Clinical research is a growing career field for students interested in overseeing medical research projects. As the medical industry grows, pharmaceutical and biomedical research are imperative, and graduates who have earned a master's in clinical research online are at the forefront of the research community. The Bureau of Labor statistics projects an 8% increase in demand for medical scientists within the next seven years. Professionals with a clinical research master's online degree earn high salaries due to their extensive education and experience.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER'S IN CLINICAL RESEARCH PROGRAMS?
George Washington University
|Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
Distance learners can complete a fully online, asynchronous MS in health sciences in clinical and translational research from George Washington University. Designed for research professionals, scientists, and junior faculty, the program emphasizes clinical and translational research skills. The holistic curriculum prepares students to improve community and patient health. Graduates often enter careers as clinical personnel, funded scientists, and healthcare policymakers.
Students gain scientific knowledge through lab work that they apply to clinical practice. Learners also develop leadership and research skills. Students earning GW's cross-disciplinary master's in clinical and translational research online learn from experts in biomedical research, policy, and healthcare. Students take courses such as collaboration and team science in practice and research, biostatistics for clinical and translational research, and critical analysis of clinical research.
The program requires 36 credit hours, including 27 core credit hours and nine elective credit hours. GW accepts up to six transfer credit hours. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and must submit a resume, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and official college transcripts. Admitted students can begin the program in fall or summer. GW also offers a graduate certificate in clinical and translational research. Learners can apply all certificate coursework toward the master's degree.
Ohio State University
|Columbus, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 83%||
Based in Columbus, Ohio State University offers an online master of applied clinical and preclinical research. The Colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy, and Medicine offer the program jointly. The program prepares students to manage, conduct, and regulate clinical trials in the U.S. and internationally.
The multidisciplinary curriculum explores topics including medical product development and regulation, clinical trial reporting, and clinical research study management. Part-time students typically graduate in two years, and most full-time learners graduate in one year. Ohio State delivers the fully online master's program through asynchronous coursework, allowing students to maintain professional and personal commitments while earning the degree.
Students earning the clinical research master's program online choose between two tracks: clinical research management and regulatory affairs. Students who pursue the clinical research management track learn to manage clinical trials and qualify to work as clinical research coordinators and clinical research associates.
Learners who select the regulatory affairs track prepare to analyze international agency and FDA regulations; graduates often work for academic institutions, clinical research organizations, and government agencies. Students in either track take classes such as fundamentals of medical product regulatory affairs, research design and methods for clinical studies, and management of clinical and preclinical studies.
Applicants must have an undergraduate degree in any field and do not need a healthcare or medical background. Ohio State requires no minimum GPA or GRE scores. The university's authorization to educate Colorado and Rhode Island students is limited. Ohio State charges a per-term tuition rate, which means part-time students pay more for the master's degree.
Nova Southeastern University
|Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
Designed for healthcare professionals interested in clinical research and students planning to pursue a Ph.D., the fully online master of health science with a concentration in clinical research from Nova Southeastern University combines synchronous and asynchronous elements. The program includes no on-campus requirements and allows students to complete coursework while maintaining career and family responsibilities.
The curriculum emphasizes the scholar-practitioner concept and prepares students to publish articles and attend academic conferences. Courses explore topics including qualitative and quantitative research, application of statistical data, and presentation of research findings. Students gain skills in leadership, critical thinking, and decision-making.
The 39-credit curriculum includes 12 core credits, 15 specialty credits, and 12 practical credits. Students earning the clinical research master's degree online take classes such as writing for allied health professionals, current trends and cultural issues in healthcare, and quantitative research methods.
Applicants must have earned a bachelor's from a regionally accredited college with a minimum 2.75 GPA. The post-professional program requires work experience related to healthcare or healthcare administration. Many applicants hold positions as clinicians, health practitioners, and healthcare administrators. Admitted students must demonstrate competency in computer skills by the end of their first term. All distance learners in the program pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of residency status.
University of North Carolina Wilmington
|Wilmington, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 72%||
UNCW's School of Nursing offers a rigorous master's in clinical research online program. Full-time students typically complete the MS in clinical research and product development in three years. UNCW allows part-time students up to five years to graduate. The program includes no in-person requirements. Graduates often secure mid- and upper-level positions in the biopharmaceutical clinical research industry. Many graduates work on research teams at government agencies, clinical research investigator sites, and academic medical centers.
