30 Best Online PhD in Healthcare Administration Degree Programs

Hospitals and medical systems need strong leadership from professionals who understand both business and healthcare. Such roles are so important that the field is expected to grow 20 percent between 2016 and 2026.

You can prepare for a career in this growing field by earning your online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration.

Online PhD in Healthcare Programs

Hospitals and other healthcare systems are businesses, but they have a unique focus: caring for people’s bodies and minds. Therefore, serving in a leadership capacity within a medical system requires a specific set of skills and knowledge. A Doctorate in Healthcare Administration is a degree that can prepare you for those high-level positions.

Administrative healthcare professionals are responsible for the operations and business success of the organizations for which they work. Big decisions often rest on their shoulders, so they need to have strong critical-thinking skills. It helps if they’re good at visualizing the big picture while also keeping an eye on the details. These are skills and abilities that a doctoral program can help to refine.

The American healthcare system can be complicated. Politics, insurance matters and other issues add complexity to caring for people in sickness and in health. In a doctoral program, you’ll gain knowledge and insight that can help you navigate this system. Your expertise will allow doctors to take care of patients while you handle the business side of healthcare.

You may already have firsthand insight into healthcare leadership. If you’ve been working in this field for years, then you know how important qualified leaders and administrators are to a health system. You’ll probably draw on your professional experience time and again as you go through your doctoral program. In fact, many universities require you to have several years of working in the field before you’ll be admitted to their programs.

Online doctoral programs offer the same sort of rigorous educational experience that you would get from on-campus classes. However, they usually feature more flexible schedules and are designed with working professionals in mind. If your goal is to juggle your job, your family and your schooling, then an online healthcare administration program may be ideal.

Types of Doctoral Healthcare Administration Programs

Once you decide that a doctoral degree in healthcare administration is for you, the next step is to choose the type of doctoral program that best fits your plans and interests.

No dissertation required:

If you decide to go the DBA route, then you’ll earn a business degree with a healthcare specialization. Therefore, you will take an assortment of core classes that apply to students in many business settings, and then you’ll take a few additional healthcare-specific courses. If you already have an MHA, this can be a good option because it will give you a broader knowledge base. Some DBA programs require dissertations, but not all do.

Doctor of Health Administration (DHA)

Unlike in a DBA program, nearly all of the classes that you take in a DHA program will relate directly to health sciences and healthcare. If you pursue a DHA, you may be able to earn a generalist degree or work toward a particular specialization in order to further refine your healthcare leadership skills. As with DBA programs, not all schools require a dissertation for a DHA.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) – Healthcare Administration

People who earn DHA or DBA degrees often work directly in the field; for example, they may serve as leaders in hospital systems. PhD holders often have a different goal in mind: working in academia. If you are interested in teaching in a university setting or creating original research related to healthcare administration, then a PhD in Healthcare Administration is a good choice. Be prepared to complete a dissertation as part of your program.


Your doctoral curriculum will advance your knowledge of healthcare systems and business leadership. Programs vary from school to school, but your coursework may include classes like the ones below.

Healthcare Analytics and Data Interpretation

  • Healthcare Analytics and Data Interpretation: As a business leader, you need to understand trends and changes within your organization and resources. This class will equip you with skills for gathering such data, gaining valuable meaning from it and acting on your findings.

Healthcare Leadership

  • Healthcare Leadership: All organizations need strong leadership. Through your time in this class, you’ll figure out what it takes to be an effective leader in general, and you’ll also acquire specific skills that will help you succeed in the healthcare arena.

Law and Policy in Healthcare

  • Law and Policy in Healthcare: In this class, you’ll study the ways that federal, state and local policies influence healthcare delivery and services. Your coursework will also help you learn about methods of driving change through policy-making.

Financial Management for Healthcare Systems

  • Financial Management for Healthcare Systems: You and your classmates will talk about the importance of having a financial strategy for your organization, and you’ll learn how you can use financial resources to further your objectives.

Healthcare Informatics

  • Healthcare Informatics: Working in healthcare requires managing a good deal of data, such as patient records. An informatics class will equip you with the necessary IT tools and resources for tracking this data.

Communication and Marketing for Business Settings

  • Communication and Marketing for Business Settings: You will learn how to communicate clearly with those inside and outside your organization. In addition, you will study the relationship between price and promotion and learn how to effectively advertise your healthcare system.


As a doctoral student, you have the option to tailor your studies toward one particular aspect of healthcare administration by choosing a concentration and taking a set of classes designed to refine your knowledge of that field.

