10 Best Online Master’s of Research Graduate Schools

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Updated: March 11, 2024, Reading time: 26 minutes

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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. 

master's of research

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:

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

Online Master of Research Graduate Schools

George Washington University 

George Washington University

Washington, DC

MSHS in Clinical and Translational Research

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. 

Standout Features:

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.

MCPHS University

MCPHS University

Boston, MA

Online Master of Science in Clinical Research

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. 

Standout Features:

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

University of Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Online Master of Arts (MA) in Research and Evaluation Methods

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. 

Standout Features:

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 pioneer in distance education! 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

Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio

Online Master of Clinical Research

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. 

Standout Features:

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.

Drexel University

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA

Online Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Research for Health Professionals

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. 

Standout Features:

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.

Campbell University 

Campbell University

Buies Creek, NC

Online Master of Science in Clinical Research

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. 

Standout Features:

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 

Georgia State University

Atlanta, GA

Online Master of Science in Educational Research

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. 

Standout Features:

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

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

Online Master of Arts in Education Research and Evaluation Methodology 

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. 

Standout Features

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

Claremont Graduate University

Claremont, CA

Online Master of Science (MS) in Evaluation & Applied Research

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. 

Standout Features

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 

University of Connecticut

Hartford, CT

Online Master of Arts in Survey Research

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. 

Standout Features: 

Students can enroll in the joint master’s degree program to earn an MA in Survey Research and either a Master’s in Public Administration or a Master’s 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

What are the types of MRes degrees?

The four common MRes degrees offered in online and hybrid formats in the United States are discussed below. 

What are the reasons for pursuing an MRes degree?

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. 

What experiences can students look forward to in MRes programs?

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. 

What are the expectations for MRes research projects?

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. 

What are the common admission requirements?

Most, if not all, MRes programs have competitive admission requirements due to the rigorous study required. The common admission requirements include: 

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: 

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. 

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