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

An online master’s in clinical research program delivers the same course topics and gives you the same quality of education as a traditional on-campus program — it’s just delivered in an online environment. If you’re trying to balance going back to school with a full-time job or need to be able to take classes during the evening or weekend hours, an online program can offer a greater degree of flexibility. However, not all programs are designed the same, so you’ll want to make sure you evaluate and compare the curriculum, course topics and degree requirements for each program you’re considering before deciding on the one that’s right for you.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Clinical Research

Clinical Research Management Focuses on the regulations and ethics that go into how research is conducted and clinical trials are managed. Research manager, research coordinator
Safety Pharmacology Students gain a better understanding of how to safely use biologically active chemicals. Focuses on how these chemicals are developed and how they should be monitored for possible negative effects in nonclinical studies. Clinical study director, other health care related administrative positions
Clinical Pharmacology Learn the principles of clinical pharmacology into practice and covers the ethics and regulatory principles involved in this discipline. Biomedical scientist, analytical chemist, pharmacologist, research scientist
Regulatory Affairs Prepares students to navigate the specific steps and procedures that must be followed before a medical product can be brought to the public market. Food safety inspector, manager of regulator affairs, quality assurance director, research scientist

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Clinical Research

Every clinical research program is slightly different, which is why you should evaluate each one to ensure it matches your career goals as well as your schedule. Some programs may require on-campus clinicals or proctored exams, which could be an issue if the school isn’t local and you don’t plan on travelling. However, you can expect all master’s in clinical research programs to cover the following topics.

Biostatistics Focuses on how to analyze statistical data. Students learn about confidence intervals, probability and statistical interference and get familiar with specialized computer programs that help with data analysis.
Epidemiology Learn how certain diseases and conditions circulate through the population with an emphasis in investigating outbreaks and conducting random trials.
Advanced Personnel Systems in Restaurants and Hotels Covers the historical facts behind clinical research and how the discipline has gotten to where it is today. Students can also expect to learn how clinical research is conducted, what terminology is used and how to work with other scientists.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Clinical Research?

If you are completing an online master’s degree in clinical research, you can expect to need 36 credits to graduate, although this may vary slightly depending on the program. This degree also typically requires a capstone project, which may take some additional time to complete.

Most full-time students can complete their degree in approximately two years. However, a cohort program — where students go through courses together in small groups — or only enrolling part-time could extend the time it takes to finish. You may also be able to enroll in an accelerated program that lets you finish as quickly as 18 months.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Clinical Research Prepares For

Certification of Infection Control and Epidemiology This certification shows potential employers that you have demonstrated aptitude in identifying and controlling diseases. You must recertify every five years.
Certification as a Clinical Research Coordinator This certification demonstrates that you’re up-to-date on the skills, practices and protocol involved in clinical research. You must pass an exam and renew every two years.
Certification in Environmental Science This certification allows you to show a particular level of expertise in either environmental microbiology, air quality or solid waste management.
Clinical Microbiology Certification Both the American Society of Clinical Pathology and the American College of Microbiology regulate this certification, and to gain it, you must pass a comprehensive exam.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Clinical Research

When you are looking at and evaluating online master’s in clinical research programs, it’s very important to check for the proper accreditation. If a program is nationally or regionally accredited, it means it has shown that the curriculum and requirements meet the highest quality standards. Regional accreditations are generally considered stronger than national accreditations, and there may also be some programs that are accredited by industry-specific entities such as the Accreditation Council for Clinical Research and Education.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Clinical Research Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

With the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a faster-than-average job growth outlook for medical scientists — 13 percent to be exact — opportunities for online master’s in clinical research graduates are strong. While a bachelor’s degree may be all you need for entry-level positions, when it comes to the science disciplines, a master’s degree is almost always required and definitely preferred. A master’s degree also gives you the extra education and experience employers are looking for, opening up the door to more job opportunities and a higher salary

Expected Salary

Obtaining a master’s degree in clinical research sets you up for higher paying positions than those who only have a bachelor’s degree, and most employers require a master’s degree in this industry. Here are the salary ranges for possible job titles so you can see how a master’s degree in clinical research might pay off.

Pharmacologist $48,000-$123,000
Food Safety Inspector $41,000-$89,000
Research Scientist $48,000-$118,000
Quality Assurance Director $67,000-$159,000

Below are some more careers paths students with a masters in clincal research can obtain.

Career Opportunities

Completing an online master’s in clinical research opens many doors when it comes to job opportunities. By the time you are done with your program, you should be familiar with industry-specific terms and practices and be prepared to work with peers in a collaborative environment. Many of these jobs include six-figure salaries and very healthy job growth outlooks as you can see from the descriptions and data below.

Medical Scientist, Except Epidemiologists Medical scientists primarily work in a lab environment, conducting research and clinical trials aimed at finding solutions and advancements that can improve human health. $82,090 per year 13%
Medical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians Medical laboratory technologists and technicians work in lab environment, collecting and analyzing samples of tissues, cells and other chemical and biological substances. They may work on clinical trials analyzing and interrupting raw data. $51,770 per year 13%

Professional Organizations

Completing your online master’s in clinical research is just the start, and becoming a member of a professional organization within your industry can be very beneficial as you continue on your career path. You’ll be able to stay up-to-date on developments in research and health care and increase your professional network of colleagues. Consider the following organizations during your search.

The Association of Clinical Research Professionals: The ACRP provides members with access to the latest in industry news as well as an exclusive eLearning portal, continuing education opportunities and the chance to present your research at its annual conference.

International Epidemiological Association: Members of the IEA have the opportunity to take part in international meetings, network with other epidemiological professionals and stay up-to-date on the latest industry research and literature.

American Public Health Association: The APHA is compromised of government health care advocates across the country, and members are able to collaborate on, contribute to and dispense education materials to at-risk communities.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Clinical Research

When you’re looking at online master’s degree in clinical research programs, you will probably notice that the online format is often significantly less expensive than a traditional program. However, many students still find themselves in need of assistance, and there are many resources available to help offset the cost of achieving your degree. Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the form the government uses to determine if you are able to receive federal grants and loans, and many other organizations require you to complete a FAFSA before being eligible for assistance.



Scholarships Details
American Academy of Neurology Clinical Research Training Scholarship Award: up to $150,000 across two years

Deadline: October 1

Eligibility: Must be an AAN member interested in a career in neurology.

Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Award: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Eligibility: Open to graduate students who are willing to commit to a year-long service project.

Interested in a degree instead?

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