Graduate Certificate in Pain Management

now accepting applications for winter 2024

The number of individuals suffering chronic pain is projected to increase dramatically over the coming decades. This makes it imperative that professionals be educated in effective, evidence-based assessment and treatment of pain conditions.

The aim of this fully distance-based program is to provide advanced education in collaborative pain management for healthcare professionals.  This Certificate provides an opportunity for practicing clinicians to learn with-from-and about each other to address the multi-dimensional nature of both acute and chronic pain with an emphasis on complex/chronic pain.

Course contributors include leaders in pain research, management, and education from across Canada and beyond.

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 - Formal studies/university degree courses are eligible for certified Self Learning credits through the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC). Members may self-claim these credits in their Mainpro+ account.  These activities are eligible for up to 20 certified Self-Learning credits per course.


Pain certificate courses can be used towards credentialing through the Canadian Academy of Pain Management (CAPM). The pain certificate courses take the place of a CAPM course and exam and partially meet the qualification required for CAPM credentialing. Please note that there are additional requirements for clinicians who seek credentialing through CAPM.

The Pain Certificate program has received the British Journal of Sports Medicine's (BJSM) stamp of approval for Quality International Education.



The Pain Certificate courses are each pre-approved for 33 CEUs with the Vocational Rehabilitation Association (VRA) Canada.



Participant Comments

'The "Nature of Pain" course was a wonderful experience. It gave me a firm foundation in cutting-edge pain neurophysiology. My participation in the course has improved my ability to conceptualize the etiology of my patient's pain and the best way to treat it.' - Family Physician (CFPC member)

'Pain is a very complex problem and learning about different ways to look at pain and the patient has added more depth to my clinical practice. I have lots of resources to share with my work colleagues. Case presentations are a great way to stimulate discussions of personal experiences with similar situations. Often those experiences add a new perspective to a clinical problem I may have encountered or may encounter.'

'It expanded my knowledge tremendously and motivated me to continue learning about pain management. I learned to think more critically and have a greater understanding of various professional scopes of practice. The connections I made with other classmates/communities of practice are also invaluable.'

'Any practitioner who works with chronic pain patients would benefit from the knowledge offered by this course.'

Applying to the Program

The online application will ask for references, supervisors, CV etc. HOWEVER, certificate program applicants DO NOT NEED TO provide this information as admission requirements for certificate programs are relaxed. Please follow the instructions outlined in the document below which provides step-by-step instructions on how to complete the application.

How to Apply to Graduate Certificate Programs 2022-2023 PDF


Who is it for?
  • Physical Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Physicians (MAINPro C and M1 credit available)
  • Pharmacists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Others in related fields 
Which skills will I gain?
Upon completion of the three certificate courses students will be able to:

  • Understand the importance of an interdisciplinary approach in managing pain through an understanding of the unique and shared roles and responsibilities of various professionals on an interdisciplinary team in the assessment and management of pain conditions.
  • Use critical thinking and evidence-based approaches to develop assessment and treatment plans across the pain continuum, with an emphasis on complex/chronic pain.
  • Use a bio-psycho-social clinical reasoning framework which integrates information across models in the assessment and treatment of pain.
*Registrants completing all three courses in this certificate may use the letters GCPain (graduate certificate in pain) to designate successful program completion.
When do courses begin?

Certificate program courses are offered regularly and students are required to complete all courses within approximately 18 months. Certificate students must not allow more than 12 months to pass without a course registration in order to meet the UofA's Maintenance of Registration Policy or may be subject to re-applying to the program and an approximate $1500 re-admission fee. Certificates must be completed within 4 years of initial registration

Time is devoted one week before the start of the first course in the series for students to familiarize themselves with the eClass system (online learning platform) and to complete any online pre-course materials.

Please contact to obtain information on upcoming course offerings.

What are the requirements?

Eligible students include all health professionals who meet the following University of Alberta Faculty of Graduate Studies & Research (FGSR) requirements:

  1. Submission of original post-secondary degree transcripts from all institutions attended (if you have attended several institutions we will require transcripts from each institution). The print date on the transcript(s) must not exceed one year from the certificate program application date. You may upload transcript copies for initial approval but please have the institution(s) send an original copy directly to the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. We can access U of A transcripts if you were a former student here.
  2. GPA of 3.0 (if you do not meet this requirement please contact
  3. For students whose first language is not English, a TOEFL equivalent to entry-level U of A Rehab programs (minimum of 580)

You can begin the online application to this certificate program anytime by visiting the FGSR website

Transcripts should be mailed directly to:

Shawn Drefs
University of Alberta
3-48 Corbett Hall
Edmonton, AB
T6G 2G4

Which courses do I need?

A Certificate will be granted by the University of Alberta's Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research upon successful completion of three required graduate-level credit courses, as listed below.

REHAB 535: The Nature of Pain (*3)

Pain is a major factor impacting quality of life and will continue to become more so as the average lifespan increases. Understanding the multi-dimensional nature of pain and its broad impact is critical to applying best practice in its assessment and treatment. The neural pathways/mechanisms subserving normal and pathological pain will be studied in depth as well as a critical view of translating these findings to clinical practice. A range of theoretical perspectives underlying the individual's experience of pain across the continuum from acute to complex/chronic will be presented. The role of interprofessional collaboration for comprehensive pain management will be introduced. (This course is a pre-requisite for REHAB 536 and REHAB 537.)

REHAB 536: Assessment and Management of Pain (*3)

Knowledge Translation: Integrating evidence into practice. Building on foundations developed in Rehab 535, this course will present models of and approaches to assessment of and treatment for common pain conditions, across the lifespan, with an emphasis on complex/chronic pain. This course will explore the etiologies of various pain conditions, the prevalence of pain, as well as ethical issues, barriers, and facilitators to comprehensive assessment and treatment. Rationale for pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions will be reviewed. Participants will discuss best practice roles and evidence based roles and interventions for each of the health professionals involved in the collaborative interprofessional management of chronic pain. Pre-requisite: REHAB 535.

REHAB 537: Integrating and Implementing Pain Management Models (*3)

This course will provide an opportunity for students to integrate and apply information presented in REHAB 535 and 536 using standardized assignments with real and/or simulated patients as a base from which to develop an evidence-based, collaborative, interprofessional, assessment and treatment of chronic pain and disability. Pre-requisite: REHAB 535, REHAB 536.

How do I Apply?


The online application will ask for references, supervisors, CV etc. HOWEVER, certificate program applicants DO NOT NEED TO provide this information as admission requirements for certificate programs are relaxed. Please follow the instructions outlined in the document below which provides step-by-step instructions on how to complete the application.

All North American Institutional transcripts must have a print date of no more than 12 months from the date of application.

Applying to Graduate Certificate Programs 2019-2020


Supporting Documents

Official transcripts must be mailed directly to the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine:

Shawn Drefs
Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine
University of Alberta
3-48 Corbett Hall
Edmonton, AB T6G 2G4

Funding opportunity for AB residents

Alberta Student Aid (Grant - repayment is NOT required)

Alberta Part-Time Grant: The Alberta Part-Time Grant is available to Alberta residents taking post-secondary education on a part-time basis. Up to $900 per semester is available to eligible students. The maximum grant funding available for one calendar year is $1,800.00. Detailed information can be found at:


Contact AB Student Aid directly for additional information:

How can I get more information?

For more details on this course, please contact Shawn Drefs, at:

Phone: 780.492.1587

Apply online

Learn about our other Continuing Education Courses