Earning a Master's in Clinical Research Online

Pursuing a master's in clinical research online is ideal for individuals interested in overseeing projects in the medical, pharmaceutical, or biomedical industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for clinical research professionals to increase 13% by 2026. This guide covers important information about earning a master's in clinical research online, including program requirements, salary potential, and resources for students and graduates.

Why Get a Master's in Clinical Research?

Pursue Deeper Knowledge and Specialization

Most master's programs in clinical research cater to professionals seeking to gain advanced knowledge of the industry. Many students earn a master's to pursue a specialty, while others pursue the degree to stay informed of industry trends and best practices and remain competitive in the field.

Career Advancement Opportunities

A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum requirement for entry-level positions in this field. However, a master's degree indicates advanced knowledge and expertise, which leads to more employment opportunities and higher earning potential.

Online Learning Technology

Clinical research professionals use computers to run tests, document results, and develop reports for executives or government officials. The learning technology used in online master's in clinical research programs gives these professionals technological skills that they can use in their careers.

Prerequisites for Master's in Clinical Research Programs

To enroll in a master's in clinical research online, prospective students need to fulfill certain requirements. Specifics vary by program, but many programs share common requirements, which we outline below.

  • Bachelor's Degree from an Accredited College Most master's programs require applicants to possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Some programs may prefer a bachelor's in clinical research or a related field. Prospective master's students should verify the transferability of credits from their bachelor's degree into their graduate program.
  • Industry Experience Some programs may require applicants to possess industry-related work experience. The length of time varies by program, but most programs require two years of experience working in the medical, pharmaceutical, or biomedical industry.
  • Standardized Test Scores Most master's programs require GRE or GMAT scores. Both exams test an individual's math and language skills. To take the exam, students need to register, pay a fee, and schedule their test date. They then submit their results to admissions.
  • Minimum GPA Requirements The minimum GPA required for clinical research graduate programs varies by school, but many programs require at least a 3.0. Applicants must submit official transcripts from an accredited institution to the admissions office. If students don't meet GPA requirements they may qualify for conditional admission.
  • Personal Letter of Intent Some programs require students to submit a personal statement or letter of intent. General expectations for a personal statement include detailing why a student is interested in pursuing a master's in clinical research online and how they plan to use the degree to advance their career.

How Much Can I Make With a Master's in Clinical Research?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects occupations in the medical science industry to increase 13% by 2026. According to Payscale, clinical research professionals earn an average annual salary of $63,000. Earning a master's in clinical research develops advanced professional skills in research, data analysis, and writing, which creates career opportunities working as biostatisticians, clinical research managers, and research associates.

Potential Careers

Careers Stats Description


Median Annual Salary: $87,780

Biostatisticians typically work in the medical or pharmaceutical industry. These professionals analyze data and interpret results using mathematical and statistical techniques. Other tasks may include grant writing, helping research teams design research projects, and making recommendations for data collection procedures.

Clinical Research Manager

Median Annual Salary: $78,201

Clinical research managers oversee research projects and teams. They develop research projects and ensure each step of a research project follows regulations. Individuals need at least a bachelor's degree and 3-5 years of industry experience to work as a clinical research manager. However, some employers prefer candidates with a master's degree.

Clinical Research Associate

Median Annual Salary: $63,340

Clinical research associates assist throughout the clinical research process. They manage supplies; order tests; collect data; and draft reports for the public, government officials, or an organization's management staff. Career advancement in this field may require a doctorate.

Paying for an Online Master's in Clinical Research Program

Earning a master's in clinical research online requires a financial investment. Students can reduce costs by pursuing financial aid opportunities, such as scholarships, grants, and work-study programs. Students can discover their eligibility for federal financial aid and other opportunities by filling out the FAFSA.


Scholarship opportunities are available for students based on factors like academic merit, financial need, and the industry the student's pursuing. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for students pursuing a master's in clinical research online.

What to Expect from a Master's in Clinical Research Program

Online learning is a convenient way for busy professionals to earn an advanced degree. Most online programs use an asynchronous format, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Students can typically complete a master's in clinical research online in two years of full-time study. Program requirements vary, but many programs require students to complete an internship or research project and core coursework covering topics such as research methods, ethics, and clinical study design.

Major Milestones

To earn a master's in clinical research online, students must complete a series of milestones. Below is a list of a few common milestones students may encounter throughout their studies.

  1. Practicum or Internship

    Most programs require a practicum or internship. With this opportunity, students gain hands-on experience in a clinical or lab setting and build their network of industry contacts.

  2. Capstone, Thesis, or Independent Research Project

    Students select a faculty-approved research topic and conduct research to address the topic using course concepts. This component is typically completed during a student's final year.

  3. Competency Assessment

    Some programs require students to demonstrate competency in core areas, which may include an assessment, an interview with program faculty, or an essay.

  4. Grant Application Submission

    Some programs require students to complete a grant application and submit it to a peer-reviewed funding source. This milestone typically occurs during the second year of a master's program.

  5. Exit Survey or Mentor Evaluation

    Some programs pair students with mentors. These programs may require a mentor to submit documentation of a student's progress and competency level at the end of a program. Students may also need to complete an exit survey, including a self-evaluation, before graduating.


Typical master's in clinical research programs cover topics like research methods, medical writing, clinical research monitoring and ethics, and research trial design. These courses train students to develop and conduct safe, effective, and ethical clinical research. While curricula vary by program, most students earning a master's in clinical research online can expect to encounter some version of the following courses during their studies.

Research Methods

This course teaches the basic principles of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Students develop the analytical skills needed to effectively review and interpret research findings.

Epidemiology and Safety

Coursework examines epidemiology and biostatistics with respect to analyzing disease data. The course also teaches techniques for disseminating information to the public. Additionally, students may study diseases and their impact on the general population.

Medical Writing

A career in clinical research consists of compiling data and developing reports to help research facilities obtain grants for further research or gain approval for new products. This course develops the scientific writing skills needed to fulfill these tasks, including how to adhere to APA style.

Clinical Research Monitoring and Ethics

This course examines the operational steps of a clinical study. Students learn current monitoring techniques and develop skills in project planning, team management, and project monitoring tools.

Research Trial Design and Data Management

This course provides an overview of clinical research designs, including industry-standard protocols and the role statistics play throughout a research study. The course develops the skills to build, maintain, and analyze data within a database.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Students and graduates benefit from joining professional organizations, which offer continuing education, certification, and networking opportunities. Clinical research professionals also benefit from exploring additional resources to advance their careers, such as industry blogs, online publications, and webinars. The following list outlines helpful professional organizations and resources for master's in clinical research students and graduates.

  • Association of Clinical Research Professionals: ACRP aims to improve the clinical research profession by driving innovation, establishing professional standards, and validating professional competence. Members enjoy access to information on industry standards and best practices.
  • Society of Clinical Research Associates: SOCRA provides education, certification, and networking opportunities to clinical research professionals. Members gain access to conferences, industews, and continuing education opportunities.
  • Society for Clinical Trials: SCT strives to develop and drive the adoption of standard practices for ethical and accurate clinical trials. SCT holds an annual conference for members and organizations to discover new technologies and theories and network with pee/p>
  • Forte: This site contains links to several industry resources, including articles, ebooks, webinars, and worksheets. Graduates can use this resource to developeeper understanding of professional concepts.
  • Cato Research: This resource offers comprehensive information on industry trends and FDA regulations. Graduates can use this resource to explore the latest clinicesearch regulations and connect to other resources.