By Iris Stone
Welcome to our ranking of the Top 25 research and clinical research management master’s degrees.
What exactly is clinical research? As a field of study, it is an area of healthcare that focuses on the safety, efficacy, and effectiveness of everything from medical devices to pharmaceutical products. And with the healthcare industry booming, there is no shortage of work for individuals in this discipline. Many private companies – as well as government agencies, like the FDA – need clinical researchers and managers to act as watchdogs for the new medicines, treatments, and diagnostic products that are hitting the market every day.
Finding the 25 Best Master’s Degrees in Clinical Research Management
In identifying the best schools for clinical research and clinical research management (CR/M), we used four points to determine the value of each program:
- Expertise and Involvement in the Field, as determined by membership in the Consortium of Academic Programs in Clinical Research.
- Career Training and Curricular Relevance, as determined by the balance of clinical and managerial coursework.
- Accessibility to Students, as determined by the academic and professional experience required for admission.
- Application of Knowledge, as determined by the type(s) of experiential learning (i.e. research, thesis project, capstone, internship, etc.) required to graduate and their significance (number of credits, courses, and/or minimum hours) in the curriculum
Many students seeking a clinical research master’s degree are already employed in the healthcare industry, and some may even hold an advanced degree already. Therefore, most CR/M programs offer plenty of flexibility in scheduling, including online or hybrid course options. Some also have extremely strict admissions requirements, such as that applicants possess an MD or PhD or have several years of work experience. Therefore, it is important for applicants to consider each of these options carefully and pick the one that suits their needs – and background – best.
Of course, budget is also a concern; note that we have included estimated tuition rates for each school. These values came from College Navigator and are meant only as a guide. Colleges frequently adjust their rates and fees, so the best way to get accurate pricing information is to contact the school directly.
25. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Online Master of Science in Health Sciences in Clinical Laboratory Sciences
The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley gives hospital and laboratory workers a leg up as they climb the corporate ladder, thanks to its convenient and affordable clinical research management master’s degree program. Ambitious students can complete UTRGV’s fully online, accelerated master’s program in just 12 months, making it a top choice for working professionals who need to earn a paycheck while building their credentials. Students from select “partner organizations” might also qualify for $2,000 scholarships. Although UTRGV pro-rates these awards over the course of the program, this financial assistance nevertheless makes UTRGV all the more competitive among budget-conscious applicants.
24. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Master of Science in Clinical Research
Designed for “MDs at the fellow and faculty level” as well as clinicians, the University of Texas Health Center at Houston’s accredited MS in clinical research is among the more rigorous programs on the list. This is perhaps best exemplified by the program’s Clinical Research Curriculum, which calls for a minimum of two years of courses delivered in weekly 90-minute lectures. From there, the program branches into two tracks: a Patient-Based Clinical Research track and a Translational Research track. The former focuses largely on study design, while the latter emphasizes molecular biology and genetics. Note that both programs still require a thesis and practicum for completion.
23. University of Louisville
Masters in Science in Clinical Investigation Sciences
Offered by the University of Louisville’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences, this accredited clinical research management master’s degree program helps degree candidates sharpen their acumen in biostatistics, epidemiology, and experimental design to a consummately professional level. Over the duration of the two-year program, students immerse themselves in courses such as “Health Behavior,” “New Drug and Device Development,” and “Data Management and Analysis” before conducting their own independent (though still closely mentored) research. Candidates will not be approved for a degree until they can defend their final thesis paper before a committee of faculty experts.
22. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
Master of Science in Clinical Research: Health Services
Offered through a partnership with the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill leverages the resources of two powerhouses in public health to create its top Master of Science in Clinical Research program. As a result, this program provides a broad scope, spanning global issues as well as local phenomena; degree candidates are equally concerned with public access to clean water in Orange County, NC, as they are with water distribution in Peru. These efforts to help and heal make UNC a particularly attractive choice for students who care deeply about the planet and want to make a global impact.
