MD/Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR)

Combining medical education with training and experience in clinical research prepares clinician-researchers to improve patient health as well as healthcare. The dual degree program is appealing to those students who are interested in pursuing careers in the areas of medicine and clinical research in either an academic environment or pharmaceutical or biotechnology industry setting.

The program is designed as a five-year, full-time experience, although accommodations can be made for students who need more time to complete the dual degree. Senior faculty with clinical and research expertise will both instruct and mentor students throughout the program. The required capstone project is designed to allow the student to demonstrate research skills. Students will also develop fine-tuned clinical research skills as they complete 240 hours of a clinical research practicum in either an academic institution or in industry.

The Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR) program exists within the BU Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine. As an entity of Chobanian & Avedisian SOM, students are provided with opportunities and are exposed to resources that are part of the Chobanian & Avedisian SOM, the School of Public Health, the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, Boston Medical Center, two VA administrations, and BioSquare. All of this offers students endless opportunities for personal, academic, and professional development.

The MSCR program teaches students the scientific fundamentals of human research. Courses in this curriculum provide an in-depth look at all of the key elements in clinical research including: study design, clinical trial management, biostatistics, ethical issues, and clinical research regulations. Other courses cover how basic science discoveries translate into clinical research and new therapies.

For the complete Clinical Research program for the dual degree, students will complete 18 credit hours of coursework; and 2 credits each for the research “practicum” (which includes hands-on involvement in a clinical research project(s) under a scientific mentor) and a capstone project, respectively. This can be completed in two semesters: fall and spring.

Our Mission

Inspire, Instruct, Innovate…The MS in Clinical Research program is dedicated to the discovery, development, and application of knowledge as it pertains to all areas of clinical research. Our mission is to foster an engaging and effective educational environment that promotes the pursuit of outstanding teaching and learning through formal classroom and practical training. With established collaborative relationships with pharmaceutical, biotech, and academic institutions, students are provided with unique opportunities to pursue clinical research in areas that are of personal and professional interest.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the MS in Clinical Research, students are expected to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to design and conduct clinical research, analyze results, and answer a research question.
  • Demonstrate the ability to read and critique the clinical research literature.
  • Present clinical research findings (from literature or their own research) to peers.


Degree Requirements

To earn both degrees, students must complete the required classroom and clinical coursework for the MD degree and 18 additional credit hours of Clinical Research coursework, as well as the practicum and capstone project.

For MD/MSCR students, the credits required for the MSCR are fulfilled as follows:

  1. MD/MSCR students earn 10 credits toward the MSCR for completing designated courses required for their MD degree. The cost for these 10 credits is covered by medical school tuition; there is no additional cost.
  2. The remaining 22 credits toward the MSCR degree are as follows:
    • Designing Clinical Research Studies (4 cr)
    • Biostatistics with Computing (4 cr)
    • Regulatory and Compliance Issues in Clinical Research OL (4 cr)
    • Management of Clinical Trials (4 cr)
    • Seminar in Clinical Research (2 cr)
    • Practicum (2 cr)
    • Capstone Project (2 cr)

Students must earn at least a grade of Pass in all medical school courses and must maintain at least a grade point average of 3.0 (on a scale of 4.0) in GMS CR courses.

Practicum Requirement for MSCR

The goal of the practicum experience is to provide the student hands-on exposure to clinical research. The student will work with a research mentor and will be actively involved in the development, execution, and evaluation of a clinical research project or project(s). During the practicum, it is expected that the student will be exposed to:

  • clinical research planning
  • protocol preparation
  • interaction with Institutional Review Boards
  • regulatory requirements
  • selection of subjects/consent process
  • data collection
  • study monitoring
  • data analysis

These various activities will most likely require involvement in more than one research project.

The practicum may be completed with a research mentor who is actively conducting clinical research studies within a clinical research or hospital setting, and will usually be an investigator on the study or studies that the student is using for their thesis. The practicum may also be performed under the direction of a clinical research professional within a drug, device, or biotechnology company, a clinical research organization (CRO), or site management organization (SMO) actively involved in clinical trials. MSCR faculty can assist students in finding an appropriate practicum, but it is the student’s responsibility to find a practicum site.

Capstone Requirement for MSCR

Students in the MSCR program are required to complete a capstone project that applies the principles and methods learned in the coursework to a real-life clinical study. The goal of the capstone project is to demonstrate the student’s understanding of the clinical research process from both a theoretical and a practical point of view. The capstone project is not a literature review.

Students conduct their research in a wide variety of settings, including academic medical centers and local drug or device companies. Students generally identify their research mentor and develop their capstone proposal while they are completing their coursework or practicum. The capstone research must involve the analysis and interpretation of data. Students are encouraged but are not required to conduct primary data collection.

Eligibility and Application Procedures

All medical students accepted to the Chobanian & Avedisian SOM are eligible to apply to the MD/MSCR dual degree program. Students interested in the MD/MSCR program should apply first to the Chobanian & Avedisian SOM. Once accepted to the Chobanian & Avedisian SOM, students who decide to apply to the MD/MSCR program should submit an application directly to the MD/MSCR program director before February 15 of the third year of medical school. You are encouraged to discuss the program with the director and apply as early as possible once you matriculate to the Chobanian & Avedisian SOM; however, note that if you enroll in the program and change your mind, you may opt out without penalty.