The 5 Best Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Programs

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The needs of an aging national population and rapid advancements in medical technology are driving growth in the healthcare industry. Demand for qualified professionals increases with the construction of new hospitals, clinics, and assisted living facilities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for medical and health services managers will increase 20% by 2026, nearly triple the growth rate for all occupations.

Earning a Ph.D. in healthcare administration online helps current professionals improve employment opportunities and increase earning potential. An online doctorate in healthcare administration distinguishes job candidates from other professionals and qualifies degree holders for high-level positions. The following guide discusses how to choose and finance DHA online programs.

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Best Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Programs
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Online Healthcare Administration Doctorate Degree Program Ranking Guidelines

We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

The Best Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Programs

1
Liberty University
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4

Franklin University 

Columbus, OH

About this school

Operating a central campus in Columbus, Ohio, in addition to over 20 satellite campuses throughout the Midwest, Franklin University expands its national presence through distance learning. The school’s online doctorate in healthcare administration program aims for flexibility above all. Students never have to visit campus to complete their degree, and transfer students may bring up to 24 approved credits with them. Students often complete their degrees within three years.

The 58-credit curriculum includes a research core, major courses, electives, and a dissertation. Major coursework includes topics like healthcare economics and healthcare policy, for example, and the dissertation usually accounts for each student’s final year of study. All applicants must have a master’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. The program accepts students for spring, summer, and fall start dates.

5

Medical University of South Carolina 

Charleston, SC

About this school

Based in Charleston, the Medical University of South Carolina is one of the oldest medical schools in the nation. As a recent adopter of distance education, MUSC offers a unique online doctorate in healthcare administration — the DHA executive program. The program’s 63-credit curriculum takes approximately three years to complete. The first two years consist of asynchronous online coursework, with one weekend per semester required on campus. The final year takes place entirely on campus, with students working closely with faculty members on their dissertations.

Prior to admission, all applicants must have professional experience in a leadership role (management or policy) in healthcare. Prospective students must have earned a master’s or professional degree in the field and demonstrate proficiency in statistics, epidemiology, health finance, health economics, and organizational behavior. The GRE and GMAT are not required for admission.

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What Else Can I Expect from an Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Program?

Requirements to earn a Ph.D. in healthcare management online vary by school. The following classes are common among DHA online programs; most students take some or all of these courses while earning an online doctorate in healthcare administration.

Curriculum for an Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration

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

Many students earn a Ph.D. in healthcare management online in less time than is normally required to complete traditional, on-campus programs. However, the amount of time necessary to earn a DHA degree online depends on factors including enrollment status and program structure. While most full-time students require two to three years to earn a doctorate, curriculum structure, content, and delivery methods impact the time it takes to graduate.

Flexible, asynchronous programs feature self-paced coursework and allow busy students to complete assignments and review course materials at their convenience. Self-motivated students with strong organizational skills can complete asynchronous classes quickly. Synchronous, cohort-based programs are highly structured and emphasize collaborative learning. While cohort programs offer peer and faculty support, they feature rigid deadlines and less flexible schedules. Most students take longer to complete a synchronous DHA degree online program.

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Accreditation for Online Healthcare Administration Doctorate Degrees

Accreditation is important to consider when researching DHA online programs. Accreditation ensures colleges and universities maintain high academic and ethical standards. Schools may hold regional or national accreditation; for-profit vocational and technical schools typically receive national accreditation, and most public, nonprofit universities are regionally accredited.

Regional accreditation is more highly regarded than national accreditation. Credits earned from regionally accredited institutions transfer easily, whereas regionally accredited schools rarely accept credits earned from nationally accredited institutions. Because regionally accredited programs are often regarded as more prestigious, many employers prefer candidates with an online Ph.D. in healthcare administration from a regionally accredited college or university. Employer tuition reimbursement programs generally stipulate the employee attend a regionally accredited institution.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) relies on accreditation status to determine which institutions are eligible for federal funding. While the ED does not award accreditation, the department oversees the six regional accrediting bodies. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) ensures that both regional and national accrediting bodies follow proper protocols. CHEA maintains a comprehensive database of accredited institutions.

