Want to Help People? Here Are the Best Healthcare Degrees and Programs

Doug WintemuteASO Rankings Team
Updated April 15, 2024
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Healthcare programs prepare the next generation of healthcare professionals. With a degree in healthcare or medicine, you can pursue various health careers, including nurse practitioner, doctor, physician assistant, medical assistant, or ultrasound technician.

Many colleges and universities offer online healthcare degrees, in which you’ll take classes online and complete clinical requirements at a local healthcare facility. Read on to explore your options for healthcare programs and get advice on choosing the best healthcare degree for you.

Why Should You Get a Healthcare Degree?

  • You can make a difference by improving people’s lives and entire communities.
  • Many healthcare degrees lead to high-paying, in-demand careers.
  • As a qualified healthcare professional, you’ll have more chances to specialize.
  • Healthcare and medical degrees can qualify you for promotions and leadership positions.
  • Healthcare programs keep your field knowledge and skills up to date.
  • You can gain access to more career opportunities and work environments.

Did You Know?

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How Does Accreditation Work for Healthcare Programs?

Accreditation plays a significant role in healthcare programs and medical schools.

Attending an unaccredited school or program could leave you without access to financial aid, certification or licensure, and employment.

Valid accreditation must come from an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

In addition to institutional accreditation, programs can be programmatically accredited. Many regulated healthcare fields require programmatic accreditation by an approved healthcare accrediting agency.

Some of the major healthcare programmatic accreditors include:

What Types of Healthcare Degrees Can You Get?

You have many options when it comes to healthcare degrees, from certificates to doctoral and professional degrees.


Healthcare certificate programs usually comprise a series of courses in one specialized field. These programs typically run anywhere from 3-12 months.

A healthcare certificate can prepare you for entry-level roles, help you develop a specialization, or give you the qualifications necessary to advance your career.

Sample Healthcare Certificate Programs

Associate Degreearrow-narrow-right

Associate degrees in healthcare provide you with the fundamentals necessary for many entry-level careers in healthcare. These programs typically last 1-2 years.

After graduation, you can pursue several technologist or support careers. Alternatively, you can transfer your credits toward a bachelor’s program.

Sample Healthcare Associate Programs

Bachelor’s Degreearrow-narrow-right

Healthcare degrees at the bachelor’s level can lead to careers like nursing. Bachelor’s degrees also build the foundation for future graduate studies.

Bachelor’s degrees usually consist of around 120 credits and take four years to complete. Healthcare programs at this level often combine general education coursework, healthcare principles, specialized training, and field experience.

Sample Healthcare Bachelor’s Programs

Master’s Degreearrow-narrow-right

Many practitioner and specialist healthcare careers require a master’s degree. These programs build upon your undergraduate foundation, preparing you for advanced research, highly technical responsibilities, and a doctoral or professional degree.

Healthcare degrees at this level usually require 30-45 credits and take 1-2 years to complete.

Sample Healthcare Master’s Programs

Doctoral or Professional Degreearrow-narrow-right

Doctoral healthcare programs focus on research and often lead to teaching roles, whereas professional degrees in healthcare emphasize medical practice and often lead to practitioner roles, such as physician and dentist.

Professional medical programs often take 4-6 years, though medical residency requirements can add several more years of training after graduation.

Sample Healthcare Doctoral Programs

What Are the Highest-Paying Healthcare Degrees?

Most of the highest-paying healthcare careers require you to have a master’s or doctoral degree. If you want to earn $100,000 or more, you’ll likely need to complete rigorous training, research, and field experience or residencies.

The BLS projects considerable growth in nurse practitioner and physician assistant roles.

10 Healthcare Degree Jobs That Make Over $100K a Year
JobMedian Annual Salary (May 2023)Job Growth Rate (2023-2032)Minimum Education Required
Nurse Anesthetists$212,6509%Master’s
Physician Assistants$130,02027%Master’s
Nurse Practitioners$126,26045%Master’s
Nurse Midwives$129,6506%Master’s

Source: BLS

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Q&A With a Real Healthcare Administrator

Q: What should students consider when choosing a healthcare degree program?

“Accreditation is the main way students can assess a [healthcare] program’s quality. They can also visit schools and talk to faculty and students. Talk to recent graduates. Ask what they liked about the program and what they thought could have been better. Ask how the program helped them prepare for their current jobs.”
Ellen Averett, Ph.D., MHSA, Program Director, University of Kansas Medical Center

Q: Do you have any tips for succeeding in a healthcare program?

“Take advantage of all that you can. Get involved in any extra experiences or opportunities your program offers. The time and effort you invest in a program is an investment in yourself and your future.”
Ellen A.

Q: What’s the best way for healthcare grads to find a job?

“Networking. Start developing relationships when you start a program. Your professors and student peers will be a large part of your professional network. Cultivate and maintain good relationships with them.”
Ellen A.

Q: What were the most helpful parts of your healthcare education? Do you wish you’d done anything differently?

“The most helpful part of my education was being exposed to new knowledge and experiences. It was also helpful to develop relationships with faculty. I wish I had given more attention to getting more real-life professional experiences like internships.”
Ellen A.

Q: What should students understand about the healthcare industry before starting a healthcare program?

“The [healthcare] industry is dynamic and constantly changing. One must feel comfortable with change and embrace it. One must embrace lifelong learning to keep up with the changes. This is true for clinical care as well as health administration.”
Ellen A.

Frequently Asked Questions About Healthcare Degrees and Programs

question-mark-circleCan you get a healthcare degree online?

You can earn some healthcare degrees online. Many healthcare programs allow you to take most classes online. To meet practical and clinical requirements, however, you will need to complete on-campus or on-site training.

If you wish to become a doctor, you must attend an accredited medical school in person.

question-mark-circleWhat are the fastest online healthcare degrees?

The fastest online healthcare degree depends on the program level. You can earn an associate degree in 1-2 years, a bachelor’s degree in about four years, and a master’s degree in 1-2 years.

If you enroll in an accelerated healthcare program, you can earn your degree even faster — for example, three instead of four years for a bachelor’s.

question-mark-circleWhat is the easiest healthcare degree to get?

The easiest healthcare degree to get depends on your training level and strengths. An associate program in healthcare takes 1-2 years to complete. You can also get a certificate in a healthcare field, like medical billing and coding, which could take even less time to complete.

question-mark-circleHow long is medical school?

The length of an MD program varies by school, but they traditionally run about four years. This includes two years of pre-clinical studies and two years for the clinical portion. The length of your residency will depend on your focus area, but it typically takes 3-9 years.

question-mark-circleWhat is the best medical major?

You need to choose a medical major that serves your interests and goals. If you’re aiming for an MD, for example, you should look for pre-med programs that prepare you for medical school, such as biological sciences or physical sciences.

Some schools even offer bachelor’s-to-MD pathway programs to save you time and money.

All rankings and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by the ASO Rankings Team.

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