Top 5 Online Master’s in Clinical Research

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

    Columbus, OH



    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: 80%
    • Program length: 1-2 years
    • Credits: 36
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, undergraduate GPA of 3.0, GRE or GMAT for GPAs below 3.0, professional resume, purpose and goals statement, letters of recommendation
    • Program Website
  2. Arizona State University - Tempe

    Tempe, AZ



    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%
    • Program length: 2 years
    • Credits: 33
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, undergraduate GPA of 3.0, professional resume, professional references, proof of English proficiency, six months experience conducting clinical research, personal statement
    • Program Website
  3. George Washington University

    Washington, DC



    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: 84%
    • Program length: 2 years
    • Credits: 36
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, undergraduate GPA of 3.0, professional resume, personal statement, letters of recommendation, previous work experience (preferably in healthcare)
    • Program Website
  4. Saint Cloud State University

    Saint Cloud, MN



    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

    Philadelphia, PA



    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: 64%
    • Program length: 2-3 years
    • Credits: 36
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, undergraduate GPA of 3.0, two years of professional experience, letters of recommendation, essay on past successes, goals, and objectives, professional resume
    • Program 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.

Answering Your Questions About a Master’s in Clinical Research

  • How long is a master of clinical research?

    The time it takes you to graduate from a master’s in clinical research degree program will depend on whether you enroll full time or part-time. It will also depend on the type of program you apply to, the graduation and licensing requirements, and other factors. That said, most master’s programs in clinical research take about two years to complete for full-time students.

  • How much do clinical research degree holders make?

    The salary you earn in this field will be based on a number of factors, including your experience, specialization, the area of employment you pursue, and other factors. There are a number of career paths you can take with this degree, so your earning potential will vary widely depending on these factors. For example, medical scientists, which is one of the most common paths for clinical research degree holders, earned a median wage of about $91,510 per year in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • What can I do with a clinical research degree?

    With a master’s degree in clinical research, you can pursue a variety of careers, including working as a medical scientist, clinical research coordinator, or clinical research associate. The skills and courses in a clinical research master’s program can also help prepare you to apply for admission to medical school.

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.

The 5 Best Online Master’s Degrees in Clinical Research for 2021

Rank School Location
1 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
2 Arizona State University - Tempe Tempe, AZ
3 George Washington University Washington, DC
4 Saint Cloud State University Saint Cloud, MN
5 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA

Erin Gobler picture

Erin Gobler


Erin Gobler is a contributing writer who covers higher education, online graduate programs, college planning, and more for Grad School Hub. Her writing has also appeared in The Simple Dollar, Robinhood, and The Balance.

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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.

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