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Personalized and lifestyle-oriented health care is gaining ground, thanks to innovative medical technologies, evolving public health initiatives, and a rising generation of natural and medical products. A Master’s in Clinical Research online is a relatively new degree that trains medical professionals to direct and conduct research and clinical trials for new medical products and even medical supplements. Clinical research competencies include drug development, clinical trial operations, scientific concepts and design, ethical and patient safety considerations, and leadership. All of that prepares students for careers in health care organizations, national or international research organizations, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, and government and regulatory agencies.
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The best Clinical Research training programs should cover key courses that are important to carve out a good career for a student. Master’s in Clinical Research online programs are generally designed to do just that; nevertheless, one should factor other aspects such as teaching quality, faculty experience, quality of research facilities, infrastructure, accreditation, and of course, cost. Keeping all these in mind, here is a list of some of the best Masters in Clinical Research online programs:
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Understanding Masters in Clinical Research Programs
Most Master’s in Clinical Research online programs look into the ethical, clinical, medical, and regulatory aspects of drug trials and medical device trials. That said, one could opt to specialize in a particular aspect of Clinical Research, such as Management, which will take a multi-disciplinary approach in providing students with a strong commercial, financial and managerial understanding of conducting Clinical Research.
Masters in Clinical Research Degree Types
Students who wish to pursue a Master’s in Clinical Research could very well be spoilt for choice when it comes to the types of degrees available today. All these Degree types generally make use of different approaches, formats, structures, and study requirements, which will, in turn, translate to a wide range of career paths. Depending on a student’s academic background, personal interests, and career goals, one could choose a type of degree that is most suitable, some of which are illustrated here.
MS in Clinical Research
A Master of Science of MS in Clinical Research aims to teach the fundamental science of human research principles. An in-depth exploration of relevant concepts and principles of clinical research, such as biostatistics, clinical trials design, regulatory guidelines, etc., is included in the curriculum. The information covered in other courses, such as basic scientific discoveries and their use in treatments, and the results of clinical experiments, are also generally addressed.
MSN Clinical Research
A Master of Science in Nursing in Clinical Research, or MSN Clinical Research, covers the areas of discovery of self, transformation in others, and innovation in systems. In general, this Master’s degree offers two tracks to pursue: Leadership and Clinical Research. Students who apply for this program are generally required to be registered nurses with an academic background of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
MBA in Clinical Research
A Master of Business Administration in Clinical Research, or MBA in Clinical Research, caters to the business and commercial aspects of Clinical Research, from medical writing to biostatistical concepts, to regulatory requirements and data management.
MSHS in Clinical Research Administration
A Master of Science in Health Sciences in Clinical Research Administration or MSHS in Clinical Research Administration combines a Master’s degree in Health Science and a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Research Administration. This program prepares students to participate in clinical trials that conform to higher standards of safety and ethics while also addressing legal implications in innovative medical research and product development.
MPH Clinical Research
A Master of Public Health in Clinical Research, or MPH Clinical Research, offers a more comprehensive understanding of individual/group well-being and the impact of intrinsic and extrinsic influences on personal health and covers many aspects of public health.
MCTM Clinical Research
Unlike most MS and MSHS degrees that focus more on research, a Master’s in Clinical Translation Management in Clinical Research, or MCTM Clinical Research, lays special emphasis on lab work and professional applications of clinical research blending the two.
Specializations in Masters in Clinical Research Programs
The area of Clinical Research is, in itself, a broad-based one. Although a Master’s in Clinical Research online program can open up several career pathways, specializations and concentrations in one definitive aspect of Clinical Research will enable graduates to seek employment in niche industries and distinct sectors. Here is a list of some of the specializations or concentrations students can opt for:
Master’s in Clinical Science
Master’s in Clinical Trial Management
Online Master’s in Translational Research
Online Master’s in Clinical Research Administration
Master’s in Clinical Practice Management
Master’s in Pharmacovigilance
Master of Science in Clinical and Health Informatics
Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in Clinical Research Online Programs
Regardless of the Degree type, Clinical Research online courses tend to offer similar courses across programs largely. Most of these courses cater to wider aspects of Clinical Research but based on the program or specialization, and they begin to vary. However, to get a general idea of the Clinical Research curriculum, the list of courses/subjects below features a few.
