Studying Clinical Research
Clinical researchers work on the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases and bring the latest scientific breakthroughs from the lab to the real world.
Clinical research has become more important than ever, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Clinical researchers help determine the best way for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases and bring the latest scientific breakthroughs from the lab to the real world. Demand for clinical research professionals is high and increasing, driven by the growing health care industry, new product development and rising demands for medical evidence by patients and practitioners. Graduate students interested in the clinical research field go on to work at public and private medical device companies, contract research organizations, hospital systems and more.
St. Cloud State University (SCSU) in Minnesota and Boston University in Massachusetts are two universities in the United States that offer full-time as well as online graduate certificate programs in clinical research.
St. Cloud State University
St. Cloud State University offers a Master of Science degree in Applied Clinical Research. This program calls itself the only clinical research program in the United States that is focused on medical devices. Moreover, the university’s annual MedTech networking and job fair is one of the largest of its kind, featuring 15 to 20 health technology companies.
The program’s students receive the necessary knowledge and skills to design, conduct and evaluate human clinical trials of medical devices. This includes learning how medical devices affect the human body, how new products are developed and brought to market, and how to design and conduct ethical and scientific medical research.
“SCSU takes a practical approach to graduate study courses, supporting STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] careers in demand, helping students develop competencies and skills in the areas of clinical research and regulatory affairs,” says Cathy Krier, director of MedTech Graduate Degree Programs, College of Science and Engineering, St. Cloud State University. “Unparalleled industry engagement is infused throughout these programs.”
All courses of the program are taught by industry experts, who share their leadership experiences by using real-world examples and projects. More than 75 percent of the instructors are executives or senior management-level industry leaders; the others are seasoned managers and technical experts with 15 to 30 years of experience. Classes are held on weeknight evenings and Saturdays, with participation available either in-person or online.
The program offers full-time, part-time and certificate options. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree in engineering, science, biochemistry, biostatistics, public health, nursing or another relevant field. Each St. Cloud State University program is designed so that individuals can earn a master’s degree in two years. A master’s in Applied Clinical Research curriculum ranges from 34 to 46 credits, and the tuition fee is about $830 per credit. Details about scholarships are available on the university’s website.
Boston University offers a Master of Science degree in Clinical Research (MSCR). Started in 2001, the program teaches students the scientific fundamentals of human research and addresses the needs of health care professionals interested in patient-oriented research. This flexible degree program is designed for a variety of medical professionals, including physicians who will plan and oversee research and medical trials; research nurses; study coordinators; managers in clinical research and site management organizations; and professionals in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.
“An understanding of how to perform clinical research has never been more important to the health of the entire world,” says Program Director Janice Weinberg. “The students in the MSCR program come from all areas of the world and a vast array of professional backgrounds. Our student diversity is a significant strength of the program.”
The program can be completed on either a part-time or a full-time basis, and requires completing a minimum of 32 graduate credits. Most courses take place in the late afternoon or early evening, to accommodate working professionals. Full-time students can complete the required coursework in one year, and part-time students must register for at least 4 and maximum 11 credits each semester, until all course requirements are completed. These courses provide an in-depth look at key elements in clinical investigation, including trial design, trial management, biostatistics, ethical issues and clinical research regulations.
There are several scholarship opportunities available for international students, which can be accessed on the Boston University website.
Jason Chiang is a freelance writer based in Silver Lake, Los Angeles.