Pacific Graduate School of Psychology

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Master of Science in Psychology
Palo Alto, California

Founded in 1975, the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology (PGSP) is committed to unifying the research-oriented scientific model with direct service-oriented training. PGSP is a diverse learning community, dedicated to the search for knowledge and its dissemination, forming a community of highly talented faculty members and graduate students working side by side to bring scientific rigor and theoretical knowledge to the analysis and practice of clinical psychology. A private institution, PGSP also offers the Ph.D. and Psy.D. in clinical psychology. The Ph.D. program has been APA-accredited since 1988. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredits PGSP's Master of Science (M.S.) in psychology distance-learning program.

Distance Learning Program

The M.S. in psychology distance-learning program has had participants from all over the United States as well as from Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. About 30 students participated in the program in 2005–06. Evidence indicates that those enrolled in the distance-learning degree program perform as well as those taking on-campus courses.

Delivery Media

The program uses a number of techniques to accomplish its educational goals and partners with the educational technology company Docutek, which hosts the course materials. Many classes offer Microsoft PowerPoint presentations complete with lecture notes. Assigned readings are available on the Web in. PDF format, which students can easily read using the free Adobe Acrobat software. Some classes use threaded discussion groups, among other methods, to help students to discuss course material and ask questions. Students must have access to a computer as well as an Internet connection. High-speed Internet access, such as DSL or a cable modem, is strongly recommended.

Programs of Study

Classes begin in September and end in mid-June; students cannot enter the program once classes have started. The program consists of 39 units of course work, with no thesis requirement. Courses are taken over a two-year period during the regular academic year, and there are no summer classes. During most quarters, students take no more than two classes at a time. With one exception, most courses offered are the same as those taken by first-year graduate students enrolled in PGSP's residential Ph.D. program. Courses do not contain a clinical component. Student performance can be assessed through papers, exams, or both, depending on the instructor and the course. Tests are proctored by independent third parties. At the end of each course, students evaluate both the class and the instructor.

Special Programs

The distance-learning program was developed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to handle Ph.D.-level work at PGSP. Those who do well can transfer into the on-campus Ph.D. program. The doctoral program trains psychologists whose work is firmly grounded in theory and is informed by current research, who can function effectively as independent practitioners, and who can critically evaluate and perform research that contributes to the academic discipline of scientific psychology.

Students are strongly encouraged to attend an on-campus two-day orientation in September. This orientation gives students a chance to meet members of the faculty and administration, to be trained in the use of the Web-based library resources, and to spend some time getting to know each other. PGSP reimburses student attendees for one-half the cost of hotel accommodations and travel expenses so that everyone in the class can attend.

Student Services

Some classes use chat rooms to facilitate student-student and student-instructor communication. Chat times vary and instructors try to accommodate students from around the world.

Credit Options

Up to 6 units of prior graduate work that is not more than five years old can be transferred into the program. Students must submit a course description and supporting documentation. Credit is granted on a case-by-case basis.


The PGSP faculty includes 15 full-time and approximately 12 part-time research and clinical teaching professors, drawn from the Bay Area's rich resource pool of active researchers and practitioners from a range of specializations. The faculty members are actively engaged in clinical practice and research; they provide the enthusiasm, knowledge, and insights of those actively working to find answers to central questions in the field of psychology. For the most part, full-time PGSP faculty members teach the distance-learning curriculum.


Applicants must have graduated from an accredited undergraduate institution. An applicant must submit the completed application, the $50 application fee, all official transcripts, three letters of reference, and an essay that outlines the goals and reasons for pursuing the Master of Science in psychology. For students coming from a nonpsychology background, there are four prerequisite courses that must be completed: developmental psychology, physiological psychology, personality or abnormal psychology, and statistics.

Tuition and Fees

In the 2005–06, academic year, tuition was $768 per unit, with 21 units in the first year. The technology fee is $257 per quarter. Tuition and fees totaled $16,899 for first-year students.

Financial Aid

Financial assistance is available to eligible PGSP students in the form of grants, fellowships, scholarships, loans (repayable with interest), and on-campus employment. U.S. citizens enrolled in the distance-learning program may be eligible for federal financial aid. For more information, students should contact the Financial Aid Office at 800-340-6986. Prospective students can also request financial aid information online at


Although the application deadline is August 15, it is recommended that students apply in the spring or early summer. An online application form is available at or students may request an application form from the Office of Admissions at 650-843-3419.


William Froming, Ph.D., Academic Vice President and Director
Distance Learning Program
Pacific Graduate School of Psychology
935 East Meadow Drive
Palo Alto, California 94303
Phone: 650-843-3530
800-818-6136 (toll-free)
Fax: 650-493-6147
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site:

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Pacific Graduate School of Psychology