Inside Top Online
Doctorates in Healthcare Administration

Review and compare some of the best colleges and universities with the DHA online, discover the differences between PhD and DHA programs, and read what it takes to turn your advanced education into a successful career.

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Michael Hoffman

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A former practicing attorney, Michael Hoffman has years of experience as a freelance journalist specializing in the research and writing of higher education content – from online learning to financial aid, and everything in between. Michael is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara College of Law. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael practiced for several years as a civil litigator in Los Angeles and worked in Santa Monica, California as a development executive for a major film producer.

last updated

09/15/2022

2023’s Best Doctorates in Healthcare Administration Online

Earning a doctorate in healthcare administration means you are serious about becoming a leader in the healthcare field, whether as an educator at a college or university or a high-level supervisor at a medical facility. And pursuing that doctorate online is a great option for busy professionals. To help you vet these online programs and narrow down your choices, EduMed.org has researched and analyzed data from more than 7,700 accredited colleges and universities nationwide. The schools below have the best combinations of online course availability, student services, career counseling, and affordable tuition and fees. See which online doctorate programs in healthcare administration stand out in 2023.

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About the ranking

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Base Methodology for EduMed’s 2023 Online College Rankings

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

Affordability

  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2022

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Walden UniversityMinneapolis, MN Private for-profit $$$ 1

Walden University’s doctorate of healthcare administration allows you to take your healthcare administration career to the next level without sacrificing flexibility and work/life/school balance. Not only is the course schedule designed with the working professional in mind, the entire program is online. Classes can be taken asynchronously whenever works best for you. Instead of synchronous class check-ins, there’s weekly milestones to make sure you’re staying on track with your coursework. Additionally, the program offers online dissertation resources and other resources to make sure students succeed in the program and after. Successful candidates have entered into leadership roles in the healthcare field.

Program Highlights:

Doctorate of Healthcare Administration

  • Credits: 63
  • Cost: $692/credit
  • Length: 3-8 years
  • Mode: online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Implied no
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
AccreditationHLC
2 Capella UniversityMinneapolis, MN Private for-profit $$$ 2

The doctorate of healthcare administration from Capella University gives you the skills needed to transform the healthcare system while still offering flexibility. Because the program is fully online and many courses are asynchronous, students can complete their doctorate on their own schedule. This is optimal for many working professionals and others with a busy schedule and many obligations. Additionally, the program provides students with research opportunities, many of which are also fully online or require only a few campus visits to complete. Instead of a dissertation, students complete a capstone project which has a direct impact on their community and professional future.

Online Program URL:

Program Highlights:

Doctorate of Healthcare Administration

  • Credits: 60
  • Cost: $765/credit
  • Length: 4 years
  • Mode: online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Implied no
Student/
Faculty Ratio
32/1
AccreditationHLC
3 Central Michigan UniversityMount Pleasant, MI Public $$$ 1

The doctorate of health administration from Central Michigan University is designed for students who already have education and experience in healthcare administration and are ready to take their career to the next level. While most of the program is offered online, there are two face-to-face seminars where students are required to come to campus. Most online courses are synchronous and require in-class participation while the dissertation is online and asynchronous, meaning you can complete it on your own schedule. Many students also find the class times to be complementary to a working professional’s schedule.

Program Highlights:

Doctorate of Health Administration

  • Credits: 63
  • Cost: $440/credit
  • Length: 3-5 years
  • Mode: hybrid
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
AccreditationHLC
4 Franklin UniversityColumbus, OH Private not-for-profit $$$$ 1

Franklin University offers a doctorate in healthcare administration that’s ideal for anyone looking to become an expert in the field. Applicants should have previous education and experience in healthcare administration at the time of applying. This program is designed for student who must balance their education and work schedule. The program includes a “no-fear” dissertation component, which gives students several opportunities to pass the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination and a jumpstart on starting their dissertations. Students also have access to online resources and can complete their dissertation online or in a healthcare administration space.

Program Highlights:

Doctorate of Healthcare Administration

  • Credits: 58
  • Cost: $748/credit
  • Length: 3 years
  • Mode: online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Implied no
Student/
Faculty Ratio
13/1
AccreditationHLC
5 Northcentral UniversityLa Jolla, CA Private not-for-profit $$$$ 1

Northcentral University has designed its doctorate in healthcare administration to create thought leaders capable of solving current issues in the healthcare system and the larger society. Successful applicants not only have previous education and work experience in the field, but a passion for healthcare administration. To make the program as accessible as possible to working professionals, Northcentral University offers classes at times which are ideal for those working full-time and many courses are offered online. In fact, students can choose the option to complete 100% of their coursework virtually. It’s important to note online courses are synchronous and require in-class participation.

Program Highlights:

Doctorate of Healthcare Administration

  • Credits: 60
  • Cost: $921/credit
  • Length: 44 months
  • Mode: online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Implied no
Student/
Faculty Ratio
3/1
AccreditationHLC
6 University of Phoenix-ArizonaPhoenix, AZ Private for-profit $$$$ 1

The University of Phoenix offers a doctorate of healthcare administration which is designed to deepen students’ expertise and leadership in the field. The curriculum lets students consider how to better shape the future of healthcare so it’s more equitable and just for all. Since the program is designed for those who work in healthcare administration, course offerings are flexible and fit around a full-time job. The program is completely online and courses are designed in eight week modules that you can take asynchronously. Students have access to coursework 24/7 and can fit in the modules whenever they have time.

