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The future of innovation lies in the hands of dedicated researchers whose understanding of the world around us and humanity's role in it goes beyond the surface.
Nearly everything has changed our world and will be changing it, from the printing press to the living robot, the result of research.
Indeed, the conduct of research isn't just important for the advancement of our civilization - it's imperative! Modern research gathers evidence for hypotheses, underlines action with an impact on society and quality of life, and contributes to developing knowledge. Other purposes for research are as a tool for increasing public awareness, supporting truths and disproving lies, and facilitating learning.
While it seems like research is an activity that anybody with an inquisitive mind can do, it's a highly developed field! The best research studies have been conducted with the scientific approach that, in turn, demands appropriate training. This is where the Master of Research (MRes, MScR, or MARes) comes in.
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The graduate schools on this list were indexed based on their capacity to provide online Master’s in Research degrees with experiential learning opportunities in the field for professional enrichment and/or career advancement. Also, these Online Master of Research graduate programs are based on qualities that will provide each student with an excellent education. The following components were considered:
- Offered through a 100% online or hybrid format, offering various concentrations in the field of Research,
- Provides rigorous coursework applicable to the field of Research at the Master’s degree level,
- Taught by exceptional faculty members experienced in the field of Research,
- Is properly accredited pursuant to high university standards, as well as distance learning formats,
- Prepares graduates for a professional career in Research or can provide career advancement opportunities in the field,
- Displays positive acceptable, retention, graduation, and job placement rates,
- Provides financial aid services; often offering military discounts,
- States positive student reviews and notability from academic and journalistic resources.
See the best online MRes degree programs in the United States! These were chosen based on the prestige of the university and the exceptional student services and learning and graduate outcomes.
Best Online Master of Research Graduate Schools
George Washington University
: 1918 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052
: (844) 386-7323
George Washington University, the largest in the District of Columbia, is known for its emphasis on research, as evidenced by the number of research institutes and centers on its campuses. With a diverse student population from across the US and 120+ countries, it's a magnet for the best and brightest, too.
The 100% online MSHS in Clinical and Translational Research is among its foremost programs. Students benefit from the interdisciplinary approach that includes clinical administration, health policy, and biomedical sciences. There's an emphasis on bringing the benefits of medical science and its recent findings to patients with the most need.
- The program consists of 36 credits. Nine credits are electives.
- A maximum of six grad coursework credits may be counted as transferred credits.
- The average degree completion is two years, usually with a full-time load.
- Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 and previous work experience, preferably in a healthcare setting.
- Other application requirements include a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. There's a non-refundable application fee. Active-duty US military personnel, degree-holding GW alumni, and GW students are among the individuals who can request a fee waiver.
- Students collaborate with professional researchers and professors in their research projects.
GWU's Online MSHS in Clinical and Translational Research program provides world-class training for aspiring professional researchers through an online format. Students learn a more translational research approach wherein scientific discoveries in a controlled setting are transformed into new medical treatments. Indeed, its graduates are known to be effective advocates of better public health policy!
GWU is the alma mater of many nation's political and economic leaders, even several heads of state abroad, including senators, governors, and Nobel Laureates. Examples include Julius Axelrod, J. Edgar Hoover, and Colin Powell. The private university is known for its distinguished alumni in the diplomatic corps.
: 179 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
: (617) 879-5964
The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University or MCPHS, a respected private institution, is in the heart of Boston's Longwood Medical and Academic Area. Students prepare for influential healthcare careers in health sciences and pharmacy through a wide range of traditional and accelerated programs. The university has high expectations of its graduate students, with the preferred traits being focus, determination, and passion.
The school's online Master of Science in Clinical Research reflects the university's desire to produce the next generation of healthcare leaders. Students keep up with the rigorous curriculum, including health epidemiology, FDA regulatory law, and human research-related regulations.
- The program requires 30 credit hours for graduation.
- Courses include Pharmaceutical R&D: From Discovery to Market; Conducting Clinical Research Studies; and FDA and Regulatory Affairs.
- Online tuition is $1,060 per credit aside from other fees.
