The M.A. degree in Counseling Psychology offered at Pacifica attracts a broad and diverse mix of motivated working professionals and recent college graduates who are seeking advanced knowledge in marriage and family therapy, professional clinical counseling, and depth psychology to pursue careers in psychotherapy and related fields. Students, many of whom are called to the program with interest in personal development as well as vocation, often report profound personal growth. Graduates say that they feel equipped to practice their learned skills to help others achieve the same personal gains.

Our students secure counseling jobs in hospitals, educational institutions, community counseling centers, and establish private practices across the country. Graduates become authors, educators, therapists, and administrators. Some of our students become board members of organizations and state recognized agencies that foster continued training, education and quality control in the field of psychotherapy, relationship therapy, and depth psychology.

Graduates report sustained inner work and ongoing self-discovery from being in a program that fosters both academic rigor and personal development. The program’s emphasis on the ethics of depth psychology affords students the opportunity to sustain responsibility for the not yet discovered, allowing students, and ultimately practitioners in the field, to tolerate the necessary ambiguity for the development of maturity, patience, and resiliency that is critical to their ongoing work with others.

Beyond the options listed, many of our students develop unexpected and creative applications of the degree to their career, finding new or deepened areas of interest within the program. Our alumni web page highlights some of their stories.

ED Gainful Employment Disclosure scroll down for Department of Education disclosure

Orientation to Gainful Employment at Pacifica (July 1, 2018)

In compliance with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) regulations on gainful employment, Pacifica is posting their gainful employment templates with data and disclosures here on our website. We recognize the templates do not provide context for the data provided.

The below discussion is intended to provide insight into what we view as Pacifica’s relatively unique status when considering gainful employment data.  We believe it is important for you to have the opportunity to review all of the relevant information in order to have a complete picture of Pacifica’s status and your possibilities in relation to gainful employment.

  • I. Pacifica is an employee owned proprietary school through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (“ESOP”).  Specifically, 97.2% of its stock is owned by the ESOP. All profits of the school are paid into the ESOP to support the retirement benefits of its employees.  No stock dividends are paid.
  • II. Pacifica students have a low default rate. Specifically, as shown on the attached “Key Ratios” chart, Pacifica has an extraordinarily low loan default rate (2.9-5%) in comparison to the national average:
Year 2016 2017 2018
Pacifica’s Student Loan Default Rate 3.0% 4.7% 3.4%
National Average Student Loan Default Rate 11.3% 11.5% 11.5%

Pacifica and its students and graduates are not meaningful contributors to the nation’s student loan defaults. Also, only about 60-70% of Pacifica students are financing their education with federal student loans, even though ED regulations permit up to 90% of our revenues to come from federal student aid. Pacifica is not among the category of problematic for-profit schools that relies nearly exclusively on federal student aid financing.

  • III. The ED methodology for compiling GE data is necessarily generalized because ED regulates so many different kinds of schools. Thus it cannot and does not take into account some important circumstances of a unique school like Pacifica which relate directly to the employment of Pacifica graduates. For example, a limited number of Pacifica graduates are not at full earning capacity until completing certain time consuming postgraduate requirements.

Graduates of Pacifica’s Clinical Psychology Programs (PhD and PsyD) train to become licensed as clinical psychologists, and graduates of the Counseling Psychology Program (MA) train to become Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Professional Counselors. For example, California, the state in which most Pacifica graduates begin their careers, requires counseling psychologists and clinical psychologists to accrue 3,000 hours and 1,500 hours, respectively, of work experience after graduation and before becoming licensed. It typically takes two to six years for counseling psychology graduates, and two to three years for clinical psychology graduates, to accrue this experience. These graduates see reduced earnings while completing their practicum experience. This is because, while engaged in practical training, preparing for licensure, a graduate typically must charge less for his or her services.

The ED gainful employment rule applicable to Pacifica does not take into account this necessary state required delay between graduation and achieving full earning capacity for the required post-graduate residency period with respect to medical and dental school graduates. Graduates of medical and dental programs are allowed time to complete their residency and approach a more meaningful earnings potential before their gainful employment data is computed. That same treatment is not afforded to graduates of Pacifica’s programs.

IV. Additional factors relevant to likelihood of employment.

We think there are additional factors relevant to potential academic success and future employment that students and prospective students should consider.
  • A. Pacifica’s licensure exam pass rates is well above the state of California average.
  • B. Accreditation. Pacifica is an academic institution accredited by and in good standing with the WASC Senior College and University Commission, and also the State of California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.
  • C. Pacifica’s graduation rate is higher than the national average. One reason for that is the flexibility Pacifica affords its student to complete all degree requirements. The ED standard for “on time” completion does not capture the reality of Pacifica students’ status as working adults. If time for completion is extended only 6-12 months, as at Pacifica, there is a dramatic rise in the number of completers.

Time to Completion

The majority of counseling psychology students who complete the program do so within the standard time of 36 months for master’s degree programs, as defined by our accrediting agency, WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Many of our students (83%) graduate earlier, finishing all their requirements within 33 months, in time for May graduation. Our graduates are well-prepared for licensure: the Board of Behavioral Sciences reports that 85% of the Pacifica graduates taking the California LMFT licensing exams from 1/1/2007-6/30/2013 passed. (

Pacifica provides students in need with a generous leave of absence policy to accommodate the complexities of the lives of adult students while maintaining high academic standards. Therefore, completion rate averages are lengthened by those students who need to withdraw and re-enter the program.

Overall Time To Completion: Counseling Psychology Graduates 2008–2018
Counseling Graduates Number Average Time to Completion (Years)
MA Graduates 932 3*

*This figure may include temporary withdrawals and leaves of absence from the program, which can occur due to illness, pregnancy, or other serious instances that students encounter in their academic career.

Pacifica Graduate Institute’s U. S. Department of Education’s Office of
Post Secondary Education identification number (OPEID): 031268-00

Program Name: Counseling Psychology

CIP for program: 42.2803
This program prepares students for the following career:

Program Level: Master of Arts

Program Time to Completion Parameters

Program *Standard Minimum *Standard Maximum **Counseling Program Minimum ***Gainful Employment **Counseling Program Time Limit (Maximum)
MA 30 mos 60 mos 30 mos 60 mos

*Standard time to completion rates are defined by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) as standard for any graduate program at any academic institution.

**The Counseling Psychology curriculum is designed to be completed in 30 months, as published in the 2019-2020 Pacifica catalog.

***Department of Education Gainful Employment “Program On-time to Completion.”

MA Completion Rates 2017-2018:

Students who completed the MA program between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018 within the Department of Education’s Gainful Employment “Program On-time to Completion” criterion of 30 months reported approximately 86%. An additional 13% of the students completed the program in between 3 and 5 years. The remaining 1% completed the program in more than 5 years.

Time to Completion MA Counseling 2017-2018
Cost for Entire Program Completed in Minimum Program Completion Time based on the 2018-19 Catalog
Estimated Total Tuition Estimated Costs for Books and Supplies
MA (30 mos) $59,750 MA (30 mos) $4,375

Total annual room and board charges:

Residential Fee: $7,165/Non-Residential Fee: $4,080

Annual program direct cost information
Annual Cost of Attendance

MA Debt for all graduates between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017:

Of the MA graduates that completed on time, 69% completed with student loan debt.

Median cumulative debt: $94,181