typically take two courses on campus and one course online each quarter. The time-saving from the online class enables students to take three classes per quarter. All skill-based clinical work is done in an appropriate clinical or classroom setting.

  • Campus location. The campus is located in Palo Alto, California. 
  • Class times. The program is offered weekday evenings. Classes take place Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 9:30 at the PAU campus. On a selective basis, some courses are offered on Fridays.  Students occasionally attend weekend workshops in Palo Alto.
  • Fall & Spring enrollment. Students can begin the on-campus format of the program twice per year, either during fall or spring quarters.  
  • Cohort model. The on-campus format uses a cohort system. Students form a cohort and are given the same schedule and sequence of courses for their entire program. They are expected to be enrolled continuously and to complete their degree on schedule with their cohort. The advantage of the cohort system is the support and openness it creates. The cohort becomes a valuable resource for several reasons. Students study together. They encourage and assist one another when needed. They also become comfortable with one another to the point of being able to discuss tough issues and personal experiences. Since a higher level of openness is attainable, a higher level of learning is also possible.

Distance Learning (Online) with One-Week Residency Format
In this online format, students attend all classes online and also attend a 1-week residency at the main campus in Palo Alto, CA. during the first year of their program. The residency provides an opportunity to meet professors and classmates face-to-face. 

Each quarter, a required online orientation for incoming students establishes the foundations of the online program before classes begin.

  • Class times. Online classes take place at scheduled times, typically around 6 P.M. Pacific time.  
  • Fall & Spring enrollment. Students can begin the online format of the program twice per year, either during fall or spring quarters.

Program Start 

Students can begin the program two times per year: Fall (September) or Spring (April). Each start term, an online orientation is held for incoming students. This orientation is required so that students can learn the foundations of the online program before classes begin.

Estimated Total Program Tuition


Religious orientation


Entering Class Size

20-30 students per cohort

Fieldwork Hours Accrued during program

Students complete a minimum of 700 hours of counseling-related experience over a 9 to 12 month period. This experience includes a minimum of 280 hours of direct counseling experience.

Personal Psychotherapy Requirement During Program

Suggested. Students are expected to demonstrate maturity, good judgment, discretion, and respect. If their effectiveness is compromised by personal problems or illness, they are expected to seek competent professional help to determine whether to suspend, terminate, or limit their scope of professional studies within the M.A. Counseling program.

Comprehensive Exam/Culminating Project/Thesis/Etc:

The curriculum is progressive and designed to prepare students for fieldwork culminating in a capstone project.

Application Process

Application Deadline

Fall (September Start) 

  • June 30: Priority Deadline for admissions and early acceptance eligibility. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by July 15 and receive priority enrollment for available slots.
  • July 31: Regular Deadline
  • August 31: Rolling Admissions on a space-available basis.

Spring (April Start)

  • March 21: Rolling admissions on a space-available basis until full.

Undergraduate GPA Requirement

A GPA of 3.0 or higher is recommended.

GRE Requirement

GRE scores are not required for admission to PAU master's degree programs. Applicants who have taken the GRE may submit their scores as an additional consideration with their application.

Prerequisite Courses

For those whose undergraduate major was not psychology, four additional courses are recommended, but not required, for the M.A. Counseling program: 

  • Developmental psychology
  • Physiological or biological psychology
  • Personality or abnormal psychology
  • Statistics

Application highlights

Resume or Curriculum Vitae
The resume or CV should list professional and academic experience, education, awards, publications, etc.

Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation from three academic or professional references are required. Letters can be requested and submitted through the PSYCAS system.  Applicants will electronically submit the names and email addresses of their recommenders who will receive a request to complete the recommendation form. Three letters are required.

Applicants who began applying for Spring 2017 prior to Sep.15th only: Letters are submitted electronically by the persons making the references.  

Statement of Purpose
The statement of purpose serves as a sample of the applicant's ability to write in an academic and professional manner. It should be no longer than two 1.5- line-spaced pages and should represent the highest quality of expression and scholarship.

Points to cover:

  • A brief autobiographical sketch/background, including what led to an interest in counseling.
  • Details of goals and purpose in applying to Palo Alto University and how this applies to future career goals.
  • Strengths and accomplishments thus far that demonstrate preparation for graduate psychology education.
  • Personal and professional qualities that will be important assets as a practicing clinical counselor or therapist.

(see program website for complete application requirements)

Interview Requirement

After applications are received, applicants who satisfy admission requirements are selected for interviews with the Program Director via videoconference.

The mission of Palo Alto University is to reduce suffering and improve lives through education and research anchored in psychology, clinical training and practice in a diversity of cultures. In support of this mission, PAU offers a unique multicultural focus with an emphasis on culture, social justice and families.
— Palo Alto University

Program Summary

(Reprinted from program website.)

The mission of Palo Alto University is to reduce suffering and improve lives through education and research anchored in psychology, clinical training and practice in a diversity of cultures. In support of this mission, PAU offers a unique multicultural focus with an emphasis on culture, social justice and families. Instructors equip students to serve individuals, families and communities of different backgrounds with widely different needs.
The M.A. Counseling program develops proficiencies in multiple dimensions that align with Palo Alto University's core values:

  • Academic rigor. Acquire, refine, and demonstrate appropriate Master's level knowledge and skill as a counselor in a variety of settings.
  • Professional identity. Develop a professional identity as a counselor as well as the personal qualities related to effective practice, including integrity, sensitivity, flexibility, insight, compassion, and personal presence.
  • Leadership. Become an organizational leader, a group process expert, and a positive force in achieving high levels of participation, cooperation and cohesion.
  • Social justice. Develop an understanding of various cultures and the implications of diversity for social justice. Gain insight into the social and psychological implications of socioeconomic position and how poverty and social stress can affect an individual's mental health and recovery.
  • Recovery orientation. Incorporate the principles of mental health recovery-oriented care and methods of service delivery in recovery-oriented practice environments.
  • Compliance and risk management. Learn to manage the risks of a professional counseling practice, ensure personal and client safety, and remain compliant with all laws and regulations and moral and ethical guidelines.
  • Professional practice. Integrate the principles and practices of marriage and family counseling throughout the professional practice of counseling and mental health.
  • Licensure. Become a licensed Professional Clinical Counselor or Marriage and/or Family Counselor in California or achieve a similar license in the other states and territories of the United States, Canada and other international partners.