21. University of California San Diego
La Jolla, CA
Master’s Degree Program in Clinical Research
At the University of California San Diego, clinicians, fellows, and professors alike can augment their credentials with a comprehensive Master’s in Clinical Research. San Diego’s generalist approach to this topic makes it unique among even the top clinical research master’s degrees. Spanning statistics and data management, patient-oriented research, and even scientific communications skills, UC San Diego transforms degree candidates into veritable Swiss Army knives of data-driven public health. After 12, 18, or 30 months of study (depending on their chosen pace), graduates will be prepared to lead massive research enterprises in a number of executive capacities.
20. University of Texas Medical Branch
Masters of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science
With three distinct tracks designed for students from various educational and occupational backgrounds, the University of Texas Medical Branch’s affordable Master of Science in Clinical Research provides unparalleled opportunities for transitioning to a leadership role in a laboratory setting. UTMB’s standard offering is an MSCLS for Science Graduates, an 84-credit, blended online degree program designed for anyone with a bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences. UTMB also offers an MSCLS for Certified CLS Graduates (that is, those with existing lab experience if not ongoing careers) as well as a Master of Science degree in Transfusion Medicine with SBB (Specialist in Blood Bank Technology) certification.
19. MCPHS University
Master of Science in Clinical Research
MSCR students at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences can choose between a patient-based clinical research track and an “industry-related” track to customize their degree. And while both options train degree candidates to “develop, conduct, and monitor clinical trials” via extensive coursework in everything from biotech to biostatistics to bioethics, the choice itself exemplifies the flexibility for which this top MS in Clinical Research program is so well-known. Between part- and full-time study options, online and traditional classroom course delivery formats, and independent research projects, MCPHS aims to meet every student’s goals and needs.
18. Augusta University
Master of Health Science in Clinical Laboratory Science
Billed as an “entry-level degree,” an affordable master’s degree in clinical research management from Augusta University is one of the most cost-effective ways to build the credentials necessary to work in laboratory management. In just 74 credit hours (which students can complete online, in person, or in a hybrid format), Augusta manages to cover an impressive array of topics. The curriculum spans from immunology and epidemiology to statistical research methods and clinical services delivery while still leaving room for plenty of practicum and research experience. Perhaps best of all, this program’s comprehensive curriculum fully qualifies graduates to sit for the national certification examination for medical laboratory scientists.
17. University of North Texas
Master’s Program in Clinical Research Management
Hands-on learning and community outreach form two crucial pillars of the University of North Texas’s accredited clinical research master’s degree program. With a required six-month internship practicum at a local “hospital or clinic, pharmaceutical or medical device company, a clinical research organization or site management organization,” medical laboratory science graduates from UNT come away with real-world experience and professional development skills that will help their résumés stand out. And although internships are unpaid, UNT offers a number of fellowships and assistantships to help students subsidize their education.
16. University of Virginia
Master of Science in Clinical Research
Established in 1997, the University of Virginia’s accredited Master of Science in Clinical Research has been a leader in laboratory science education for the past two decades. In this time, UVA has produced some 150 medical professionals with both the quantitative and clinical abilities to thrive in diverse healthcare environments, from hospitals and public health agencies to pharmaceutical companies and private research firms. But even more popular than UVA’s standalone clinical research degree is its dual MD/MS-CR program, which allows ambitious students to earn both professional credentials in as little as five years.
15. Regis College
Master of Science in Regulatory and Clinical Research Management: Clinical Research Management
Regis College provides an exhaustive survey of medical device regulation, clinical trial management, and the health product industry through its Master of Science in Regulatory and Clinical Research Management program. Easily one of the best master’s degrees in clinical research management, Regis’s program combines rigorous theory with tangible experience to ensure that graduates have both the knowledge and skills they need to take on a leadership position in the workplace. And to help ensure that they find these careers after graduation, Regis requires all degree candidates to complete a practicum experience (students have even landed spots at top firms like Nova Biomedical, Genzyme, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals).
