Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration

ASO Staff Writers
Updated July 12, 2023
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Healthcare professionals that want to advance their careers in the field or build competencies in research and policy can pursue a doctorate in healthcare administration online. With a Ph.D. in healthcare administration, individuals gain leadership and decision-making skills while developing expertise in healthcare systems.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics between 2016 and 2026, healthcare administrators and top executives have projected job growth rates of 20% and 8%, respectively. With a doctorate in healthcare administration, learners can also teach at the postsecondary level, a field projected to see 15% growth during the same time period.

Should I Earn an Online Doctorate in
Healthcare Administration?

A Ph.D. requires dedication and perseverance, but the payoff personally and professionally can be multifaceted. Earning a doctorate in healthcare administration online increases earning potential and gives learners the opportunity to gain expertise in the field. With in-depth knowledge, individuals holding doctoral degrees can qualify for advanced careers and earn more than their counterparts with undergraduate degrees.

A doctoral program includes extensive coursework and requires substantial commitment, but the skills earned give learners the ability to contribute to their field in highly specialized and rewarding ways. Doctoral degrees train learners in research and writing, creating experts that can communicate and articulate complicated concepts, theories, and data effectively. Businesses and corporations stress the importance of writing skills, which are essential to overall success.

With the opportunity to explore niche areas of the field, learners gain confidence in the knowledge and contributions they make to their professions. For example, advanced knowledge of healthcare policy can help professionals better advocate for clients and patients. Government agencies and public policy organizations benefit from employing experts, gaining individuals that are well-informed, skilled in research, and trained to think critically about important issues. With curiosity and passion for a subject, students can pursue a Ph.D. and delve into the theories, details, and intricacies of a specific field.

What Can I Do with an Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration?

A doctorate in healthcare administration online prepares learners for careers in the public and private sectors. Current healthcare administration professionals can advance in their current roles, becoming healthcare administrators, managers, and chief executive officers. Individuals that work in hospitals, clinics, and healthcare facilities can become chiefs of staff or take on roles as directors of patient safety, risk management, or quality assurance. Healthcare administration doctoral degrees also give learners the skills needed to work in leadership positions within the insurance industry.

Policy and procedure knowledge covered in a doctorate of healthcare administration program delivers competencies applicable to healthcare associations and advocacy organizations. Doctoral degrees in healthcare administration are ideal for directors of healthcare associations that work to cure diseases, unite practitioners, and build networks within healthcare. Groups, communities, and nonprofit organizations that work for patients’ rights and affordable healthcare options also benefit from experts in the field.

There are numerous government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels that have a role in healthcare, public health, and health-related areas. Local boards of health, state departments of health and human services, and federal government agencies that work with specific groups of people need leaders that fully grasp the role of healthcare in daily life and can work to promote health initiatives. The federal government, for example, has healthcare agencies targeted to benefit Native American groups, children and families, and inner-city populations. The Centers for Disease Control, Medicaid and Medicare, and even the Department of Homeland Security include healthcare-related programs appropriate for healthcare administration professionals.

An additional career option for an individual who pursues a doctorate in healthcare administration online is teaching at the college or university level. By becoming a postsecondary teacher, healthcare administration experts train the next generation of healthcare workers and researchers. Postsecondary teachers and other academic professionals also conduct research in healthcare administration, contributing to literature and influencing theories, practice, and policies in the field with their findings.

Career Profiles

Medical and Health Services Managers

Median Annual Salary: $98,350

Medical and health services managers work as healthcare administrators and directors, implementing health and medical practices, and procedures. They supervise staff workers, oversee regulation compliance, and monitor budgets and spending within a healthcare facility or department.

Chief Executive Officer

Median Annual Salary: $104,700

A chief executive officer (CEO) provides the direction for an entire organization, corporation, or business entity. CEOs work with other top executives to form plans and strategies for effective company or organizational output, including financial achievements and policy implementation.

Chief of Staff

Median Annual Salary: $101,806

A chief of staff often works with other top executives, including chief financial and chief information officers, to relay information about the day-to-day operations of a corporation or organization. Chiefs of staff oversee managers and department administrators, working in conjunction with them to implement policies, meet employee needs, and communicate organizational goals. As an intermediary, the chief of staff has strong communication and critical-thinking skills.

Postsecondary Teacher

Median Annual Salary: $76,000

Postsecondary teachers educate students at community colleges and universities, giving lectures and assessing learner outcomes. Healthcare administration instructors introduce students to the various aspects of healthcare administration in the public and private sectors. Postsecondary teachers also carry out research and present their findings at professional conferences and in academic journals.

Healthcare Program Director

Median Annual Salary: $80,226

A healthcare program director oversees a specific department or group within a larger healthcare facility, company, or organization. Healthcare program directors coordinate staff activities, internal and external communications, and monitor operational activities, such as patient record keeping and budget management.

