2024 Best Online PhD in Health Sciences Programs [Doctoral Guide]

By David Garcia
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on May 2, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
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A PhD in Health Sciences aims to prepare students for success in health-related industries. This doctoral degree provides students with more research and leadership opportunities within various healthcare fields.

Best Online PhD in Health Sciences Programs [Doctoral Guide]

A Ph.D. in Health Sciences program is both broad and interdisciplinary. This unique approach to healthcare education allows for career mobility post-graduation. Some graduates choose to work in education, in clinical settings, or in roles that help others lead healthy lives.

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Read on to see how a health sciences PhD could help you grow your professional qualifications.

Universities Offering Online PhD in Health Science Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Faulkner University

Faulkner University’s PhD in Health Sciences can potentially be earned in just 18 months. New courses start every 5 weeks, and applications are accepted throughout the year. The program requires the completion of 45 credit hours, including a dissertation. Potential courses include Evidence-Based Practice, Clinical Statistics, and Qualitative Research Methods.

Faulkner University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Liberty University

Liberty University offers a PhD in Health Sciences program that is designed to provide flexibility for working health professionals. Courses are 8 weeks long and 100% online. Students take on average 3 years to graduate. Specialization options include General, Exercise and Sport Science, and Trauma-Informed Care.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University offers a PhD in Health Sciences. This hybrid program features online and face-to-face components and allows students to enroll part-time or full-time. Potential courses include Contemporary Health Science Topics, Knowledge Integration in the Health Sciences, and Data Analysis in the Health Sciences.

Northern Illinois University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University’s PhD in Health Science program features online course delivery combined with a research practicum and two on-campus institutes. Students must complete 64 credit hours, including a dissertation, and pass a comprehensive exam to graduate. New students can begin every January or August.

Nova Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Rocky Mountain University

Rocky Mountain University offers a PhD in Health Sciences that can typically be earned in 4 years with limited residency requirements. Concentrations offered include Healthcare Professions Education, Healthcare Leadership and Administration, Athletic Training, Orthopedic Sports Science, Pediatric Science, and more.

Rocky Mountain University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Rush University

Rush University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences. Coursework is online, and students can enroll part-time or full-time. Classes usually have just 8 to 10 students. The program is designed to be flexible for working professionals, but students can usually finish in 4 to 5 years.

Rush University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Seton Hall University

Seton Hall University offers a PhD in Health Sciences that can be earned online. Classes meet just once a week in the evenings. There are part-time and full-time enrollment options to help fit students’ schedules. Specializations are offered in Health Professions Leadership, Speech-Language Pathology, and Movement Science.

Seton Hall University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Thomas Jefferson University

Thomas Jefferson University’s PhD in Population Health Science program uses a hybrid model, with both online and on-campus classes. Online classes are asynchronous. Specializations are available in Health Data Science, Health Policy, Applied Health Economics and Outcomes Research, Healthcare Quality and Safety, and Health Behavior Science.

Thomas Jefferson University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Trident University International

Trident University International offers a PhD in Health Sciences that can be earned online. There are no in-person requirements, and students can choose 3, 4, or 5-year plans. To graduate, students must pass a comprehensive exam and successfully defend a dissertation. Students receive individualized support throughout the process.

Trident University International is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota’s PhD in Health Sciences program is designed for working professionals. The program can be completed mostly online but does require a small number of residential experiences on campus. To graduate, students must complete 75 credit hours, including a dissertation. Potential courses include Globalization and Health, Leadership and Health Care, and Biostatistics for Public Health.

The University of South Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

PhD in Health Sciences Online Programs

man taking doctorate of health science online

A PhD in Health Sciences can help prepare health professionals to become advanced practitioners, administrators, researchers, or educators. A PhD in this field is designed to build upon your prior education, with the specific goal of providing you with greater opportunities for career advancement.

To accomplish this, PhD in Health Sciences programs take a broad approach to their curriculum. That said, this program also gives you the opportunity to specialize in a specific subject of your choosing. Your chosen concentration could impact your curriculum as well as your professional qualifications. This is a terminal degree, so you’re required to hold a masters degree or professional doctorate before applying.

