Skip to main content
Sign In

About the Program

The Interprofessional Graduate Certificate and Master of Science Degree in Palliative Care aim to ease suffering worldwide through exemplary palliative care education. These programs develop Palliative Care Community Specialists through innovative educational pedagogies designed to facilitate learning for healthcare providers and allied health professionals in up-to-date, evidence-based, interdisciplinary palliative care concepts using a hybrid learning environment that offers flexible online and live application-based approaches.

Biomedical and Allied Health Professional Tracks provide specialized content in addition to the core curriculum. Program courses are delivered in an interprofessional learning environment that mirrors the palliative care work setting. The program focuses on advancing clinical knowledge; developing clinical wisdom;, building an evidence-based palliative care practice; enhancing communication skills; and addressing physical, psychological, social, and spiritual suffering.

Program Overview

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is specialized care for people with serious and life-limiting illnesses. It is focused on providing patients with relief from pain and non-pain symptoms, and supporting patients and family caregivers through expert psycho-social-spiritual support to better manage the stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family caregiver. Palliative care is provided by a team of nurses, physicians, physician assistants, social workers, spiritual care providers, mental health providers, and other specialists who work together with a patient to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage of a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.

Becoming a Palliative Care Community Specialist

The University of Colorado's Interprofessional Graduate Certificate and Master of Science in Palliative Care (MSPC) prepares providers—physicians, nurses (including BSN and advanced practice nurses), physician assistants, pharmacists, social workers, spiritual care providers, psychologists, therapists, counselors and ethicists — to be Palliative Care (PC) Community Specialists. PC Community Specialists provide high quality palliative consultation and care to patients and families in their own communities, giving them the choice of treatment outside an academic tertiary medical center. Additionally, PC Community Specialists, representing secondary palliative care, are linked to tertiary care experts through this comprehensive educational program. PC Community Specialists bridge a network of services to better support the needs of patients and family caregivers across the continuum of illness and care settings.

Certificate Option

Interprofessional Graduate Certificate in Palliative Care

The Interprofessional Graduate Certificate in Palliative Care is a 12-credit hour program for students seeking additional palliative care education, but not ready to commit to completing the Master degree. Students complete the first 12 credit hours of the MS program over two semesters of study. The certificate is open to students in the following two tracks:

  • MSPC Biomedical Track

    Biomedical Track courses include advanced content in clinical health care delivery, pain and non-pain symptom management, and palliative care for patients experiencing chronic illnesses. The Biomedical Track is open to physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses (BSN and Advanced Practice RN) and pharmacists.

  • MSPC Allied Health Professional Track

    Allied Health Professional (AHP) Track courses include advanced content in psycho-social-spiritual care, ethical concerns, and professional identity as a member of an interdisciplinary palliative care team. The AHP Track is open to social workers, spiritual care providers, psychologists, counselors, therapists, grief specialists and medical ethicists.

Upon completion of the Graduate Certificate, students may select to continue their study in the Master of Science in Palliative Care (MSPC) program. Students selecting to continue should contact the program administrator for additional details.

Certificate courses include:
  • Core Concepts, Principles, & Communication Skills
  • Basic Pain Assessment & Management: IDT Care
  • IDT Care for Non-pain Symptoms: Part A and Part B

All four courses are predominately online. The program includes one three-day weekend intensive completed on the Anschutz Medical Campus. The intensive experience utilizes CU's Center for Advancing Professional Excellence (CAPE) to practice communication skills with standardized patients in individual and group settings.

Degree Option

Master of Science in Palliative Care

The Master of Science in Palliative Care is a 36-credit hour program designed to be completed in 24 months of continuous study. Students may choose flexible completion options, but note that courses are currently offered once per academic year. All students complete interdisciplinary coursework in palliative care core concepts, communications, teamwork and leadership, community integration, assessment of pain and non-pain symptoms, and diverse topics related to the psycho-social-spiritual-ethical dimensions of patient and family care. Core and track curricula focus on evidence-based practices in diverse palliative care settings. The MS degree is open to students in the following two tracks:

  • MSPC Biomedical Track

    Biomedical Track courses include advanced content in clinical health care delivery, pain and non-pain symptom management, and palliative care for patients experiencing chronic illnesses. The Biomedical Track is open to physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses (BSN and Advanced Practice RN) and pharmacists.

  • MSPC Allied Health Professional Track

    Allied Health Professional (AHP) Track courses include advanced content in psycho-social-spiritual care, ethical concerns, and professional identity as a member of an interdisciplinary palliative care team. The AHP Track is open to social workers, spiritual care providers, psychologists, counselors, therapists, grief specialists and medical ethicists.

Cost and Student Support

The Interprofessional Graduate Certificate and Master of Science in Palliative Care program tuition is billed on a per credit hour basis. New tuition rates are established each spring and go into effect fall semester.

Tuition rates for the 2018-19 academic year are:

  • $650 per credit hour for Colorado and WRGP approved students
  • $650 per credit hour for Colorado and WRGP approved students
Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP):

The Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) is a tuition-reciprocity arrangement with 15 participating states and 1 Commonwealth. The WRGP program allows students who are residents of participating states to pay in-state tuition for the duration of their degree or certificate program. In addition to Colorado, the participating states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

WRGP tuition-reciprocity is available to all incoming students who qualify. Those wishing to apply for WRGP status must complete the WRGP Application and submit it to the Program Administrator upon admission to the program.

Questions about the WRGP program and application process can be directed to the Program Administrator at kenton.owsley@ucdenver.edu.

Colorado Residency Requirements

Information on Colorado in-state residency requirements is available from the Registrar’s Office.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

A scholarship fund has been established for students enrolled in the Palliative Care program. We are able to award a variable number of scholarships each year based on the gifts received from the previous year. Scholarship applications are available as part of the program application, and are released to current students each Spring. Additional information about financial aid and how to apply is available from the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office.

© The Regents of the University of Colorado, a body corporate. All rights reserved.

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. All trademarks are registered property of the University. Used by permission only.