- Students qualify for the MCPHS Advantage Scholarship, a 50% tuition scholarship.
- Applicants must submit official transcripts for their respective bachelor's degrees with at least a 3.0 GPA and a resume highlighting research work experience and interest.
- Terms start in the fall and spring.
- Students can decide between part-time and full-time study and complete the program in two years or less.
- The program provides exceptional training in developing, conducting, and evaluating clinical trials in two tracks - clinical research and industry.
- Graduates acquire a comprehensive knowledge of product development, protocol design and development, and clinical trial management, as well as entry into a substantial alumni network.
Students benefit from the 200-year experience in healthcare education designed to produce future leaders in healthcare today. The emphasis is on relevant hands-on experience under the guidance of experts in clinical research and state-of-the-art facilities.
These experts include national academic fellows, medical journal editors, and research investigators. Students also learn from professional connections made in the program and through internships.
MCPHS University is the best choice for aspiring professional researchers who want the best earnings possible! Proof: Ranked as #1 University for Earning Power in 2018 by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings. It's also the #3 University for Return on Investment by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce and #4 of the 2020 Money magazine's Most Transformative College.
University of Colorado
: 1800 Grant St., Ste. 800, Denver, Colorado 80203
: (303) 315-3000
CU Denver is the perfect place to earn a master's in research degree with its dynamic urban environment! The university provides quality education, innovative research, and exceptional value. Since its inception roughly 50 years ago, it has produced more than 100,000 Colorado's and the nation's finest professionals.
Among its most popular online degrees is the Master of Arts in Research and Evaluation Methods, which has produced successful researchers, consultants, and leaders in the education system. Most applicants are interested in pursuing a career in education in schools, community organizations, and other related bodies.
- Students must complete 30 credits to be considered for graduation.
- The courses are delivered in an asynchronous format so students can complete coursework at their own time and pace. However, there are deadlines for projects and assignments that students must meet.
- Enrollment Navigators assist applicants in completing the admission and enrollment process. Admission requirements vary depending on your status - a first-time or transfer student.
- Term start dates are in fall, spring, and summer.
- Canvas is the LMS or learning management system used in the program.
- Courses usually last for 15 weeks, with a week allotted for finals.
Students are provided with personalized support and guidance from enrollment to graduation. Many call it concierge-level services, and it shows in the impressive graduation rate. Enrollment Navigators work with applicants toward a smooth transition into student life while Student Success Coaches and academic advisors offer success. Students also have easy access to campus resources, including career services, a 24/7 librarian, a writing center, and a student technology guide.
Established in 1996, CU Online is a distance education pioneer! Its first online course has expanded its online degrees and certificate programs to more than 70 - and counting. Aside from the Denver campus, CU also offers its full online programs at its Anschutz Medical Campus, CU Boulder, and CU Colorado Springs.
Ohio State University
: Newton Hall, 1585 Neil Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210
: (614) 292-8900
Ohio State University is a Public Ivy and, thus, it's considered among the best public universities in the country aside from being the University System of Ohio's flagship campus. Plus, it's the only public university in the state to gain and maintain its R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity status.
Such a prestigious reputation means that applicants to its programs are chosen based on more selective criteria. This is true for admission into its Master of Clinical Research program, which prepares its students for excellence in a wide range of jobs.
- 100% online program with no residential requirements
- Choose from two tracks. First, the Clinical Research Management track results in professional qualifications to become either a Clinical Research Associate or a Clinical Research Coordinator. Second, the Regulatory Affairs track leads to a career in regulatory compliance.
- Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree in any study area and at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale. If your grade falls below 3.0, you may still be considered but under certain conditions.
- College transcripts, a resume, three letters of recommendation, and a purpose and goals statement are the application requirements. If you're a current or former OSU student, you must complete a supplemental application.
- The choice between part-time and full-time enrollment is available. If you choose full-time enrollment, you must apply during the autumn cycle. The admission cycles are in autumn, spring and summer.
- The panel of instructors is from the College of Nursing and College of Pharmacy, an interdisciplinary approach that reflects the similar nature of modern research. Examples include pharmacology, project management, and medical product regulation.
