Online Master’s Programs in Clinical Research

Earning an online master's degree in clinical research opens learners to career opportunities in designing and testing medical innovations such as new medications, medical technologies, and treatment methods. Encompassing a variety of specialized focus areas, the program helps students learn advanced research skills and methodologies.

This guide provides an overview of clinical research master's programs, including common courses, exams and final projects, specializations, career opportunities in the field, scholarships, and professional organizations.

What Can I Learn in an Online Master's in Clinical Research Program?

Clinical research master's programs explore methods for investigating potential innovations in the field of medical science. In clinical research programs, learners explore concepts in epidemiology, microbiology, healthcare policy, and clinical investigations to develop the advanced skills and knowledge they need to pursue specialized careers in the field after graduation.

What Courses Are Commonly Offered in a Master’s in Clinical Research Program?

Economic Evaluation in Clinical Research

Degree-seekers in this course focus on economic evaluation methods used to understand the value of healthcare programs and interventions. Students learn to interpret and critique economic evaluation studies and apply useful concepts to their own research projects.

Using Research to Inform Healthcare Policy

Learners review analysis and decision-making methods for quantifying risk, benefit, and cost. Cases may include healthcare interventions for individual patients, group practice, and communities. During the course, degree-seekers focus on health services, clinical research evidence, and health policy.

Advanced Biostatistics for Clinical Investigators

This course covers the mechanics and principles of applying biostatistical techniques in research situations. The course highlights assumption-testing and model-fitting techniques, allowing degree-seekers to develop and evaluate analysis plans.

Economic Evaluation of Health Programs

Students gain an understanding of topics such as cost effectiveness, cost-utility analyses, and methods for decision-making. Learners also evaluate alternative healthcare programs.

Developmental Biology

In this class, students learn techniques for using experimental evidence. Topics include cellular, molecular, and genetic analysis for developmental systems. Throughout the curriculum, learners focus on understanding core research problems revolving around developmental biology.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

Before students can earn a degree, they typically must complete a final project or exam. Many clinical research programs have a capstone requirement, allowing learners to combine all of the skills and knowledge they develop during the program into one final research-oriented project. Some programs require learners to conduct research and demonstrate their findings in a thesis.

While most colleges and universities require either a capstone or thesis, some only require students to complete a final examination that covers the key concepts examined throughout the program.

What Specializations Are Available in a Master’s in Clinical Research Program?

Degree-seekers focused on clinical research can explore specialization opportunities at certain colleges or universities, allowing them to tailor their degree to fit their personal interests and career goals. Specializations typically hone in on specific career options to best prepare students for life after graduation.

Epidemiology

Epidemiology explores how to control diseases, illnesses, and pandemics. Concepts include distribution, prevention, and incidence.

Virology

Virology studies viruses and how they spread. Students work to identify viruses and explore how they are contracted and prevented.

Microbiology

The microbiology specialization focuses on analyzing bacteria cultures and various microorganisms to understand health issues that derive from man-made chemicals, animals, and plants.

What Can I Do with a Master’s in Clinical Research Degree?

Clinical research professionals who hold a master's degree in the field can explore a variety of career opportunities. Professionals interested in the management side of the discipline can pursue clinical project manager or clinical principal investigator roles. Individuals interested in hands-on research efforts can explore roles as clinical research coordinators or associates. Clinical pharmacist positions follow a more specialized path in pharmacology and medication.

Clinical Research Coordinator

Clinical research coordinators supervise the day-to-day activities of research staff members. These professionals collaborate with principal investigators, determine budgets, and explore whether studies are viable.

Clinical Research Associate

Responsible for helping with the clinical research process, clinical research associates provide advanced technical expertise in ordering tests, collecting data, presenting research findings, and handling supplies.

Clinical Project Manager

Clinical project managers coordinate work between their teams, vendors, and clients, tracking and studying metrics on team progress. These professionals implement project plans with set schedules and milestones.

Clinical Pharmacist

Clinical pharmacists advise physicians on drug dose and usage. They may provide presentations on medications and treatments.

Clinical Research Principal Investigator

Principal investigators lead teams of researchers who collect and analyze data on medical phenomena, including chronic ailments, hereditary diseases, and psychological afflictions.

How Much Can I Make in a Career in Clinical Research?

Graduates with a master's degree in clinical research can explore a variety of high-paying jobs. Earning an advanced degree allows professionals to enter into higher pay brackets than those who hold a bachelor's or associate degree. Some positions feature median annual salaries of nearly $100,000. The data below indicates average salaries in jobs for those holding a clinical research master's degree. However, holding a particular position or degree does not guarantee a certain salary.

Clinical Laboratory Technologist or Technician

These professionals record data from medical tests and input results into patients' medical records. They use advanced equipment and computerized instruments to perform tests and analyze blood, tissue samples, and urine.

Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineers research and invent new medical devices and equipment, including artificial organs, diagnostic machinery, and medical software. They study both technology and biology to create innovative new solutions to medical problems.

Biochemist or Biophysicist

These scientists examine the chemical and physical properties of organic matter and biological processes. They commonly study substances such as DNA, proteins, and hormones. They often apply their research to a particular problem.

