Support people and caregivers facing serious and life-limiting illnesses. The online Master of Science in Palliative Care (MSPC) degree program is designed to give you the flexibility you need to earn a degree and grow your expertise in palliative care without putting life on pause. This 33-credit-hour program can be completed fully online in a minimum of 24 months.

Implement new strategies and skills in your current career path or set yourself on a new one. With practical assignments and projects, the MSPC program prepares you to offer consultation and care to patients and caregivers facing serious and life-limiting illnesses. 

  • Two track options: Biomedical Professional or Allied Health Professional
  • 100% online with synchronous virtual intensives required twice during the program
  • Work in and develop palliative care services in your geographic area 
  • Information sessions offered monthly – register to attend and your application fee will be waived

Program at a Glance

Degree Program:

Master of Science in Palliative Care

Offered By:

Graduate School


Cost Per Credit:


Cost Per Credit:


Credit Hours:





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Master's in Palliative Care Program Details

Interdisciplinary Learning | Walk with people and caregivers through chronic and life-limiting illnesses as you learn to integrate both biomedical and psycho-social-spiritual perspectives into a holistic care plan. The Master of Science in Palliative Care is designed to train you alongside an interdisciplinary body of student peers to improve quality of life for palliative care patients and support caregivers.

Aligned with Your Profession | No matter what kind of provider you are right now — a physician, nurse, physician assistant, pharmacist, social worker, psychologist, therapist or spiritual care provider — our palliative care degree prepares you to provide high quality, compassionate care through flexible, online learning experiences. Our Biomedical Professional and Allied Health Professional tracks provide specialized content in addition to the core curriculum.

Flexible Education | The MSPC program is offered fully online with two virtual weekend intensives on Zoom. Because the palliative care programs were developed with working professionals in mind, you also have the flexibility to balance your schedule and take breaks when you need them.

The MSPC at CU Anschutz is the most comprehensive program that dives deeply into all aspects of palliative care. Having completed the program, I now feel 100% confident and competent to manage all aspects of palliative and hospice care, including an introduction to palliative care at the beginning of serious illness all the way through end-of-life care.

Jeff Sung, MD, MSPC '23

Portrait of Jeff Sung

Graduate Certificate vs Master’s Degree Comparison

CU Anschutz offers both a graduate certificate and master’s degree in palliative care, but what’s the difference between the two?

  Interprofessional Graduate Certificate in Palliative Care Master of Science in Palliative Care
Credit Hours 12 33
Time to Completion 10 Months 2 to 7 Years
Curriculum The graduate certificate consists of the first 12 credit hours of the MSPC program. Courses cover communication, symptom management, ethics, psycho-social-spiritual aspects of care, systems thinking, and more.


Palliative Care Tracks

Biomedical Professional Track
The Biomedical Professional track is open to biomedical providers, including physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses and pharmacists. It offers advanced content in:

  • Clinical health care delivery
  • Pain and symptom management
  • Palliative care for patients with chronic illnesses

Allied Health Professional Track

The Allied Health Professional track is open to allied health professionals, including social workers, spiritual care providers, psychologists, counselors, therapists, child life specialists, grief specialists, death doulas, and medical ethicists. In this track, you’ll learn to:

  • Communicate with patients in individual and group settings
  • Provide psycho-social-spiritual care for patients and caregivers
  • Manage ethical concerns while serving on an interdisciplinary palliative care team

Curriculum Overview

Fully Online | The MSPC program is offered fully online with no in-person requirements, which means you can complete the majority of your degree at the best time and place for you. Most courses in the program are asynchronous, and students are able to complete their assignments over the course of one week per module. Some assignments are synchronous Zoom video conferences at designated dates/times. 

Problem-Based Learning | Two three-day synchronous virtual weekend intensives conducted over Zoom are required during the program. Through experiential learning, students will build communication skills, macro skills, meet faculty, and complete resilience exercises, including psycho-social, spiritual, legal and ethical modules that pertain to palliative care. The program features problem-based learning with practical coursework aimed at helping you improve palliative care within your community. The capstone project will also give you a faculty mentor and help you dive deeper into an area of your interest to apply what you’ve learned.