The curriculum comprises 36 credit hours, including 12 required core credits, 21 required major credits, and a three-credit capstone. Transfer students can apply up to six previous graduate credits toward the degree. Students learn from instructors with extensive industry experience and knowledge in research ethics, drug safety, and clinical operations.
Courses include advanced scientific writing and interpreting medical literature, clinical research trial design and data management, and innovative product development and strategic planning. Learners must complete 27 credit hours prior to enrolling in the capstone course and must maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
Applicants to the competitive program must hold a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. UNCW prefers applicants with undergraduate degrees related to healthcare, life science, or mathematics. Applicants also need at least two years of professional experience and strong computer skills. Applicants must submit official college transcripts, a current resume, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of interest.
|Philadelphia, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel offers an online MS in clinical research for health professionals that does not require a thesis. The program is designed for clinical health professionals, including clinicians, fellows, residents, and nurses. The curriculum explores translational and pharmaceutical research and prepares students to work as independent investigators and researchers. The curriculum emphasizes practical clinical experience while exploring regulatory, ethical, and scientific issues in the field.
Students pursuing the master's in clinical research online take 36 semester credits of classes such as applications of clinical research biostatistics, emerging trends in medical device history, and business processes and contemporary concerns in pharmaceutical research and development. Instructors include scientists, researchers, lawyers, and administrators who work in clinical research. Students also conduct at least nine hours of supervised research per week to earn 21 research credits.
Student research projects can include the development of new clinical methodologies, techniques, and clinical devices. Learners can also fulfil project requirements through retrospective studies. Students complete research credits under the supervision of an established researcher mentor who holds a doctoral degree. A committee approves each student's proposed research mentor. At the end of each research semester, learners submit a seven- to ten-page, journal-format paper describing the research project. Each successive semester of research builds on the student's previous work.
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university, a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA, and at least two years of relevant work experience.
|Chicago, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 77%||
A private Catholic research university founded in 1870 by Jesuits, Loyola University of Chicago enrolls more than 17,000 students. Loyola's Health Sciences Division employs more than 800 faculty members and serves more than 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university demonstrates a commitment to improving community health through education and research.
Loyola offers a two-year master of science in clinical research methods and epidemiology exclusively for Loyola employees. The curriculum explores topics including biostatistics, grant writing, epidemiology, and clinical trials. Learners pursuing the master's in clinical research online must complete some in-person requirements.
The curriculum comprises 24 credit hours, including 18 core hours, six elective hours, and a mentor-supervised research project. Students can take two of the six core courses online, and distance learners choose from three electives. Loyola only offers intermediate epidemiology, grant writing, and biostatistics on campus. Classes available online include introduction to epidemiology, research ethics, and health services and policy research methods.
The program prepares healthcare personnel for careers as advanced clinical researchers. Students benefit from Loyola's partnerships with Trinity Health and the Loyola University Health System. Additionally, Loyola's Center for Translational Research and Education focuses on research to eliminate health disparities. Loyola holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 74%||
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences offers an online MS in clinical research. A private university located in Boston, MCPHS is a teaching-focused institution; faculty members prioritize student education over research. After earning the master of science in clinical research online, graduates benefit from an extensive network of alumni in the industry.
The curriculum includes 30 semester hours, which full-time learners typically complete in two years. MCPHS offers all courses online and requires no campus visits. Students learn to create, conduct, and manage clinical trials, and they focus on either industry or patient-based clinical research. Program instructors have experience in healthcare and policy, drugs, and devices and biologics. Students gain an understanding of clinical research issues, including product development, protocol design, clinical-trial management, and bioethics and regulations.
The curriculum includes courses in pharmaceutical research and development, law and regulations governing human research, and research methodology and development of protocols and proposals. Students also complete a graduate project in clinical research studies.
Applicants with a bachelor's degree in a related field who have an interest or experience in a research field receive preference. All distance learners in the clinical research program pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of where they live. Online students can qualify for the MCPHS Advantage Scholarship, which covers the entire cost of program tuition.
|Cincinnati, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
The fourth-oldest Jesuit institution in the United States, Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, boasts a liberal arts tradition and holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The university offers an online MS in health economics and clinical outcomes research. The program requires 39 credit hours and is designed for working professionals.