General Healthcare Administration

For a degree program that gives you an overview of many aspects of administration, consider selecting a generalist concentration. It’s an ideal approach for professionals who bear a wide assortment of responsibilities and would prefer not to limit themselves to one specialization. You may have the option to take electives.

Healthcare Operations

If you excel at balancing today’s details with the long-term vision for your organization’s success, then you might want to consider this concentration. Operations students discuss ways to manage the daily business of a healthcare system, and they study what is involved in setting and reaching organizational goals.

Policies and Regulations

Rather than managing healthcare systems, some administration students desire to work at the state or federal level to influence healthcare policy. This concentration focuses on the politics and laws behind healthcare. It equips you with strategies for crafting policies and working to change current rules and regulations as needed.

Business Leadership

If you want to hold an executive position in a hospital system, then this concentration can provide the skills that you need. It’s a good alternative to pursuing a DBA with a healthcare administration specialty. Your coursework will cover topics like finance, strategic planning, marketing and data analytics.

Healthcare Education

Knowledge can help to improve healthcare outcomes. With a specialization in education, you can become a patient educator or care coordinator who helps people learn to improve their own well-being. You could also hold a teaching position in which you help healthcare students or continuing-education professionals gain new skills.

Analytics and Improvement

To make your healthcare system the best it can be, you could choose to study data analysis. You’ll gain skills that will help you gather data and put it to work for your organization. Data analytics can help you improve care quality, health outcomes and resource management.

Public Health

You can affect health outcomes on a community-wide level by focusing on public health. Your studies will help you learn to evaluate the needs of a population, implement programs, improve health education and analyze the results of your initiatives. In addition, you’ll learn about healthcare advocacy for disadvantaged or underrepresented people groups.

Admissions & Prerequisites

Doctoral programs in this field can be quite rigorous, so admissions committees can be rather selective about whom they allow into their doctoral tracks. Understanding the admissions requirements ahead of time can help you determine whether this is the right season for you to apply for these programs.

Most schools expect you to have experience in the field before pursuing your healthcare administration doctoral degree. Often, the admissions requirements stipulate that you must have already held a healthcare leadership position for three to five years. Others expect several years of professional experience, that experience does not have to be limited to work in the healthcare field.

Your previous education plays a role in whether you will be admitted to a doctoral program. Most schools expect to see a previous GPA of at least 2.5 or 3.0. Some will make exceptions for lower grades if you have a compelling, well-crafted essay to go along with your application.

Holding a master’s degree can prove beneficial. In fact, some schools may waive some of their admissions requirements for students who have already demonstrated their competency at the graduate level. For example, a school may allow a master’s holder into its doctoral program even if the student doesn’t have the required number of years of work experience. Having a master’s may also exempt you from minimum GPA requirements.

GRE test scores are required for some Doctorate in Healthcare Administration programs. However, there are a number of schools that don’t ask students to take this test, or they offer waivers for qualifying students. Work experience, previous graduate degrees, professional certifications or high GPAs are commonly used as the basis for GRE waivers.

Whether or not a school requires GRE testing before admission, it’s likely that you’ll need to provide test scores that prove your English proficiency if this is your second language.

When applying for a doctoral program, you may need to submit an application, an essay or personal statement, your school transcripts, and proof of your professional experience. Most schools will ask for a set number of letters of recommendation; in general, these should come from professional colleagues or associates. If the GRE or other testing is required, you’ll need to submit your scores or proof that you qualify for a waiver.

Careers & Employment Outlook

Many people who graduate with a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration desire to work in a managerial, administrative or executive role in a hospital or other healthcare organization. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of management positions in the field of medical and health services is predicted to increase by 20 percent between 2016 and 2026. That is is significantly higher than the national average for job growth.

Medical and health services managers earn an average of $99,730 annually. It’s important to note that this average includes employees who hold only bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

Earning your professional doctorate or PhD in this field will make you an excellent candidate for some of the top-paying executive positions in hospitals or healthcare systems. Applicable titles may include chief executive officer, chief financial officer or chief operating officer. Other graduates become presidents or vice presidents of healthcare organizations. Throughout all fields, top executives make an average annual salary of $104,980, and chief executives earn about $189,600 each year.

Serving as a top-level hospital executive is just one of the many positions that you could pursue after earning your doctoral degree. You’ll find many career paths open to you after completing your schooling. Options include:

  • Compliance officer: Ensure that healthcare organizations are abiding by applicable laws and regulations. The average annual salary is $68,860.
  • Management analyst: Suggest ways that healthcare organizations could improve their efficiency and effectiveness. You might make an annual salary of $83,610.
  • Health educator: Help people learn to take charge of their own health. The average salary is around $46,080 per year.
  • University faculty: Change the face of healthcare by empowering students to make a difference in their communities. Postsecondary teachers in general make an average of $78,470 each year. Those who teach health specialities may make $97,370 annually.
  • Pharamceutical executive: Hold a top-level position in a company that manufactures prescription drugs. Managers in this field make an average of $154,190, and chief executives make $233,290.


