Choose one of our top 10 accredited online colleges in clinical research for a career that is both personally and financially rewarding.
A clinical research degree will allow you to gain the knowledge necessary to be part of a team that may be responsible for discovering the next breakthrough in medicine that saves millions of lives.
What Will You Learn With a Degree in Clinical Research?
As you may imagine, a degree in clinical research is going to be heavily focused on the how’s and why’s of research. The program will teach students the various steps in conducting a clinical research study, processes and paperwork that must be completed during associated steps, and, just as important, the ethics that surround conducting research.
While some individuals may dismiss the importance of courses in ethics, medical research is chalked full of examples of studies that have been conducted that have in hindsight been conducted in a manner that hurt the research participants. Ethics courses ensure that you’re always thinking about the potential risks and harm that could occur as a result of specific decisions.
Most of the programs on this list lead to master’s degrees, but there are a few certificate programs as well. While each program may offer different courses, many of the programs share a common core. Examples of courses you’re likely to see while enrolled in one of our top 10 accredited online colleges in clinical research include:
- Epidemiology and Biostatistics
- Research Methods
- Introduction to Drug Development
- Regulatory Affairs in Drug Development
- Regulatory Writing and Electronic Submissions
Keep in mind that some of the programs on this list allow students to choose a specialization in clinical research. With these programs, students will take additional classes to gain expertise in the area of specialization. Students will also be able to explore areas of interest through elective courses.
What Are the Best 10 Accredited Online Colleges in Clinical Research?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking. Accredited Online College considers the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online. For more information, see our methodology page.
Our No.1 ranked online clinical research program is offered by The Ohio State University and is a Master of Clinical Research program available through the school’s College of Nursing. This program stands out from the pack in that the coursework is multidisciplinary and is taught by instructors in both the College of Nursing and the College of Pharmacy. Students here can specialize their coursework through either the Clinical Research Management Track or the Regulatory Affairs track.
The Clinical Research Management Track focuses on teaching students the processes involved in conducting and managing clinical research. Upon completing this program, students will be ready for employment as a clinical research coordinator or clinical research associate. Alternatively, the Regulatory Affairs Track is geared toward students who want to focus on the regulation, compliance, and communication aspects of clinical research.
If you’re searching for a career in clinical research but don’t want to spend your days in the laboratory, then the Master of Science in Clinical Research & Product Development from the University of North Carolina Wilmington may be the perfect degree for you. This program is aimed at those who want to work in the management and oversight positions of clinical research. Although you won’t be required to participate in extensive laboratory experiences to graduate, you will be taught the research process and stages involved by taking a study from start to finish.
Twelve courses, which include the capstone course necessary for graduation, compose this degree. Classes in this program include Clinical Research Monitoring & Ethics, Advanced Scientific Writing & Interpret Medical Literature, Clinical Research Trial Design & Data Management, and Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics, among others. UNC’s admission team is looking for applicants with a BA or BS in life science, health care discipline, or mathematics/statistics.
The Online Master of Science in Clinical Research Management from Arizona State University focuses on providing a top-notch education with built-in flexibility to accommodate the busy lives of adult learners. This master’s degree program is composed of 11 courses, equaling 33 credit hours of study, with each class lasting just over seven weeks. Competitive applicants to this program will have already completed undergraduate or graduate coursework in anatomy and physiology and medical terminology.
Once admitted into the program, students will take classes such as Clinical Research Monitoring, Responsible Conduct of Clinical Research, Fundamentals of Regulatory Affairs, Clinical Research Operations, and Scientific and Research Review Boards, in addition to completing a capstone project. ASU even provides opportunities for its students to connect with future employers, so it’s easier to land that first job after graduation.
Success in a career demands more than just the technical knowledge required to prove competence: it also needs the leadership and communication skills that distinguish a mediocre hire from a company superstar. St. Cloud State University appreciates this distinction, which is why it created the Master of Science in Applied Clinical Research. If you’re lucky enough to get into this program, the majority of your education will be spent on the technical aspects of clinical research, though the school also prepares students to thrive in leadership positions in clinical research.