14. Fairleigh Dickinson University
Master of Health Science: Clinical Research Administration Track
At Farleigh Dickinson University, aspiring public health executives can choose from four career-focused master’s degree tracks, each of which imparts critical professional skills and credentials in the healthcare field. In particular, FDU’s Clinical Research Administration track shines as one of the best master of science in clinical research programs for the price. But regardless of the track they choose (other options include Regulatory Science, Health Informatics, and Professional Studies) all students will benefit from the university’s prime location in Teaneck, NJ. As an epicenter of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, New Jersey provides an abundance of resources for research projects, internships, and (after graduation) job opportunities.
13. Drexel University
Masters in Clinical Research Management Online
Drexel University offers an accelerated, flexible, and affordable master’s degree in clinical research management that’s particularly well-suited for working researchers who want to augment their qualifications on the job. Combining coursework in new product research; regulations and compliance; biostatistics and data management; business and strategic planning; and more into a 36-credit hour, non-thesis program, Drexel packs everything future lab managers needs to know into a very concise package. Drexel also offers all coursework fully online and asynchronously to accommodate the demanding schedules of lab technicians and other working research professionals.
12. University of North Carolina Wilmington
Master of Science: Clinical Research and Product Development
Experienced research professionals will find an affordable Master of Science in Clinical Research program that meets their career goals at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The Master of Science in Clinical Research and Product Development emphasizes professional development through advanced clinical practice and regulatory compliance and even features an optional Clinical Research Management concentration. By offering both part- and full-time study; online and traditional course delivery formats; and numerous scholarships through the School of Nursing, UNC Wilmington’s program meets virtually every criterion that working adults could require. Plus, at just over $12,000 annually on average, it is clearly one of the best deals in higher education.
11. CUNY Hunter College
New York, NY
MS in Biomedical Laboratory Management (BLM)
Recently inducted into the Professional Science Master’s (PSM) network, CUNY Hunter College’s MS in Biomedical Laboratory Management joins a prestigious selection of elite STEM programs around the country that contribute to a highly talented and individual workforce. Technologists and researchers in biomedical labs especially will appreciate Hunter’s accredited clinical research management master’s degree program, which helps working adults develop both their scientific knowledge and business acumen. And after they’ve made it through the rigorous, integrated curriculum, degree candidates will culminate their studies in a management practicum – either at their current workplace or another university-approved site.
10. Arizona State University
MS in Clinical Research Management
Arizona State University brings a “trans-disciplinary” approach to its top clinical research master’s degree program, combining finance, bioethics, and experimental design into a single 33-credit hour curriculum (which, to accommodate working students, can be taken either full- or part-time). Courses like “Healthcare Project Management,” “Medical Device Development and Regulation,” and “Pharmaceutical Safety and Risk Management” handily illustrate the sheer diversity and complexity of ASU’s educational program. This challenging degree culminates in a capstone research project that also serves as each graduate’s formal induction into the world of clinical research management.
9. George Washington University
Online Master of Science in Health Sciences in Clinical Research Administration
Although George Washington University’s Master of Science in Health Sciences in Clinical Research Administration is one of the younger programs on this list (the school rolled it out in 2001), it already stands among the best clinical research master’s degrees on the East Coast. That’s partly because it’s offered through GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences, one of the most highly ranked medical schools in the world. And while it may be an online program, the curriculum still maintains GW’s high caliber and strict standards, from practical learning through simulated professional assignments to career training specifically for lab techs and researchers.
8. Ohio State University
Master of Applied Clinical and Preclinical Research: Clinical Research Management
Another exclusively online program, Ohio State University’s accredited Master of Science in Clinical Research will appeal primarily to working students. Busy adults will appreciate not just the convenience of online scheduling, but an accelerated curriculum that can take them from start to finish in only 12 months. And students of all backgrounds and ages will appreciate OSU’s highly customizable curriculum, which features an impressive array of professional concentration tracks. In addition to a Clinical Research Management track, this selection also includes highly focused concentrations in everything from Regulatory Affairs and Safety Pharmacology to Clinical Research Design.
