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?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects there will be about 2 million new healthcare jobs between 2021 and 2031.
In 2019-2020, 13% of conferred bachelor's degrees were in health-related majors, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
The World Health Organization projects a shortage of 10 million healthcare workers by 2030.
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for healthcare practitioners and technical professionals was $75,040 in May 2021.
Start a Healthcare Program for the New Year
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:
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Commission on Dental Accreditation American Dental Association (CODA)
- Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA)
- Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)
- Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME)
Top Medical Degrees and Healthcare Programs
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#1 Best Healthcare Degrees and Programs
Purdue University-Main Campus
West Lafayette, IN
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
Purdue University offers a variety of college-level degrees to diverse learners. This public college supports 145 bachelor's programs and 81 master's programs from its main campus in West Lafayette, Indiana. For students seeking remote study, the college offers 20 online master's degrees.
Distance learning modalities enable students to learn at their own pace. Degree-seekers complete coursework that covers foundational and advanced topics relevant to their field. Enrollees can supplement their classroom education through experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and research projects.
Students benefit from institutional resources throughout their studies, through guidance from career services and academic advising. The financial aid office connects degree-seekers with funding opportunities and can help prospective enrollees determine their eligibility for financial aid. Out of all incoming learners, 65% receive financial aid awards. The college boasts an 82% graduation rate.
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 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
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
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- BS in Healthcare Administration
- BS in Health Informatics
- BS in Nutritional Science
- BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences
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 Degree
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
- Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)
- Doctor of Medicine (MD)
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
- Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)
- Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
- Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
What Are the Highest-Paying Healthcare Degrees?
Most of the highest-paying healthcare careers require you to have a master's or doctoral degree. To earn $100,000 or more, you'll need to complete rigorous training, research, and field experience or residencies.
The BLS projects considerable growth in nurse practitioner and physician assistant roles.
|Job||Median Annual Salary (May 2021)||Job Growth Rate (2021-2031)||Minimum Education Required|
|Physicians and Surgeons||>$208,000||3%||First-professional|
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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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
Frequently Asked Questions About Healthcare Degrees and Programs
Can 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.
What 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.
What 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.
How 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.
What 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.