Physical Campus Closure - Institute has transitioned to operating remotely (see further details)

COVID-19 Admissions-related FAQs

View of the Pacifica Ocean looking over Ladera Campus

Impacts of COVID-19 on Pacifica and Incoming Students for fall 2020

Below is a set of frequently asked questions regarding the impacts of COVID-19 on Pacifica and incoming students for fall 2020. To see our regular Admissions FAQs, please visit our website here:

This is a constantly evolving crisis, so any changes to the contents of this document or other related information about the effects of COVID-19 on Pacifica will be updated as the situation progresses.

Will accepted students be able to attend classes on campus in the fall?

Pacifica Graduate Institute greatly values the health of our students, staff, and faculty. Thus, we have decided to move exclusively to distance learning for the remainder of the current calendar year, as a result of the pandemic. As a result, the fall 2020 academic quarter will be conducted virtually, through a variety of optimal, remote learning methods. We believe keeping courses online and off the physical campuses provides the safest and clearest pathway for maintaining the health and well-being of all community members and their families.

What is the online experience going to be for fall?

PGI will conduct a combination of synchronous live meetings and asynchronous activities and assignments through our LMS (learning management system). We will reproduce distinct elements of a PGI education, in and out of the classroom. This will include the way cohorts come together, with culture-building, optimizing students’ engagements with their cohorts, course content, and their instructors to maximize the value of the online experience. Our instruction will remain vibrant and alive.

Students can expect the majority of synchronous (live) elements of fall courses to be held on the published session dates on our academic calendars for the 2020-21 academic year: Any additional, virtual class meetings will be scheduled with advanced notice in coordination with your program and instructor.  Expectations and details for asynchronous work, course attendance, assignments or any other activities/meetings will be made clear in the program and course materials provided. Students can also expect to receive appropriate orientation and resources to help in the transition to remote learning, as well as to the culture and relationships of their cohort and program.

The effective, remote learning experience involves dynamic interaction between students and faculty, students and selected course content, and among student peers. Our goal is to ensure our interactive experiential learning in the virtual campus is analogous to the residential experience, though the direct experience of our beautiful physical campus can only be approximated.

As we have learned from sheltering in place, we may have to live in physical isolation, but we’re now able to connect virtually with the world. As a society, we are learning to live locally, while interacting globally.

Should we defer to 2021 when the campuses are open?

While we encourage students to come in a term that is conducive to their situations, this is a time to focus on self-care and self-development, as well as preparation for service, which can come through opportunities to pursue education.

A Pacifica education is now more valuable than ever. Our inquiry-based pedagogy, informed by the depth psychology traditions, necessitates that we explore difficult questions and engage with the seen and unseen, the known and unknown. From this, insights and understandings about life crises can emerge that are wholly unexpected. As we move through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, the knowledge, skills, and abilities acquired at Pacifica offer graduates opportunities to employ their unique capacities in various sectors of our society. Just as Pacifica itself has rapidly and thoroughly learned to pivot to provide online education in a rich and full manner, students can develop a host of 21st century capacities.

Do I pay less tuition for this fall quarter, since it will be fully online?

We understand and appreciate appeals for us to reduce tuition. However, given the realities and uncertainty in which Pacifica finds itself, further reducing the school’s income, tuition or otherwise, risks jeopardizing the school’s integrity and full return to well-being.  We must continue to financially support our operations, including paying the salaries of the faculty and staff who continue to work extremely hard to maintain our educational culture as well as innovating and optimizing our distance learning environment. During the period of time when all instruction is held remotely, residential and non-residential fees will be waived entirely. This waiver does not affect or reduce the amount of scholarships or financial aid available.  Financial Aid students’ Cost of Attendance will allow students to borrow beyond Direct Costs; this will not be adjusted and they will be able to continue to borrow at the rate they would have if the above Residential/Non-Residential fees were not removed, hence in most cases resulting in a larger refund.  If tuition were reduced, then the Cost of Attendance would also need to be reduced.  Student refunds would not necessarily change from the above scenario, but they would only be borrowing less.  For specific details, please contact Financial Aid or Student Accounts, who can work with students in need of financial assistance.

We believe that students during the pandemic are continuing to receive the full value that is agreed in exchange for their tuition.  Specifically, they are receiving the same degree, granted by the same WSCUC accredited and Department of Education certified institution, and the same number of units, taught by the same professors who are devoting their same (or more) amount of time, all as is contemplated in the Enrollment Agreement.  In short, students are receiving the same education from Pacifica through distance learning methods that are both safer for students and faculty, and also specifically approved by WSCUC and the Department of Education.

We appreciate this is a complex topic, as well as a difficult time for many financially.  Further details around this decision and potential resources for those in financial need may be forthcoming.

How will it be determined when/which students are allowed to come back to campus?

