MS in Clinical Research

The Master of Science in Clinical Research 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.

Learning Objectives

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.

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.

We hope that the information you receive about our program encourages you to pursue your graduate degree in clinical research with us. If you are interested, click here to get your application started. We accept applications for both September and January start dates.

Degree Requirements

The program consists of three components:

  • Minimum of 32 graduate credits; 22 required and 10 elective
  • Clinical research practicum; hands-on involvement in a clinical research project
  • Capstone Project; clinical research project resulting in a written research paper

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

A minimum of 32 credits at the graduate level across four semesters. These must include the following 22 credits of required coursework:

  • GMS CI 631 Management of Clinical Trials (4 cr), spring semester
  • GMS CI 640 OL Regulatory and Compliance Issues (4 cr), spring semester
  • GMS CI 670 Biostatistics with Computing (4 cr), fall semester
  • GMS CI 675 Designing Clinical Research Studies (4 cr), fall semester
  • GMS CI 790 Seminar in Clinical Research (2 cr), spring semester
  • GMS CI 794/795 Practicum in Clinical Research (2 cr), fall or spring semester
  • GMS CI 804/805 Research (2 cr), fall or spring semester

A minimum of 10 credits in elective coursework: A wide variety of courses offered in Graduate Medical Sciences will count toward elective credit. A minimum of 10 credits must be taken as electives or directed study. Up to 4 credits across two semesters may be taken as the practicum or for research. 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 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 some or all of the following: 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.

Capstone Project 

Students in the MSCR program are required to complete a capstone project 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 capstone project 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 capstone research in a wide variety of settings, including academic medical centers and local drug or device companies.

Students generally identify their capstone mentor and develop their capstone proposal while they are completing their coursework or practicum. The capstone project 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, the student gives a short oral presentation on their capstone project to the readers, capstone mentor, MSCR 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 capstone topic, methods, and results, (2) demonstrate their understanding of study design and analytic principles and methods, and (3) place their research into a clinical context.

Additional Information

Students are required to abide by the rules and regulations 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 makeup 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 Graduate Medical Sciences website at to view detailed administrative policies and procedures.

Study Options

The MSCR 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 their coursework in one academic year, including summer. Practicum and capstone 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).


Part-time students must register for at least 4 but not more than 11 credits each academic semester until all course requirements are fulfilled.

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.

Nondegree 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 MSCR, have the option of taking a few of the MSCR courses as a nondegree student, and may then make their decision about completing the MSCR application process. We allow the transfer toward the MSCR degree of up to 2 MSCR courses (8 credits) taken as a nondegree 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. Nondegree applicants are not eligible for University sources of financial aid or aid that requires matriculation in a degree program.