Professionals with a PhD in Health Sciences can be found in nearly every corner of the healthcare industry. Some of these career paths include:

  • Medical and health services manager
  • Health educator
  • Postsecondary teacher
  • Postsecondary education administrator
  • Clinical researcher
  • Advanced practitioner

While your concentration lets you specialize in your chosen field, you’ll also study advanced topics in:

  • Leadership
  • Research
  • Evidence-based practice

A PhD in Health Sciences will build upon the foundation that your current education provides. By pursuing advanced education in this field, you may expand your job prospects and deepen your expertise in your specialized area of healthcare.

Common Online PhD in Health Science Specializations

PhD in Health Science Specialization in Kinesiology

A common feature of most PhD in Health Sciences programs is that they allow students to take a specialization so they can focus on a specific area. Some health science specializations include:

  • Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. This concentration teaches students how to become researchers and leaders with the goal of improving the lives of people with speech, language, and hearing disabilities.
  • Behavior Analysis. This concentration focuses on molding students into behavior analysis leaders who are on the frontlines of elevating scientific understanding and solving relevant issues.
  • Physical Therapy. Students will learn how to advance physical therapy research by developing skills like critical analysis of trends, choosing statistical methods to answer relevant health questions, and designing challenging research studies.
  • Kinesiology. Students complete coursework and perform research in kinesiology to become educators, leaders, and researchers in the field.
  • Trauma-Informed Care. This specialty helps students become experts in trauma-informed care through the study of responder training, assessment and testing, and community response.

This is only a small list of common specializations for health sciences PhD students. When researching universities, you can see how their available specializations align with your goals.

Health Science Careers and Salaries

Health Science Careers and Salaries

A PhD in Health Sciences program is beneficial for health professionals who possess a masters degree in a similar field and want to advance both their career and education. Post-graduation, professionals may take their advanced knowledge and delve into a variety of industries.

A PhD in Health Sciences is known to help prepare health professionals and practitioners for roles in leadership, education, advanced practice, and research. Your chosen concentration may impact both your job qualifications and opportunities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries of positions related to the advanced study of health science.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Chief Executives $179,520
Postsecondary Health Specialties Teachers $102,720
Medical and Health Services Managers $101,340
Administrative Services and Facilities Managers $99,290
General and Operations Managers $97,970
Postsecondary Education Administrators $96,910
Medical Scientists $95,310
Epidemiologists $78,830
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $76,530
Social and Community Service Managers $74,000

There are many factors that contribute to the hiring process, so a degree in itself cannot guarantee a certain position or salary. Your prior licenses or certifications could also impact your job eligibility.

A PhD in Health Sciences program can provide an excellent foundation for higher education. Many PhD graduates go on to become professors or administrators in colleges or universities. Outside of education, many graduates pursue positions as clinical researchers, advanced practitioners, or healthcare administrators.

Health Sciences PhD Curriculum & Courses

Some people taking PhD in Health Sciences

Obtaining a health science PhD online means having a variety of courses at your disposal. These courses can vary by program and school, but here is a list of example courses to give you an idea of what to expect:

  • Foundation of Education: You’re taught various learning theories in the context of higher education, including behavioral, cognitive, and constructive theory.
  • Curriculum and Instruction: You’re taught how to develop a curriculum for health science education programs.
  • Methods and Evaluation: This course provides an overview of how to develop course goals, learning activities, evaluation methods, and other teaching methods used in education.
  • Teaching Practicum: You’re taught how to navigate various teaching practices like giving lectures, grading assignments, and tutoring.
  • Statistics: You’ll familiarize yourself with medical literature so that you can stay up-to-date on the knowledge of current medical findings as well as how to interpret data.
  • Composition for Effective Professional Writing: In this course, you’ll learn how to write for publications and dissertations
  • Leadership Theory: You’re given a foundation in leadership assessment and leadership theory to become a better leader and more capable of evaluating quality leadership.
  • Education Theory and Methods: This course introduces you to the concepts of behaviorism, social cognitivism, and humanism within the context of higher education.
  • Advanced Biostatistics: You’re taught how to interpret and convey the statistics found in medical literature.
  • Ethical Conduct in Research Settings: This course teaches you how to perform ethical, responsible research.

The coursework offered will vary by program, and your health sciences concentration will impact your course list as well.

