The Best Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Programs

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A doctorate in healthcare administration can pave the way for a lucrative leadership career coordinating, planning, and managing health services organizations.

Healthcare administration professionals improve the quality of healthcare services and organizations. Graduates of doctor of healthcare administration programs pursue careers as medical and health services managers, college professors and administrators, top executives, and social and community service managers.

Healthcare administration professionals can expect significant career opportunities and salary potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that medical and health services managers made a median annual salary of $99,730 in 2018. The BLS projects an 18% growth rate for the profession between 2018-28.

Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Programs 2020

# Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI
# Franklin University Columbus, OH
# Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL
# University of Mississippi University, MS
# University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC

Read on to learn more about healthcare administration jobs and salaries and how to earn a Ph.D. in healthcare administration. This guide also includes an alphabetical list of the best doctorate in healthcare administration programs.

What Is an Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Degree?

An online doctorate in healthcare administration provides the highest level of education in this field. Healthcare administration programs prepare graduates for leadership roles in the healthcare industry by fostering leadership, communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and research skills. Students learn to manage healthcare organizations and develop solutions related to problems with healthcare cost, quality, and access.

Most healthcare administration professionals aim to create change in the healthcare system that improves patient outcomes.

Working professionals in the healthcare industry typically complete a doctorate in healthcare administration to expand their career opportunities and salary potential. Doctoral students become experts and ascend to the highest levels of leadership in this field. Many students continue to work full or part time while pursuing the degree. Most healthcare administration professionals aim to create change in the healthcare system that improves patient outcomes.

Common admission requirements for healthcare administration doctoral programs include a master's or doctorate in a health-related field with a minimum 3.0 GPA and substantial relevant work experience. Most programs also require GRE scores, official college transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume or CV, and a statement of purpose or essay. Some admission committees require telephone or in-person interviews for candidates who make it to the final round.

Curriculum for an Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration

Online doctorate in healthcare administration programs may offer concentrations in areas like community health, epidemiology, advanced research methods, long-term care, or healthcare improvement. However, not all programs offer concentrations.

The curriculum for online doctorate in healthcare administration programs varies by school. Many healthcare administration programs require classes like population health, leadership strategies, healthcare law and ethics, healthcare economics, and research methods. See below for course descriptions.

  • Population Health: This course introduces the principles of population health and examines reasons why health outcomes vary for different groups. Students learn to use data collection strategies and epidemiological principles to conduct family and community health assessments. The course also explores primary and secondary preventive interventions.
  • Leadership Strategies: Students learn the foundations of leadership theories, values, and strategies, including topics such as emotional intelligence in leadership, dealing with challenges from outside organizations, and using persuasion and influence to accomplish organizational goals. Learners gain strategic thinking, research, and leadership skills.
  • Healthcare Law and Ethics: This course provides an overview of ethical and legal issues that healthcare managers, administrators, and providers may face. Possible topics include end-of-life decisions, sexual harassment in the healthcare workplace, and unionization in the healthcare workplace. Students gain practical knowledge of health ethics and laws.
  • Healthcare Economics: Students receive an overview of the structure of American healthcare markets and learn to evaluate the healthcare system in terms of access, affordability, and quality. The course also covers cost-benefit analysis, the implications of the Affordable Care Act, and supply and demand modeling in healthcare.
  • Research Methods: This class provides an overview of research methods commonly used in healthcare administration. Students learn about qualitative and quantitative research methods, research ethics, and using statistics. Other topics include internal and external validity, designing and conducting experiments, and using the scientific method in healthcare.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration?

The amount of time it takes to earn a doctor of healthcare administration varies by program and school. Enrollment status, program requirements and structure, and other factors can also affect program length. Many online healthcare administration degrees take less time to complete than on-campus programs, and full-time students can typically earn an online doctorate in healthcare administration in about three years. Students can choose from healthcare administration programs with synchronous or asynchronous courses.

Healthcare administration programs with asynchronous courses make content available 24/7, giving students the flexibility to complete coursework whenever convenient. This option makes it easier for students to maintain work and personal obligations. Healthcare administration programs with synchronous courses require students, usually grouped into cohorts, to log on and attend class at a specific time. Synchronous programs can sometimes provide greater structure and support, but offer less flexibility and may take longer to complete.