- Students must complete an MCR ePortfolio as a demonstration of their acquired competencies in clinical research.
OSU provides a flexible learning environment that fosters academic excellence and impactful hands-on experience while also allowing students to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Students work with expert faculty whose research experience is a source of inspiration and benefit from the extensive alumni network. Of course, OSU is a top national public university with the most employable graduates in the country!
OSU has the "happiest freshmen," according to CBS MoneyWatch, and it's a good reason to consider it to establish a robust foundation for a research career. The LGBTQ community considers it one of the best universities for its pride-friendly policies, and its campus food is rated A+! OSU campuses have also been tobacco-free for seven years and counting.
: 3141 Chestnut Street, Main Building, Suite 301, Philadelphia, PA 19104
: (215) 895-0366
Founded by renowned financier and philanthropist Anthony J. Drexel in 1891, Drexel University has established a reputation for being the foremost private research university. Students can enjoy up to 18 months of relevant paid, full-time work experience that beef up their resume before graduation. This is possible through Drexel's unique cooperative education approach.
The 100% online Master of Science in Clinical Research for Health Professionals program has the hallmarks of Drexel's online education programs - quality, accessibility, and applicability in real-life situations. Clinicians, residents, and fellows, among other health professionals, are perfect for the program.
- The program requires satisfactory completion of up to 36 credits for graduation purposes.
- Students may take up to seven years for program completion. The average time, however, ranges from two to three years.
- No thesis or residency requirements.
- Students choose courses based on seven areas of study (15 credits) and complete a research or journal paper (21 credits, minimum. Nine hours of research per week, minimum, is also a requirement.
- Students must submit an original research proposal and work on its completion as its principal investigator. The work may be published in medical journals.
This is specifically tailored for health professionals who want to boost their resume, add relevant skills and become more engaged in research. The curriculum equips students with exceptional skills in biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and translational research. The online coursework is engaging, updated, and hands-on in many aspects.
Drexel University is #51 in the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association's Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted US Utility Patents in 2018. Such is its thrust toward research and innovation that it's the first university in the US to have a wall or living air filter; it's in the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building. Plus, it's the first university in the world that required the use of microcomputers among its students through an Apple partnership in 1984.
: 143 Main Street, Buies Creek, NC 27506
: (800) 334-4111
With a vibrant 2,245-strong graduate student body in the Fall 2020 term, Campbell University has a diverse student body that benefits from its Christian-centric quality education. The 134-year-old Baptist private university offers online programs through its Adult and Online Education unit.
Among its fully online graduate programs is the Master of Science in Clinical Research, which offers flexible scheduling for working professionals and nontraditional students. Applicants typically have work experience in healthcare but want to improve their leadership opportunities in various industries, including the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.
- The academic term is eight weeks long.
- The academic terms are divided into Fall I and II, Spring I and II, and Summer.
- Students may choose between part-time and full-time enrollment. Program completion varies depending on your course load or the number of credits taken in each semester.
- Completing the program within two years requires a minimum course load of two courses (each course consists of two credit hours) every term.
- Students get a maximum of five years to complete the graduate degree.
- Full-time students applying for financial aid must be registered for a minimum of two credit hours per term.
- Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution; at least a 3.0 GPA; and all prerequisite coursework must have a C or higher grade.
- The admissions committee conducts candidate interviews.
- Students must meet technical requirements, including a computer no older than five years old, a stable internet connection, and access to a printer. Campbell also reserves the right to check a student's computer setup to ensure compliance. Students must also be knowledgeable in MS Office applications.
- Courses include data management, scientific writing, medical ethics, clinical trial management, and biostatistical literacy.
Students are provided with ample lead time to complete their weekly assignments and provide training to handle technological tools. Aside from virtual collaborations with fellow students and professors, they also have the exceptional opportunity to collaborate with the university's industry partners. These collaboration opportunities aren't an academic requirement, but interested students can check out the MSCR Blackboard Community page for updates.
Campbell University's student body features the largest North Carolinian students than other private universities in the Tar Heel State and the US! It's the alma mater of two former Cy Young Award winners, Gaylord Perry and Jim Perry. From its beginnings in a small church, it has become the foremost Christian university in the country.
