If you love science and are looking for a dynamic, in-demand profession, then clinical research may be a good fit for you. There’s a huge demand for professionals with expertise in the process of developing, conducting, and monitoring clinical trials – the process that transforms scientific discoveries into usable treatments.
A Master’s in Clinical Research will equip you with the skills to coordinate and monitor clinical studies – as well as manage data and work within the protocols of regulatory agencies.
Whether your interest is in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, or biotechnology, you’ll find a program with your name on it.
What kind of Clinical Research degree should you get?
Most Clinical Research programs set students up to work in a broad range of environments – from industry to government agencies. But there are also programs that emphasize specific areas like the translational process, or even the business side of clinical research management.
And increasingly, leading-edge areas of study are not confined to traditional residential programs. If you find yourself in a situation where taking time off work to complete a degree is not feasible, consider your online options. There are plenty of accredited, highly-ranked universities that have developed outstanding online programs for working professionals.
Check out our ranking of the Best Online Colleges for more information.
How much money do people make with a Clinical Research degree?
Clinical research is currently an area of tremendous growth – and well-trained clinical research professionals are in high demand. Medical technology and information have led to a boom in potential new drugs, devices, and biologics. But they won’t be able to reach the public without extensive testing – hence, the high demand for clinical researchers.
The US Bureau of Labor services cites the current job growth outlook at 13 percent – that’s much faster than average. And as a medical scientist, the BLS reports a median salary of $82,090. That number will vary depending on your geographical location and work experience, but you’ll be guaranteed a very respectable salary.
What can you do with a degree in Clinical Research?
Obtaining a Master’s in Clinical research will set you up for a wide range of financially rewarding career paths. Graduates go on to work at public and private medical device companies, contract research organizations, and hospital systems. Or you can choose to pursue a doctoral degree.
You’ll be faced with a variety of choices. And, with accrued work experience, you’ll be able to progress to supervisory, specialist, or management positions. You can also switch between industry and research sites, depending on the amount you want to travel and how much you enjoy interacting with patients.
Job titles you might qualify for include:
- Clinical Research Coordinator
- Medical Writer
- Clinical Trial Auditor
- Product Safety Specialist
What are the requirements for a degree in Clinical Research?
If you’ve done any research already, you’ll have found that admission requirements vary widely from school to school – and even depending on the program emphasis. You will need, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution – preferably in a science.
Some highly competitive programs may also require advanced education in the health professions as well as significant work experience. And most programs require standardized test scores like the GRE.
See our rankings methodology page.
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $31,539
Founded in 1839, Boston University is one of the largest private research universities in the country. The school consistently ranks among the best national universities and has a reputation for providing a high return on investment. BU is also home to a prestigious School of Medicine that offers outstanding graduate programs in affiliation with the Boston Medical Center.
Boston University offers a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation for professionals engaged in the full spectrum of patient-oriented research. Designed for a variety of professionals – like physicians, research nurses, and study coordinators – BU’s flexible program works with the busy schedules of working students. You’ll graduate with an in-depth understanding of the scientific fundamentals of human research. Courses include:
- Designing Clinical Research Trials
- Regulatory and Compliance Issues
- Biostatistics and Computing
Boston University’s MS in Clinical Investigation is a 32-credit program comprised of 18 credits of required coursework and 14 credits of electives. As a student, you’ll also complete a clinical research thesis that applies your learning to a real-life study. And you’ll take part in a 240-hour minimum practicum in clinical trials. BU’s program is available on a full- or part-time basis, and classes take place at convenient times for working students.
University of Virginia
College Choice Score: 90.98
Average Net Price: $15,945
With the distinction of being founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia is a public research institution with a rich history. The university sits at the top of national rankings to the present day, continuing its longstanding tradition of academic excellence. UV is home to a to a renowned School of Medicine that U.S. News and World Report ranks at #26 nationally for research.
The University of Virginia’s School of Medicine offers a Master of Science in Clinical Research designed to meet the changing needs of the current healthcare field. Designed for health and medical professionals, the program provides quantitative and analytical skills in patient-oriented and translational research. Students benefit from an interdisciplinary curriculum that draws from biostatistics, epidemiology, clinical trial design, medical informatics, and health services research. Courses include:
- Introduction to Biostatistics
- Fundamentals of Epidemiology
- Supervised Clinical Research
UVA’s MS in Clinical Research degree is a minimum 31-credit program that includes core courses, specialized coursework, and a final independent research project (which results in a draft of a publishable paper, grant proposal or poster presentation). UVA also offers a dual MD – MS Clinical Research degree program. Many of the program participants are physicians in training, but UVA welcomes applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds.
