Overview of Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Clinical Research Administration
Graduate-level certificate programs in clinical research administration aim to equip aspiring professionals with the skills necessary for overseeing clinical research. Students in these programs have a chance to gain competencies in areas like research design, drug development, ethics and patient safety, and clinical trials. These programs are usually geared towards working professionals in clinical research or a closely related field.
Some graduate certificate programs in clinical research administration are available in online formats, as well as closely related graduate certificate programs, such as a certificate in clinical research management or clinical research with a concentration in clinical research management. These programs can usually be completed fully online and may take 1 to 2 years to complete, depending on the program. Applicants to graduate certificate programs in clinical research administration generally need a bachelor's degree and/or may be required to meet a minimum GPA. Some programs may prefer applicants with prior work experience in the field of healthcare.
Requirements for Online Clinical Research Administration Certificates
Students in graduate certificate programs in clinical research administration learn how to manage clinical research, which requires knowledge in research and development, regulations, epidemiology, budget management, and other areas. Some of these programs may include a global perspective to prepare students for working in a wide range of research and business practices.
Online graduate certificates in clinical research administration and related areas usually require around 15 to 18 credits, but some programs may require as few as 12 credits. Students typically take 3 to 5 core courses and/or 1 to 2 elective courses to individualize their studies. Several of these certificate programs allow students to apply credits from the program towards a master's degree, should students decide to further their study in the field.
Students typically take an introductory course in clinical research or clinical trials and/or a course on the critical analysis of clinical research. In general, these courses explore the process of medical development and the various regulations that go into this process. These courses may utilize an in-depth investigation of literature in the field as students discuss topics in types of research studies, clinical trial phases, medical terminology, and regulatory responsibilities.
Guidelines with Human Subjects
Although these courses go by various names, students take courses that discuss the ethical, practical and regulatory considerations for working with human research subjects. These courses explore interactions with human subjects, issues in recruitment and retention, and how to accelerate enrollment. Other topics may include informed consent, Investigational New Drugs (IND) submissions, and policies in the field.
Monitoring Clinical Research/Trials
Courses in monitoring clinical research and/or clinical trials aim to equip students with the skills needed to ensure the quality of clinical research through Good Clinical Practice (GCP). Students may learn how to manage risk, implement FDA approved clinical trials, report findings, and complete safety assessments. Other topics for these courses may include protocol management, budgeting, site evaluation, project management, and more.
Career Outcomes with a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Research Administration
Although a graduate certificate in clinical research administration does not usually qualify students for a particular career, it can make students more competitive for positions in a clinical research organization. Students with these certificates can pursue careers with titles like clinical research coordinator, clinical research manager, clinical research associate, drug safety manager, clinical trial manager, and more. Many of these positions require at least a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and/or some prior work experience.
PayScale.com reported that the median salary for clinical research coordinators was $49,107, as of April 2020. The website also stated that also as of April 2020, the median salary for clinical research managers was $77,776. The BLS does not report statistics for either of these titles specifically but does state that the job outlook for natural science managers, a category that includes clinical research positions, was 6% from 2018 to 2028, which is about as fast as average.
Online graduate certificate programs in clinical research administration and related areas can be completed fully online in 1 to 2 years. Students may be able to choose some elective courses and prepare for careers overseeing clinical trials and other research projects.