FAQs: Master of Science: Clinical Research and Product Development and
Certificate in Clinical Research Operations

Helpful Links:

  • When is the application deadline? Application requirements, deadlines, and decision dates are found on the Graduate School website.
  • Are students admitted more than once per year? Currently, we only admit students once per year for a fall semester start.
  • Is the GRE or MAT required? No. Like many graduate programs, we have eliminated the need for these tests which can be a hurdle for working adults looking for an advanced degree.
  • What type of undergraduate degrees are acceptable? An undergraduate degree in the life sciences is a good fit, but other undergraduate degrees will be considered in light of the applicant’s experience and interests.
  • Is an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 required? Yes. However, provisional admission is considered for otherwise strong candidates with an undergraduate GPA less than 3.0.  Applicants admitted provisionally must earn a B or higher on the first 9 credits attempted in the program. Provisional admission converts automatically to full admission if the provisions are met; no actions are needed.
  • Are there on-campus requirements? The Clinical Research Graduate Program is an asynchronous program (ie, not real-time) and campus visits are not required. If feasible, MS students may defend their capstone proposal and completed project in-person at UNCW in Wilmington, NC. Since in-person presentations may not be feasible for some students, videoconferencing is an option. Videoconference technology is also available to students who would like to attend live events remotely.
  • Is clinical research experienced required? For the Master of Science (MS) program (36 credits), a minimum of 2 years’ experience working in the biopharmaceutical or related industry is preferred. Since this is not a requirement, prospective students are free to apply without the experience but may not be competitive in the applicant pool. A good path for prospective students without experience is the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Clinical Research Operations (18 hours).
  • Can I apply for admission to both the MS and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate programs? Yes. Some students apply to both programs, with the Certificate Program serving as a backup plan if their MS application is not successful. Some application materials can be shared between the two applications. Contact the Graduate School (gradschool@uncw.edu) if assistance is needed.
  • Can I transfer graduate credits from another university? Up to 6 credits of relevant course work may be transferred into the MS program. Transfer and substitution for required courses must be approved by the program coordinator. Transfer credits are not accepted for the Certificate program.
  • What is the cost of attendance? For financial information, please review the information on UNCW’s Financial Aid web page for graduate distance education (not OAP) and contact a financial aid counselor assigned to you.
  • Is financial aid available for graduate students? Yes. Students in the MS degree program may qualify for federal and non-federal financial aid. Information is available from the UNCW Financial Aid office for graduate students.
    • However, students in the Certificate program are unlikely to qualify for federal financial aid. Courses in the Certificate program can be viewed as pre-requisites for the MS degree program, but are NOT required for admission to the MS degree program. Therefore, most students should not complete a Graduate Certificate form, but talk to their assigned financial aid counselor.
  • Are scholarships available? The CLR program does not currently have dedicated scholarships available, but there are other resources through the Graduate School. You may also apply for financial aid through the University.
  • Who are typical students enrolled in the MS program? Our typical MS student is currently working full-time in the clinical research industry (eg, clinical site, contract research organization, biopharmaceutical company, academic medical center, or study support vendor). These students are often enrolling to expand their knowledge beyond their current role and advance their career.
  • Who are typical students enrolled in the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program? Our typical certificate student is either: 1) interested in beginning a career in clinical research but lack the experience to apply for the full MS program; or, 2) working in the field of clinical research and interested in furthering his/her education, but not interested in committing to the full MS program.
  • Are foreign students able to apply? Please consult with the Office of International Students and Scholars for details. These programs do not qualify for visa sponsorship.
  • How long does it take to complete the MS degree programs? Depending on a student’s pace, the MS program is usually completed in 2 to 3 years. Graduate degrees must be completed within 5 years, regardless of full- or part-time status. Please review the Program of Study options on the program website
  • Are classes taught in the summer? Classes are often taught in the summer. The course offerings may vary from year to year.
  • Is the program lab-based? No, there are no laboratory requirements.
  • Is a thesis required? The MS program requires a Capstone Project, a 3-credit course taken over semesters. 3-credit research project Capstone Project that is relevant to Clinical Research and can be started after all core courses have been completed. Part 1 (2 credits) involves developing a research proposal. Part 2 (1 credit) involves execution of the project. Oral presentations of the proposal and final project are required. Students are encouraged to attend the final presentations of their peers to better prepare them for their Capstone project. The Certificate program does not require a thesis or capstone.
  • Can the credits from the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program be transferred to the MS program? Yes, all 18 credits from the Certificate program can be transferred into the MS program for students who later apply and are accepted into the MS program.  However, the two introductory courses (CLR 505 & 506; 6 credits) are specific for the Certificate program and transferrable as general electives.  The remaining 12 credits are courses in the MS curriculum.
  • Do MS and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate students take the same courses? Yes, with one exception: Post-Baccalaureate Certificate students take two introductory courses (CLR 505 and 506). The two introductory courses are considered general elective courses in the MS degree program.