Healthcare Administration PhD Program Overview

A Ph.D. in healthcare administration may vary in specific coursework and concentrations, but the curriculum generally teaches students advanced research skills and knowledge competencies.

Admission to a doctorate in healthcare administration depends on the school or program offering the degree. Schools may require applicants to take a GRE prior to admission, but some programs do not require exams for experienced professionals. Before applying, learners should consult individual admissions requirements and departments to ensure all criteria are met.

Types of Doctorate Degrees in Healthcare Administration

There are two types of doctoral degrees in healthcare administration. Learners can pursue a Ph.D. in healthcare administration or a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration (D.H.A.) based on their individual interests and professional goals. Both degrees emphasize research, but a Ph.D. focuses on original research while a D.H.A. trains students to conduct applied research.

Original research for Ph.D. students in healthcare administration involves the development of a research question, independent qualitative and quantitative research, and findings contained in a dissertation. Often generating new ideas not readily applicable to the healthcare industry, a Ph.D. can be more theoretical than practical. Over the course of a Ph.D. in healthcare administration program, learners study aspects of the field and identify issues or problems. With unique ideas, research, and findings, Ph.D. students contribute new knowledge to the field of healthcare administration research, often in anticipation of a career in an academic setting.

A D.H.A. program trains students to conduct applied research. With applied research, students use what has already been accumulated and applied by other healthcare researchers and professionals. The goal of a D.H.A. degree is to address and solve immediate problems facing healthcare administration and the healthcare industry. Unlike a Ph.D. dissertation project that may generate knowledge simply for the sake of producing new information, applied research can contribute more functional, practical findings to the healthcare administration field. D.H.A. students are more likely to enter an administrative or executive position within a healthcare organization than their Ph.D. counterparts.

Application Requirements & Admission Criteria

Applying to a program that offers a doctorate in healthcare administration online varies by school and department, but students will need to submit core materials for consideration. Applicants must have a master’s degree in health administration or a related field, such as public health, business administration, or public administration. The master’s degree requirement can be met through a separate professional degree or previous doctorate. Students must submit transcript information that demonstrates a 3.0 GPA or higher or successful completion of degree-related coursework.

Applicants must also have professional experience in the healthcare administration field. This requirement varies from 3-5 years, depending on the doctoral program. Admission requirements also include submission of a resume, a professional statement, GRE scores, and a writing sample or research paper. In addition to a formal application and fee, students should check with admissions officers and department representatives for information on financial aid opportunities.


Online doctoral programs in healthcare administration offer coursework that varies by school and department, with core classes that give learners fundamental information related to the field. Both Ph.D. and D.H.A. degrees begin their curricula with introductory coursework, at times requiring students to attend on-campus sessions. Learners complete classes on aspects of healthcare administration, including management, policy compliance, human resources, and healthcare finance.

Programs can present courses synchronously to cohorts. Coursework may be presented on focus areas such as leadership, policy, and research. Asynchronous coursework gives learners the opportunity to progress through the curriculum at their own pace.

Online doctoral programs also give students the opportunity to take elective classes or receive specializations. These classes are offered alongside advanced research methodology coursework designed to train students to use research tools, analyze data, and synthesize information. At the end of a doctoral degree, Ph.D. and D.H.A. students may take comprehensive exams over all knowledge and skills contained within the program. Learners also produce a dissertation based on their research. This written document accompanies an oral defense.

Program Outcomes

Doctoral degrees train experts in specific fields, producing highly-skilled individuals. Learners then apply their expertise to their careers, interactions with others, and future goals. By building communication and managerial skills, a doctorate degree in healthcare administration prepares effective leaders. Doctoral programs also open students to new ideas and diverse groups of like-minded individuals, offering experiences and perspectives that contribute to their personal and professional lives.

Healthcare administration doctoral programs provide students with skills to work in government, private, and academic settings as they innovate and contribute to the healthcare industry. By teaching students communication skills, research competencies, and decision-making proficiencies, doctoral degrees prepare students to take on leadership roles in their communities. As competitive and competent healthcare administration experts, learners can improve their individual positions within the field and better the industry as a whole.

Accreditation for Online Healthcare Administration Doctorate Programs

Schools and universities that offer online doctoral programs in healthcare administration hold either national or regional accreditation through an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. National accreditation indicates a school offers more career-focused, vocational, and technical programs, while regional accreditation is awarded to research-based, and more rigorous, degree-granting institutions.

The programs must earn this credential and may also hold programmatic accreditation. The main accrediting body for healthcare administration is the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). The CAHME oversees healthcare management and administration degrees, ensuring they maintain academic quality, integrity, and fairness.

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