As colleges and universities navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we're continuing our efforts to provide you with useful student resources and the latest online program information. Check our coronavirus resources page to learn more.
An online master's in clinical research program provides graduates with the advanced research and medical skills needed to pursue several medical and science professions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 5% job growth for life science careers between 2019 and 2029, and clinical research graduates qualify for many of these positions.
To help prospective students make an informed decision for their future, this page provides an in-depth examination of this graduate degree and highlights potential career options. Readers can also find additional information in our master's in clinical research program guide.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Clinical Research Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
|1||George Washington University||Washington, DC|
|2||The Ohio State University||Columbus, OH|
|3||Nova Southeastern University||Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|4||Drexel University||Philadelphia, PA|
|5||Loyola University of Chicago||Chicago, IL|
|6||University of North Carolina Wilmington||Wilmington, NC|
|7||Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University||Boston, MA|
|8||Xavier University||Cincinnati, OH|
|9||St. Cloud State University||Saint Cloud, MN|
|10||Campbell University||Buies Creek, NC|
- How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.
Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Clinical Research Programs
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
George Washington University
|Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 82%||
Located in Washington, D.C., George Washington University offers a fully online master of science in health sciences in clinical and translational research. The multidisciplinary curriculum of this program explores topics across biomedical science, clinical administration, and community health and health policy.The MSHS program features simulations of actual translational research activities, providing students with practical experience as they learn remotely. Spanning 36 credits, the program can be completed in 24 months and prepares students for careers with healthcare and research organizations.Students must hold a bachelor's degree and have earned a minimum 3.0 GPA in previous coursework to apply. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation, a comprehensive statement of purpose, and official transcripts from every college they attended.
The Ohio State University
|Columbus, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 84%||
The online master's in clinical research at The Ohio State University allows learners to choose between two specializations: clinical research management and regulatory affairs. Both specializations require 36 credits, all of which can be completed entirely online.This non-thesis program features a multidisciplinary curriculum, with courses taught across the colleges of pharmacy, medicine, and nursing. Courses include research ethics, pharmacology, statistics, and research methods. All students complete a final master's activity, requiring them to compile an e-portfolio that includes highlights related to each of the eight Joint Task Force for Clinical Trial Competency domains.Graduates of this program acquire the skills needed for careers in research administration, regulatory compliance, and other professional research roles. Online learners can enroll part or full time and typically complete the program in 12-24 months.
Nova Southeastern University
|Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University hosts an online master of health science with a concentration in clinical research. This program is designed to prepare healthcare professionals for careers in clinical research, but also benefits graduate students looking to go on and pursue their Ph.D.The curriculum comprises 39 credits, with 27 credits earned from practical and specialty courses. Specialty coursework explores topics like qualitative and quantitative research methods and culminates in a developmental research project. Practical courses are dedicated entirely to thesis-related work. NSU's admissions process is based on a holistic assessment, meaning academic performance is not the sole metric for acceptance into this online program. Additional qualifications include prior healthcare experience, letters of evaluation, and personal motivation. All NSU distance learners pay the same per-credit tuition, regardless of their state residency.
|Philadelphia, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 74%||
Drexel University — located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — offers an online master's in clinical research for health professionals; this program is designed for graduate students and practitioners alike. The non-thesis curriculum consists of 36 credits and can be completed entirely online in 2-3 years.Students explore three introduction courses and have the ability to customize their subsequent coursework by choosing from classes across a variety of fields, such as new product research and development, compliance and safety surveillance, ethics and law, and regulatory affairs. The program also requires students to conduct nine clock hours of supervised research per week (earning three credits each semester).Every student works with a mentor who assists in developing and implementing an original research proposal. This doctoral-level mentor actually conducts the proposed research on-campus with the intent of publishing the findings in a medical journal.