Students earning the master's in clinical research online prepare to make data-driven decisions by conducting comparative research. Required courses include health ethics in informatics and research, introduction to statistical programming for health economics and clinical outcomes research, and economic evaluation and simulation modeling. Students also earn six credit hours through a capstone project.
The intensive, part-time degree takes two years to complete and combines synchronous and asynchronous coursework. Online classes often include lectures, group activities, applied analysis exercises, case studies, and discussions.
Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA in previous statistics, econometrics, or microeconomics courses. Individuals with a lower GPA must submit GRE or GMAT scores. Xavier prefers candidates with at least three years of professional healthcare experience.
The admissions committee schedules interviews with qualifying applicants. All distance learners in the program pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Xavier offers program start dates in August and January. Transfer students can bring up to six transfer graduate credits, at the discretion of the program director.
|Buies Creek, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
The fully online MS in clinical research from Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina, features asynchronous instruction. The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences offers the program, which requires no campus visits and allows learners to meet family and professional commitments while earning their degree. Students learn to interpret and produce medical evidence. Graduates often work in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries as biostatisticians, clinical research associates, and data managers.
The curriculum comprises 45 credit hours and requires two years of full-time study. The MS requires courses including introduction to biostatistical modeling, advanced managing and monitoring of clinical trials, and advanced data management. Students attend a mandatory online orientation at the beginning of each semester. The non-thesis program requires learners to complete a faculty-supervised research project, independently or with a partner. Faculty members hold practical experience and understand scholarly theory.
Applicants to the master's in clinical research online program must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and satisfactory GRE scores. Applicants do not need professional healthcare experience. The university interviews applicants at the discretion of the admissions committee. Prerequisite requirements include statistics courses, anatomy and physiology courses, and 12 science credits, including two classes with labs. All distance learners pay the same affordable, per-credit tuition rate.
Saint Cloud State University
|Saint Cloud, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
A public university founded in 1869, St. Cloud State University in Minnesota offers more than 15 graduate-level distance education programs, including the only clinical research degree in the U.S. that focuses on medical devices. Online learners can pursue SCSU's master of science in applied clinical research part or full time.
Students learn to design and manage clinical trials of medical devices, and the curriculum explores topics including ethical medical research, medical product regulations, and risk management. Learners also gain communication, management, and leadership skills. Full-time students typically graduate in two years.
Students earning the master's in clinical research online choose from two tracks: a 34-credit track requiring a capstone project and a 38- to 46-credit track that involves completion of a portfolio and internship. Students in the synchronous online program log on at scheduled times, typically during weekday evenings and Saturday mornings. Students progress through the program with a cohort of peers.
Each faculty member has practical experience, and 75% of instructors hold senior-management positions in the industry. SCSU hosts an annual medtech networking and job fair, which 15-20 medtech companies attend each year.
Applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA, and those with a bachelor's in engineering, biochemistry, science, nursing, or a related field receive preference. Students do not need to submit GRE scores. All students in the distance program pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Clinical Research Program?
An online master's in clinical research prepares students to research and develop new products and to manage product data. Each program requires a minimum number of credits, and program details vary based on the school and its master's of clinical research online curriculum.
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN CLINICAL RESEARCH
Although course offerings vary by school, all students learning a master's degree in clinical research online learn core skills and knowledge. Below is a sample curriculum comprising common clinical research classes.
- Introduction to clinical research: This introductory course provides historical context regarding clinical research, with an overview of key breakthroughs and advancements that shaped the modern research world. Students explore research objectives, classifications, and protocols, while strengthening verbal and written communication skills, learning medical terminology, and collaborating with professionals.
- Biostatistics: Students in clinical research master's online programs learn to decipher statistical information. This course teaches common applications of biostatistics, such as probability, confidence intervals, and statistical inference. Students use specialized computer software to collect and analyze research data.
- Epidemiology: This course covers the circulation of diseases and other health-related conditions. Students explore previous studies and learn how to improve future projects. Students are prepared to research acute outbreak investigations, randomized trials, and the interpretation of measures.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN CLINICAL RESEARCH?
The number of required credits and a student's enrollment status affect the completion time for an online master's in clinical research. Each program comprises core courses, electives, and a capstone. Students may enroll full- or part-time, but some schools require students to take at least one to two classes per semester. On average, master's of clinical research online programs require 36 credits.