Georgia State University
: 33 Gilmer Street SE Atlanta, GA 30303
: (404) 413-2000
Georgia State University has the largest and most diverse student body in the Peach State aside from being the foremost research university in the University System of Georgia. Such is its dedication to research that it bills itself as "A Next-Generation Research University"! Innovation through collaborative research is at the heart of its programs while its faculty strives to find innovative technologies in the health, cybersecurity, and data science sectors.
Being part of the online Master of Science in Educational Research program is an outstanding opportunity to engage in world-class research, too! Run by the College of Education and Human Development, the online program prepares its students for an impactful career in the education sector.
- The program requires 36 hours for completion. The courses include Methods of Research in Education, Action Research, and Quantitative Methods and Analysis in Education. All courses can be completed online.
- Students complete a master's project as a requisite for graduation.
- Required admission documents include a goals statement, resume, and two letters of recommendation. The official transcripts must show at least a 2.5 undergraduate GPA. GRE scores are also required, but these must be five years at most at the time of application.
- Terms start in the fall and summer. There are no summer admissions.
- Residents of Massachusetts and Kentucky cannot enroll in any of the online programs.
Student success is the driving force of teachers in an online classroom. Students thrive with personalized mentoring services, innovative learning approaches, and student-led research opportunities. There are opportunities to engage in real-life research, too, and these are empowering experiences, particularly with GSU's status as an R1 university.
With more than 80 research centers, Georgia State is among the most innovative universities in the US, with one of the fastest-growing research portfolios. Such is its commitment to the advancement of social mobility that it's the #1 public university in the Peach State for degree conferment to Asian, LatinX, and African American students!
University of Florida
: 1221 SW 5th Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601
: (352) 392-0726
As students of the University of Florida call themselves, the Gators are mighty proud of their university's academic and research accomplishments. These include the "preeminent university" designation, one of only three in the 12-university State University System of Florida, and #6 (tied) best US public university by the US News & World Report (2021). Go, Gators, indeed!
The Master of Arts in Education Research and Evaluation program is a manifestation of the university's commitment to academic and research excellence. Offered at the College of Education, it prepares students for the demanding work of research methodologists through a comprehensive curriculum and collaborative projects.
- Required admission documents include a statement of purpose, resume, and letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and GRE scores.
- At least a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution in the US is a must.
- Applicants are evaluated based on their undergraduate and graduate if any, performance and coursework and relevant work and life experiences.
- Students have been chosen based on their potential for degree completion and professional competency.
- The term enrollment dates are July 1 (fall), October 15 (spring), and March 15 (summer)
- Students must produce student-faculty collaborative methodological research projects and present them in internal and state, regional, or national conferences.
- Exceptional student support services include counseling and wellness, multicultural and diversity affairs, and information technology.
Students have an exciting opportunity to engage in summer internships with many prestigious educational organizations and, thus, apply their academic lessons. These include the American Council on Education, CTB / McGraw-Hill, College Board, and Applied Linguistics. Plus, they become part of the best state school in the nation where there's always someone who can help students navigate their student life.
Ranked #2 on Kiplinger's Best College Value, the University of Florida is also known for its diverse student body, with Hispanics and African Americans providing quality education alongside their peers. The university also has land, sea, and space grants, so there are plenty of research opportunities.
Claremont Graduate University
: 150 E. 10th Street, Claremont, CA 91711
: (909) 621-8000
Claremont Graduate University is unique in this list in that it's an all-graduate research university! While it makes independent academic decisions, CGU is a Claremont Colleges member. Other colleges in the system are Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences, Claremont McKenna College, and Pomona College. CGU itself is classified as an R2 Doctoral University, meaning it has high research activity.
The School of Social Science, Policy, and Evaluation offers the Master of Science in Evaluation and Applied Research program. This was designed in partnership with the Claremont Evaluation Center and intended to provide students with world-class skills in evaluation and research.
- Graduation requires satisfactory completion of 32 units.