University of California San Diego
College Choice Score: 88.30
Average Net Price: $14,770
Located on an almost 2,000 acre campus in San Diego’s La Jolla neighbourhood, the University of California, San Diego is a top-ranked public research university. Boasting one of the top 25 medical schools in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report, UC San Diego is known as a center for leading-edge medicine and outstanding clinical programs.
The UC San Diego School of Medicine offers a Master of Science in Clinical Research that will equip you to do clinical research for academia or industry. San Diego has become one of the most advanced centers in the world for biotechnology and clinical research, and UC San Diego provides an interactive classroom environment in which participants directly apply recently learned knowledge and insights to challenges in their own research. Courses include:
- Experiential Learning in Clinical Research
- Patient-Oriented Research
UC San Diego’s MS in Clinical Research is a 40-quarter-credit program comprised of 30 credits of core coursework, electives, and an Independent Study Research Project. You can choose to complete the program in 12, 18, or 30 months, and can begin it in the summer (June), or winter (January) quarters. Classes are typically held in the late afternoon/evening to allow flexibility for participants’ home lives.
Eastern Michigan University
College Choice Score: 86.59
Average Net Price: $14,268
Located in the small Michigan city of Ypsilanti (between Detroit and Ann Arbor), Eastern Michigan University is a public institution with a commitment to excellence in teaching and applied research. The School of Health Sciences offers several top-ranked programs, according to U.S. News and World Report, and has pioneered the development of academic programs in Clinical Research.
EMU’s School of Health Sciences offers a Master of Science in Clinical Research Administration designed to meet the burgeoning need for qualified new personnel in the clinical research enterprise. Courses blend didactic information with hands-on experiences so that you’ll be ready to conduct your own research within academia or in other settings. And in EMU’s program, class sizes are kept small to allow for genuine interaction between faculty and students. Students choose from two tracks:
- Clinical Trial Management Track
- Regulatory Affairs Track
EMU’s MS in Clinical Research Administration is a 34-35-credit program comprised of four required courses, program electives, cognate electives, and a project or thesis. The program is designed for individuals who are already employed in the industry and want to increase both perspective and competency for a higher level of responsibility. Prior experience in a relevant industry is highly desirable, but not required.
University of Vermont
College Choice Score: 85.60
Average Net Price: $17,816
Founded in Burlington, VT in 1791, the University of Vermont is a mid-sized public research university and one of the oldest universities in the state. Known as a Public Ivy, UVM is home to a College of Medicine that ranks at #66 nationally for research, according to U.S. News and World Report – and their faculty share a devotion to mentorship as well as research.
UVM offers a Master of Science in Clinical and Translational Science that links basic biology, clinical medicine, and community health. Students in UVM’s program learn to design, execute and report studies of how biologic and non-biologic aspects of health-care interact to influence individuals and populations. Designed for individuals from a variety of backgrounds, students choose from two concentrations:
- Concentration in Investigation
- Concentration in Research Management
UVM’s MS in Clinical and Translational Science is a 31-credit program comprised of 19 credits of core coursework, six credits of electives, and six credits of supervised research. For admission to the Investigation concentration, you should have a Doctoral-level degree, while the Research Management concentration requires a bachelor’s degree with several semesters of Math and Science requirements. If you’re interested in the relationship between clinical research and community health, this program is definitely worth checking out.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
College Choice Score: 85.58
Average Net Price: $10,077
A historic public research university located in North Carolina’s research triangle, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was one of the first universities founded in the United States. UNC Chapel Hill is renowned for outstanding research and graduate programs and is home to the highly respected Gillings School of Global Public Health.
UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health offers a Master of Science in Clinical Research that will equip you for a successful career as a principal investigator and collaborator in clinical and translational research. With an emphasis on study design, fundamentals of data analysis, and collaboration with methodologists, you’ll also delve into proposal development and grant writing, interdisciplinary collaboration, project oversight, and more. Students choose one of four tracks:
- Translational Track
- Clinical Trials Track
- CER / PCT Track
- Health Services / Population Track
UNC’s MS in Clinical Research is a minimum 36-credit program comprised of core courses and electives in a chosen track. The degree takes two years to complete, and you’ll need a doctoral-level professional degree or extensive health-professional experience for admission to the program. If you have an interest in global health issues, UNC’s program is ideal – global content is integrated across the curriculum so that students graduate with a solid understanding of global health issues.
