Are you interested in a career in clinical research? The industry is booming and in demand for clinical research professionals. According to Aerotek, the global clinical trial service market is predicted to reach $64 billion by 2020, which will, in turn, drive a rising demand for wide-range hiring.
Two factors driving industry workforce growth are the complexity of clinical trials, which involves more effort and resources to manage, and competition among pharmaceutical companies. Given how the field of medicine is growing, clinical researchers are needed to provide the critical answers about new drugs, biologics and biomedical devices to show what does and doesn’t work in people.
The College of Health and Human Services at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) offers multiple options for those interested in clinical research, including degrees at the graduate and undergraduate levels. For those not interested in degree programs, professional development opportunities are available through FuseCR, our center for clinical research workforce development. FuseCR offers timely and engaging workshops, lectures, professional certificates and mentorship programs to meet workforce demands.
Additionally, UNCW’s online Master’s in Clinical Research Program was listed as a top program for 2019 by OnlineMasters.com and ranked #8 in 2019 Best Online Colleges in North Carolina by the U.S. News and World Report.
An advanced degree will qualify graduates to work in fast-paced clinical trial teams involved in moving new medicines, biologics, and biomedical devices through the regulatory approval process to the marketplace. Graduates describe their educational experience at UNCW as one that has encouraged them to think outside the box and explore areas of clinical research in which they had no prior exposure or interest. The programs introduce new views and thereby, new opportunities for career progression.
“In the rapidly changing field of biopharmaceutical clinical research, staying abreast of changes in evolving regulations, best practices and industry trends is absolutely necessary,” Clinical Research Graduate Program Coordinator and Professor, Susan Sinclair said. “Formalizing this development through a degree program demonstrates an individual’s commitment to expanding their expertise, which typically results in new opportunities for professional growth.”
Outside of the curriculum, UNCW’s various clinical research educational programs are intentionally combined with mentorship programs, networking events and expert speakers’ events to maximize learning. These opportunities provide valuable interactions with industry experts, faculty and other students. Since the program is completely online, it simulates the global and virtual nature of the clinical research industry. “We maximize the use of technology to engage students with each other, the faculty, the university and the clinical research community,” Sinclair said.
The UNCW College of Health and Human Services offers two graduate degree options for those who are interested in clinical research as a career path: 1) Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Clinical Research Operations and 2) Master of Science in Clinical Research and Product Development.
Program graduates are poised to work in a variety of research settings, including:
1) Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Clinical Research Operations
- Biopharmaceutical companies
- Contract research organizations
- Clinical research investigator sites
- Academic medical centers
- Government agencies
- Specialized research service providers
The post-baccalaureate certificate option is designed for individuals with a bachelor’s degree who are interested in entering the clinical research field or obtaining additional education to facilitate a move into a different area within the clinical research field, including career progression.
The certificate program provides a rigorous curriculum and offers two tracks – based on whether or not the student has clinical research experience. Track one includes foundational knowledge while track two builds on clinical research work experience. Both tracks provide the content necessary to understand the structure, function and operations involved in conducting biopharmaceutical clinical trials from the perspective of biopharmaceutical companies, clinical research organizations, clinical study sites, academic medical centers and other organizations.
The program requires a minimum of 18 credit hours. All courses are online and students may pursue the degree from any location. Students who are admitted to the program are placed into one of two tracks based on their level of clinical research experience. Classes are taught by faculty who have extensive industry experience. (Note: All 18 credits can be applied to the M.S. Program if student decides to continue their education to the master’s level.)
2) Master of Science Degrees in Clinical Research and Product Development
The M.S. option provides an instructive and rigorous curriculum that prepares graduates for mid- to upper-level roles in the biopharmaceutical clinical research industry, particularly those with industry experience.
The M.S. Program requires a culminating capstone project. This project challenges students to think and write critically and scientifically, while exploring a research question related to clinical research. Students may focus on an operational or scientific issue in their current workplace or move into a new area of interest. Fundamentals of study design, data collection and analysis, and scientific communication are emphasized.
The program requires a minimum of 36 credit hours. All courses are online and students may pursue the degree from any location. Classes are taught by faculty who have extensive industry experience, including clinical operations, monitoring, research ethics, project management, pharmacotherapeutics, regulatory affairs, medical writing, biostatistics, drug safety and pharmacoepidemiology. UNCW’s clinical research faculty remain involved in the clinical research industry as expert consultants and collaborators to clinical research companies, the FDA and professional organizations dedicated to various aspects of drug development.
Please contact Dr. Susan Sinclair by email at [email protected]
for more information or visit the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Clinical Research Operations
and/or Master of Science Degrees in Clinical Research and Product Development
Charles J. Hardy, Ph.D., M.S., is the founding dean of the College of Health and Human Services at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and also serves as an affiliated professor in the Office of Applied Public Health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Georgia.Hardy earned a Doctor of Philosophy from Louisiana State University and was a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at UNC-Chapel Hill. He also holds a Master of Science from The University of Tennessee at Knoxville and a bachelor's degree from East Carolina University. Hardy serves on the Board of Directors for Cape Fear HealthNet, MedNorth (New Hanover County Community Health Center), Elderhaus Inc., Wellcare and the United Way of the Cape Fear Area. In 2016, he was selected for membership in the NC Institute of Medicine.
The College of Health and Human Services consists of three professional schools - School of Health and Applied Human Sciences, School of Nursing and School of Social Work - and employs more than 250 full and part-time staff and faculty and enrolls more than 4,000 students in 16 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Hardy serves as chief academic, fiscal and administrative officer of the college, which is responsible for educating students across the health and human services programs. To learn more about the UNCW College of Health and Human Services, visit www.uncw.edu/chhs. Questions and comments can be directed to [email protected].