Clinical Research

Graduate Program HeadCheryl Thompson
Program CodeCR
Campus(es)Hershey (M.S.)
Degrees ConferredMaster of Science (M.S.)
The Graduate Faculty


The Master of Science program in Clinical Research includes graduate-level course work in biostatistics, epidemiology, and health services and behavioral research, and provides knowledge and insight required in health-related research. Students learn population-based methods for planning, executing, analyzing, and disseminating research results, and methods for evaluating and improving health care practices.

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Prospective applicants for this program should have at least a bachelor's degree in a biological, physical, or behavioral science.

Graduate School applications must include the following items to be eligible for consideration. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. English proficiency test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) may be required for international applicants. See GCAC-305 Admission Requirements for International Students for more information.

Degree Requirements

Master of Science (M.S.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

Each student in Clinical Research is expected to acquire breadth of knowledge in the disciplines of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Health Services and Behavioral Research, and skills in the areas of experimental design, data collection, and quantitative analysis. The PHS Clinical Research Master of Science degree can lead to careers in a wide variety of fields and settings, including academic health centers; the health insurance industry; health services networks; local, state, and federal government agencies; and the pharmaceutical industry.

Each student must complete at least 30 credits at the 500 or 600. Each student must submit an original Master's thesis according to the guidelines outlined by the Graduate School.

Required Courses
PHS 500Research Ethics for Clinical Investigators1
PHS 519Patient Centered Research3
PHS 520Principles of Biostatistics3
PHS 521Applied Biostatistics3
PHS 550Principles of Epidemiology3
PHS 580Clinical Trials: Design and Analysis3
Choose 8 credits from the following:8
Behavioral Health Intervention Strategies
Scientific Communication
Multivariate Biostatistics
Biostatistical Computing for Public Health
Principles of Health Services Research
Quality of Care Measurement
Health Survey Research Methods
Decision Analysis for Public Health
Advanced Epidemiological Methods
Health Economics and Economic Evaluation
Culminating Experience
PHS 600Thesis Research6
Total Credits30


A graduate minor is available in any approved graduate major or dual-title program. The default requirements for a graduate minor are stated in Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies and GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies, depending on the type of degree the student is pursuing:

Student Aid

Refer to the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School's website. Students in this program are not eligible for graduate assistantships.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Public Health Sciences (PHS) Course List

Learning Outcomes

  1. KNOW - Graduates will be able to demonstrate conceptual understanding and proficiency in the core knowledge areas of clinical research that utilize principles/techniques in epidemiology, biostatistics and health services research.  
  2. APPLY/CREATE - Graduates will be able to search the scientific literature and synthesize available evidence in order to identify gaps to advance clinical research and areas in need of further research. 
  3. THINK - Graduates will be able to critically evaluate scientific studies in order to develop best practices for addressing specific clinical issues and/or public health challenges with a clinical focus. 
  4. THINK - Graduates will be able to design and conduct original research studies, and conduct appropriate statistical analyses to address clinical research questions and hypotheses of relevance to specific clinical and/or public health challenges. 
  5. COMMUNICATE, PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE - Graduates will learn how to work as part of a research team, to collaborate well with colleagues and to treat others with respect and consideration as part of the research process. 
  6. PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE - Graduates will conduct themselves with the highest ethical standards in terms of planning, conducting and reporting of research and protection of human and animal subjects. 
  7. KNOW, APPLY/CREATE, THINK, COMMUNICATE, PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE - Graduates will learn how to write scientific reports and journal articles and to conduct oral presentations of their research results. 


Campus Hershey Med Ctr
Graduate Program Head Cheryl Thompson
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) Li Wang
Program Contact

Shannon Tuininga
(717) 531-0003 Ext. 281150

Program Website View