Specialization FAQs: M.A./Ph.D. Program in Depth Psychology with Specialization in Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, & Ecopsychology


Do I need to move to Santa Barbara to attend this program?
Most of our students do not live in Santa Barbara. They travel from a wide variety of states and countries to attend nine 3-day sessions (October-July) each year. Pacifica has this unusual design to allow people to carry on their work , community, and family commitments in their home locations.

What types of financial assistance are available to students in the Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, and Ecopsychology Specialization and who do I contact for this information?
Pacifica is approved by the U.S. Department of Education for participation in the Direct Stafford and Graduate Plus Loan Programs. Qualified students for the Stafford Loan may borrow up to $20,500 per year and in the Grad-Plus Loan up to the Cost of Attendance minus other financial aid. Repayment on both loans may be deferred while enrolled at least half-time (3 units). Both the Stafford Loan and the Plus Loan programs offer a six-month post-enrollment grace period before repayment begins.

For more detailed information about the financial assistance opportunities available, including the scholarships below, feel free to contact the Financial Aid Office at ext. 197 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Are there scholarships available?
Available Scholarships for Studying Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, and Ecopsychology:

Pacifica Scholarship: To make education at Pacifica more accessible to students who show high financial need and academic merit, a number of Pacifica scholarships are offered each year. Scholarship applications are available by request and on the website beginning March 1st. All new students must be accepted to a program of study, complete the 2014-2015 FAFSA form and submit the scholarship application/essay by August 1st to qualify. International students do not need to complete the FAFSA form, instead, complete the International Student Addendum included with the scholarship application by August 1st.
Herman Warsh Community-Based Scholarships: The Herman Warsh Community-Based Scholarships are need- and merit-based scholarships. Applicants should have experience in and a commitment to working in community-based settings on environmental, community, and/or cultural issues. Funds awarded are renewable each year through the recipients' dissertation phase. Applicants accepted into the program need to apply by August 1st of their first year.
Herman Warsh Matching Scholarships: The Herman Warsh Matching Scholarships (CLE Matching Grants) are need- and merit-based scholarships that enable students who have a tuition sponsor (i.e., workplace, foundation, nonprofit group, faith group, or individual) to apply for a matching tuition grant from Pacifica (up to $12,500 per year).

Applications are accepted through the year as long as funds remain.
Pacifica Yellow Ribbon Scholarship: Pacifica is pleased to provide up to six Yellow Ribbon Scholarships each year for qualifying veterans under the Post 9/11 GI Bill on a first-come first-serve basis. Doctoral program students are eligible to apply for up to $7,800 per year.
Pacifica Matching AmeriCorps Scholarship Program: Pacifica is a proud participant in the Segal AmeriCorps Matching Education Award program and is pleased to offer the Segal AmeriCorps Matching Scholarship to qualified AmeriCorps Alumni enrolled in one of our MA or PhD programs. The matching scholarship will be a dollar-for-dollar match up to $4,275 per year with a maximum of $9,450 throughout enrollment in the program of study. To qualify, students must submit to the Financial Aid Office the AmeriCorps voucher confirming benefit eligibility. A total of five new scholarships will be available on a first-come first-serve basis.
Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, Peace Corps: This program provides graduate school scholarships to returned Peace Corps volunteers who complete a degree-related internship in an underserved American community while they pursue their studies. Pacifica grants two Coverdell Scholarships a year to returned Peace Corps volunteers. These scholarships provide for $10,000 tuition waiver for three years of fulltime study, five units of credit for Peace Corps experience if gained in the last 5 years, and an application fee waiver.
In addition, we recommend that students look into other sources of educational assistance including foundations, community organizations, their employer, and their state agencies for higher education. The Internet is an excellent resource for research. Feel free to go to the financial aid webpages to begin your search.

How do I apply for financial aid?
All students who wish to apply for the federal Direct Loan Programs are required by the Department of Education to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form each year of enrollment. The FAFSA form is available on the web at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Students need to include Pacifica's school code (G31268) to ensure the results are forwarded to the school.

May one enroll for the purpose of earning only an M.A. degree or a Ph.D.? Is it possible to do an abbreviated program if one already has an M.A. degree prior to enrolling at Pacifica?
The M.A./Ph.D. program is a doctoral program which awards the M.A. after the successful completion of 50 quarter units, 60 hours of depth transformative practice, and a comprehensive written exam. All courses are doctoral level. A student may choose not to continue with a third year of study and be eligible to receive the M.A. degree. Students are eligible to apply for transfer credit before they begin the program (see below).

Does a student need to have a B.A. in psychology to apply? What kind of job background do incoming students have?
Students with a variety of educational backgrounds are accepted to the program. Previous background or readings in the fields of anthropology, psychology, cultural studies, environmental science and design, political science, sociology, and literature provide particularly appropriate preparation for our interdisciplinary program. Our new students over the years work in a wide variety of endeavors: community organizers, nonprofit agency professionals, healthcare professionals, educators, environmental educators, artist, youth workers, cultural workers, architects, animal rights activism, land conservationists, justice system reformers, and many others.

What does a doctoral degree in this specialization prepare one for in terms of career opportunities?
Work in nonprofits, foundations, community groups, environmental initiatives; formal and informal education (high schools, community colleges, liberal arts colleges, universities, retreat centers, prisons, alternative learning centers, youth programs, medical and nursing education, workshop leaders, adult education, organizational training); writing and publication; diversity training; prison reform and restorative justice initiatives; arts-based community building; trauma healing; advocacy and grassroots coalitions; social justice; documentary filmmaking; organizational development, evaluation, and consulting; peacebuilding and community dialogue; health services (including hospice); spiritual direction; NGO's (nongovernmental organizations); planning, visioning, and evaluation; urban planning; land preservation; peak oil planning and sustainability issues; local food initiatives, community gardens, permaculture; intentional communities; philanthropy; microlending and economic alternatives. We welcome other areas that would be served by studying depth psychology with an emphasis in community psychology, liberation psychology, and ecopsychology!

