Top 5 Online Master’s in Clinical Research of 2021

Grad School Hub’s 5 Best Online Masters’ in Clinical Research prepares graduates to conduct research studies that contribute to a healthy human race.

Successful clinical research requires scientific precision as well as a grasp of ethical and legal regulations. Clinical research education examines the many steps and details of a research study, from proposals to data management and beyond.

Curious what a master’s in clinical research will teach you? Clinical research is a field that involves patient-oriented medical research and clinical trials. The goal of clinical research is to improve public healthcare by conducting clinical trials and studies, testing drugs and equipment, developing health programs, writing research proposals, and completing other health and medicine-focused tasks. 

Clinical researchers generally work in office and laboratory environments. As part of their day to day tasks, researchers conduct investigations with the universal goal to improve human health. Typical duties may include creating and testing medtech devices, designing and conducting studies, preparing and analyzing samples, regulating drug processes, and writing proposals. 


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals in the field earned a median wage of about $91,510 per year as of 2020, and the field is expected to grow quickly. If you’re interested in a career in this field, you may want to start your research with a look at the best online master’s in clinical research programs.

Accredited Online College Programs

The 5 Best Master’s in Clinical Research for 2021

  1. Ohio State University
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    OSU's Master of Applied Clinical and Preclinical Research offers specializations in Clinical Research Management and Regulatory Affairs. The interdisciplinary program covers the theoretical, practical, ethical, regulatory, and commercial aspects of the clinical research field. It holds classes including Fundamentals of Pharmacology and Responsible Conduct of Research at its core. The program culminates with a capstone project or practicum.

    • Graduation rate: 87%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$$
    • Number of programs offered: 200+
    • City location: Columbus, OH
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 3.0 GPA
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: N/A
    • Contact: mcr@osu.edu
    • Website
  2. Arizona State University - Tempe
    Location

    Tempe, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    ASU offers a full- or part-time Clinical Research Management MS program. The program consists of 11 classes, and each takes seven and a half weeks to complete. Required core classes include Clinical Research Monitoring, Fundamentals of Regulatory Affairs, and Scientific and Research Review, Boards. You can choose to conclude their program with a Culminating Experience course or capstone project.

    • Graduation rate: 66%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$
    • Number of programs offered: 350+
    • City location: Tempe, AZ
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree with successful completion of courses in anatomy, physiology and medical terminology, experience in clinical research conduct, 3.0 GPA
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: N/A
    • Contact: asuonline@asu.edu
    • Website
  3. George Washington University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    GW's Clinical and Translational Research master's program has two main components. First is its core, designed to build a foundation of translational research proficiency. Core courses include Bioinformatics for Genomics, Clinical Investigation, and Transdisciplinary Research Proposal. The second component is electives, which you’ll choose with an academic advisor. GWU offers electives such as biomedical sciences, community health research, and health services policy.

    • Graduation rate: 85%
    • School status: Private
    • Tuition cost: $$$$$
    • Number of programs offered: 200+
    • City location: Washington, DC
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree, relevant clinical research or health science experience, 3.0 GPA
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: N/A
    • Contact: gwonline@gwu.edu
    • Website
  4. Saint Cloud State University
    Location

    Saint Cloud, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    SCSU offers a full- or part-time graduate Applied Clinical Research program. Industry experts teach its courses, and its coursework incorporates real-world examples and projects. Online courses are synchronous, meaning they are offered in real-time on weekday evenings and Saturday mornings via Adobe Connect. Course examples include Biostatistics for Clinical Trials and Communications and Reporting for Clinical Trials.

    • Graduation rate: 50%
    • Program length: 2 years
    • Credits: 34-37
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, statement of intent, professional resume, writing sample
    • Program Website
  5. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Drexel's Master of Science in Clinical Research Organization and Management is a non-thesis program. The degree trains you to conduct clinical research investigations with consideration of commercial, ethical, and legal issues. The program combines courses in areas including Biostatistics and Data Management, New Product Research, and Regulatory Compliance and Law. You’ll work with advisors to tailor their program of study to their goals and needs.

    • Graduation rate: 71%
    • School status: Private
    • Tuition cost: $$$$$
    • Number of programs offered: 80+
    • City location: Philadelphia, PA
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 3.0 GPA, two years of relevant professional experience
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: N/A
    • Contact: pcc36@drexel.edu
    • Website

  • Our Methodology, Explained


    Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.































    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 20%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 40%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 15%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%

    A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Have Questions about an Online Master’s in Clinical Research? We Have Answers.

  • What can Clinical Research degree holders do?

    Clinical researchers conduct a variety of investigations with the universal goal to improve human health. Typical duties include creating and testing medtech devices, designing and conducting studies, preparing and analyzing samples, regulating drug processes, and writing proposals. Researchers generally work in office and laboratory environments.