- Estimated completion time ranges between 1 and 1.5 years depending on enrollment status (full-time or part-time and number of transferred units)
- Term start dates are in fall, spring and summer.
- Courses include systemic inquiry, evaluation theory and practice, and methods in evaluation and applied research.
Students thrive in a conducive online learning environment where small classes and engaging faculty-student interactions are their hallmarks. Synchronous online classes bring the benefits of face-to-face interactions, but the lack of travel requirements makes them easy on a busy lifestyle. Students have easy access to robust student support services, including rhetoric and writing, and career development.
There are about 1,800 graduate students who participate in classes with an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Of these students, 64% are on full-time enrolment status. Students choose from 41 master's degree programs, too.
University of Connecticut
: Hartford Times Building, Fourth Floor, 10 Prospect Street, Hartford, CT 06103
: (959) 200-3918
The University of Connecticut's Hartford campus is most beautiful, with the historic Beaux-Arts building as its centerpiece. The 600-strong graduate student body asserts that the liberal arts and sciences degrees are among the best in the Constitution State. Considered a Public Ivy with an R1 research designation, the public land grant research university continues to make its influential mark in higher education.
Among its most popular graduate programs is the online Master of Arts in Survey Research, a program that provides extensive training for aspiring survey practitioners. Graduates are employed in public policy, market research, and public opinion polling organizations, among others.
- Students must complete 30 credits to be considered for graduation.
- Applicants must submit a completed online application and unofficial or official transcripts, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and a current resume.
- Applications are accepted for fall and spring; deadlines are July 15 and November 1, respectively.
- Coursework includes core courses (21 credits), electives (3-9 credits with work experience considered), and a supervised internship.
- The courses are Principles and Methods of Survey Research, Advanced Quantitative Methods, and Survey Research Analysis and Reporting.
- Capstone research is a must for program completion, and it usually covers opportunities and issues in survey research in contemporary society.
- The 6-credit supervised internship may be through a typical internship period or substitution of electives for students with relevant work experience.
- Part-time and full-time enrollment is allowed. The estimated time for completion is three semesters for full-time students and five semesters for part-time learners.
- Students may choose the Media and Communication Campaigns concentration to tailor their degree to the media and creative industries. The track is a partnership with the Department of Public Policy and the Department of Communication.
Students can enroll in the joint master's degree program to earn an MA in Survey Research and either a Master in Public Administration or a Master in Public Policy. The online MA in Survey Research has the same academic courses as its on-campus counterparts. The diploma also doesn't make the distinction between online and on-campus degrees.
UConn is known for its numerous Fulbright Scholars and its impressive list of famous alumni. Examples include Doug Bernstein (Melissa and Doug), Timothy Shriver (Special Olympics), and Robert Diamond (Atlas Mara Limited). Of course, there are other online Master of Research and its equivalent programs in the US! But these ten programs are a nice start to your search for the most suitable program for your unique needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
The four common MRes degrees offered in online and hybrid formats in the United States are discussed below.
- The Master in Clinical Research is the most common because of the high demand for clinical researchers and medical scientists in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and the government. With a 16% projected job growth (2022-2032) in life science jobs, clinical research graduates are in the best position for these jobs.
- Most programs require two years to complete and consist of 30-45 credits. Concentrations, such as translational science and clinical trial management, are offered in some programs. An internship, capstone project, and thesis are typical graduation requirements.
- The Master in Educational Research programs is offered in qualitative research, survey research, and statistics. Depending on the program, the coursework includes classes, comprehensive exams, graduate seminars, and even internships or capstone projects. The coursework itself focuses on research methodology, including data collection, parameter estimation, and item analysis.
- The Master in Research and Evaluation Methods programs encourage students to examine and address real-world challenges through research. Software is a common tool in collecting, analyzing, and applying data, while internships provide real-world exposure.
- The Master in Survey Research programs include studies on survey design and sampling, intermediate and advanced data analysis, and cognitive survey research. Graduates work in the education, health, and media sectors as well as in government.
