Why This Matters

  • PERSONALIZED MEDICINE REQUIRES MORE CLINICAL TRIALS

    A push toward precision medicine is driving an increase in the number of smaller trials being held in the U.S., requiring more researchers to implement and manage them.

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 24,700 MORE RESEARCHERS BY 2029

    Technological advances and the need to provide care for an aging population means that the role of the clinical researcher will increase by 7% over the next decade, faster than most professions.

  • EARN $28,423 MORE PER YEAR WITH A MASTER’S

    The average base pay for a clinical researcher is $75,063, roughly $28K more than that of a bachelor-level clinical research assistant, who earns a median salary of $46,640.

Our Research

Our chosen programs lead to a master’s of science degree in Clinical Research, Clinical Nursing Research, Biomedical Laboratory Management — or another similar title that leads to certification as a clinical researcher. The programs range from 30 to 74 credits, and generally take between one and two years of full-time study.

All programs have full accreditation from an agency designed to ensure that curriculum is up-to-date and relevant, and professors have real-world knowledge along with superior credentials. These agencies include The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, The Council on Education for Public Health, and The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best Master’s in Clinical Research Degree program are affordable, respected, and flexible. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 63 hours to write this article
  • 66 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 113 education programs we compared

The Top 30 Master’s in Clinical Research Degree Programs

Best Master's in Clinical Research Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

Becoming a clinical researcher is a common career step for those already working as clinical research assistants. The addition of a master’s degree gives you the ability to design, coordinate, and manage trials, as well as work with a team to analyze results and answer the research question posed by the trial.

The need for trained professionals in all areas of healthcare is expanding rapidly as the population in the U.S. ages, requiring more medical intervention and the increased use of drugs to improve quality of life and manage chronic conditions. The advent of personalized medicine leads to greatly increased, although smaller in scope, medical trials.

There is no one national credential required to be a clinical researcher. The Association of Clinical Research Professionals offers several credentials, including Clinical Research Coordinator (CCRC), Principal Investigator (CPI), and ACRP Certified Professional (ACRP-CP) for those involved in all aspects of clinical studies. Each of these requires the applicant to pass a standardized exam.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Clinical Research programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Requirements for these master’s programs in Clinical Research vary depending on the focus of the program. All of them require you to have a valid bachelor’s degree, preferably in an area of science or mathematics. A few require you to be working as an RN. Undergraduate coursework in cell biology and statistics is desirable, as is a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Online programs usually offer one of two delivery methods. Courses may be held synchronously, which means you will attend live classes online at a given time; or asynchronously, which means that courses are pre-recorded, and you attend at a time that is convenient for you. The latter option is a good choice if you are continuing to work or have other responsibilities while attending graduate school.

As you research possible programs, be aware of the varying focus of each one. Some master’s programs are geared toward working nurses or other healthcare professionals, while others focus on the business side, training researchers to work with bio-pharmaceutical companies and others involved in the drug industry. Your coursework will vary based on the focus.

When looking for financial support for your education, don’t stop after you’ve applied for school-based assistance. You may be able to find scholarships, loans, or grants through your employer or professional organizations to which you belong.