Top 10 Affordable Master’s Degrees in Clinical Research

If you plan to pursue a career as a clinical research coordinator, technician, or data manager, the Top 10 Affordable Masters in Clinical Research will set you on your path. As the demand for advanced medical technology, new pharmaceuticals, and biological device development continues to grow, so does the need for highly trained clinical researchers. If you are ready to be a leader and innovative researcher who creates much needed and well-tested medical products and drugs, a Master's degree will give you a strong foundation. This field spans the private and public sector, and professionals in the field will find a wide variety of positions with a broad selection of research focuses. You may decide to pursue a career as a medical writer, a clinical trial monitor, a product safety specialist, or a clinical research scientist. 

According to, the average income for clinical research associates is $63,340 a year. Upward mobility in this field is standard, especially as professionals move on to greater levels of responsibility within corporations, clinics, or non-profit organizations. The average income for a professional at the end of their career is $87,253. Those working in management roles receive a larger compensation, with a median wage of $78,424 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Further information on the field of clinical research can be found through professional organizations such as the Association of Clinical Research Professionals and the Society of Clinical Research Associates

Many of the programs listed below offer the degree completely online, with practicum or internship being completed in the student's area of residence. The majority of the programs also have specific concentrations for students to drill down into what their career specialty will be. These concentrations are often in Clinical Research Management, Investigation, or Regulatory Affairs. Another integral aspect of the program is the school's research assistantship offerings, which not only provide financial support to students but gives them valuable experience in the field. Several of the programs listed below have generous fellowship or scholarship programs as well. 


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Here are the Top 10 Affordable Masters in Clinical Research for 2020!

#10. University of Vermont

Burlington, VT

Master of Science in Clinical and Translational Science


The University of Vermont offers a 31-credit Master of Science in Clinical and Translational Science with a concentration on Investigation or Research Management. Students take 19 credits of required courses, six credits of electives and six credits of supervised research. Core classes include Designing Clinical and Translational Research, Cell to Society, and Analyzing Clinical and Translational Research. The curriculum is designed with a weekly seminar that all students must participate in and attend. The 75-minute seminars occur every Friday with topics ranging from faculty presentations on current research or career development workshops to student projects. To complete the degree, students must pass a comprehensive exam, engage in a teaching practicum, and defend their thesis dissertation. 

The program admits new students twice per year in the spring and fall semesters. Application criteria are competitive, with most incoming students holding a 3.5 GPA in their undergraduate studies. Interviews with faculty are required of all candidates. Applicants should compose a letter to the faculty that specifically covers what their research experience consists of, their overall career goals, research topic interests, and if the student has a specific faculty member to work with.

Graduate Tuition: $ 15,504

Score: 91.1

#9. University of Louisville

Louisville, KY

Master's in Science in Clinical Investigation Sciences


The Master's in Science in Clinical Investigation Sciences at the University of Louisville is a total of 30 credits. There are 21 required courses covering subjects on public health in the United States, new drug and device development, and data collection for clinical research. Students may take a total of six elective credits in an area of interest. All students complete a three-credit mentored research project. To graduate, a professional paper based on the student's original research must be approved by a committee made up of the School of Public Health's faculty and the student's advisor. 

Applicants to the program must have a minimum GPA of 3.0, and those with research experience and/or an advanced degree are preferred. Other application materials include a CV, personal statement, two letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and transcripts from all previous institutions. The School of Public Health and Information Sciences at the University of Louisville is home to the Statistical Consulting Center, which provides consultation on experiment design, managing data and writing technical reports to health care organizations, businesses, and research centers. 

Graduate Tuition: $12,246

Score: 83.0

#8. Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

Master of Applied Clinical and Preclinical Research


Ohio State University's Master of Applied Clinical and Preclinical Research is a 36 credit program that is entirely online. The program typically takes 12-24 months to complete, depending on whether the student is enrolled at part or full time. Two areas of specialization are offered in Clinical Research Management or Regulatory Affairs. Required courses include Fundationmentals of Medical Product Development and Regulation, Clinical Research Design and Methods, and Principles of Quality Management for Medical Product Development. The curriculum also covers topics on research ethics and biostatistics. To graduate, students will complete either a capstone project or engage in a practicum experience.

