MS in Clinical Investigation

The Master of Science in Clinical Investigation is a rigorous program that meets the needs of health professionals engaged in the full spectrum of patient-oriented research. This flexible degree program is designed for a variety of professionals, including physicians who will plan and oversee translational research and clinical trials; research nurses; study coordinators; managers in clinical research and site management organizations (CROs and SROs); and professionals in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries.

Degree Requirements

The program consists of three components:

  • Minimum of 32 graduate credits; 18 required and 14 elective
  • Clinical investigation practicum; hands-on involvement in a clinical research project
  • Thesis; clinical research project resulting in a written research paper

Master of Science in Clinical Investigation degree candidates are required to complete all of the following:

A minimum of 8 semester courses equaling at least 32 credits at the graduate level. These must include the following 18 credits of required coursework:

  • GMS CI 675 Designing Clinical Research Studies (4 cr), Fall Semester
  • GMS CI 631 Management of Clinical Research (4 cr), Spring Semester
  • GMS CI 670 Biostatistics with Computing (4 cr), Fall Semester
  • GMS CI 640 Regulatory and Compliance Issues (4 cr), Fall Semester
  • GMS CI 790 Seminar in Clinical Investigation (2 cr), Spring Semester

A minimum of 14 credits in elective coursework: A wide variety of courses offered in the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences will count toward elective credit. A minimum of 14 credits must be taken as electives, directed study, or practicum. Up to 4 credits across 2 semesters may be taken as the practicum. Students who have completed one or more of the required courses before matriculation may acquire “advanced standing” for that requirement. “Advanced standing” means that the student may waive the requirement but would need to replace the course requirement credits by taking an elective course(s). The student would not need to retake the course requirement. To waive a course requirement, students must speak to their academic advisor and complete/submit a “Petition for Approval of Advanced Standing.” No transfer credits from other BU departments or institutions will be accepted.


Completion of a minimum of 240 hours of a practicum in clinical research is required for the degree. The practicum usually begins near completion of formal coursework. The goal of the practicum component is to provide the student hands-on exposure to clinical research. The student will work with a mentor and will be actively involved in the development, execution, and evaluation of a clinical research project or projects. 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/patients for the clinical trial, study monitoring, and data analysis.

The practicum may be completed with a mentor who is actively conducting clinical research studies within a clinical research or hospital setting. It 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.


Students in the MSCI program are required to complete a research thesis that provides a culminating experience and applies the principles and methods learned in the coursework to a real-life clinical study.

The goal of the thesis component is to demonstrate the student’s understanding of the clinical research process from both a theoretical and a practical point of view. Students conduct their thesis 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 thesis proposal while they are completing their coursework or practicum. The thesis research must involve the analysis and interpretation of data. Students are encouraged but are not required to conduct primary data collection. Once the final draft is approved by the readers, the student gives a short oral presentation on the thesis research to the thesis readers, research mentor, MSCI students and faculty members, and any other interested parties. The purpose of the oral presentation is to demonstrate the student’s ability to (1) describe clearly the thesis research question, methods, and results, (2) demonstrate his/her understanding of study design and analytic principles and methods, and (3) place his/her research into a clinical context.

Additional Information

Students are required to abide by the rules and regulations of the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences:

Credit toward a degree will only be obtained from a passing grade (A to B–).

Grades of I and C+ or lower are interpreted as failures. A student receiving such grades in a total of 8 credit hours may be terminated. A student receiving a failing grade will not be permitted to take a make-up examination.

A degree candidate, after completing all departmental course requirements, must register each regular semester as a continuing student and pay the continuing student fee until all remaining degree requirements are completed.

Please visit the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences website at to view detailed administrative policies and procedures.

Study Options

The MSCI program can be completed on either a part-time or full-time basis depending on the student’s goal.

Most of the courses take place in the late afternoons or early evenings to accommodate those who work during the day.


The program is designed so that a full-time student may complete his/her coursework in one academic year, including summer. Practicum and thesis components of the program should begin near completion of the coursework and the time frame for finishing them will be determined on a student-by-student basis by the program director or assistant director.

A full-time student is enrolled in 12–18 credits per academic semester (Fall and Spring). The full-time tuition for the 2016–2017 academic year is $49,176/year.


Part-time students must register for at least 4 but not more than 11 credits each academic semester until all course requirements are fulfilled. The part-time tuition for the 2016–2017 academic year (Fall and Spring) is $1,537 per credit hour.

Continuing Student

Students who have completed all departmental course requirements (32 credits) must register each subsequent semester as continuing students until all requirements for the degree have been completed. The Full- and Part-time Continuing Student fee is $3,074 per semester.

Non-Degree Option

A number of individuals with an accredited bachelor’s degree or its international equivalent, who are uncertain as to whether they want to enroll in MSCI, have the option of taking a few of the MSCI courses as a non-degree student, and may then make their decision about completing the MSCI application process. We allow the transfer toward the MSCI degree of up to 2 MSCI courses taken as a non-degree student. Applicants must submit a copy of the Application for Admission, indicating the specific objectives of the studies/courses sought. In addition, the applicant must submit (with the application) the nonrefundable application fee.

Non-degree costs: $1,537 per credit; in addition to a $150 grad program fee; plus a $95 application fee.

Non-degree applicants are not eligible for University sources of financial aid or aid that requires matriculation in a degree program.

Click here to read more about the non-degree application process.