What qualities are looked for in considering an applicant for admission to Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, and Ecopsychology Specialization?
The Admissions Committee looks at the applicant's potential for meaningful graduate level work, past educational experience, oral and written skills, creative goals and abilities, and personal readiness. We value previous life experience in and commitment to community and environmental issues. Our specialization requires learners who are self-motivated as independent scholars and critical thinkers with an imagination for the possible.

May an applicant who has been accepted to the program defer enrollment?
An applicant's acceptance to the program may not be deferred. An acceptance to Pacifica is applicable for one year only.

How long is the program?
Students attend classes for three years. Each year classes are held for nine 3-day sessions (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) on campus, and community and ecological fieldwork is conducted in a location that makes sense for an individual student's area of interest. Classes are held mornings, afternoons, and some evenings. As indicated above, the M.A. is awarded after two full year's of coursework, while the Ph.D. is granted after three years of coursework and the successful defense of a dissertation. Dissertation work is ordinarily accomplished in the 4th and 5th years and does not require on campus presence, except for the oral defense.

What is the general format of classes?
Most courses are a combination of lecture, discussion formats, and experiential activities. Some include a partial seminar format in which students make short presentations on topics they are researching for the course. Students can expect to encounter a variety of pedagogical styles during the course of their enrollment in the program.

How much work is required outside of class?
Class assignments consist of readings, papers, and/or projects. As a general rule, for every hour in class there is approximately three hours of work outside of class. However, the amount of time a given student invests in his or her course work can vary a good deal and depends upon a variety of factors such as learning style and study habits. Students are advised to select topics for term papers early in the course. Doing so helps students be more focused and organized in their reading. Most course papers can be specialized to help students develop knowledge in an area of the course that is related to their particular set of interests.

When do students have an opportunity to meet with faculty?
The faculty hold office hours during every campus session. These hours are announced on posted sign-up sheets for appointments are posted. In addition, instructors can be contacted by email if you would like to set up an additional appointment.

Can course work from other institutions be transferred to Pacifica for credit?
A maximum of eight (8) units of external transfer credit can be accepted. Enrolled students who wish to have previous course work evaluated may petition the program chair to have relevant (graduate level) course work reviewed following acceptance to the program through the Admissions Office. A syllabus is required for the course completed at another institution. There needs to be approximately 75% overlap with the Pacifica course for transfer credit to be granted. Some students who graduate from institutions with an articulation agreement with Pacifica may have a higher number of units transferred.

If a student must miss a session, how is this handled?
The Student Handbook states that a student may miss five class meetings per year and no more than one-third of any given course. Beyond this amount, the student must petition the Education Council for an exemption to this policy.

What time do classes begin?
Classes begin at 9:00 am on Monday and continue until 4:00 pm on Wednesday, once a month (9 months a year).

May a student leave early on Wednesday?
Classes are over at 4:00 pm on Wednesday. Given the importance of class time, instructors expect students to be in attendance for the duration of each class.

Can a student invite friends or family to the school during their session of classes?
The school provides accommodations and meals for students only. However, for the occasional visit by a family member or friend, meals are available when previously arranged with the Guest Services Coordinator by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In order to maintain classroom cohesiveness, we regret that we are unable to invite guests to our classes.

What does it mean to be a residential student?
Students who attend Pacifica and who do not reside in Santa Barbara or Ventura County are provided with room and board during their educational sessions. We feel that this arrangement provides the best context for building community and encouraging dialogue among students and faculty.

What types of accommodations are available for residential students?
Primary accommodations for students enrolled at the Ladera Lane campus are provided by Pacifica in the Residence Hall. The Residence Hall is a dormitory style building providing single occupancy. In addition, students can drive directly to the Ladera campus, as student parking is provided.

Can a student cancel their reservation?
Any requests for cancellation should be submitted in writing to the Housing and Guest Services Coordinator at least five (5) days prior to arrival.

Can a student arrive early or stay later than their scheduled session in order to accommodate travel arrangements?
Yes, early arrivals and late stay reservations can be arranged through the Housing and Guest Services Coordinator for one extra night before and one extra night after your session. Additional nights may be made if communicated in a timely manner.

How does Pacifica handle special dietary needs?
Students with special dietary needs submit a request form outlining their needs. If the request is approved, the student speaks with the Housing and Guest Services Coordinator prior to the beginning of the year to discuss how their needs might best be accommodated. Pacifica honors vegetarian, vegan, and medically restricted diets.

Students requesting a medically restricted diet are asked to include with their dietary form a prescription or letter from a doctor outlining their dietary requirements or restrictions. These letters are used by the kitchen staff as guidelines for customized menu preparation.

Is a car necessary? How does one get to campus from either the L.A. or Santa Barbara airports?
It is unnecessary to have a car. Students arriving at Los Angeles International Airport can utilize the Santa Barbara AirBus Service. Santa Barbara AirBus makes a station stop at the IHOP restaurant in Carpinteria. Students may ask the driver to drop them off at the Best Western, but this is not always possible. One would have to taxi from the IHOP to the Best Western. From the Best Western, Pacifica provides transportation directly to either campus, as noted above. Students arriving at the Santa Barbara Airport can utilize a taxi service, which will deliver students directly from the Santa Barbara Airport to either campus.
249 Lambert Road, Carpinteria, California, 93013 | Telephone: 805.969.3626