Loyola University of Chicago
|Chicago, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 74%||
Based in Chicago, Loyola University offers a two-year master of science in clinical research methods and epidemiology that combines traditional classroom instruction with online classes and one-on-one mentoring. This program is exclusive to Loyola employees who have an advanced degree.The program uses a hybrid delivery format, meaning courses are delivered on campus and online. The curriculum comprises 30 credits, including 18 core credits; nine electives credits; and a three-credit, mentor-supervised research project. This mentor also functions as a research partner, helping students craft a proposal and conduct the project.The program prepares healthcare personnel for careers as advanced clinical researchers. Students benefit from Loyola's partnerships with Trinity Health and the Loyola University Health System. Loyola holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of North Carolina Wilmington
|Wilmington, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
Designed to prepare graduates for research roles in the biopharmaceutical industry, the fully online master of science in clinical research and product development offered by the University of North Carolina Wilmington requires students to complete 36 credits.Featuring a didactic curriculum, the program emphasizes laws, regulations, guidance, and good clinical practices when involving human subjects in clinical research. Students also develop foundations in business, particularly those related to project management and economics.Full-time students can complete the program in two years, though UNCW also offers a curriculum for part-time learners that takes place over 3.5 years. To apply, prospective students must have work experience in biopharmaceuticals (or a related industry), a bachelor's degree, and a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
The fully online master's in clinical research at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences allows students to pursue a patient-based clinical research track or an industry-related track. Both specializations are designed to help students conduct and observe clinical trials.Students learn from experienced industry executives who provide insights into product development, clinical trial management, and bioethics and regulations. Core coursework covers topics like health epidemiology, statistics in clinical research, FDA and regulatory affairs, and research methodology.The 30-credit program can be completed in less than two years through part- or full-time enrollment. Prospective applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and experience or interest in a research field. All online MCPHS students pay the same per-credit tuition, regardless of their state residency.
|Cincinnati, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
Xavier University — located in Cincinnati, Ohio — offers a two-year online master of science in health economics and clinical outcomes research. This part-time program includes 39 credit hours and prepares students to conduct comparative research that drives informed healthcare decisions. The curriculum consists of lectures, applied analysis training, peer collaboration, and case studies led by faculty with fieldwork experience. Graduates of the program often pursue careers as healthcare analysts and administrators in the health services industry.Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA in previous statistics, econometrics, or microeconomics courses. Individuals with a lower GPA must submit GRE or GMAT scores. Xavier prefers candidates with at least three years of professional healthcare experience.
St. Cloud State University
|Saint Cloud, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Distance learners can complete an online master of science in applied clinical research from Minnesota-based St. Cloud State University. Designed to build skills required for the evolving medtech industry, students in this program learn how medical devices are developed, marketed, and used in practical lab settings.Online learners at SCSU can choose from two tracks, depending on their enrollment type. Part-time students pursue a 34-credit track requiring a capstone project, while full-time students pursue a 37-credit track that requires an industry internship and lab work. Both tracks can be completed in two years.This program delivers all courses synchronously through Adobe Connect, allowing online students to ask questions in real time and feel a greater sense of engagement with their learning. Classes typically take place on weekday evenings and Saturday mornings.
|Buies Creek, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
Campbell University — located in Buies Creek, North Carolina — hosts an online master's in clinical research program. Classes are led by expert faculty members who bring a combination of academic theory and practical experience to the coursework.The program requires 38 credit hours, including 24 core credit hours and 14 elective credit hours. Coursework includes principles of clinical research, new product development, and clinical trial operations. Graduates of this program often work at hospitals, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, medical and academic institutions, and government agencies.Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college and a minimum 3.0 GPA. A candidate interview may be conducted at the discretion of the admissions board.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Clinical Research Program?
While MS and MHSc programs focus on clinical research, MCTM tracks offer more blended training, connecting clinical research with practical applications.
In general, students in clinical research programs need strong communication, observation, and analytical skills. Most master's in clinical research programs award a master of science (MS) degree, require 30-45 credits, and take two years to complete.
Other degree types in clinical research include a master of health sciences (MHSc) and a master's in clinical translation management (MCTM). While MS and MHSc programs focus primarily on clinical research, MCTM tracks offer more blended training, connecting clinical research with practical applications.
Due to the differences in focus, these programs may feature different formats and study requirements, and lead to different career pathways. MCTM programs, for example, emphasize professional applications and lab work, while science degrees focus more on research.
Regardless of their degree type, students can focus their career pathways through a research specialization or concentration like clinical trial management, administration, regulatory affairs, or translational science. Many students also need to complete an internship or practicum experience.
Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Clinical Research Programs
To earn admission into an online master's in clinical research program, applicants need a bachelor's degree at minimum. Some programs require that applicants meet GPA and GMAT or GRE score cutoffs. Most programs also require letters of recommendations.
For research programs, applicants often need to submit a statement of purpose highlighting their research interests and goals. Competitive programs may also require professional experience.
For more information, consult the Graduate Admissions Guide.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Clinical Research Program?
With various degree types and concentrations available, courses in a master's in clinical research program can vary considerably. However, although titles and descriptions may differ, the following list highlights a few courses students may encounter while earning their degree.
