Recruit & Retain (Palo Alto University)

Making the Transition

Palo Alto University (PAU) is a private, not-for-profit university located in Palo Alto, CA, and offers doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Psychology. PAU’s bachelor’s degree programs are degree-completion programs, taught to students who have transferred from one of the San Francisco Bay Area community colleges. The students have completed their freshman and sophomore years (60 semesters or 90 quarter units of college coursework) and their lower-level general education requirements at a community college. They then transfer to PAU to complete their junior and senior years of course work in Psychology, Business and upper-level electives, culminating in the bachelor’s degree. The PAU bachelor’s degree programs are now taught on the campuses of De Anza College in Cupertino, Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, the College of San Mateo in San Mateo, at the PAU main campus in Palo Alto and online.

At PAU, 78 percent of undergrad students have completed bachelor’s degrees, with 92 percent of the students finishing in less than two years. In contrast, the national graduation rate data are:

  • Six years after starting at a four-year college, 58 percent of students graduated with bachelor’s degrees.
  • Students who started at community colleges were much less likely to graduate. After starting at a two-year community college, only 11 percent of students graduated with bachelor’s degrees.

Tuition Stabilization Program

Over the last 30 years, the average university tuition rate has risen by more than 250 percent. California State University and the University of California continue to increase their tuition costs on an annual basis. As students study with PAU, they take advantage of the Tuition Stabilization Program in addition to established federal student aid options.

How does it work?

The Tuition Stabilization Program automatically freezes students’ tuition rates for the duration of their bachelor’s degree programs, which means that tuition and fees are guaranteed not to rise during the length of their study.

Everything on Schedule

At PAU, classes run like clockwork. Students working towards a two-year degree will find that all their classes are pre-scheduled for the duration of their studies. Scheduling conflicts are avoided, and there are no waiting lists or late graduations because a student was unable to get into a class.

The PAU bachelor’s degree programs are full-time programs, designed to enable students to graduate in two years after transferring. Courses are offered in two formats: A full-time day program, taught at De Anza, Foothill or the College of San Mateo, and in an evening/online format, in which students during each quarter complete one course on campus one night a week, while also completing two other courses online.

In both the Psychology & Social Action major and in the Business Psychology major, students at PAU take a fixed sequence of courses: four courses per quarter in the day, and three courses per quarter, including summer quarters, in the evening/online program. The courses are a mix of psychology and social science courses in the Psychology & Social Action program, and a mix of psychology and business classes in the Business Psychology program. There are no electives, and the courses are all taught to specific learning outcomes for the program. The courses are designed to follow a logical sequence and to complement one another.

Size Matters

Across the United States, students are being packed into large classrooms with many other students. PAU is committed to small class sizes (20 to 35 students is the norm). PAU firmly believes that the smaller the group, the more interaction and quality time students can have with their professors and fellow students. This leads to a great educational benefit.

To find out more, please visit the Palo Alto University website at, or contact Helena Ting, Ed.D., vice president of Community Development, Palo Alto University, at [email protected] or by phone at 650/520-3451.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

About the Author

Helena Ting, Ed.D., is vice president, Community Development, for Palo Alto University.