This program is the only clinical research program geared specifically toward the use of medical devices. With specialization and focus in specific areas of clinical research comes the opportunity to land your ideal high-paying job. This program features two start dates each year: one in the spring and one in the fall. As a student of this university, you’ll be able to select either a full- or part-time route to complete your degree.
Eastern Michigan University offers two ways in which students can gain expertise in clinical research: one is through a Graduate Certificate in Good Clinical Practices, and the other is through a Master of Science in Clinical Research Administration. The graduate certificate consists of 15 credit hours of coursework. Students in this program will take classes such as Introduction to Drug Development, Clinical Study Administration I & II, and Advanced Topics in Clinical Study Management.
The MS in Clinical Research Administration program is composed of 34-35 credit hours of coursework, with 19 credit hours making up the core. The required coursework includes many of the same classes as the graduate certificate, along with Ethical Issues in Clinical Research, Regulatory Affairs in Drug Development I, and Graduate Seminar in Drug Development. This degree allows students to select a track in either Clinical Trial Management or Regulatory Affairs.
The Master of Science in Health Sciences with a concentration in Clinical Laboratory Sciences Online from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley was created specifically with certified medical laboratory scientists and medical technologists in mind. This program is only expected to take students around one year of full-time study to complete and is a fast-track way to advance their careers. This MS degree is composed of 36 credit hours, with courses lasting around seven weeks.
Classes you’re likely to run across in this program include Research in Health Sciences; Health Computer Information Systems; Health Care Policy, Organization, and Financing; and Introduction to the Health Care System and Quality Improvement. What’s more, the tuition is reasonably priced at $444 per credit hour, which means that the degree, in total, is expected to cost students just under $16,000.
The Department of Health Informatics at Rutgers University offers two options for students wanting an education in clinical research: a Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Clinical Research and a Master of Science in Clinical Research Management. With the Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Clinical Research, you’ll be able to select one of three specializations. Specializations include Clinical Trials Recruitment Sciences, Clinical Trials Regulatory Affairs, and Drug Safety and Pharmacovigilance. The certificate program, no matter the specialization selected, is composed of 15 credit hours of coursework, with nine credit hours dedicated to the core curriculum
The Master of Science in Clinical Research Management, on the other hand, is a 36-credit-hour, multi-disciplinary program. Those in this program can choose either the Clinical Research Management generalized track or Clinical Research Management-Drug Safety and Pharmacovigilance track. Both tracks require that students complete a capstone project before being eligible to walk down the aisle to receive their diploma.
The Master of Science in Clinical Research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will give you a solid foundation for any future clinical research career. The program teaches students skills such as designing a study that is safe and ethical and analyzing the data collected. You’ll even learn about grant writing and how to present your findings in a professional and engaging manner.
This degree, which is composed of 36 credit hours, is estimated to take students around two years to complete. This degree is not a walk in the park either, as you’ll be expected to complete a comprehensive written exam and capstone, thesis, or dissertation before graduation. The program does not require, however, that its students complete an internship or field experience to be eligible for graduation, although these opportunities are available and may be beneficial for certain students.
Created specifically to develop the clinical research skills and capabilities of research professionals, junior faculty, and scientists, the Master of Science in Health Sciences in Clinical and Translational Research from George Washington University is a serious program for dedicated individuals wanting to learn new skills and advance their careers. The faculty who teach the courses in this program make up a multidisciplinary team of health care, biomedical research, and policy experts.
This MS degree is 36 credit hours in duration, and most students take two years to complete their studies. The core curriculum consists of classes such as Critical Analysis of Clinical Research, Clinical Investigation, and Foundations of Translational Research, just to name a few. Students can also explore areas of clinical research they find particularly interesting through the nine credit hours dedicated to elective courses.