Courses in epidemiology analyze various approaches to public health and disease concerns. Learners study epidemiological frameworks in the government, healthcare systems, and research and development industries. They also examine growing problems in the field.
Biostatistics courses explore the many uses of data in public health. Students learn how to collect and analyze information and how to use data to inform policy and improve health outcomes. Learners gain an understanding of the various tools, procedures, and applications used by biostatistics professionals.
- Community Health
In community health courses, students explore the major health concerns in various populations and demographics. They look at the attributing factors and interactions that influence disease and poor health outcomes. Learners also analyze available preventive, treatment, and rehabilitation measures and policies in place.
- Clinical Research Ethics
These courses examine the ethical implications involved when conducting research on human subjects. Students identify primary ethical concerns, examine current policies and regulations, and develop an ethical framework to help guide them professionally.
- Clinical Trial Monitoring
Students in these courses learn how to effectively and safely monitor clinical trials. They go over how to choose subjects, oversee and investigate trials, and follow organizational procedures. Cousework also covers legal guidelines and ethical concerns that can impact monitors and their work.
Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree
- Scholarships and Financial Aid for Online College Students
- Your Guide to College Loans
- Your Guide to the FAFSA
What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Clinical Research Degree?
A master's in clinical research can lead to several attractive career opportunities for graduates. The BLS projects faster than average growth (5%) for life, physical, and social sciences professions between 2019 and 2029. During the same period, the BLS also projects strong growth rates for medical scientists (6%) and epidemiology professionals (5%).
Despite strong competition for some positions, the strong growth in this field should accommodate graduates. Learners who want to continue their studies can also seek admission into a doctoral program.
See where a master's in clinical research can take you, and learn more about healthcare careers.
- Medical Scientist
Medical scientists perform research and trials concerning various aspects of the healthcare field. They design and conduct experiments that investigate disease, drug efficacy, and public health outcomes. According to the BLS, 35% of medical scientists work in research and development in the life sciences, 23% work for higher education institutions, and 17% work in hospitals. To qualify for many of these jobs, individuals may also need to earn a doctorate.
Epidemiologists investigate the causes and impacts of public disease and injuries. They improve health outcomes through research, data analysis, and collaboration with other health professionals. According to the BLS, 36% of epidemiologists work in the state government, 18% work in the local government, and 15% work in hospitals.
Microbiologists work with various organisms, studying how they impact and are impacted by people and environments. These professionals can apply their studies and findings in clinical research and public health organizations. According to the BLS, 23% of microbiologists work in research and development in the life sciences, 13% work for higher education institutions, and 12% work in the federal government.
- Natural Sciences Manager
Natural sciences managers oversee various scientists and clinical researchers, designing experiments, allocating resources for research and development, and ensuring staff follow laws and regulations. According to the BLS, 28% of these managers work in research and development in the life sciences, 17% work in manufacturing, and 15% work in the federal government.
Biochemists study living things and the processes that take place within them. They investigate diseases, develop and test drugs, and research health outcomes in people or animals. According to the BLS, 10% of biochemists work in pharmaceutical manufacturing and 8% work for higher education institutions. Master's degree-holders may be able to qualify for entry-level biochemist positions.
Clinical Research Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Clinical Research Programs
- Is a master's in clinical research worth it?
A master's in clinical research prepares graduates for a variety of healthcare and research careers, making it a worthwhile investment for many students. The BLS projects 5% job growth for life science careers between 2019 and 2029. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $68,160.
- What can I do with a master's in clinical research?
A master's in clinical research helps graduates secure various life sciences jobs, including careers in epidemiology and some medical science positions. Master's graduates can also pursue a doctoral degree in the field, which can lead to more advanced medical positions and postsecondary teacher roles.
- Is clinical research in demand?
Due to the aging population and an increase in the demand for pharmaceuticals and public health programs, the demand for highly skilled clinical researchers should remain strong. The BLS projects strong growth rates for epidemiology professionals (5%) and medical scientists (6%) between 2019 and 2029.
- How much money can I make with a master's in clinical research?
Salary potential depends on a worker's field, location, role, and experience. However, according to the BLS, epidemiologists earn a median annual salary of $70,990.
- What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a master's in clinical research?
In terms of direct career pathways, the highest-paying jobs for graduates with a master's in clinical research is natural science manager. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for these workers is $129,100, and the top 10% of earners in this field make more than $208,000 a year.