Application materials to the program include a CV, a statement of goals, three letters of recommendation, and transcripts from all previous institutions. The program is limited to 35 students in each class. Online classes are pre-recorded and can be viewed at the student's convenience. Students may select the site of their practicum in their area of residence and/or may engage in research at an approved site. 

Graduate Tuition: $11,560

Score: 100

#7. Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ

Master of Science in Clinical Research


The Master of Science in Clinical Research at Arizona State University is a 100% online, 33-credit program. ASU's Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation partners with the Mayo Clinic, giving students and faculty in the program opportunities to access and participate in research from a broad spectrum of specialties. The program emphasizes an entrepreneurial approach towards medical, biological, and pharmaceutical trials. It is suited for current health professionals, physicians, and nurses, although students who do not have this background may take prerequisite courses to prepare for the program. Core coursework includes topics on Clinical Research Monitoring, Fundamentals of Regulatory Affairs, and Scientific and Research Review Boards. All students complete a clinical research management project at the end of the program.

U.S. News and World Report ranked Arizona State University No. 1 for Innovation from 2016 to 2019. ASU also ranked No. 8 in the country in research spending for an institution without a medical school, according to the National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development Survey. Additionally, ASU is a top ranking university for veterans as ranked by the Military Times, and is a military-friendly institution with a variety of resources for veterans

Graduate Tuition: $11,240

Score: 95.6

#6. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

Master of Science in Clinical Research


The Master of Science in Clinical Research was designed for graduate students with significant experience and training in performing clinical research. At 36 credits, the program is usually completed within two years. The Department of Epidemiology at UNC has several research program areas in cancer epidemiology, cardiovascular epidemiology, and injury epidemiology. Students participate in hands-on research that benefits North Carolina and the broader epidemiology community. UNC is also home to the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility, and the Center for Pharmacoepidemiology. 

Applicants should submit three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, GRE test scores, and transcripts from all previous institutions to apply. UNC accepts new students each fall, with the admissions application due the previous spring. For those interested in a graduate school fellowship, applications are due in December. Those who complete a FAFSA by March 1 are also be considered for UNC's tuition enhancement grants. To gain a brief overview of studying epidemiology in the MSCR program, faculty members created an online video viewable for all prospective students.

Graduate Tuition: $9,943

Score: 95.6

#5. St. Cloud University

St. Cloud, MN

Master of Science in Applied Clinical Research


The Master of Science in Applied Clinical Research specializes in preparing its students for careers in researching medical devices. Courses in the program can be taken online or in person, with many classes in the evening on weekdays or Saturday mornings. The program's faculty is made up of industry professionals who have worked from 15-30 years as managers and experts in the field. The total credits for the program range between 34-46 hours, depending on the student's undergraduate background and needed prerequisite courses. Students select from one of two tracks, culminating in either a research project or clinical internship. Courses in the program cover topics on biostatistics for clinical trials, evidence-based medicine, and life cycle of the clinical product. The program can be completed at full or part-time enrollment. 

The program has a rolling deadline, admitting new students for the Fall and Spring terms. Admission applications are completed online and require letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a statement of purpose. GRE scores are not required. Residents of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Manitoba are eligible for Minnesota's in-state tuition rate. Graduate assistantships at St. Cloud University typically pay $9,250 per academic year for full-time enrolled students. Over 300 assistantships are awarded each year. St. Cloud also offers many institution-based scholarships funds for graduate students. 