If you’re a healthcare professional already involved in clinical research and want to gain the knowledge and expertise that a master’s degree can provide, then the Master of Health Science with a Clinical Research Concentration from Nova Southeastern University is the program for you. To graduate with this master’s degree, students are required to complete 39 credit hours of coursework.
The core curriculum of this program consists of 12 credit hours of classes like Current Trends and Cultural Issues in Health Care, Writing for Allied Health Professionals, Research Methods, and Epidemiology and Biostatistics. The Clinical Research Concentration will require students to take nine courses for a total of 27 credit hours of clinical-research-specific coursework. This degree program does require that students complete a thesis, but students are given ample time and guidance through the process via the four thesis courses assigned.
What Kind of Job Can You Get After Completing Your Clinical Research Degree?
So, you’re wondering what kind of job you’ll be qualified to apply for once you’re finished with your clinical research degree? This is a great starting place when deciding if a clinical research degree is even right for you! There are various opportunities available to those who decide to put their time and money into earning one of these degrees.
The most commonly traveled route for graduates of clinical research degree programs is to become a clinical research associate or clinical research coordinator. Clinical research associates are part of the research team that is involved in various aspects of conducting clinical research, from gathering, selecting, and educating research participants to filling out various paperwork associated with running one of these trials.
Clinical research coordinators perform some of the same jobs as clinical research associates and are more responsible for the coordination of the various steps of research studies, which are often happening simultaneously. Clinical research coordinators may also be responsible for monitoring others involved in the study to ensure that they are compliant with the rules, regulations, and guidelines. Many clinical research coordinators and clinical research associates have a background in the healthcare field, either as a nurse or other healthcare professional, as clinical research studies involve the health and wellbeing of people.
With that said, the laboratory and study sites are not the only places where you can put the knowledge and skills you learn in your clinical research degree to work. Some individuals after graduation choose to go to work in management positions of pharmaceutical or medical device companies. Individuals with knowledge of the clinical research process are ideally placed to make decisions for future directions of these companies.
What Kind of Salary Can You Expect After Earning a Clinical Research Degree?
The second question you may be asking yourself, and for some this may be the first, is “How much can I earn with a clinical research degree?” Well, to put it simply, those who earn a clinical research degree tend to be well compensated for the time and effort associated with earning their degree.
Clinical research associates and clinical research coordinators, most of whom have bachelor’s or master’s degrees, earn a jaw-dropping $137,940 per year. Yes, you read that correctly – these individuals on average earn around $66 per hour. Even more astounding is that these are median salaries, which mean that many individuals earn significantly higher salaries. There are many factors that can affect the salary you can expect to earn, including your level of experience, the company at which you’re employed, and the state in which you reside. According to O*NET OnLine, there are currently over 70,000 individuals employed in these positions, and the profession is expected to grow faster than average, at a rate of 5%-7% within the next ten years.
Alternatively, if you decide to use your newly acquired skills to enter into pharmaceutical sales, then you’re likely to earn more than $85,000 per year. Like clinical research associates and clinical research coordinators, there are various factors that will go into the earning potential of this job, like location and the specific products you end up selling. There are currently an estimated 321,000 individuals working as technical and scientific product sales representatives, and the profession is expected to grow at an average rate of 3%-4% in the next decade.
Those who decide to enter management and eventually work up to a chief executive position also have a bright financial outlook. Chief executives go by a variety of titles, including chief operating officer (COO), chief nursing officer (CNO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief diversity officer (CDO), and, of course, chief executive officer (CEO). Almost every company features these positions, and individuals who fill these roles are ultimately responsible for the direction and management of the organization. With substantial responsibility often comes substantial compensation. The median income for chief executives is just under $186,000 per year. It’s estimated that around 287,900 individuals held these positions as of 2019. These careers may be more difficult to pursue, however, compared to the others listed above, as these jobs are expected to decrease by about 1% in the next ten years.