Best Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Programs

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University of Mississippi 

University, MS Apply Now

About this school

The University of Mississippi's three-year, online doctor of health administration is the only program of its kind in Mississippi. The curriculum explores strategic change management, healthcare law and regulation, health economics, and applied research techniques. Graduates qualify for leadership roles in academia, healthcare administration, and healthcare practice. Career possibilities include business administrator, faculty chair, hospital CEO, and quality officer.

Available primarily online, this program also requires some face-to-face sessions on campus at Ole Miss. Admitted students receive the approximate dates of all required on-campus sessions at the beginning of each semester. The program charges out-of-state students the same tuition rate as in-state learners.

Required courses include leadership strategies in health entities, quality processes in health organizations, and fiscal responsibility and accountability. Students must complete a doctoral dissertation and defense and maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate.

The program admits 10-15 students for each new cohort. Admission requirements for the doctor of healthcare administration program include a master's or doctorate with at least a 3.0 GPA in a health-related field from a regionally accredited college. All applicants must submit GRE scores, a current resume or CV, official transcripts, and an essay documenting healthcare experience. The program does not award credit for previous graduate work.

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

Chapel Hill, NC Apply Now

About this school

The Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a three-year, online executive doctorate in health leadership designed for working healthcare professionals living in the United States or abroad. UNC - Chapel Hill's doctorate in healthcare administration prepares students for senior leadership roles charged with improving public health.

Students must complete 45-51 credits of coursework, pass comprehensive written and oral exams, and submit a doctoral dissertation. The program does not require a practicum, internships, or fieldwork. Required courses include practice-based research, marketing and PR for health leadership, and strategic management in health leadership. The primarily online program requires a 3-4-day visit once per term (spring, fall, and summer) for two years.

The program emphasizes the importance of global health. Many students pursue UNC - Chapel Hill's graduate global health certificate, complete independent studies or internships with a global focus, or take courses that emphasize global issues. Employment opportunities after graduation include healthcare administration jobs like program officer, chief executive officer, and executive director of healthcare organizations.

Admission requirements include a graduate-level degree, GRE or GMAT scores (waived for applicants with a U.S. doctoral degree), unofficial transcripts, and three professional letters of recommendation. Applicants also need at least five years of full-time managerial experience in healthcare. The department will conduct telephone interviews with select applicants.

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Doctorate Programs

Online Healthcare Administration Doctoral Degree Program Guidelines

We selected the following programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided. We also considered school awards and reputation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration?

Program length varies by school, but most doctorate in healthcare administration programs take 2-7 years to complete.

What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Health Administration?

A doctorate in healthcare administration can lead to careers like medical and health services managers, college professors and administrators, top executives, and social and community service managers.

How Much Do You Make in Healthcare Administration?

Healthcare administration salary prospects vary by job title, employer, and experience, but healthcare administration professionals can make anywhere from $65,000-$100,000 per year, according to BLS data.

What Is Healthcare Administration?

Healthcare administration strives to improve the business strategies, policies, and decision-making of healthcare organizations, systems, and services.

What Is a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration?

A doctorate in healthcare administration is a terminal degree that prepares future healthcare administration leaders to manage and coordinate advanced policies and practices in healthcare and medical organizations.

Healthcare Administration Jobs

Potential careers for graduates of healthcare administration doctoral programs include medical and health services managers, college professors, college administrators, top executives, and social and community service managers. Some of these professions may require licensure or additional training.

Medical and Health Services Managers

Medical and health services managers coordinate the business activities of healthcare organizations and providers. They manage departments, medical practices, or entire facilities. They also improve efficiency in healthcare services, train staff, develop institutional goals, and manage facility finances. Most health and medical services managers work in hospitals, group medical practices, or nursing homes.

Medical and health services managers need at least a bachelor's degree, but some employers prefer or require a graduate degree. Most managers start their careers in a clinical or administrative role in a healthcare facility. These professionals typically need leadership, analytical, communication, technical, and interpersonal skills.

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College Professors

College professors teach students beyond the high school level. They plan lessons, advise and evaluate students, modify curricula, conduct research, and publish scholarly books and articles. They also collaborate on teaching and research projects with colleagues in their field.

Postsecondary teachers typically need a doctorate in their field of expertise. They work at community colleges, four-year universities, and technical schools. College professors are typically resourceful and have excellent writing, speaking, interpersonal, and critical thinking skills. Demand for college professors should rise as the number of postsecondary students increases in the next decade.

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College Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators manage student services, research, and academics at universities and colleges. Day-to-day job duties vary depending on the size of the school. At larger schools, college administrators usually specialize in areas like admissions, student affairs, or the registrar's office. College administrators may review student applications, plan graduation ceremonies, maintain institutional records, and create nonacademic programs for students.

