Palliative care works to improve the quality of life of patients who are facing problems associated with life-threatening illness and their families through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual (World Health Organization). The online PhD, MS, and Graduate Certificates in Palliative Care have been designed to meet the educational needs of individuals who are currently working or who wish to work in hospice and palliative care and want to gain a deeper understanding of the physical, psychological, spiritual and social needs of patients and families affected by serious illness.

Details, Dates & Deadlines

Program Details

Class Format

Online, Asynchronous

Asynchronous learning means that learning takes place at all different times for students enrolled in a course.

Program Length

Certificate: 9 months (up to 3 years allowed)
MS: 6 semesters minimum (up to 5 years allowed)
PhD: 36 months (up to 9 years allowed)

Dates & Deadlines

MS/Certificate Spring Deadline: December 15
MS/Certificate Summer Deadline: 
May 1
MS/Certificate Fall Deadline: 
July 15

PhD Fall Deadline: April 7

About the Program

We offer several graduate 12-credit certificate programs, which also serve as concentrations within our MS program, including the following:

  • Introductory Principles and Practice of Hospice and Palliative Care
  • Clinical Aspects of Hospice and Palliative Care
  • Leadership and Administration in Hospice and Palliative Care
  • Psychosocial/Spiritual Aspects of Hospice and Palliative Care

Graduate certificates are an excellent opportunity for all interprofessional providers to add an extra layer of expertise to their current skillset.

The 30-credit Master of Science (MS) in Palliative Care meets the educational needs of individuals who are currently working or wish to work in hospice and palliative care and want to gain a deeper understanding of the physical, psychological, spiritual and social needs of patients and families affected by serious illness. Learners are also able to earn two graduate certificates while completing the master's degree.

Graduates of this program are able to work in the specialty practice of palliative care or add this skillset to their primary area of expertise. This program is highly interprofessional, with learners from medicine, pharmacy, nursing, physician assistant, social work, chaplaincy, therapists, counselors, administrators, veterinarians, dentists, death doulas, child life specialists and more. Four elective pathways allow for personalization of the learning experience.

Launched in Fall 2021, the PhD in Palliative Care program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) is the first Doctor of Philosophy in Palliative Care program in the United States.

The PhD in Palliative Care program is a completely online program that builds on the very popular online Master of Science and Graduate Certificates in Palliative Care at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). An interprofessional program designed for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, physician assistants, social workers, administrators, researchers, and others, the PhD in Palliative Care aims to develop outstanding researchers in palliative care, while concurrently honing skills in leadership, education, and engagement in the profession and the palliative care community.

The program requires the completion of 36 academic credits in addition to the 30 credits in the master's degree in palliative care, or builds on a student's existing master's or other graduate degree in a relevant field with substantial and current experience in palliative care.

Graduates will be well-equipped for positions in academia, leading tertiary care or palliative care centers, leading granting/funding institutions and foundations associated with palliative care, and working with accountable care organizations to identify patients who would benefit from palliative care.

Admissions Criteria and Application Process

Applicants to the PhD in Palliative Care program should possess:

  • Master's degree in palliative care, or
  • Master's degree or higher (e.g., MD, PharmD, APRN, PA, MSN, MSW, MBA, MPH, etc.)
  • Experience in palliative care and current employment preferred but not mandatory.
  • Three professional Letters of Recommendation.
  • Transcripts from ALL degree granting institutions attended.
  • CV and essay
  • Other qualifications as determined by the admissions committee

In addition, all applicants must meet the University's general admissions requirements and policies.

From Our Peers

"Best practice in caring for individuals with a serious illness is provided by an interdisciplinary team of skilled professionals. Effective teams not only practice together, but also train together. The University of Maryland Master of Science in Palliative Care is an excellent opportunity for all hospice and palliative care practitioners to learn together, honing their skills to care for this vulnerable patient population."

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

"With the unprecedented growth of hospice and palliative care, it is critically important that practitioners acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to embrace these roles. Formal, as well as informal training opportunities are necessary to meet the growing complex needs of patients living with serious illness."

Center to Advance Palliative Care

"There is a large demand for palliative care clinicians, but an insufficient number of individuals with the training to meet this need. The University of Maryland, Baltimore's Master of Science program has been developed by a world class leader in the field and comes at the right time to fill this gap in patient care in the U.S."

Eduardo Bruera, MD, FAAHPM,
Chair of the Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Program Contacts

Admissions

Erika Pixley, MBA
Associate Director of Admissions
Office of Graduate Programs
sopgradadmissions@rx.umaryland.edu
410-706-8056

Academics

Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, PhD, BCPS
Executive Director, Advanced Post-Graduate Education in Palliative Care
palliative@umaryland.edu
410-706-3682

                                                                        

  • Meet Your Faculty

    Our palliative care faculty members are dedicated professionals with expertise in clinical practice, psychosocial and spiritual support, education, research, and leadership. They serve in diverse roles, including professors, directors, consultants, and practitioners, across leading universities and health care organizations. Committed to advancing palliative care, they focus on innovative education, compassionate patient care, and comprehensive research initiatives.

    View Faculty Bios

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