The Clinical Research Industry
Clinical Research Operations
Scientific and Research Review Boards
Strategic and Operational Decision Making for Health Care Leaders
Biostatistics for Clinical and Translational Research
Clinical Trial Monitoring
Regulatory and Compliance Issues
Partnerships with Human Subjects
Clinical Research Monitoring
Responsible Conduct of Clinical Research
Designing Clinical Research Studies
Fundamentals of Regulatory Affairs
Clinical Research Management Project
Management of Clinical Trials
Biostatistics with Computing
Leadership Development in Health Care Systems
Quality and Risk Management
Clinical Research Ethics
Monitoring, Auditing, and Oversight in Clinical Research
Leadership and Change in Clinical Research Administration
Epidemiology for Clinical and Translational Research
Seminar in Clinical Research
Clinical Research Practicum
Apart from the required basic courses, students are required to take up at least 2 (or more) Electives, some of which include but are not limited to:
Directed Studies in Clinical Research
Professional Skills for Students in the Biomedical Sciences
Fundamentals of Medical Biotechnology
Professionalism & Scientific Writing
Introduction to Medical Pharmacology
Applied regression analysis with Computing
International Clinical Research
Introduction to Global Regulatory Affairs
Advanced General Pharmacology
Drug Discovery and Development
Bench to Bedside: Translating Biomedical Innovation from Laboratory to the Marketplace
Good Clinical Practices in Clinical Research
Ethical Issues in Clinical Research
Molecules to Molecular Therapeutics
Depending on the type of degree and its requirements, students may also need to complete an internship or practicum experience.
Learning outcomes can vary by program. But in general, students of a Master’s in Clinical Research will exhibit the following skills:
Inculcate good clinical practices and formulate strategies that address cultural and ethical considerations.
Meet regulatory requirements in clinical trials by ensuring compliance with established guidelines and also appropriately prepare regulatory documents.
Use medical, clinical, scientific, regulatory, and commercial aspects required to draw up new investigational product clinical development plans by evaluating research design principles.
Effectively arrange for subject recruitment and retention and risk assessment.
Integrate clinical, commercial, and regulatory aspects in planning and deploying clinical trials.
Ensure data integrity in clinical trials.
Design and develop clinical research, effectively conduct trials based on such research, and evaluate their outcomes.
Present clinical research results to colleagues (either from outside publications or from own research).
Demonstrate an understanding of how to read and evaluate clinical research literature.
Accreditation for Masters in Clinical Research Online Programs
When considering a Master’s in Clinical Research online program, students must always check for accreditation of the college, and preferably the program as well. Accreditation is important when students wish to transfer to another college or in almost all sectors of the job market, that the accreditation endorses the quality of the program and the fulfillment of the standards it sets.
Timeline for graduation from Masters in Clinical Research Online Programs
As for the time it takes for students to graduate from a Master’s in Clinical Research online program, most programs usually take two years to finish. Students can take up part-time programs as well but are required to complete them within a maximum duration of 5 years. Some colleges offer full-time programs that can be completed in 1 academic year (including the summer). Dual programs are also available but are not so common. These programs typically offer a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree together in a shorter time frame. An example of this is the Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHS) and Master of Health Sciences (MHS) that require five years to complete, instead of the usual six years.
Masters in Clinical Research Online Programs Admission Requirements
The main requirement for a Master’s in Clinical Research online is an accredited Bachelor’s degree (or even Master’s degree) that includes courses with content in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, biology, chemistry, or medical terminology. Alternatively, students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in any other field must provide evidence of successful completion of additional courses in some of these subjects, along with a work experience of 6 months in clinical research conduct. Here is a quick look at other admission requirements for a Master’s in Clinical Research online program:
Personal Statement outlining short and long-term goals and interest in the field of clinical research, and the reason for applying to the program
Two or Three References or Letters of Recommendation.
Proof of 6 months experience in clinical research, if required.
Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00.
While some colleges require a GRE or GMAT standardized test score to be submitted along with the application, many have either waived this requirement or ask for the score only if the applicant’s cumulative GPA is below 3.00.
Note: Admission requirements, especially the academic background and/or work experience, may vary by program and college. It is always best to check the program guide for additional or specific details.
Free Online Clinical Research Courses
Free online courses are sometimes good for students who want to enhance their knowledge and gain a deeper insight into some specific aspect of Clinical Research. These courses are not graduate degrees but assist in studying a full-fledged Masters in Clinical Research online program. Here are a few we could find online:
Coursesity Coursesity has courses on topics such as Clinical Research-Informed Consent in Depth, Essential Documentation within Clinical Research, Clinical Research in Medical Devices, and more.
Coursera Coursera has courses for beginners, intermediate, and advanced learners and mixed levels of learning. In all, the site claims to have some 572 Clinical Research-related courses.
Class Central Class Central offers free online courses in Clinical Research from some of the best-known Universities, such as Harvard University, John Hopkins University, Stanford University, and others.
SOCRA The Society for Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA) provides access to training and continuing education in Clinical Research through online courses. Free courses may require a membership.
How to Pay for Masters in Clinical Research Online Programs
With tuition fees and the average cost of Master’s programs on the rise, students will be wise to look into funding options for Master’s in Clinical Research Online Programs. Several funding options are available, ranging from Scholarships to Grants to government aid such as the FAFSA. Here’s a short rundown of funding possibilities to consider:
Scholarships are among the most common ways to finance advanced education and are relatively easy to apply for. The main reason for this is that Scholarships are construed to be “free money”, in the sense that a recipient is not required to repay the amount awarded. (Students should stay alert enough not to get caught up in Scholarship Scams).
Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Research Assistantships are the most common forms of assistantships available for a Master’s in Clinical Research at some universities. Assistantships enable students to teach, work, or conduct research at the college while still studying.
Full-time students are usually eligible for Fellowships, which are merit-based or project-based prizes that help them further their education.
Federal or private loans are another choice for raising funds for education. However, loans are issued based on interest and can lead to an increase in student debt if not paid back on time.
Working on Campus
Some Universities hire their students to serve on campus as “employees”. This alternative, unlike Assistantships, treats the student like any other ‘employee,’ but the money received from such jobs could at least partly finance their tuition fee.
Scholarships for Masters in Clinical Research Online Students
Scholarships are also known as Fellowships at the graduate level. They are typically awarded to students based on academic merit. However, some scholarships are awarded based on an essay to be submitted to a scholarship committee that forms the basis for the award. Here are a few scholarships for a Master’s in Clinical Research online:
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation (ASHFoundation) offers 15 scholarships of $5,000 each for those enrolling or currently pursuing a Master’s or Doctoral research or clinical degree. Application Deadline: May 19, 2023.
American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has a long list of scholarships for students interested in Clinical Research Training in areas such as Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s Disease, Lewy Body Diseases, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Migraine, and more. Award amounts and deadlines for application vary by scholarship.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers awards for a wide range of programs and studies, especially to students who will go on to pursue their Doctorate in the field of Clinical Research. Award amounts vary, as do application deadlines.
FAQs about CLINICAL RESEARCH Programs
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Masters in Clinical Research?
The Master of Science in Clinical Research Program is a cross-disciplinary degree that meets the changing needs of the current health sector and also caters to the increasing need for well-developed quantitative and analytical professionals involved in Clinical Research and Clinical Trials.
Clinical Research and its many specializations and concentrations can be studied in various colleges that offer accredited and well-structured programs, catering to individual needs. A list of some of the best colleges to study Clinical Research is provided in this article.
Who can study Clinical Research?
Students who are interested in designing, developing, and conducting clinical research, and also programs that clinically test new medicines and medical devices, are best suited to take up a Master’s in Clinical Research. However, certain admission criteria (listed in this article) must be met to qualify for the program.
Careers and Salary Outlook for Masters in Clinical Research Graduates
MS in Clinical Research jobs are not hard to come by in settings such as education, medicine, industry, and research, among others. With skills that include critical thinking, strategic development, leadership, and evaluation, graduates can cater to the growing need for Clinical Research jobs. For example, there are many careers in Clinical Research management that one could consider, such as:
Regulatory Affairs Specialists
Clinical Research Monitors
Study Coordinators; and
Institutional Review Board (IRB) Administrators
Some other career examples related to Clinical Research degrees and specializations include but are not limited to:
Clinical Trial Director
Clinical Data Manager
Natural Sciences Manager
Clinical Trial Program Manager
Clinical Research Coordinator
Clinical Research Associate
Several factors, such as an aging population and an increase in the demand for public health programs, contribute to the overall demand for Clinical Research degree holders in the health care industry. The list below highlights a few in-demand jobs and their median annual salaries (as reported by ‘Payscale’, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
These are only a few of the high-paying and in-demand Clinical Research professions that a Master’s in Clinical Research will lead to. Some others can command even higher salaries, such as Natural Science Managers, who, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), take a median annual salary of $137,940, with the top 10% of earners taking over $208,000 a year!
Certifications and Licensing for Clinical Research Graduates
An applied clinical research certificate often provides a shot in the arm and increases the value of a student’s education quite considerably in the job market. Additionally, for students to work in clinical trial organizations, or governmental agencies (especially in public health), additional Certifications and Licensure may be required. Some such Certifications and Licensing programs are:
Certified Clinical Research Coordinator (CRS-CCRC)
Certified Clinical Project Manager (CCPM)
Good Clinical Practice (GCP) Certification
Emerging Clinical Research Professional (ECRP)
Additional Resources for Clinical Research Professionals
Staying up to date with the latest research and developments in Clinical Research goes a long way in helping students and professionals in building up their knowledge, discovering new methods and approaches, and solving real-world problems in Clinical Research. Therefore, Master’s in Clinical Research online students, as well as working professionals, should commune, network, and grab every opportunity possible to leverage resources made available to them. Here are a few such resources:
Georgia CTSA The Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance (Georgia CTSA) has a wealth of research resources, education and training insights, funding opportunities, and a growing community of Clinical Researchers.
ClinicalTrials.gov ClinicalTrials.gov (US National Library of Medicine) has publications, clinical alerts and advisories, RSS feeds, trends, charts and maps, and content for analysis.
American Society of Clinical Oncology American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has resources supporting physician investigators and research staff in conducting and managing clinical trials.
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