Many students pursue an MRes as a precursor to a Ph.D. degree. With the intensive, research-heavy training in an MRes program, your knowledge and skills will be up to par with the rigorous demands of a Ph.D. program. Your critical thinking, analytical thinking, and problem-solving skills will be far more advanced. You also become a better communicator and gain more confidence, resulting from the best MRes training.
Many students also use their MRes degree as a pathway toward a lucrative career in research. Your career-ready research skills will be your competitive edge. You will also likely have a good pick of jobs in non-profit organizations, government agencies, and even international organizations.
These programs offer students a relatively unique academic experience because they combine conventionally taught coursework and self-directed research. The taught instruction is typical of MA and MSc programs, while the self-directed research prepares students for research-intensive Ph.D. programs or jobs.
The rigorous coursework has an interdisciplinary approach that encourages academic discourse and interactions between students and professors. While the courses vary, the common courses include communication skills, research design, implementation, and public audience communication.
The final research project itself is conducted under the supervision of an academic advisor with the topic chosen by the student. The resulting thesis or research project is evaluated at predetermined intervals by an academic panel until approved. But there may be a series of research projects, too, which will challenge your research skills at every turn.
Unlike many master's degree programs, MRes programs have an internship or practicum component.
In a way, the MRes research projects are akin to the final dissertation in many master's degree programs. The process is similar, from selecting a topic, being assigned an academic advisor, and conducting independent research to presenting and defending your thesis.
However, with MRes research projects, the studies can be significantly more extensive in scope in keeping with the research-heavy curriculum. There is an emphasis on the completion of multiple research projects throughout the entirety of the program. These projects also reflect the different types of research that students will encounter in their Ph.D. programs or careers.
Most, if not all, MRes programs have competitive admission requirements due to the rigorous study required. The common admission requirements include:
- Satisfactory grades on a graduate standardized test, such as GMAT and MAT.
- Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
- Letters of recommendation from work supervisors, professors, and community leaders but these persons must be familiar with your capacity for graduate studies
- A personal statement containing your reasons for pursuing the degree, career plans, and reasons why you are worthy of admission
- Academic writing sample, usually describing your undergraduate and work experiences
Many programs also require applicants to present proof of relevant work experience, preferably in the world of research. This is particularly true for clinical research programs where at least two years of experience in a healthcare setting is deemed a competitive edge.
Of course, admissions officers also consider the personal traits of applicants! These include attention to detail, independent thinking, dependability, motivation and persistence, and higher thinking skills.
Master of Research degree programs provide the advanced education and training to become a professional researcher. These programs have a more research-centric curriculum than Master of Arts and Master of Science programs. These are the best choices for individuals with a bachelor's degree who want to pursue one of two career paths - a rewarding career in research or enrollment in a Ph.D. program.
While there are differences in their job descriptions, researchers study specific subjects to develop theories, discover and learn new things, and create processes. Many also find real-world applications for their discoveries and, thus, add to the existing body of useful products and services.
Individuals with a Master of Research degree can work in specific fields depending on their education, training, and interest. In the United States, among the common types of researchers are:
- Clinical researchers
- Medical scientists
- Agricultural researchers
- Math researchers
- Biological science researchers
- Educational researchers
- Survey researchers
While these are well-paying jobs, their annual median pay varies, so it's best to check it first before making a career decision if the pay is a primary consideration. Survey researchers, for instance, earn $60,410 per year, while medical scientists earn $99,930 annually (2022 median wage; BLS). Career advancement occurs through a combination of continuing education, work experience, and advanced training.
If you're considering a career outside of academia and said career demands high-level skills in research, you must look into Master of Research programs. This is particularly true for jobs where a doctoral degree isn't required. However, keep in mind that there are pros and cons to pursuing a career in research, and the competition can be tough.
For individuals planning to pursue a Ph.D., the Master of Research degree is indeed the best preparation. Since Ph.D. programs are heavy on research, intensive research-centric training prepares them for the academic rigors ahead.
Emphasis must be placed on the difference between a Master of Research and a Master of Philosophy. The former is a research training qualification that can prepare students for either a career in research or a Ph.D. program. The latter involves completing a single research project and typically a Ph.D. precursor; it isn't a typical route toward a research career.