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Employment Outlook for Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Graduates

Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Careers

An online doctorate in healthcare administration leads to a variety of employment opportunities in the healthcare sector and elsewhere. Many graduates pursue management roles in hospitals and large medical facilities. Others lead nonprofit organizations, teach in universities and colleges, and secure high-level corporate positions. Careers for healthcare administration professionals, such as those below, require excellent communication and organizational skills.

  1. Medical and Health Services Manager: Also known as healthcare administrators, these managers coordinate medical services, hire and train staff, manage finances, and maintain records. They may be in charge of an entire facility, one or more departments, or a medical practice group. This position requires strong communication and interpersonal skills.
    • Median Annual Salary: $96,540
    • Projected Growth Rate: 20%
  2. Human Resources Manager: Human resources managers oversee the administrative functions of a company or organization, including hiring staff members, developing benefit and training plans, and securing regulatory compliance. They serve as a liaison between upper management and staff, mediate labor disputes, and oversee employee relations.
    • Median Annual Salary: $106,910
    • Projected Growth Rate: 9%
  3. Postsecondary Teacher: Many students pursue an online doctorate in healthcare administration to become a postsecondary instructor or professor. Professors typically specialize in one or more academic fields and teach at colleges or universities. Many postsecondary teachers also conduct research.
    • Median Annual Salary: $75,430
    • Projected Growth Rate: 15%
  4. Top Executive: The responsibilities of top executives vary by organization and industry, but most of these professionals develop policies, procedures, and initiatives that further organizational goals. Most have extensive managerial and administrative experience in a particular sector, and large medical corporations typically prefer candidates with a doctorate in healthcare management.
    • Median Annual Salary: $103,950
    • Projected Growth Rate: 8%
  5. Social and Community Service Manager: Tasked with coordinating social service organizations, these managers identify medical, economic, and social needs within a community or demographic. They develop and implement outreach programs, evaluate data to determine an initiative’s effectiveness, and modify programs accordingly. Most have a background in medical or social science in addition to managerial experience.
    • Median Annual Salary: $64,680
    • Projected Growth Rate: 18%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Salary

Professionals with a doctorate in healthcare management typically earn higher salaries than those with a master’s or bachelor’s degree. However, individual salaries depend on factors including location, industry, and professional experience. As the table below demonstrates, professionals with more work experience generally earn higher salaries; some late-career professionals in the field average nearly double the salaries of entry-level employees.

Median Salary by Experience Level

Job Title Overall Median Salary Entry-Level Employees Mid-Career Employees Late-Career Employees
Medical and Health Services Manager $65,033 $58,746 $77,220 $118,093
Human Resources
Manager
$64,120 $55,309 $64,693 $71,711
Postsecondary Teacher $87,552 $60,032 $71,084 $100,332
Top Executive $74,703 $56,872 $66,771 $96,389

Healthcare Administration Professional Organizations

Professional organizations benefit both current students pursuing a DHA degree online and working professionals in the industry. Professional organizations offer members opportunities to gain new skills, boost their resumes, and make valuable industry connections. Common resources for members include career services, continuing education, and scholarship opportunities. These organizations provide a forum for healthcare administrators to network, collaborate, and grow professionally. The groups below are ideal for students earning a Ph.D. in healthcare management online.

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Paying for Your Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration

Students earning a Ph.D. in healthcare management online have a variety of options for financing their studies, including scholarships and tuition reimbursement programs. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine whether you qualify for federal financial aid, including grants, loans, and work-study opportunities. While some learners pursuing a DHA degree online fund their education with private loans, federal student loans typically feature lower interest rates and more lenient payment plans. Additional funding options, such as work-study programs, may be available to students who intend to pursue employment with nonprofit or government organizations. These programs often require recipients to work in an underserved region or population after graduation.

In addition to federal funding, there are many scholarship and fellowship opportunities available to students pursuing a doctoral degree in healthcare management. Institutions, corporations, special interest groups, and individuals award scholarships based on financial need, academic merit, and specialized criteria. Unlike student loans, students do not have to repay scholarship awards. Some employers offer scholarships or tuition reimbursement programs for employees pursuing higher education.

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