Why This Matters

  • MEDICAL AND HEALTH R&D IS A $172B INDUSTRY

    Within the last decade, investment in medical and health research and development has increased, with multiple biopharmaceutical companies contributing over $1 billion each to R&D activities.;

  • CHOOSE FROM 8 DIFFERENT WORK ENVIRONMENTS

    Clinical researchers handle a variety of responsibilities in many different settings, including research hospitals, academic medical centers, government agencies, and biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 10K NEW RESEARCHERS BY 2028

    Employment growth in this field is expected to increase at a faster-than-average pace over the next decade, thanks to rising rates of chronic illnesses, and the evolving needs of an aging population.

Our Research

Although students can earn a bachelor’s degree in clinical research, for this list we concentrated on master’s programs. Most programs offer a Master of Science (MS) degree, and some may have a particular area of focus such as administration or product development.

To ensure flexibility for distance learners and working professionals, we focused on programs that can be completed online. Please note that some programs do have minimal on-campus requirements.

All of the programs on are list are offered by regionally accredited schools. This is a confirmation of quality, and means credits and degrees are widely recognized by other institutions. A few programs have additional programmatic accredited through organizations like the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

We reviewed the programs for their reputation, courses, cost, flexibility and faculty, and gave each program an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. The top picks for best online master’s in clinical research are affordable, flexible, and respected. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 72 hours to write this article
  • 144 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 394 education programs we compared

The Top 15 Online Master’s in Clinical Research Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Clinical research is one of several different types of research conducted in a biomedical setting. Other types of research include basic and applied research. These are the steps that contribute to the discoveries that lead to the drugs, devices, or other technology that is tested in clinical trials.

It’s important to understand the difference between the different research phases when deciding to pursue a master’s in clinical research. Clinical research involves working with human subjects, and requires advanced skills such as observation, critical-thinking, decision-making, and awareness of ethical and legal issues.

As such, some higher-level clinical research positions may require that students have a doctoral degree in research or a related field. Depending on your undergraduate degree and the specific PhD program, you may be able to progress right from your bachelor’s to a doctoral program.

If you want to complete a master’s degree first, be sure to select a program from a regionally accredited school, as this may be a prerequisite for admission to a PhD program.

The Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) offers a number of voluntary professional credentials for clinical researchers. Obtaining these credentials can help with employment opportunities, career advancement, and increased salaries.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Master’s in Clinical Research programs:

  • What are the prerequisites? Because clinical research is a healthcare-focused field, most master’s programs seek students who have some background in healthcare or a related field like biology, chemistry, or science education. Some programs may also require students to have professional experience in the biopharmaceutical or biotechnology industries. Check the program’s eligibility requirements before applying.
  • Are there any in-person requirements? Although all coursework for the programs on our list can be completed online, some programs may require on-campus attendance for orientations, labs, or special seminars. Make sure you can accommodate any in-person attendance in your schedule and budget.

Reviewing a program’s application deadlines and admissions requirements is also beneficial at this stage. You will want to have any necessary application materials compiled and submitted ahead of deadlines to ensure a smooth admissions process. This information is typically available on the school’s website, or you can contact their admissions department directly.

You should also consider how you will finance your graduate degree. Inquire about available financial aid, including loans, scholarships, and assistantships. Check with your employer to find out if they offer any tuition assistance benefits.