College administrators usually need at least a master's degree and experience working in a postsecondary administrative office. Important qualities of successful college administrators include organizational, problem-solving, interpersonal, and computer skills. Increasing college enrollment should stimulate job growth for college administrators.

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Top Executives

Top executives help organizations meet goals through planning, direction, and coordination. They oversee financial activities, negotiate agreements, appoint managers, analyze financial statements, and establish procedures. Job responsibilities usually vary based on the size of the organization.

Top executives typically need at least a bachelor's degree and extensive work experience in a related occupation. Most top executives also have a great deal of managerial experience. Some top executives need a certification or license related to their management area. The best top executives need time management, problem-solving, management, and leadership skills. They also need communication and decision-making capabilities.

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Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers need at least a bachelor's degree and relevant work experience. Many future managers work as social workers or substance abuse counselors. Successful professionals need skills in management, problem-solving, time management, and communication.

Social and community service managers oversee community organizations and social service programs and work for nonprofit groups, government agencies, and social service companies. Job duties include working with community members to identify necessary programs, analyzing data to determine program effectiveness, writing proposals to get funding, and planning outreach activities to increase awareness about projects.

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Accreditation for Online Healthcare Administration Doctoral Programs

Students should choose an online doctorate in healthcare administration program at an accredited school. Accreditation ensures that colleges and universities meet high standards for academic quality. Schools can hold either regional or national accreditation. Most public, nonprofit universities hold regional accreditation, while private, for-profit, and technical schools tend to hold national accreditation.

In most cases, regional accreditation is considered more prestigious and trustworthy than national accreditation. Credit earned at regionally accredited schools usually transfers easily to other universities. Some employers and professions prefer or require job applicants to hold a degree from a regionally accredited university. A third type of accreditation, programmatic accreditation, evaluates the quality of specific departments or academic programs within institutions.

When researching school accreditation information, look for accreditation agencies approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Paying for Your Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration

Students can pay for their Ph.D.s in healthcare administration using a variety of funding sources, including federal financial aid, scholarships and grants, teaching assistantships, private student loans, and corporate tuition assistance programs. Most students pay for their healthcare administration degrees using a combination of different types of financial aid.

Students receive a limited amount of aid on a first-come, first-served basis, so applying early increases the likelihood of receiving money.

Private foundations, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, businesses, and universities all offer scholarship and grant opportunities. Healthcare administration departments may also provide teaching assistantships, which typically offer a tuition waiver and living stipend for graduate students who help teach courses. Many businesses offer corporate tuition assistance to help employees pursue further education, especially if the degree relates to the company's mission.

Students can find out if they qualify for federal financial aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) through the U.S. Department of Education. Even students who do not think they will qualify for federal aid should complete the FAFSA, as many organizations and states that offer scholarships and grants require the FAFSA. Apply for the FAFSA as early as possible each year. Students receive a limited amount of aid on a first-come, first-served basis, so applying early increases the likelihood of receiving money.

Federal student loans offer many benefits, including low interest rates and flexible repayment options. In some cases, it makes sense to consider private student loans to help supplement federal loans or other financial aid sources. Consult our guide on applying for student loans to learn more about completing the FAFSA, determining eligibility for aid, and the different types of student loans.

Healthcare Administration Professional Organizations

Professional organizations in healthcare administration give students the opportunity to learn about healthcare administration jobs, internships, and volunteer openings. Joining a professional organization also means networking with established healthcare administration leaders, gaining access to publications and listservs, and receiving discounts on conferences and other professional development workshops. Students can often join professional groups at a discounted membership rate.

American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management

Founded in 1968 as the American Guild of Patient Account Management, AAHAM provides information, advocacy, and education for healthcare administrative management professionals. The association focuses on issues like reimbursement, data management, patient relations, and medical records.

Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals

AHCAP is an association for healthcare professionals who support the top healthcare leaders in the U.S. It provides professional development and leadership opportunities and hosts the only professional development conference for healthcare administrative professionals. Members get six free webinars a year, access to an online member directory, monthly emails, and the chance to earn the certified healthcare administrative professional certification.

Health Care Administrators Association

HCAA started in 1980 as the California-based Independent Administrators Association. The association now supports third-party healthcare administrators. HCAA offers networking, education, resources, and advocacy for professionals working as benefit administrators, medical managers, and healthcare consultants. Members can also attend HCAA's two annual conferences.

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