College Choice Score: 85.36
Average Net Price: $37,422
Formerly known as the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, MCPHS University is a private institution in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area of Boston, MA. MCPHS is a teaching institution with a focus on the healthcare professions, and students have access to highly sought-after internships, clinical placements, and research opportunities right in the university’s backyard.
MCPHS offers a Master of Science in Clinical Research which will equip you to develop, conduct, and monitor clinical trials. With both a patient-based clinical research track and an industry-related track, students can choose a plan of study that best suits their career goals. And you’ll learn from instructors with extensive experience in drugs, devices and biologics, healthcare, and policy. Courses include:
- Pharmaceutical R&D: From Discovery to Market
- Conducting Clinical Research Studies
- Graduate Project in Clinical Research
MCPHS University’s MS in Clinical Research degree is a 30-credit program comprised of eight core courses and two electives. There is no thesis component but you will complete a graduate project in clinical research. MCPHS offers flexible modes of delivery, so you can study part-time or full-time – and either online or on campus. The degree takes less than two years to complete, and you’ll be able to take advantage of a substantial network of alumni who work in the industry as you build your career.
University of St Thomas - Houston
College Choice Score: 82.63
Average Net Price: $21,517
Located in the heart of Houston, TX, the University of St. Thomas is a private, Catholic university that U.S. News and World Report ranks at #26 among regional universities in the West. With programs in multiple areas at the undergraduate and graduate level, the school is open to students of all faiths (or none at all) and fosters engagement in a diverse, collaborative community.
The University of St. Thomas’ Cameron School of Business offers a Master in Clinical Translation Management that will prepare you to bridge the gap between the laboratory and the clinic. UST’s unique program blends a solid understanding of the biotechnology industry with the business and regulatory savvy to assess a product’s commercial potential and navigate the path of clinical translation. Courses include:
- Introduction to Clinical Translation Management
- Healthcare Economics
- Financial Accounting
UST’s Master in Clinical Translation Management is offered in a hybrid format, with online courses blended with face-to-face class days. UST collaborated with the Houston Methodist Research Institute to develop the MCTM program, a relationship which allows UST students the opportunity to observe and practice what they learn in the classroom. This is an ideal program for those with an interest in the business side of clinical translation.
Fairleigh Dickinson University
College Choice Score: 79.37
Average Net Price: $25,257
Located near New York City in Teaneck, NJ (with a second campus in Madison, NJ), Fairleigh Dickinson University is the largest private university in the state. With an emphasis on career-oriented programs at the undergraduate and graduate level, U.S. News and World Report ranks FDU at #64 among regional universities in the North. FDU also has international campuses in England and in Vancouver, B.C.
FDU offers a Master of Health Science with a Clinical Research Administration Track that provides training in the basic principles of clinical research. The program was designed to address the need for educated and highly skilled professionals in the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare delivery, and health science-related fields. As a graduate from FDU’s program, you’ll be ready to conduct rigorous, ethically grounded, and credible research. Courses include:
- Clinical Trial Research Administration
- Regulatory Compliance for Pharmaceuticals
FDU’s MHS Clinical Research Administration track is a 31-credit program comprised of five core Health Sciences courses and six required courses in the Clinical Research track (this includes a capstone project). The program is delivered in both online and face-to-face classes at FDU’s Florham Campus in Madison, NJ. On graduation from FDU’s high-quality program, you’ll be ready to take advantage of the many opportunities in New Jersey’s biotechnological, pharmaceutical, and medical technology firms.
University of North Texas
College Choice Score: 78.85
Average Net Price: $10,424
Located near Dallas in the city of Denton, TX, the University of North Texas is a large public research university and the flagship university of the University of North Texas system. UNT is home to a Health Science Center that is one of the nation’s premier graduate academic medical centers, with five schools that specialize in patient-centered education, research, and health care.
UNT’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences offers a Master of Science in Clinical Research Management which provides a strong foundation upon which to build a career in clinical research. The curriculum provides a broad-based view of the biomedical sciences, and students graduate with a thorough knowledge of regulatory requirements and ethical issues. You’ll also be prepared with the medical writing and administrative skills necessary to conduct clinical research. Courses include:
- Scientific Communications
- Ethical, Legal and Social Issues for Responsible Clinical Research
UNT’s MS in Clinical Research Management is a 49-quarter-credit program comprised of 12 required courses and a six month Laboratory Internship Practicum.The Internship Practicum provides a hands-on training experience for the graduate student either on-campus or at an approved off-campus site in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Denton Metroplex. UNT’s program takes about 18 months to complete, and you’ll graduate with a wealth of hands-on experience.
