MS in Clinical Research

The Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Research Degree Program at McGovern Medical School is designed for faculty and clinical fellows who wish to receive formal training as they build a career in patient-oriented clinical research.  We provide a focused, flexible, and affordable program that trains clinical investigators to conduct exemplary quality clinical research and become competitive in seeking research support.  This is a live-setting degree program that relies heavily on in-person small group class settings; this is not an online or distance-learning program.  Successful applicants must have the necessary departmental support, including protected time and an established relationship with a research mentor who should have a track record of national funding.

Program Description

The MS in Clinical Research is a 36-credit degree program. The curriculum is designed to accommodate clinicians’ busy schedules, with courses offered on Wednesday afternoons.  For most students with concurrent clinical obligations, the degree requires a minimum of 3 years; the time required for degree completion depends on the amount of time and effort a student devotes to the program. Detailed information about policies for McGovern Medical School and the MS Degree Program can be found in the Medical School Catalog (see current McGovern Medical School (MMS) Catalog, p 26-35).

All MS degree students must also complete the Clinical Research Curriculum, a 2-year series of introductory courses composed of a weekly lecture offered on Wednesday evenings. Successful completion of the Clinical Research Curriculum will yield up to 12 credit hours toward the MS degree credit hour requirements.

Coursework for MS Degree

The curriculum for the MS Degree Program consists of two tracks — a Patient-Based Clinical Research Track and a Translational Research Track. In either track, the specific Advanced Courses chosen by an individual student will depend on his/her previous training and course work and on career goals. All students are expected to take the Advanced Biostatistics course unless they can demonstrate comparable competency in this area. Most students in the Patient-Based Clinical Research Track will take Advanced Courses in study design, whereas most students in the Translational Research Track will take Advanced Courses in molecular biology and/or genetics.

In addition to the formal coursework offered through the Clinical Research Curriculum and the Advanced Courses, MS students are required to complete three practica and a thesis, which is ultimately orally defended. See detailed curriculum for MS Program.


Each MS student will be assigned a Program mentor who provides methodological expertise and guidance in meeting MS program requirements. In addition, the student must identify a departmental mentor from his/her own medical department or institution to provide content expertise in the student’s specific area of clinical research. An ideal departmental mentor should be an active clinical investigator with independent funding, who is well-known and well-respected in their field.  He or she will play a key role in the completion of the practica and thesis components, especially study design and analysis. He or she should be committed to the student’s participation in the Degree Program.  In addition, a departmental mentor should have the time and willingness to help the student define his or her research goals and give feedback on thesis and practica components in a constructive and timely manner.


The faculty in the Center for Clinical Research and Evidence-Based Medicine supervise the MS Degree Program, serve as Program mentors, and teach the classes. All are full-time faculty at McGovern Medical School and/or the School of Public Health. The Center faculty are actively involved in clinical research and bring to the Program a broad range of expertise, including biostatistics, clinical trials, epidemiology, ethics, and health care economics. This structure allows for a wide diversity of training and skills among the faculty and acknowledges the importance of ongoing participation in research and clinical activities for the career development of the Center faculty.

Admission Requirements

With rare exceptions, the MS Degree Program is primarily intended for those with a graduate healthcare-related professional degree (e.g., MD, DO, PharmD) who hold a current full-time faculty or fellowship appointment at an academic institution.  Applicants should have a commitment to pursue a career as an independent clinical investigator. The rapid pace of the curriculum assumes a working knowledge of clinical medicine and an excellent scholastic aptitude.

Medical graduates without postgraduate clinical training, clinical research coordinators, and other study personnel are strongly encouraged to participate instead in the Clinical Research Curriculum. Not sure which program is right for you? Click here

Applications for the MS Degree Program are accepted annually from March 15 until June 15 through the Office of the Registrar. Only complete applications will be reviewed. Applications may also be made for non-degree status (deadline October 15).  See detailed admission requirements and process.


Costs for Advanced Coursework in the MS Program will follow the Tuition and Fee Schedule for the UT System and are subject to change. The total cost of the program will depend on the number of courses taken and the duration of enrollment. At current rates, the total cost of the program is estimated to be $3500-4500 for students who qualify for Texas residency status and $12,500-16,000 for non-residents. Texas residency status is determined by the Registrar’s Office for individual students using criteria established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Information for Current Students

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For more information regarding the MS Degree program, please email Deborah Garcia, CRC and MS Program Coordinator, or call our office at (713) 500-6708.