In order for your Doctorate in Healthcare Administration to help you reach your career goals, you must earn your degree from an accredited school. Accreditation shows that a university is reputable and that its graduates possess a sufficient body of knowledge and competence.

Consider the following types of accreditation as you decide on a university:

Regional accreditation

  • Regional accreditation: All universities should hold accreditation from a regional accrediting body that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Industry-specific accreditation

  • Industry-specific accreditation: Although this certification is not completely essential for a doctoral program in healthcare administration, many of the best schools in this field have received accreditation from the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). To receive this distinction, a school’s curriculum must meet rigorous standards.

Additional accreditation

  • Additional accreditation: If you are earning an online degree, consider enrolling in a school that has been recognized by the Distance Education and Training Council Accrediting Commission.

Financial Aid

Grants and loans can help you afford a doctoral program. The federal government offers both of these types of financial aid. To see what type of help you qualify for, start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In addition, your state may offer grants and loans for doctoral students. Scholarships are sometimes available through schools or independent organizations, and your university may be able to set up a payment plan.

Ready to Get Started?

With a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration, you’ll possess the skills and knowledge to serve in healthcare organizations’ top-level positions. Your work will be satisfying because it will help hospitals and clinics make a difference in people’s lives. In addition, you’ll be working in a well-paying field with continual job growth.

List of Universities offering Online PhD in Healthcare Administration Programs

Rank University Featured Image tbl-programs Location mdgtbl-description

A.T. Still University

A.T. Still University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Online DHA
  • Online EdD in Health Professions

Arizona State University

ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
  • Online Doctor of Behavioral Health – Management

Aspen University

Aspen University is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
  • Online EdD in Leadership and Learning – Health Care Administration and Leadership

Atlantic International University

AIU is accredited by the Accreditation Service for International Schools, Colleges and Universities (ASIC).
  • Online DHA

California Intercontinental University

CalUniversity is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.
  • Online DBA – Healthcare Management and Leadership

Capella University

Capella is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Online DHA – General Health Administration
  • Online DHA – Health Care Leadership
  • Online DHA – Health Care Quality and Analytics
  • Online DHA – Health Policy and Advocacy

Central Michigan University

CMU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
  • Online DHA

Clarkson College

Clarkson College has maintained continuous accreditation with The Higher Learning Commission since 1984 for all programs.
  • Online EdD in Health Care Education & Leadership

Colorado Technical University

CTU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Online Doctor of Management – Healthcare Management and Leadership

Concordia University – Chicago

CU Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to award baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees.
  • Online PhD in Leadership – Health & Human Performance

Franklin University

Franklin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Online DHA

Grand Canyon University

GCU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
  • Online EdD in Organizational Leadership – Health Care Administration

Indiana University

IU is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
  • Online DrPH in Global Health Leadership

Liberty University

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees.
  • Online DBA in Healthcare Management

Medical University of South Carolina

LOCATIONSouth Carolina
MUSC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award baccalaureate, masters, doctorate, and first professional degrees.
  • Online DHA

Nebraska Methodist College

Nebraska Methodist College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Online EdD in Education & Leadership – Healthcare

Northcentral University

Northcentral is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
  • Online DBA – Healthcare Administration
  • Online DHA

Regent University

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees.
  • Online DSL – Healthcare Leadership

Rivier University

LOCATIONNew Hampshire
Rivier University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
  • Online DNP – Systems Leadership

Rosalind Franklin University

All degree and certificate programs at RFU are approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Online PhD in Interprofessional Healthcare Studies

Trident University

Trident University is the first fully online university regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission.
  • Online PhD in Health Sciences – Global Health
  • Online PhD in Health Sciences – Health Policy and Administration

University of Alabama – Birmingham

UAB, including UAB eLearning, is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
  • Online Executive DSc in Healthcare Leadership

University of Mississippi Medical Center

UMMC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award baccalaureate, master’s and doctorate degrees.
  • Online DHA

University of North Carolina

LOCATIONNorth Carolina
UNC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
  • Online Executive DrPH in Health Leadership

University of Phoenix

Since 1978, UOPX has been continually accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and its predecessor.
  • Online DHA

Walden University

Walden has been accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1990.
  • Online DHA
  • Online PsyD in Behavioral Health Leadership
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