Pacifica has announced that classes will not physically be held on campus until 2021. At this time, the campuses remain closed to students and the public. We are unsure when they may be reopened for use by students, but we do know that our reopening process will be guided by carefully considered milestones. Before a specific date is determined for students and/or public to be allowed to physically come to campus, at minimum the following must take place: 1) The County of Santa Barbara will need to maintain approval from the state to remain in stage-3 of reopening; 2) Pacifica’s Safety Team will create a multi-phased reintroduction plan, adhering to guidelines that are set by the county, that will include social distancing protocols and active response techniques; 3) Pacifica will seek approval from the County of Santa Barbara’s Public Health Department; 4) Once the plan is approved and the Public Health Department has cleared Pacifica, we shall begin the reopening process of the physical campus.  We shall likely start with employees returning to meet minimum staffing needs on campus, followed by students and public.

We shall continue to keep everyone updated regarding the status of campus re-openings and course delivery.

If we begin online in fall 2020, could we remain online for those of us that should not travel to campus due to health concerns or absence of an effective vaccine/treatment (even if on-campus classes resume)?

Pacifica is officially approved by our accreditor WASC/WSCUC for fully online instruction only through December 31, 2020, as a result of the current circumstances. We do have authorized hybrid programs that allow students to be on campus with lower residency (once per quarter). These hybrid programs are the M.A./Ph.D. in Depth Psychology with Specialization in Jungian & Archetypal Studies and the M.A. in Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life.

Nevertheless, how we deliver our instruction for 2021 has yet to be determined; we shall announce decisions as soon as they are available. Our primary goal in making decisions regarding returning to campus and support of students is ensuring a safe and healthy learning environment for all.

If we return to campus, how do we practice social distancing on campus?

We are carefully monitoring local and state health bulletins and are in contact with official agencies and will comply with their best practice guidelines as we prepare to reopen. Depending on the state of the crisis and orders/guidelines at the time of returning to campus, we shall take all safety measures necessary in terms of classroom spacing, lodging, and meals to ensure they provide a healthy environment.

Could we select our own accommodations and not opt for PGI residency when the campus opens?

Pacifica plans to continue to provide accommodations and meals to students in a safe manner that adheres to all public health guidelines once students return to campus. Under our current housing policy, Pacifica students fall under two housing statuses: Residential and Non-Residential. Residential status means that a student resides in Pacifica housing for each session. Non-Residential status means that overnight Pacifica lodging is not required. Non-Residential status is available to students who reside in either Santa Barbara or Ventura Counties. Proof of residency is required.

If a student does not live in the Ventura or Santa Barbara county boundaries but wants to have Non-Residential status, they can petition the Housing Committee with valid reasons as to why they want to opt out.

Here is a link to our Housing FAQs.

Could we opt out of food services for when we have to go to campus?

Meals during on-campus sessions are tied into the residential fees students pay and not treated as a separate meal plan. Students who may have severe food allergies or ADA accommodations may be granted the option to opt out of meals and can communicate with our Housing/Guest Services or ADA departments should that be needed.

When students do return to campus, they can be assured our food preparation and services will be held to all of the same, strict health codes and regulations put in place by the state and county health services. As that time nears, we shall learn more about what exactly the meal service will look like, but all procedures and decisions will have student safety as the foremost concern.

Some of us have different stay-at-home mandates based on our state regulations. For those of us who need to do our practicum/internship within our community, how do we fulfill those?

The clinical training staff of the various degree programs at Pacifica have been working hard to navigate the complex pandemic-era landscape prevailing at our practicum, internship, and other training site partners. In both the Counseling and Clinical programs, first year students have several months in order to explore their practicum opportunities and prepare for the process of applying: in the MA program, students generally start at training sites after completing Spring quarter of their first year, and in the Clinical Program, students generally start in their second year following completion of their first year Annual Assessment. As the situation regarding the pandemic evolves over the coming months, we shall continue to monitor the various stay-at-home orders and other considerations that may affect our students.

The MA Counseling Psychology Program’s clinical training team remains in close contact with our clinical and educational consortia, all practicum sites, as well as licensing and professional organizations, in order to stay informed of best practices. All practicum students’ practicum site agreements allow for the use of telehealth as needed. The PhD Clinical Psychology Program’s clinical training office is in communication with our practicum and internship consortia (CAPIC, BAPIC, APPIC, and SCAPTP) and training site partners to coordinate best practices to support students during their clinical training. Through these collaborations, we shall continue to ensure that sites are implementing safety procedures for students who are working on-site and standards for the provision of tele-services and videoconference supervision for students working at sites where in-person services are not appropriate. Discussions about the effects of the pandemic for students beginning their placements in the fall and future are underway, and sites are preparing to offer remote services, in-person services, or a combination of both.

If admitted into the Clinical or Counseling programs, you can anticipate that your practicum interviews during the first year may be conducted virtually through phone or video. Since mental health services are essential and the training of psychologists/therapists during this time is more important than ever, we are hopeful that students will have few issues finding a clinical training site that meets their training goals. The Training Offices will work with students, individually and collectively, to provide support with all aspects of clinical training and will be prepared to address and work through specific challenges related to pandemic and post-pandemic impacts.