St. Cloud State University
College Choice Score: 78.64
Average Net Price: $13,582
Located just an hour from the Twin Cities in St. Cloud, MN, St. Cloud State University is a mid-sized public university and one of the largest institutions in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. With a reputation for rigorous academic programs, U.S. News and World Report ranks St. Cloud State at #34 among public schools in the Midwest.
St. Cloud State offers a Master of Science in Applied Clinical Research which features a unique focus on the application of clinical research for the medical technology industry. The program is taught by industry experts in clinical research, biostatistics, regulatory affairs, clinical quality, reimbursement, and health policy as well as SCSU professors. Students graduate from St. Cloud State’s program with in-depth knowledge and practical experience in clinical research. Courses include:
- Lifecycle of the Clinical Product
- Communication for the MedTech
- Biostatistics for the Clinical Trials
St. Cloud State’s MS in Applied Clinical Research is a 34-credit program comprised of 11 courses and a culminating project (which is completed in a medical device company or another applicable organization). The program can be completed in two years, and classes are held at St. Cloud State’s Plymouth campus weeknights and Saturdays as well as through synchronous delivery online. For those with an interest in Medical Technology, the St. Cloud State’s unique focus sets the program apart.
University of Louisville
College Choice Score: 70.34
Average Net Price: $16,249
Located in Louisville, KY, the University of Louisville is a historic public research university and a member of the Kentucky State University system. Home to one of the top 100 medical schools in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report, as well as a highly-regarded School of Public Health, the University offers high-quality programs for medical professionals.
The University of Louisville’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences offers a Master of Science or dual MD-MS in Clinical Investigation Sciences. The program is designed to provide health professionals the clinical research skills necessary for a career in an academic health center or clinical research setting. Students integrate biostatistical and epidemiologic methods in a problem-based learning format, while gaining a foundation in several other biomedical and public health topics. Courses include:
- Introduction to Biostatistics for Public Health
- Public Health in the U.S.
- Ethical Conduct of Research
The University of Louisville’s MS in Clinical Investigation Sciences is a 31-credit program comprised of 19 credits of required courses, nine credits of electives, and a three-credit mentored research project. The School of Public Health and Information Sciences is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. If you have an interest in the Public Health aspect of clinical research, the University of Louisville’s unique program is well worth looking at.
College Choice Score: 65.79
Average Net Price: $13,180
Based in Augusta, with locations across Georgia, Augusta University is a public research university and medical center as well as a member of the University System of Georgia. Home to one of the top 100 medical schools in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report, Augusta University is at the forefront of groundbreaking research in the sciences.
Augusta University’s College of Allied Health Sciences offers a Master of Health Science in Clinical Laboratory Science for students from a broad range of backgrounds. Designed to provide the necessary skills for a career as a clinical laboratory scientist, students gain a strong foundation in evidence-based practice, clinical services delivery, epidemiology, and education principles. Courses include:
- Introduction to Clinical Laboratory Science Practice
- Evidence-Based Practice
- Clinical Services Delivery
Augusta University’s MHS in Clinical Laboratory Science is a 74-credit entry-level degree which prepares students to sit for the national certification examination for Medical Laboratory Scientists, administered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology. The program as a whole is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science. For admission to the program, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in any area. This is a great, comprehensive program for students with little scientific background.
College Choice Score: 64.08
Average Net Price: $27,777
Located just west of Boston in Weston, MA, Regis College is a private Catholic university that describes itself as a “forward-looking institution of higher education”. Originally an undergraduate college, Regis has developed widely recognized graduate and professional programs in fields as nursing, health, public service, education, business, and communication.
Regis University offers a Master of Science in Regulatory and Clinical Research Management. The program is designed to help students start or advance a career in the areas of drug, device and biologics regulatory affairs, health economics and reimbursement, health policy and development, and clinical trial management. Students tailor their degree to their own professional interests by choosing one of three specialty tracks:
- Regulatory Affairs
- Clinical Research Management
- Molecular Imaging Research
Regis College’s MS in Regulatory and Clinical Research Management is a 33-credit program comprised of six core courses, three courses from your specialty track, and two electives. Evening and weekend classes make the program flexible for working professionals, and Regis offers dedicated assistance with both internship and job placement. A required Field Experience allows you to apply classroom learning in a professional setting so that you’ll graduate from Regis’ program ready to hit the ground in your chosen career.