Interdisciplinary | The MSPC program offers an interdisciplinary model of learning, which is unique for palliative care and medical education. All students receive a whole-person centered education including physical, psychological, social, ethical, spiritual, cultural/language, and legal aspects of care. The program has been designed to provide incremental feedback and skill-building opportunities. You will learn both biomedical and allied health content side by side for a robust understanding of the material from different perspectives. 

Graduate Certificate Option | Additionally, the palliative care graduate certificate also offered by CU Anschutz consists of the first 12 credit hours of the master’s program, which means students who complete the certificate program can transition easily into the master’s program if they choose. If you think you aren’t quite ready for the full master’s degree, the certificate program offers you a short-term test drive. 

Example Courses

PALC 6510 Core Concepts, Principles, & Communication Skills
This eight-week online course covers palliative care models, whole-person assessment, self-awareness for the palliative care community specialist, the impact of illness and suffering on the individual, communication skill development, goals of care, and ethics. This course includes online coursework completed before and after a virtual three-day intensive that takes place over a long weekend in September of each year. Students meet with faculty, complete communications training and participate in group work that complements online content.

PALC 6310 Advanced Illness in Special Settings: Parts A & B
Part A covers assessment and management of chronic illnesses (cardiopulmonary, end stage liver and renal diseases) with emphasis on early PC combined with disease-focused therapy, while Part B covers the assessment and management of cancer and HIV with emphasis on early palliative care and disease-focused therapy. In both parts, attention is given to prognostication and transition into palliative/hospice care or discontinuing treatments with bioethical review and IDT support. Students also engage related psycho-social-spiritual-ethics content.

PALC 6120 Advanced Concepts in Pain Management
This course focuses on methadone, opioid infusions, interventional pain management, and other complex modalities. This course also focuses on ethics (e.g., Medical Aid in Dying) and psychosocial issues, including pain in the face of addiction and public policy around opioids and REMS. Students engage related psycho-social-spiritual-ethics content.

Palliative Care Career Outlook

The key outcome of the MSPC program is equipping you to support and provide excellent palliative care programs in your community. The master’s program in palliative care is designed to prepare a broad array of providers — physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, social workers, spiritual care providers, psychologists, therapists, counselors, child life specialists, death doulas 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. PC Community Specialists represent secondary palliative care. In this comprehensive program, they are:

  • linked to tertiary care experts
  • equipped to bridge a network of services, and
  • prepared to work in and/or develop palliative care services in their geographic areas.

Most MSPC students find employment while enrolled in the program.

Salary Data for Top Roles Associated with Palliative Care

Annual expected salaries for palliative care roles vary depending on the career field. The palliative care programs at CU Anschutz are designed to prepare nurses, physicians, pharmacists, social workers, psychologists and more.

For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median salary of $81,220 in 2022 for registered nurses and $55,350 for social workers. Specializing in palliative care with a graduate degree may increase your earning potential and set you apart from others in your career field. Additionally, many occupations related to palliative care are projected to grow faster than average over the next ten years.

This program really helped me transition from family medicine into palliative care. The staff was incredibly supportive. The knowledge that I gained allowed me to confidently talk with potential employers about palliative care and my role as a PA on an interdisciplinary team.  

Sandy Wagner, PA-C | Palliative Care Alum

Tuition and Fees

Investing in your future is a big decision, and a degree program at CU Anschutz is an investment that will benefit you for years to come. When you earn a degree, you’re not simply getting a diploma — you’re making a lifelong investment in yourself and empowering your future career.

Tuition and fees are based largely on the degree program you enroll in. We know that affordability is an important factor, and that’s why we’re here to help you explore all of the options available to fund your education.  

Financial aid and scholarships may be available for those who qualify.

The Master of Science in Palliative Care and Interprofessional Palliative Care Graduate Certificate programs participate in the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), which is a tuition-reciprocity arrangement with 15 participating states and one commonwealth. The WRGP program allows students who are residents of these 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 palliativecareamc@cuanschutz.edu.

