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Doctorate in Clinical Research: Info for PhD Students

Clinical research Ph.D. programs cover the research methodology and statistical analyses used to determine the safety and effectiveness of medical procedures, substances, and equipment. Individuals interested in these programs are typically licensed medical doctors.

Essential Information

Students in a PhD program in clinical research learn to quantify results of experiments to make sure medications, devices, and techniques serve their diagnostic or treatment purpose and do not cause any unwanted or dangerous side effects. Most programs feature substantial hands-on instruction and classroom lectures. A medical license or master's degree in nursing, public health, pharmacy, or related discipline is required to enroll in these programs. Most programs also require students to complete a dissertation project and participate in clinical rotations prior to graduation.


Doctorate in Clinical Research

Applicants to clinical science Ph.D. programs need to have either a professional medical degree, like a Doctor of Medicine (MD), Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). Some programs admit students who've earned a master's degree in nursing, public health, pharmacy, or a related discipline.

The classes in clinical science PhD programs emphasize advanced topics in medical research, the natural sciences, mathematics and experimental design. In preparation for the extensive research requirements, students take courses in research ethics, biostatistics and medical research technology. Students are usually required to take courses in the following subjects:

  • Translational research
  • Ethics in medical research
  • Biostatistics
  • Medical research technology
  • Medical research laboratory practices

Popular Career Options

People who earn a Ph.D. in clinical science are qualified to conduct medical research in a variety of settings. They can work for pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, or independent clinical research facilities. The careers noted below are common options:

  • Pharmaceutical researcher
  • Translational scientist
  • Clinical research professor

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predict that postsecondary teachers will see a 13% growth in employment from 2014-2024. The median annual wage for post-secondary health specialties professors was $90,840, as of May 2015.

Licensure and Continuing Education Information

The types of licensure required of clinical researchers vary by specialty. All states require researchers who work directly with patients, to provide experimental medication or run diagnostic tests, to be licensed medical doctors. Doctors need to graduate from medical school, complete residency requirements ranging from 1-7 years, and pass a written exam.

Clinical research Ph.D. programs provide medical professionals with the skills needed to research the safety and efficacy of various procedures, medications, and equipment. This program is typically pursued by already licensed medical doctors.


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