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Master of Science in Clinical Research

Program Details

The Master of Science in Clinical Research Program is comprised of formal coursework, responsible conduct in research training, a midpoint competency review, and a final thesis project.

Core Curriculum

The purpose of the core curriculum is to provide trainees with the basic set of skills that are required by clinical investigators in all fields of interest. These skills include an understanding of research design, epidemiologic methods, biostatistics, study and survey design, and measurement of outcomes.

The four core courses that comprise the core curriculum are offered in July and August. They are commonly taken together but can be distributed over two summer terms with the guidance of an academic advisor.

CLRES 2005 Computer Methods in Clinical Research
CLRES 2010 Clinical Research Methods
CLRES 2020 Biostatistics
CLRES 2040 Measurement in Clinical Research

Advanced Grant Writing Course

This course focuses on research design and development and is a two-part course offered during the fall and spring terms. The Advanced Grant Writing course is taken by MS students during year 2.

CLRES 2071 Advanced Grant Writing Part 1
CLRES 2072 Advanced Grant Writing Part 2

Specialty Track Requirements

Students who enter the Master of Science in Clinical Research Program will select a curriculum track that offers specialized training in a specific clinical research area. Each specialty track offers a different curriculum of required courses, which can be viewed in the Program Handbook. The MS program has 7 specialty tracks:

  1. Clinical Trials Research

    The Clinical Trials Research Track provides training related to the design, performance, and analysis of clinical studies and relevant principles of pharmacology. Trainees are encouraged to develop a protocol for a study involving human subjects and then to direct the study and analyze the results.

  2. Comparative Effectiveness Research

    The CER Track addresses the emerging need for training in key disciplines within CER, including meta-analysis and systematic review, analysis of electronic records, and decision modeling and cost-effectiveness, as well as development of fundamental skills specific to clinical trials and statistical analysis of observational data. Required courses include each of these fundamental aspects, with electives to form a specialization. A final overview course will lead trainees through the development of a CER project and will tie together fundamental principles of CER.

  3. Health Services Research

    The Health Services Research Track uses components of the training program developed under the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) Innovation Award and the fellowship program in the Division of General Internal Medicine to offer courses in health services research methodology.

  4. Innovation

    The innovation Track provides training in the development of new methods, ideas, or products, with the intent of translating innovation to market via licensing or generating a company.

  5. Translational Science

    The Translational Research Track is appropriate for trainees interested in how discoveries and findings from basic research can be turned into studies of human subjects. Discoveries in basic sciences, especially the sequencing of the human genome and microbiologic advances, offer extensive opportunities for applications related to new and improved strategies for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases.

  6. Implementation Science

    The Implementation Science Track provides training in the theory, methods, and strategies necessary to be able to design interventions that ensure that evidence-based treatments may be effectively implemented in real-life settings, considering the context of the health system and local community. Trainees are encouraged to develop a funding application and/or protocol for an implementation science focused study.

  7. Data Science Track

    Using data science to discover and forecast insightful patterns from big biomedical data is at the core of modern medical research in managing patients’ health conditions, establishing novel treatment options, and building analytical intelligence. The courses offered by the ICRE Data Science Track are designed to build essential skills in data science for clinical research that include managing, analyzing, visualizing, and extracting meaningful information from very large healthcare data.


Students collaborate with their academic advisor and research mentor to enroll in ICRE courses that most benefit their research and future career goals. The number of credits taken as electives varies depending on the specialty track selected.

Clinical Research Master of Science students are required to attend eight 1-hour CTSI Responsible Conduct in Research workshops or enroll in the ICRE course CLRES 2050: Ethics and Responsible Conduct of Research. At the time of graduation, students must have at least 8 hours of RCR training through CTSI or have successfully completed CLRES 2050 in order to be eligible to graduate.

The MS in Clinical Research requires each student to complete a formal thesis or substantive research project. Students are able to write a standard thesis, grant proposal, or 2 manuscripts to fulfill this requirement.

Tuition and Fees

The estimated cost of the two-year program for tuition and fees for a Pennsylvania resident is $34,410 and $54,600 for out-of-state residents. Information regarding tuition and mandatory University Fees is maintained by the University of Pittsburgh Office of Institutional Research.

Financial Aid

The Institute for Clinical Research Education does not provide financial aid. Unless students have other funding sources, they are responsible for covering the tuition costs, taxes, and fees associated with their course enrollment. Many individuals accepted into the ICRE degree-granting programs have faculty-based or student-based affiliations with the University of Pittsburgh or University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Faculty, fellows, or medical residents at these institutions may be eligible for tuition benefits. For complete information, contact University of Pittsburgh Office of Human Resources or the UPMC Tuition Assistance Employee Service Center (1-800-994-2752; press option 3).

Clinical Research Degree Programs Handbook

A comprehensive record of information relevant to the Degree Programs in Clinical Research.

Institute for Clinical Research Education
200 Meyran Avenue, Suite 300
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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