Purpose: Until 1996, there were only 7 masters-level programs in health professions education (HPE); currently, there are 76 such programs. The purpose of this article is to provide information and perspectives about the available masters programs in HPE worldwide, with a focus on their mission, objectives, content, instructional strategies, format, duration, and cost, as well as the similarities and differences among them.
Method: A literature and web search was conducted to develop a complete list of programs that offer a masters degree in HPE or closely related areas.
Results: Forty three percent [43% (33)] of these programs are in Europe, 20% (15) in North America, 17% (13) in Asia, 7% (5) in Latin America, 5% (4) in the Middle East, 5% (4) in Australia, and 3% (2) in Africa. The mission of these masters programs is to prepare leaders in HPE or sometimes narrowly focusing on clinical or dental education. The content is addressed in core courses and electives, generally grouped under the following headings: curriculum development, instructional methods/teaching and learning, assessment strategies, program evaluation, research design, and sometimes leadership and management. Medical schools sponsor approximately two-thirds of these programs, and the average duration for completion is 2 years. The vast majority of these programs are offered in English.
Conclusion: The commonalities among these programs include focus, content, and educational requirements. The variations are mostly in organization and structure. There is a need to establish criteria and mechanisms for evaluation of these programs. The geographic maldistribution of these programs is a major concern.