Distance learners may choose individually paced or cohort-based programs. Individually paced programs are best for students who work well alone; students complete projects and assignments individually and interact through message boards and discussion forums. In cohort-based programs, groups of students complete projects and assignments together, over the duration of the program.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Clinical Research Degrees
Accredited schools are periodically evaluated to ensure adherence to rigorous standards. The two most common forms of accreditation are regional and national. Six regional accreditation agencies serve each U.S. region. All state universities and colleges are regionally accredited. Credits from regionally accredited schools are easily transferable, and degrees from these programs are held in high regard. National accreditation is reserved for technical and vocational schools, and regionally accredited institutions typically do not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited schools. The Accreditation Council for Clinical Research and Education is a specialized accreditation association that evaluates online master's in clinical research programs.
The United States Department of Education (ED) oversees all private and public colleges, universities, and distance learning programs. The ED allocates federal funds to students and schools, while ensuring programs adhere to federal guidelines. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) maintains a database of accredited institutions. Visit the ED or CHEA websites for lists of accredited schools.
Employment Outlook for Master's in Clinical Research Graduates
Earning a master's degree in clinical research online prepares students for careers in pharmaceutical, defense, biomedical, and diagnostics industries. Graduates lead clinical trials, testing, product research, and product development that can change the medical industry. Master's students work with the latest technology and up-to-date legal guidelines to prepare them to enter professional roles in the clinical research industry.
- Clinical research associate (CRA)
Sponsors hire CRAs to supervise clinical trials. CRAs work closely with other administrators to monitor progress and ensure the participants are treated ethically. CRAs monitor every aspect of the clinical trial, including the physical site, trial activities, and reports. They work either for sponsors or as independent contractors.
- Clinical research coordinator (CRC)
CRCs perform clinical trials, following the guidelines of good clinical practice, which are internationally recognized ethical guidelines for clinical trials. CRCs work under the supervision of the principal investigator, processing feasibility questionnaires from sponsors to determine whether the site may administer the clinical trial.
- Principal investigator
Principal investigators oversee clinical trials, working with CRAs to ensure adherence to guidelines. CRCs report to investigators, and they work together to conduct research and write reports. Principal investigators receive grants from universities, agencies, or pharmaceutical companies to administer clinical trials.
- Clinical research pharmacist
Clinical research pharmacists oversee the pharmacy operations of a clinical drug trial. They dispense drugs to human subjects, supervise trials, conduct research, write reports, and perform administrative duties. Pharmacists work with CRCs and principal investigators to ensure that good clinical practice guidelines are followed.
- Pharmacy technician
Pharmacy technicians work at pharmacies, where they dispense medication to clients. During a clinical trial, a pharmacy tech may administer drugs to subjects under the supervision of a clinical research pharmacist. Pharmacy techs receive on-the-job training, but many pursue professional degrees and become licensed pharmacists.
MASTER'S IN CLINICAL RESEARCH SALARY
Salaries of graduates with an online master's in clinical research vary based on experience, career choice, and geographic location. Clinical researchers work for private and public companies, which impacts salary potential. Researchers who work for universities often apply for grants to fund research, and clinical research coordinators may be independent contractors or may work with sponsors. Entry-level professionals make less than those with at least five years of clinical research experience; experience and skillsets help candidates negotiate higher salaries. The table below shows median salaries for common careers of professionals with a master's of clinical research online degree.
Median Salary by Experience Level
|Occupation||Entry Level||Mid-Level||Late Career|
|Clinical research associate||$59,000||$70,000||$84,000|
|Clinical research coordinator||$43,000||$51,000||$62,000|
|Clinical research pharmacist||$100,000||$110,000||$140,000|
Financing Your Online Master's in Clinical Research Program
Students have several options for financing a master's degree in clinical research online program. Begin by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine which grants, loans, and scholarships you qualify for. Explore private loan options from banking institutions, and consider a work-study program at a university or college that offers tuition assistance. For clinical research students, the American Academy of Neurology offers clinical research fellowships and scholarships.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
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Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.
- Best Online Master's in Clinical Research Programs of 2018
Ranking School Location 1 George Washington University Washington, DC 2 Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus, OH 3 University of North Carolina Wilmington Wilmington, NC 4 MCPHS University Boston, MA 5 Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, AZ