Biological Technician

These professionals conduct experiments and tests under the supervision of a medical scientist. They gather biological samples, maintain equipment, interpret results, and report on their findings.

Medical Scientist

Medical scientists design studies to research diseases, treatment methods, drugs, medical devices, and other innovations in healthcare. While most need a Ph.D., individuals with a master's may qualify for some entry-level roles or assistant positions.

Online Master’s in Clinical Research Program Accreditation

Before choosing which online master's in clinical research program to enroll in, students should understand the different types of accreditation. Institutional accreditation applies to every program offered by the accredited university. Schools may possess regional accreditation, national accreditation, or both. Of the two, regional accreditation is more prestigious and highly regarded by employers. Graduate schools, Ph.D. programs, research institutions, and state licensing boards typically only accept degrees from regionally accredited schools.

Programmatic accreditation applies to a particular degree or department within a given university. In clinical research programs, learners might see programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Clinical Research and Education or another scientific organization.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Clinical Research Degree

Tuition and fees in a master's in clinical research online program can be expensive. Programs cost more than students can afford without financial assistance. Below, degree-seekers can explore several different ways to help pay for their degree, including grants, fellowships, loans, and scholarships specific to their field.

Techniques for Financing a Master’s in Clinical Research Degree

Research Grants

Clinical research master's students can explore grant opportunities from a variety of sources, including the American Medical Association and the National Center for Research Resources. Students can review grants to fund a specific research project while they are in school. They may also search for grants to fund their tuition.

Fellowships

Degree-seekers can explore fellowship opportunities for the advanced study of clinical research. Fellowships grant master's students a stipend or tuition discount in exchange for work in a research department.

FAFSA

Learners can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine what types of financial aid they may be eligible for, including loans and grants. The FAFSA also determines the amount of each type of aid students may qualify for.

Scholarships for Master’s in Clinical Research Students

JCC Association Graduate Scholarship

  • Who Can Apply: Available to Jewish students pursuing a master's degree in health, business administration, physical education, social work, or Jewish/Judaic studies, the JCC Association Graduate Scholarship provides degree-seekers with educational funding.
  • Amount: $10,000 per year

Medical Research Scholars Program

  • Who Can Apply: Administered by the NIH, this program engages students in a rigorous curriculum centered around research investigations. Students receive a stipend; advising; residential housing during the program; and support for conference costs, books, and scientific courses. The NIH accepts U.S. citizens in their 2nd-4th year of an accredited medical, dental, or veterinary program.
  • Amount: Varies

ACMPE Scholarship Fund Program

  • Who Can Apply: The ACMPE Scholarship Fund Program features ten different scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in medical practice management, business administration, healthcare administration, and public health.
  • Amount: Varies

AHIMA Foundation Merit Scholarships

  • Who Can Apply: The AHIMA Foundation awards educational funds for students at all degree levels. Students in health informatics and information management education may qualify for the awards.
  • Amount: $1,000-$2,500

ASME Medical Education Travelling Fellowship

  • Who Can Apply: This award helps researchers and students to gain skills and knowledge from another research institution. Applicants must have a particular institution and research project in mind.
  • Amount: £2,000

Professional Organizations and Resources

Graduates with a master's in clinical research can explore opportunities within professional organizations dedicated to medical science and clinical research. These organizations allow members to network, develop their skills, and expand their knowledge of the field.

American Society of Clinical Oncology

  • ASCO is a global network for oncology expertise. The society dedicates itself to promoting cancer research and educating cancer patients.


Association of American Cancer Institutes, Clinical Research Innovation

  • Dedicated to sharing best practices in clinical research, the AACI Clinical Research Innovation program increases engagement within the industry and among stakeholders.


Association of Clinical Research Professionals

  • Committed to improving the quality of clinical research, ACRP leads innovation in workforce development for clinical researchers.


CenterWatch

  • CenterWatch strives to be the leading provider of information for clinical research patients and professionals. The website features an array of educational and professional services to help users increase their knowledge and expand their skills.


Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative

  • A public-private partnership focused on driving and developing practices to expand the efficiency and quality of clinical trials, CTTI brings together more than 80 organizations across the clinical trial field.


Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institution

  • Established to help patients make informed decisions, PCORI improves healthcare outcomes and delivery by promoting evidence-based information and research.


Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research

  • PRIM&R is dedicated to providing professional development and educational opportunities to research personnel. The initiative features nearly 4,000 individual members.


Society for Clinical Research Sites

  • SCRS addresses the need for a global organization for clinical research sites around the world. The society represents nearly 10,000 research sites globally.


The Society of Clinical Research Associates, Inc.

  • A nonprofit membership organization dedicated to providing certification, education, and networking opportunities to clinical research professionals, the SCRS is the leading educational organization for clinical researchers.


TransCelerate BioPharma, Inc.

  • TransCelerate BioPharma, Inc. is a nonprofit organization committed to collaboration between global communities for biopharmaceutical research and development. The organization seeks to implement effective solutions and improve efficiency in the field.