Health Science PhD Online Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing requirements for PhD in Health Sciences

Admissions requirements for entrance into a PhD in Health Sciences program can vary from school to school. Below is a list of some common admissions requirements for doctoral programs:

  • Online application
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0, on average, for graduate work
  • Master’s degree from an accredited university
  • Letters of recommendation
  • College transcripts

Since criteria can vary, it’s helpful to do your research on your school of choice. You can often contact a school’s admissions office for any questions you may have.


University offering PhD in Health Sciences

It’s beneficial to earn your PhD in Health Sciences from a regionally accredited school. Regional accreditation is the process by which a college or university passes a series of exams that testify to its ability to meet a high standard of education.

Holding a PhD from a regionally accredited school shows employers that you’re educated at the highest level. An accredited degree can also be required for certain positions and certifications. Attending an accredited school also allows for more financial aid opportunities since federal aid is only offered to accredited institutions.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

PhD in Health Sciences financial aid

The first step for many students seeking financial aid is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This forms has you submit your financial information so you can be considered for need-based federal aid, such as student loans.

Student loans must be paid back after graduation, but they tend to have lower interest rates. Scholarships and grants are also viable options to pursue. Most scholarship and grant programs require an application and consist of a contest to determine who gets the award.

Scholarships and grants don’t have to be paid back, and they can be offered on both a local and national level as well as through institutions themselves. You can also see what particular financial aid opportunities, such as assistantships, your school may offer to doctoral students. In addition, some employers offer professional development or tuition reimbursement programs.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Health Science?

Medical Scientists working in the lab

A PhD in Health Science helps prepare graduates for advanced roles in the healthcare field. The interdisciplinary approach of this program allows you to study healthcare as a whole, while your chosen concentration allows you to focus on your preferred specialty.

As such, your concentration could influence the variety of specific career paths you can qualify for after graduation. Your current licenses and certifications might impact your career trajectory as well. In general, many graduates go on to become clinical researchers, postsecondary educators, advanced practitioners, and healthcare leaders and administrators.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online PhD in Health Sciences?

Man taking online PhD in Health Sciences

Online PhD in Health Sciences programs tend to take anywhere between 3 and 5 years to complete. The timeline may vary with an online program in health science, as some students work faster when they have the freedom to work at their own pace. Others take longer due to their work style and schedule.

These programs may also culminate in dissertations, which could extend the length of the program. That said, if you were to take a full-time course load and didn’t have a dissertation requirement, then you might be able to complete your program in 3 years.

What’s the Difference Between a Doctor vs. PhD in Health Science Online Program?

Obtaining a PhD online in health science is different from obtaining a Doctor of Health Science online.

Doctor in Health Sciences PhD in Health Sciences
  • More practice-oriented
  • Can typically be completed in 3 years or less
  • May allow for a wider range of careers across healthcare
  • May culminate in a research project in your desired area of interest
  • More research-oriented
  • Can often be completed in 3 to 5 years
  • Usually more focused on a specific facet of healthcare
  • Culminates in a dissertation

Health science doctoral programs have similar learning objectives but provide a different approach to their curriculums and career outlook.

Is a PhD in Health Science Worth It?

Administrative Services & Facilities Manager doing some assessment

Yes, a PhD in Health Sciences is worth it for many professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that healthcare occupations will grow 13% over the next ten years, which is much faster than average. Healthcare administration and teaching roles are expected to see above average growth as well.

Health professionals and practitioners tend to pursue a PhD in Health Science if they have the desire to educate others, advance the field through research, or lead or manage a healthcare organization.

Getting Your Doctorate in Health Science Online

Woman pursuing PhD in Health Science online

Many health professionals and practitioners pursue a PhD in Health Science this to advance their expertise and qualifications in the field. Completing this terminal degree online could allow for more flexibility and convenience.

Health science PhD programs offer a range of concentrations that you can choose from to specialize in your preferred subject. You might be interested in this degree path if you’re wanting to work in healthcare at the highest level. Many graduates go on to work as postsecondary teachers, researchers, or healthcare leaders and administrators.

If you’re ready to advance your educational and professional journeys, you could start by researching accredited universities to find the Health Sciences PhD program and concentration that’s right for you.

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