7. University of St Thomas
Online Master in Clinical Translation Management
The University of St. Thomas’s Master in Clinical Translation Management program offers an exciting opportunity to get in on the ground floor of an emerging field in the pharmaceutical and biomedical market. Originally developed in collaboration with the Houston Methodist Hospital and Research Institute, UST’s program stands out among other top clinical research master’s degrees for its ability to help STEM experts “translate” their scientific expertise to business savvy. After completing this 100% online, accelerated one-year degree program, UST graduates will be qualified to bring their talents anywhere—from GE and Johnson and Johnson to top life sciences management consulting firms.
6. Thomas Jefferson University
Master of Science in Clinical Research
Thomas Jefferson University’s College of Biomedical Science launched its Master of Science in Clinical Research just a year ago, and yet it’s already making waves. Unlike many comparable top master of science in clinical research programs, which are designed for lab techs who can’t attend class full-time, Jefferson’s program has broader appeal. In fact, it’s geared towards anyone with a bachelor’s degree in the life, physical, or health sciences. As such, accepted applicants should expect to cover a lot of ground in their coursework; the 40-credit curriculum includes both management and research cores in addition to a research-based capstone project.
5. University of Vermont
Clinical and Translational Science MS: Concentration in Research Management
The University of Vermont offers two professional concentrations in its Clinical and Translational MS program: Investigation and Research Management. The former is a more rarefied program designed for academics at the post-doctoral level who would like to transition into an administrative position or work as a principal investigator. On the other hand, combining this accredited MS in clinical research with a Research Management track provides a more traditional education for baccalaureates, lab techs, and young professionals. Coursework addresses topics like business communications and experimental design in order to assist early career professionals on their way to becoming successful leaders at biotech firms, public health agencies, and hospitals.
4. San Jose State University
San Jose, CA
Master of Science Degree in Medical Product Development Management
San Jose State University’s Masters of Science degree in Medical Product Development Management (MPDM) is one of the most narrowly focused programs on this list. Fortunately, having specialized research credentials is a significant asset in the healthcare industry. So while other accredited clinical research master’s degrees provide a broad base of general coursework, SJSU’s curriculum dives right in to niche topics like pharmaceutical and biotech regulations, data management, and statistical analysis. MPDM degree candidates will also complete a hefty dose of management classes to prepare for jobs as clinical operations administrators, managers, and executives in the high-stakes arena of modern medical product development.
3. Saint Cloud State University
Saint Cloud, MN
Applied Clinical Research MS
Saint Cloud State University prides itself on offering the only clinical research program in the country that focuses specifically on medical devices. But that’s only one of many reasons the program stands out. Another? Saint Cloud offers a flexible delivery format that includes evening, Saturday, and/or online classes, making it particularly convenient for working adults. In addition, industry-expert faculty – 75% of who either are or were executives in the pharmaceutical or biotech industries at one point – teach all classes. Finally, the affordable average price of just above $10,000 year helps solidify St. Cloud’s as one of the best clinical research master’s degree programs in the country.
2. Campbell University
Buies Creek, NC
MS in Clinical Research (MSCR)
Thanks to Campbell University, aspiring grad students have an affordable way of earning an accredited MS in clinical research online. With an average net price of less than $8,000, an education from Campbell costs about half as much as most of its competitors on this list – and that’s even before factoring in travel time. Campbell’s price is no reflection on the rigor of its curriculum, though. In fact, with coursework spanning “data management, statistics, managing and monitoring clinical trials, regulatory affairs, and physical and clinical assessment,” Campbell provides more than an adequate preparation for the challenges of clinical research management.
1. Eastern Michigan University
Master of Science in Clinical Research Administration
Eastern Michigan University’s accredited MS in clinical research might be one of the best programs for working adults who already have an established career in a research facility. Not only does EMU offer its curriculum completely online, but it also expects—and then builds on—a certain level of prior education and relevant work experience. By assuming this baseline of industry knowledge, EMU is able to offer an accelerated program; students can complete all required courses (including the capstone research thesis) in as little as 24 months with part-time enrollment.
Have you attended any of these top clinical research management master’s degree programs? Tell us about it in the comments!