An individual must have been domiciled in Colorado for one calendar year before he or she is entitled to in-state tuition. A domicile is a person's true, fixed, and permanent home. Having a domicile in Colorado involves more than mere physical presence or "residence" in the state. In order to establish a domicile for tuition purposes, there must be 1) physical presence for at least 12 months within the state along with 2) demonstrated intent to make Colorado one’s permanent home. Intent is demonstrated by several kinds of connections with the state dated one year prior to the beginning of classes. Please contact the program administrator for more details.

Admissions Information

A list of required application materials is available through CU Anschutz Palliative Care Admissions.

International Applicants: Please visit the international graduate student admissions page for more information.

Palliative Care Information Sessions

Gather all the information you need to take your next steps in one of our information sessions offered each month tailored to your profession:

  • Nurses and nurse practitioners
  • Physicians and physician assistants
  • Allied health professionals (psychologists, social workers, spiritual care providers)

Each session will give you the opportunity to ask questions about the format, curriculum, outcomes, and more. This is an excellent, no-pressure way to see if the palliative care graduate programs are right for you and learn how continuing your education could fit into your life. 

Your application fee will be waived if you register for an information session! Currently, the application fee is $50 for domestic applicants and $75 for international applicants.

Register now for the next session.

Master’s Degree in Palliative Care Completion Time

The MSPC program can be completed in two years; however, students have a maximum of seven years to complete the master's degree. You may choose flexible completion options, but please note that courses are typically offered only once per year.

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Take the Next Step

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Frequently Asked Questions

No, the MSPC program is offered 100% online, which means you will never be required to attend classes in person. With both asynchronous and synchronous learning elements, our innovative online learning technologies give you access to the best education CU Anschutz has to offer. You’ll be able to share ideas with your classmates, collaborate on projects, and connect directly with faculty through our easy-to-use remote learning platform.

The MSPC program at CU Anschutz was the first master’s degree in palliative care offered in the United States. It is facilitated and taught by faculty with real-world experience in palliative care, including physicians, physician assistants, nurses, social workers, psychologists, spiritual care providers, and pharmacists.

Our program is truly interdisciplinary, meaning you’ll learn alongside students in other professions with their own unique perspectives on palliative care. Learning online also gives you the flexibility to balance other commitments with your studies and immediately begin integrating what you learn into your current workplace.

Palliative care is available for patients at any stage of a chronic, serious, or life-threatening illness, whereas hospice is offered to patients in the final months of life. Palliative care providers find themselves treating patients across their lifespan. Our palliative care programs will teach you to manage long-term symptoms and pain by integrating both clinical and a psycho-social-spiritual approaches and perspectives.

This program leads to a master's degree, which can help prepare you to take a certification exam. Nurses, social workers, spiritual care providers can take a certification exam through their respective organizations:

  • CHPN/ACHPN through HPNA
  • APHSW-C through SWHPN
  • BCC-PCHAC through BCCI

This program is excellent preparation but not required. Physicians may use the MSPC with the Community-Based Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship program to become board eligible. The fellowship must be applied to separately from the MSPC.

The CHPM is an ACGME-certified palliative care fellowship in which physicians may become board-eligible in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Only physicians enrolled or accepted as students in the MSPC can apply for this program. If physicians are interested, they should apply to the MSPC and will be invited to apply for the CHPM Fellowship. Typically, students must complete the first year of the program in order to begin the CHPM fellowship.

The CHPM Fellowship allows for mid-career physicians interested in palliative care to pursue a fellowship without leaving their community. The program is 36 credit hours over 2+ years and includes a clinical component within a palliative care/hospice setting. Students are expected to work with their home institution and the CHPM leadership to secure a learning agreement (PLA) prior to beginning the fellowship.

All MSPC courses are online; most are asynchronous, and students are able to complete their assignments over the course of one week per module. Some assignments are synchronous Zoom video conferences at designated dates/times. The program also includes two three-day weekend intensives completed in virtual synchronous Zoom sessions.

Typically, information sessions for each professional group are offered once a month. It is free to register for an information session and can give you an opportunity to learn about faculty, ask questions, and investigate whether the program is right for you. If you register for an information session, your application fee will be waived.