10 Most Affordable Master’s in Clinical Research Online

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Updated August 7, 2020

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Ranking Low-cost Online Writing Clinical Research

Clinical research programs often require that students do their own research and work in the field, but the most affordable online Master's in Clinical Research programs offer an alternative for those students. Not only can they do research in their own towns and cities as well as online, but they can also find fieldwork opportunities in their own cities too.

Graduate school can easily cost $25,000 to $30,000 or even more. Online programs charge lower tuition rates to help students save money. Online clinical research programs can also save students money on transportation and other costs. The programs prepare students for working on doctoral degrees and gives them practical experience that they can use to find a good job.

Most Affordable Master’s in Clinical Research Online

#1 University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Brownsville, TX
#2 University of North Carolina Wilmington Wilmington, NC
#3 St. Cloud State University St. Cloud, MN
#4 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
#5 Arizona State University Phoenix, AZ
#6 Campbell University Buies Creek, NC
#7 The University of Tennessee – Health Sciences Center Memphis, TN
#8 Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Boston, MA
#9 George Washington University Washington, DC
#10 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA


To find the most affordable options for those who want to major in clinical research at the graduate level, we turned to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and its College Navigator for help. The NCES maintains a large database with the most recent data and information about all colleges in the United States. We searched for all clinical research graduate programs online and found that 13 colleges offer programs of this type. As most colleges charge residents and online students the same amount, we identified the 10 schools with the lowest tuition rates. Our list ranks those programs with the more expensive schools listed at the top and the most affordable programs on the bottom.

Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

  1. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

    Brownsville, TX



    Costing less than $7,000 a year, the most affordable online clinical research program is the MS program available through the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Students can take courses on the campus. The university designed this program to meet the needs of its busy professional students and features courses that meet late in the day in the middle of the week. Online students will take the same 36 credits of classes that traditional students do, but they will still have the option to take any electives they want. Students spend less to complete this program than they would to take a single year of classes from other schools.

  2. University of North Carolina Wilmington

    Wilmington, NC



    Students who want to learn how to develop new products for patients and customers may want to study at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, which offers an MS in Clinical Research with an emphasis on product development. Students can enroll on a full-time or part-time basis, but all students will need to take a minimum of 36 credits of courses to graduate. They take two to three classes each semester and find the final summer session working on their thesis papers and projects. The classes that students take include Project Management in Clinical Research, Regulatory Affairs and Quality Management, Post-Marketing Studies and Epidemiology & Safety.

  3. St. Cloud State University

    St. Cloud, MN



    St. Cloud State University offers an Applied Clinical Research program that students can complete on a full-time or part-time basis. Students can also earn a certificate in applied clinical research instead of a full degree. One unique feature of this program is that it looks closely at the medical devices that students will use on the job and the devices that they will design for patients. Students will take courses in the fall, spring and summer semesters to graduate within two years. Evidence Based Medicine, Communication for MedTech, Lifecycle of the Clinical Product and Clinical Study Operations and Execution are some of the courses available.

  4. Ohio State University

    Columbus, OH



    Though Ohio State University offers a Master of Science (MS) in Pharmacology, this program has a concentration available in clinical research management. Students who choose this concentration learn more about regulations and affairs as well as how to manage the work they do and those working under them. OSU also offers this program with a concentration in regulatory affairs. As an interdisciplinary program, it gives students the chance to study other areas of health science. It features 36 credits of required courses, but students can earn credits through independent study and research projects too. Courses in this program include Introduction to General Pharmacology, Organ System Toxicology and Principles of Safety Pharmacology.

  5. Arizona State University

    Phoenix, AZ



    Each class in this online program lasts for 7.5 weeks, which allows students to take twice as many classes as they would in other programs. This helps students complete their studies faster and get their degrees in a single year. They take 11 classes that are worth a total of 33 credits. Many of the students in this program study health and medicine at the undergrad level, and many current students have their nursing degrees and licenses. The program features a core of required classes and some electives. All students will take required classes like Fundamentals of Regulatory Affairs, Clinical Research Operations and Responsible Conduct of Clinical Research.