  • How much do Clinical Research degree holders make?

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, clinical scientists made a median annual wage of $91,510, or $43.99 an hour in 2020. The job outlook in the clinical research field is equally positive, with jobs in clinical research expected to grow by about 6% through 2029. Because human health is universally essential, investigations aimed at improving it are also invaluable.

  • What are the admissions requirements for an online master’s in clinical research program?

    While admissions requirements vary by program and college, there are some common admissions requirements you can expect from any program. For starters, you’ll be required to have your bachelor’s degree, preferably in a related area. Some universities may also have minimum GPA requirements for admissions. You may also be required to take a graduate degree admissions test, like the GMAT or GRE, and include letters of recommendation with your application.

  • What types of courses will I take in an online master’s in clinical research program?

    Students enrolled in an online master’s in clinical research program will take a variety of management and research classes. Some of the common courses you can expect to take with this degree plan include clinical research monitoring, responsible conduct of clinical research, scientific and research review boards, fundamentals of regulatory affairs, and clinical research operations.

What to Expect From an Online Master’s in Clinical Research

Before you apply for a clinical research master’s program, it’s important to understand just what you’re getting yourself into. 

In general, these programs often require about two years of coursework inorder to graduate. Luckily, many programs can be completed online and on a part-time basis. As a result, you can plan your education around your career and other activities. 

Most programs also offer a full-time option, which allows you to expedite the completion of your degree. Some master’s programs may also require a thesis or internship to graduate.

Admission Requirements for a Degree in Clinical Research

While admission requirements will vary from one school or program to the next, most have the same basic set of guidelines for being admitted to a clinical research master’s program. These include:

  • A bachelor’s degree: No matter which school you apply to, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree to be admitted — preferably one in a related field.
  • Minimum GPA: Most schools will expect applicants to have an undergraduate GPA of at least a 2.5 to 3.0 to qualify for admittance into the program.
  • Professional experience: While the experience requirements vary from school to school, some programs require several years of professional experience before you’re eligible to apply.
  • Letters of recommendation: When you apply for a clinical research master’s program, you’ll likely have to provide several professional letters of recommendation.
  • Personal statement: Schools generally require that you submit a personal statement, in which you discuss your qualifications, professional goals, and why you’re applying to the program.
  • Test scores: You may also have to take the GRE or GMAT to be admitted to a clinical research master’s program.
  • Professional resume: Most schools ask that you submitted a resume or curriculum vitae that summarizes your academic and professional experience. 

Common Courses for an Online Master’s in Clinical Research

After you earn a master’s degree in clinical research, you’re likely to pursue a career focused on patient-oriented research in the medical field. As a result, many of the courses you take will reflect the skills necessary for those jobs. Some of the common courses in this master’s program include:

  • Epidemiology: Epidemiology is the field of medicine that studies the distribution, determinants, and patterns of diseases. It’s an important part of public health and a central focus of clinical research.
  • Designing Clinical Research: Many clinical research graduates go on to work in clinical studies. As a result, you must learn to design and manage clinical research in the field. You’ll also learn about what goes into an effective clinical trial.
  • Data Management: In the clinical research field, you must learn to compile and maintain data. In a data management course, you’ll learn appropriate ways to collect data, as well as how to manage it.
  • Statistical Analysis: One of the most important parts of a clinical trial is analyzing the results. For that, you’ll need training in statistical analysis.
  • Ethics and Law: There’s plenty of ethics and policies that regulate the field of clinical research. It’s one of the topics you’ll learn about in your master’s program.

Laurie Garrison picture

Laurie Garrison

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Laurie Garrison is a contributing writer who covers higher education, online graduate programs, and college planning for Grad School Hub and Best Value Schools. Her writing has also appeared in The Charlotte Business Journal, and the Dallas Business Journal.

Fact-checked by

Angelica Leicht picture

Angelica Leicht

Angelica Leicht is an editor for Grad School Hub. A proud University of Houston alum (go Cougs!), she previously served as an education reporter at Kearney Hub, and an editor at the Dallas Observer and Houston Press. Her writing has appeared in Affordable Colleges Online, Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and elsewhere.

Latest Posts

See All Posts
The Future of Senior Care Careers Post-Pandemic

The Future of Senior Care Careers Post-Pandemic

June 22, 2021   |   Cynthia Paez Bowman

Seniors were greatly affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were the age range of hospitalization and death, and senior living communities and healthcare workers had to take extreme measures to...

Travel Nurse Guide: Choosing A Nursing Specialty

Travel Nurse Guide: Choosing A Nursing Specialty

June 10, 2021   |   Cynthia Paez Bowman

Nurses have always been in demand, but this is a great time to enter the field if you’re considering a career as a nurse. The nursing profession is currently set...

Discover a program that is right for you.

Explore different options for you based on your degree interests.