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Clinical researchers provide leadership and administrative support to medical experiments documenting the results of new treatments or medicines on people. Clinical researchers and technologists earn an average salary of $59,130; most find employment in general medical and surgical hospitals.

Tuition and required fees will vary for each school, but according to 2020-2021 data, a master’s degree program from a public school averaged $12,394, while a private institution costs approximately $26,621. Most online master’s degrees in clinical research programs are completed within two years for full-time students, with an average course load of 30 to 40 credit hours.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Clinical Research Program

Choose your area of study

Most clinical researchers will have a background in life sciences but will also need managerial and administrative skills. Similarly, strong interpersonal and communication skills are necessary since most clinical researchers work directly with patients and doctors. In addition, clinical researchers perform data analysis and use statistics to evaluate the results of clinical studies, so it’s important to look for these courses in your chosen program.

While you may not be able to select an official concentration in your clinical research studies, you can choose classes based on your strengths and the kinds of clinical trials that interest you. Relevant courses include laboratory technology, research protocol, physics, biology, and statistics.

Research schools and programs

As you research the best program for your educational needs and life goals, you’ll want to consider the program format, technology accessibility, faculty specializations, cost, and student support. You’ll also want to consider your attendance situation, such as whether you will attend school full-time or part-time. Also, consider whether you prefer to take classes on your own schedule or an instructor-led, synchronous schedule.

Other questions to ask include:

  • Are laboratory clinicals available online, or must they be completed in person?
  • Will internships be required?
  • Are faculty mentorships available to online students?
  • Are there additional costs for online students, such as technology or lab fees?

Prepare for tests and applications

Most master’s degrees in clinical research require a bachelor’s degree in life sciences or a related field. Schools all have different standards for admissions requirements, with some requesting Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores while others only need a minimum undergraduate grade-point average. Most schools, however, will request undergraduate transcripts, an application essay, and at least three letters of recommendation.

Select your program

A part of making your final program selection may be your relationship with your admissions counselor. Reaching out to an admissions representative will give you a good feel for the level of support your school offers online students and inside information about its general culture. Ask your counselor about student support, online student meetups, study groups, and library accessibility. These factors are often overlooked in the selection process but can make a big difference in your academic success.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Talk to your school’s financial aid office about the per-credit cost of your program and whether there will be any additional fees you may not have accounted for in your planning. Some schools charge student, library, technology, or laboratory fees. You may find some of these fees outlined in your student handbook, but your best bet is to contact a financial aid counselor for confirmation.

If you are financing your education, apply for federal student aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Your financial aid office can also give you information about payment plans, grants, scholarships, and any other tuition assistance that may be available.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Clinical Research Programs

Best Online Master's in Clinical Research Programs Badge

George Washington University

The Ohio State University College of Nursing

Arizona State University

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Drexel University

University of North Carolina Wilmington

Campbell University

Loyola University Chicago

Xavier University

St. Cloud State University

University of California San Diego

Georgetown University

Nova Southeastern University

University of Minnesota

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How We Rank Schools

Our research focused on graduate-level clinical research programs that award a Master of Science. These programs are usually found in a college’s nursing or medicine program, and all of our options can be completed online or in a hybrid setting.

The primary accrediting bodies for these degree programs include the Higher Learning Commission, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. It’s important to ensure that any program you are looking at is appropriately accredited to verify quality standards.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Clinical Research Program?

The number of credit hours required to complete a master’s in clinical research online will vary with each program, but generally speaking, a full-time student can complete the program within two years. Some programs require as few as 30 credits, while others may require up to 40.

Clinical researchers design research experiments and analyze results, often using computer technology to streamline data and find patterns. A master’s degree in clinical research will offer a deeper understanding of these areas, including site and study management, research design, data management, and research ethics.

In your studies, you may also choose to prepare for the Certified Clinical Research Associate (CCRA) exam offered by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP). This certification illustrates your dedication to the field and enhances your marketability when job searching.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in clinical research degree program

  • Designing Clinical Research Studies. Students will learn epidemiological principles essential to the design of clinical research studies. Topics such as developing research questions, defining the study population, understanding bias, and choosing outcome measures are explored.
  • Management of Clinical Trials. Students will discuss core principles of good clinical practice and analyze sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) related to drug development. This course likely involves on-the-job simulations and an outside project.
  • Biostatistics. This laboratory course will teach students to use data analysis tools and software to explore hypothesis testing, regression analysis, contingency tables, experimental design, and other statistical analyses.
  • Regulatory and Compliance Issues. Students will learn about regulatory affairs and the clinical development of drugs, diagnostic devices, and biologics. FDA regulations are studied in relation to taking a product from research to market.

Online Master’s in Clinical Research Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master's in clinical research degree program?

When submitting your application, remember that most schools charge application fees, but some will waive these fees depending on your circumstances. Contact an admissions counselor who can walk you through the application process. You may find yourself applying to just one school that you think is a perfect fit or multiple schools that offer individual strengths you find appealing.

As you research and decide, you’ll want to gather all the necessary documents to apply, including undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, GRE or other test scores, and an essay or personal statement. This statement describes your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree and illustrates why you are the perfect candidate for the program(s) you are applying for.

How much does an online master's in clinical research degree cost?

According to, an online master’s in clinical research ranges from $10,000 to $34,000. These costs do not include other instructional fees such as program fees, student fees, equipment fees, course materials, and textbooks. These costs add up quickly, sometimes up to several hundred dollars.

In addition, you’ll likely need to invest in a reliable laptop and another backup device, such as an iPad or other mobile device. Speaking with a college representative and researching your school’s graduate course catalog can help determine the most accurate estimate of costs.

How long does it take to earn an online master's in clinical research degree?

Most online master’s in clinical research degrees require between 30 and 40 credit hours, which will take a full-time student approximately two years to complete. Part-time students can expect to invest three to five years into their graduate degrees. This timeline is an estimate; some schools offer accelerated pathways and asynchronous models that allow students to complete their programs faster.

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