  6. Campbell University

    Buies Creek, NC



    Campbell University added an MS in Clinical Research program to its curriculum in 2014, which makes this one of the newest and most affordable programs. The university allows students to earn their degrees online without visiting the campus even once. All sessions run for around two months or less, which allows students to take classes during two sessions each semester and graduate faster. Courses are worth between one and three credits. Students can do independent study and research projects. They'll also need to take required courses like Advanced Study Design & Analysis, Managing and Monitoring Clinical Trials, Advanced Data Management and Physical and Clinical Assessment. The program features lab work that students do online too.

  7. The University of Tennessee – Health Sciences Center

    Memphis, TN



    One of the only entirely online programs in clinical research is the MS program available through The University of Tennessee – Health Sciences Center. This branch of the university offers programs in courses in all areas of health sciences. The program requires that students pick a track to follow before taking their first class, and students can choose between clinical investigation, biostatistics or data science. Students will earn up to six credits for doing a research project or a thesis. All remaining 30 credits will come from courses that include Fundamentals of Epidemiology, Advanced Epidemiology and any electives they want to take.

  8. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

    Boston, MA



    The Master of Science in Clinical Research that the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences offers is available as an online program and on its Boston campus. Students can apply and start classes in the fall, spring or summer. Incoming students must have some research experience at the college or professional level and have a bachelor's degree before beginning the program. Students will take seven required classes and at least two electives. The program features courses like Statistics in Clinical Research, Health Epidemiology, Law and Regulations Governing Health Care Research, Conducting Clinical Research Studies and Research Methodology and Development of Protocols and Proposals.

  9. George Washington University

    Washington, DC



    George Washington University, also known as GWU and George Washington, offers an MSHS degree in clinical and translational research that features a core of 27 credits and nine credits of electives. Those core features classes that go over the different types of research. Students will take courses such as Clinical Investigation, Critical Analysis of Clinical Research, Biostatistics for Clinical & Translational Research and Collaboration and Team Science in Practice and Research. The university will accept up to six credits earned from another graduate program. GWU provides students with access to databases and other online resources that they can use in their classes.

  10. Drexel University

    Philadelphia, PA



    Drexel University offers a number of online degree programs for its students and now offers an MS in Clinical Research Organization and Management. This program requires that students take 12 courses that are worth a total of 36 credits, but students have the freedom to pick the electives that they want to take. This is one of the only programs with different concentrations available. Also called study tracks, concentrations allow students to study a field like biostatistics or research management. This program allows students to do all their work online and in their own cities. It does not have a residency component and does not require that students visit the campus before applying.

Extra Information for Students

We know that students often have more questions than we can answer with school descriptions. That's why we included this section that answers some of the questions they might have.

What are the Top Fields of Study or Disciplines?

Though not all master's in clinical research online programs offer concentrations, most offer concentrations in data science, clinical investigation and biostatistics. Even programs that do not offer concentrations will require that students take courses in these disciplines. Biostatistics refers to the applications and methods that professionals use to look at biology and health sciences subjects. They use statistics to determine how diseases spread and the impact that diseases can have on the general public.

Those studying clinical investigation learn how to investigate diseases and medical conditions. They learn more about the symptoms of those diseases, how the symptoms can vary between different groups of people and how to track an outbreak to one specific person or group. Data science focuses on analyzing the data and using evidence to make decisions.

What Jobs are Available with a Clinical Research Graduate Degree?

Many of the positions available to those with an online master's in clinical research are in management. Students can find work as clinical associates, clinical coordinators or clinical managers. An associate is someone who helps run a clinical trial. They typically have fewer duties than others have though. Associates might set up the lab before each experiment or trial begins and keep track of findings during the trial.

Coordinators are the ones responsible for coordinating all aspects of the trial. They need to find patients willing to participate, manage and maintain all the data collected and ensure that the findings are valid. Coordinators and managers handle many of the same duties. Managers are generally responsible for more of the daily operations of the trial, while coordinators work with the data and information gathered.

How Much Do They Make?

The average salary for a research associate is around $56,000 a year. Research coordinators make closer to $59,000 a year. Those working as clinical research managers is research facilities can earn as much as $90,000 a year as a new manager. The salary range varies based on where these professionals work and the amount of experience they have. Employers often look for job seekers who have more experience, which online students can gain as an undergrad and in graduate school. Some of the professionals working in clinical research earn more than $100,000 and even $200,000 a year.

Where Do They Work?

