Are you wondering if pursuing a graduate education in regulatory affairs and clinical research is a smart career move? Advancing your degree can equip you with an in-demand skill set and put you in the running for higher-level roles that may have been otherwise inaccessible to you. However, higher education comes with costs and commitments, raising the question: Is a master’s in clinical research worth it?

Before you make a final decision, let’s break down the pros and cons to understand whether the advantages of a graduate degree align with your professional aspirations.

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Benefits of Working in Regulatory Affairs and Clinical Research

There are numerous benefits to working in regulatory affairs and clinical research. For one, this career path gives you the opportunity to contribute to innovations in industries such as:

  • Healthcare
  • Public policy
  • Biotechnology

For example, regulatory affairs specialists support public health by ensuring products meet safety and quality standards, while clinical research professionals conduct studies and experiments to discover ways to improve health outcomes.

In addition, due to continuous advancement in pharmaceuticals and medical device technology, regulatory and clinical research industries are experiencing steady job growth. In fact, the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) expects a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.2 percent in the regulatory affairs market between 2021 and 2030. This an increase from $13.9 billion to $31 billion.

Another notable aspect of the regulatory affairs field is its diverse talent pool. Professionals in this sector come from a variety of educational backgrounds, including:

  • Life and natural sciences
  • Engineering
  • Clinical science
  • Regulatory affairs
  • Business/finance/economics

While most regulatory affairs and clinical research professionals have a background in the life sciences, professionals from other backgrounds can leverage their skills to pivot into this rewarding field. This makes a regulatory affairs and clinical research career very accessible to professionals interested in it.

Is a Master’s in Regulatory Affairs and Clinical Research Worth It?

Despite the accessibility to this career path, it’s important to consider whether a master’s degree in regulatory affairs and clinical research is a worthwhile investment. The right path depends on your professional interests and what you hope to accomplish.

Keep these critical factors in mind as you decide the next steps to take in your career.

Professional Growth Opportunities

If you’re trying to advance your career or take on a more specialized role, earning a master’s degree can help fill crucial gaps in your knowledge.

Graduate degree programs focus on strengthening skills in:

  • Clinical research
  • Critical thinking
  • Analytics
  • Leadership

One of the most common ways master’s programs develop these skills is through professional development opportunities. Getting hands-on professional experience while learning from experts in the field creates the perfect conditions to apply your new insights in real time.

Moreover, many upper management positions in regulatory affairs and clinical research are only available to candidates with a graduate degree. This is largely because high-level positions in the field need a specialized skill set and years of industry experience that a master’s program can offer.

According to the RAPS 2020 survey, 99 percent of regulatory professionals have foundational degrees, 64 percent have advanced degrees in regulatory affairs and clinical research, and 43 percent have the RAPS Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC).

Salary Outcome

Although professional experience is the most crucial factor in salary considerations, education can boost your earning potential as well.

Across various industries, professionals with a master's degree earn nearly 16 percent more than their counterparts. Having advanced education often results in a higher base salary, which can influence wage growth throughout your career. On average, a master’s in clinical research salary is $93,000.

By combining practical experience with a master's degree and certifications, you can position yourself for a more competitive earning potential. The Regulatory and Clinical Research Management (RCRM) program at Regis College not only provides you with essential knowledge and skills but also prepares you for the RAPS certification, which can increase your salary by an additional nine percent.

Career Paths

A regulatory affairs and clinical research education is a gateway to diverse career paths beyond the traditional roles, especially if you’re drawn to leadership positions. While many graduates opt for careers directly related to regulatory affairs, such as regulatory affairs specialists or clinical research coordinators, the versatile knowledge and skills gained from this career are applicable to other disciplines and non-clinical roles.

For example, one avenue is healthcare management, where regulatory expertise is invaluable to optimizing patient care and overseeing healthcare compliance standards. Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) and Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) in biotech and pharmaceutical companies also benefit from this education, as they oversee product safety and efficacy in their respective fields.

Within government agencies, contract research organizations, medical device manufacturers, and other employers, having regulatory experience will aid you in marketing, sales, HR, project management, and finance roles related to compliance activities. In short, a regulatory affairs degree not only allows you to thrive in this industry, but also broadens your career horizons to other healthcare and life sciences sectors.

What To Look For in a Master’s Program

Graduate programs vary in quality, content, and educational experience, so it’s beneficial to compare options and weigh them against your personal needs.


Some of the most important aspects to consider are the program’s curriculum and credibility. Is the program accredited, and does it provide in-depth coverage of core competencies that will help you excel in your chosen field?

Regis College's MS in Regulatory and Clinical Research Management focuses on regulatory affairs, clinical operations, quality compliance, and management to equip professionals for a range of career options.


Flexibility is another key consideration, especially for professionals with full-time employment or personal obligations. Degree programs that offer both online and in-person options allow you to choose the format that best suits your needs.

Location also plays a role in job availability and networking opportunities, making it beneficial to attend a program in an industry hotspot. Being situated near Boston, Regis College can offer the unique advantages of learning in a biotech and pharmaceuticals hub where internships and employment options are abundant.

Program Outcomes

It’s also important to make sure you choose a master’s program that delivers a well-rounded, career-oriented learning experience.

Does the program have a track record of producing career-ready professionals? Are students able to gain hands-on experience to apply what they’re learning? Does the academic institution assist professionals in securing internships and jobs?

Reputable programs will be forthcoming with this information and will work toward connecting you with former students who can further discuss the program benefits.

Find the Right Program For You

So, is a master’s in clinical research worth it? For professionals who are passionate about improving the safety of consumer healthcare products and value career flexibility, a graduate degree can take your skills to the next level.

While it's clear that this degree can increase earning potential, professional growth, and job prospects for medical jobs with little to no patient contact, it's essential to weigh these benefits against factors like tuition costs, time commitment, and personal goals.

If you think Regis College’s MS in Regulatory Affairs may be a good fit for you, contact an admissions counselor to learn more about the benefits of the degree program.

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