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

In an online master’s in clinical research program, you’ll be able to access the same experienced instructors and rigorous curriculum that you would in an on-campus program. Also, by eliminating the need to commute to campus, online programs make finding time for work, family, or other responsibilities outside of school more manageable. Remember that no two online master’s in clinical research programs are exactly alike, so you’ll need to carefully review your options to find the best match for your personal needs and professional goals.

Available concentrations

Concentration selection is one of the most important factors when evaluating different programs. If you’re interested in a particular aspect of clinical research, you should look for a program that allows you to focus your studies on this specialty. Some of the most common concentration options for a master’s in clinical research include:

  • Clinical Research Management: Focuses on the regulations and ethics governing how research is conducted and clinical trials are managed.
  • Safety Pharmacology: Reviews how to safely use biologically active chemicals and monitor for possible adverse effects in studies.
  • Clinical Pharmacology: Covers the techniques used to study the effects of medications and discover new drugs.
  • Regulatory Affairs: Prepares students to navigate the required steps and procedures to bring a medical product to the public market.

Common degree curriculum

While some master’s in clinical research programs are 100% online, others use a hybrid format that requires you to meet a few requirements on campus. If you’re not willing to relocate, apply only to either 100% online programs or hybrid programs in your area.

The exact curriculum will depend on your school and whether you select a concentration. Still, some topics are covered in just about every master’s in clinical research program, such as:

  • Biostatistics: Focuses on how to analyze statistical data. Students learn about confidence intervals, probability, and statistical inference and are introduced to specialized computer programs that help with data analysis.
  • Epidemiology: Addresses how certain diseases and conditions circulate through the population, emphasizing investigating outbreaks and conducting random trials.
  • History of Clinical Research: Covers the historical facts behind clinical research and how the discipline has gotten to where it is today.

Certification and license preparation

In addition to your master’s degree, you should consider earning professional certifications to bolster your resume further and advance your career. Some of the most valuable certification programs for clinical researchers include:

  • Certified Clinical Research Coordinator: This certification demonstrates that you’re highly knowledgeable about the skills, practices, and protocols involved in clinical research. You must pass an exam and renew every two years.
  • Certified in Infection Control: Earning this certification shows potential employers that you know how to identify and control diseases. You must recertify every five years.
  • ASCP Board of Certification: This organization offers certifications for various clinical research specializations, including cytogenetics, microbiology, and molecular biology.

Program accreditation

Only apply to schools approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. If your school doesn’t have regional accreditation, you may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed. In addition to institutional accreditation, the best options for earning a master’s in clinical research also have programmatic accreditation from an industry group such as the Accreditation Council for Clinical Research and Education.

Program completion timeframe

Online master’s in clinical research programs usually require 36 credit hours of coursework. These programs often require a capstone project, increasing the time it takes to earn your degree. Full-time students can generally complete the program within two years, while part-time students may need up to five years.

It’s also worth noting that cohort-based programs require you to remotely attend classes and complete courses simultaneously as other students. If you would like to earn your degree as quickly as possible, avoid cohort-based programs — instead, look for a program that offers asynchronous courses you can complete at your own pace.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Clinical Research Graduates

While the total number of jobs in the United States is projected to increase by 3% over the next decade, most occupations related to clinical research are expected to grow faster than that. This means plenty of employment opportunities should be available, making it easier to get hired and negotiate pay raises.

With a master’s in clinical research, you may be able to earn a substantial income. Indeed, the top 10% of medical scientists make more than $170,260 annually.

However, you should adjust your salary expectations according to where you plan to work. Areas with a higher cost of living tend to offer higher pay. For example, the average salary for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is $76,110 in New York but just $43,870 in Mississippi.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)
Medical Scientists Medical scientists primarily work in a lab environment, conducting research and clinical trials to find solutions and advancements that can improve human health. $99,930 10%
Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians operate lab equipment, collect data, and help interpret test results. $57,380 5%

Professional organizations

Becoming a member of a professional organization can be very beneficial for your career. These organizations offer a variety of benefits, including news about research developments and hosted events that you can use to expand your professional network. Some of the top organizations for clinical researchers include:

Financing Your Online Master’s in Clinical Research Degree

Online degree programs tend to be more affordable than on-campus programs, but you still may need help paying for your degree. Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as this will determine your eligibility for federally funded grants and loans. Many other financial aid programs will require you to submit your FAFSA to access assistance.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

In addition to the federal government, you may also be able to get financing for your online master’s in clinical research from your college, your employer, nonprofit organizations, and private companies. The resources listed below will help you make sense of your financial aid situation and save as much money as possible.

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Interested in a degree?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.