Earning a clinical research master's online can qualify a student to work for a public or private research organization. Many pharmaceutical companies hire managers and coordinators to work on upcoming medical trials. They test new prescription drugs to determine how well those medications work and if there are any potentially dangerous side effects associated with each drug. Clinical research professionals can also work government agencies or departments and in hospitals and other medical facilities.

Other Jobs in This Field

One of the more popular concentrations in online clinical research master's programs is clinical investigation. Those with strong investigation skills and experience may find positions working for either the state or federal government. Government agencies have a high need for doctors and those with research skills willing to investigate the spread of infectious diseases. They will track symptoms to identify any new diseases and to determine any connections that might exist between two or more conditions. These research experts can work on studies to find treatments for those conditions too.

Those with an interest in epidemiology may find these jobs appealing. They study the ways in which diseases affect the human body and how injuries impact the body. Their research allows them to find solutions to some of the more common conditions affecting people today. Some clinical research graduate degree holders also work in forensics. They might work for a law enforcement agency or government department, but they can also work for private labs. Forensic techs investigate crimes and find evidence of criminal activity based on medical evidence left behind at the scene.

Working in Product Development

One of the fastest growing fields within clinical research is product development. Many online clinical research master's college programs allow students to study product development and management, but some programs now offer product development as a full degree program. These programs focus on the medical devices that patients use every day. Those devices can include the respirators and other types of equipment that hospitals and other medical facilities use as well as the devices that patients use at home.

Those working in product development typically work in either research or development. The research phase involves looking for common problems and finding solutions to those problems. The advent of 3D printing led to many companies hiring professionals to look for ways in which to print affordable devices for low income patients. Those working in development are the ones responsible for actually coming up with designs for new products. Each new product will go through a series of clinical trials too. Workers check to see how well those products work, keep track of any errors or issues that occur and write up their findings for others to read.

Future Outlook for the Health Sciences Industry

The outlook for those working in the health sciences industry is quite high. This industry will grow at a faster rate in the future than almost any other. One reason for its rapid growth is because of the sheer number of people around the world growing older. Those individuals will need devices and products that can assist them with their daily needs, but they will also need medications to treat the medical conditions that they have.

Another reason for this growth is because of the spread of diseases. As more people use antibiotics to treat the common cold and other conditions, certain diseases become antibiotic resistant, which means that those medications will no longer work on those conditions. Research institutes and facilities will need professionals who can investigate the spread of those diseases and develop effective treatments.

Scholarships for Clinical Research

Students sometimes think that scholarships are only for traditional students and not for online students. Many websites now offer scholarship searches that allow students to enter basic information such as what they want to study and their class level to find all available scholarships. Scholarship requirements can range from filling out a simple application to providing the scholarship body with a college transcript and a resume. Health sciences and clinical research majors can earn enough in scholarships to completely pay their way through college. Though some scholarships award students just $250 to $500, others provide students with thousands of dollars that they can use to cover any of their costs.

Other Funding Options

Funding a cheap clinical research master's degree may require the use of one or more loans too. The federal government offers unsubsidized loans for graduate students. Those students can borrow a little more than $20,000 a year and borrow the same amount each year they remain a full-time students. Government loans are typically not available for part-time students, but those students can apply for alternative student loans. Banks and other financial institutions offer alternative and private student loans to those in graduate school. Students will need to submit a full application and allow the bank to run a credit check. Some may need to apply with a co-signer.

Online graduate students can also look for grants. Grants come from the federal government and the state government. Other grants come from research institutions that want to fund the next generation of researchers. These grants can range in size from just a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000.

Total Student Costs

Our list of the most affordable clinical research master's programs includes schools that charge tuition rates of less than $10,000 a year, but some of the other programs charge higher costs. Students often think that tuition is the only expense they face, which isn't always true. Online programs can charge a technology fee per class or per semester that allows students to use technology offered by the school. Some students will need to pay out of pocket to access certain online databases that the university does not offer access to or to use online resources not available through that school. They may need to pay for new software or programs to use in their classes too. Online students need to factor in their total living costs also, including the cost of food, rent and clothing. Though online master's in clinical research do cost less than traditional programs do, students should still weigh all costs associated with the program before enrolling.

This concludes our ranking of the Top 10 Most Affordable Master's in Clinical Research Online Programs.

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GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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