Graduate Tuition: $7,668

Score: 93.6

#4. The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley

Edinburg, TX

Master of Science in Health Sciences in Clinical Laboratory Sciences


The Master of Science in Health Sciences in Clinical Laboratory Sciences was designed for medical technologists and certified medical laboratory scientists. The program can be completed in one year and prepares students for management positions in a wide range of scenarios– from hospitals to private labs. Required courses cover topics on health care policy, organization, and policy, health computer systems, and legal and ethical issues in healthcare. Courses specific to clinical laboratory sciences include the Pathophysiology of Disease, Advanced Practice in Clinical Chemistry, and Clinical Applications of Molecular Diagnostics. 

The MSHS has four start dates per year, and terms are seven weeks in length. Admission to the program requires a Bachelor's degree in Health Science, Business or a related field. Applicants must provide proof of licensure or certification as a Medical Laboratory Scientist. UTRGV has a Dean's New Graduate Scholarship, and over 200 other scholarships to assist graduate students with the cost of tuition. 

Graduate Tuition: $5,550

Score: 82.8

3. University of North Texas

Fort Worth, TX

Master of Science in Clinical Research Management


The University of North Texas provides students an opportunity to earn a 49-credit Master of Science in Clinical Research Management. Of these 49 credits, 18 credits are from two nine credit laboratory internship practicums. The director of the MSCRM program places and approves the location of internships. Most internships take place in Dallas, Fort Worth or Denton. Courses in the program cover topics on biostatistics, biochemistry, and the ethical, legal, and social aspects of responsible clinical research. The University of North Texas' Health Science Center has a robust research and innovation, with the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences leading research in cell biology, immunology, and microbiology.

Admission to the program requires MCAT test scores, two letters of recommendation, and transcripts from all previous institutions. Prerequisite courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, English, and statistics are also required. New students are accepted once per year to start in the summer term, with applications due the previous March. UNTHSC is a military friendly school and offers a variety of benefits and services to active members of the military and veterans. 

Graduate Tuition: $5,450

Score: 87.8

#2. Augusta University 

Augusta, GA

Master of Health Science in Clinical Laboratory Science


Augusta University's Master of Health Science in Clinical Laboratory Science is designed for graduate students who hold a science-related Bachelor's degree. The program is a total of 74 credits and is five semesters in length. Students who graduate from the program are eligible to take the MLS certification examination through the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification. In the first year, the curriculum covers topics on clinical biochemistry, hematology, and medical terminology. Second-year students move on to advanced subjects in clinical molecular methods and professional issues and ethics. All students will engage in an internship and must complete a research or capstone project to graduate. 

Augusta's master's program admits only once per year for the fall term, and GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a minimum undergrad GPA of 2.75 math/science courses are required. Applicants are selected for an in-person interview. Additional requirements include CPR-BLS and Heartsaver First aid certification from the American Heart Association. Augusta University is home to a robust research community

Graduate Tuition: $5,144

Score: 84.9

#1. University of North Carolina Wilmington

Wilmington, NC

Master of Science in Clinical Research & Product Development


The Master of Science in Clinical Research and Product Development program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington is offered in an entirely online format. The degree prepares its students to effectively manage clinical research trials and understand the complexities of regulations in regards to biopharmaceutical development. The program is a total of 36 credits, with five required courses, four courses within a student selected concentration, two elective classes and culminating in a three to six credit master's project or thesis. Students may select from a concentration in Clinical Research Management or Regulatory Affairs and Compliance. 

Core coursework includes topics on scientific writing and medical literature, the ethics of clinical research, and managing data from research trial design. The curriculum for students in the clinical research management concentration will delve into pharmacoeconomics, epidemiology, and pathophysiology. In the Regulatory Affairs and Compliance concentration, students will receive advanced training in intellectual property management, organic chemistry, and pharmacotherapeutics. 

To apply to the program, prospective students should submit GRE or GMAT scores less than five years old, three letters of recommendation, proof of official transcripts, and a written narrative. A Bachelor's degree in the sciences or health care is preferred with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a statistics course is required. The College of Health and Human Services' research projects at UNCW are supported by student assistance. Research and scholarship opportunities are listed here

Graduate Tuition: $4,626

Score: 95.2

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