Program Highlights:

Doctorate of Healthcare Administration

  • Credits: 54
  • Cost: $810/credit
  • Length: 42 months
  • Mode: online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Implied no
Student/
Faculty Ratio
77/1
AccreditationHLC

Profiling an Online DHA Program

What do you need to know about an online doctorate in healthcare administration? A lot, especially before you apply. What will you learn, how will it benefit your career, how many credits will it take, and, for the cost-conscious, how much will it cost? To answer a few of those questions, we’ve profiled one of today’s popular online DHA programs for you to explore.

Medical University of South Carolina

Medical University of South Carolina

The first two years of MUSC’s three-year, 54-credit hour Doctor of Health Administration degree program combine online asynchronous course instruction with in-person classes (one long weekend each semester) on the university’s Charleston campus. Students also participate in a weeklong policy trip to Washington, D.C. in the second year of their studies. In their third year, students focus on individual, supervised research and the writing of a doctoral project in which the degree candidate examines a complex, real-world healthcare issue.

The degree program employs a cohort model with a new cohort starting each fall. Students choose between two program tracks. The Health Administrator track focuses on developing professionals for enhanced leadership positions in healthcare administration, strategic management, applied research, and health policy. Applicants to this track should possess a professional or master’s degree in health administration or closely-related major and substantial work experience in healthcare policy or management. The Health Professional track is geared toward those interested in interprofessional leadership in healthcare quality, health information systems, clinical care, or social work. Applicants to this track should possess a post-baccalaureate degree and substantial work experience in their chosen healthcare-related field.

Why Earn an Online Doctoral Degree in Healthcare Administration?

Greater salary potential

Greater salary potential

Earning a doctoral degree in healthcare administration sets you up to secure a top-level position in the field. And in most cases, moving from mid-level management to a top-level position means a substantial boost in salary.

positive impact

You want to make a positive impact on the healthcare services profession

Doctoral degree holders are real leaders for change in the healthcare industry. Whether it’s heading a large, complex health services corporation, working as a policy advocate with a nonprofit, or preparing future leaders as a postsecondary educator, you can ensure that your work will leave a lasting mark.

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You’re looking for a challenging and rewarding career

Holding a top-level position in healthcare administration comes with plenty of challenges and responsibilities requiring energy, enthusiasm, and brain power on a daily basis. So, if you’re seeking real challenge in your healthcare administration career, earning a doctorate may be for you.

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Convenience of online learning

It’s tough for working professionals to find the time to take on the rigorous requirements of a doctoral degree program. Earning that degree online, however, eases the burden significantly by allowing you to schedule your studies at times most convenient to you. Plus, you won’t be wasting any time travelling to and from campus for classes.

money

Save money on the cost of your degree

Earning your degree online will not only save you time, but you’ll save money as well by eliminating travel costs (gas, parking fees, etc.) to attend class. Additionally, some schools charge lower tuition rates to their online students compared to their traditional on-campus counterparts.

PhD vs. DHA: Which Online Healthcare Administration Degree is Right for You?

One of the first decisions you’ll make in your search for online doctoral programs in healthcare administration is determining the type of degree you want to pursue. There are a number of options, but the two most popular by far are the PhD in Healthcare Administration and the Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA). Both are terminal doctoral degrees in the healthcare administration field, both focus on research, and both typically require about the same time commitment to complete. There are a few important differences, however, most notably in regard to career outcomes.

PhD in Healthcare

Online PhD in Healthcare Administration

Length of Study
Completion time varies substantially by program and student (full-time or part-time study, having a previously-earned master’s in healthcare administration or not). In most cases, full-time students can complete their entire program (coursework and dissertation) in three to five years. Part-time students are typically allowed up to seven years (sometimes longer) for completion.

Final Project
Degree candidates will complete a dissertation which they will then defend in front of a selected panel of faculty members.

Online Degree Availability
Very limited.

Common Career Outcomes
Health administration PhD holders typically find professional positions in academic research and as professors, but may also establish management careers with organizations in both the public and private sectors.

DHA Programs

Online DHA Programs (Doctor of Health Administration)

Length of Study
Three years of full-time study is common. Part-time study options allowing up to five years (sometimes more) for completion are sometimes available.

Final Project
A dissertation is most common, although some programs require completion of a doctoral project instead. Doctoral projects are researched and written documents geared more toward real-world healthcare issues than the more theoretically-focused dissertation. As with a dissertation, candidates are required to mount a formal defense of their projects.

Online Degree Availability
Limited, but not as limited as PhD programs.

Common Career Outcomes
Administrative and research-oriented positions focused on solving real-world problems in the healthcare industry are most common, although DHA holders may find careers in academia as well.

Curriculum Overview for Online Doctoral Programs in Healthcare Administration

The primary purpose for earning a doctorate in healthcare administration is the same regardless of the specific degree program, and that is to prepare graduates to become effective and influential leaders at the very highest levels of the profession. In other words, it’s about more than just managing an organization’s operations, it’s about moving the entire industry ahead by enacting real, positive change. To that end, schools design their healthcare administration doctoral programs to provide students with specific learning outcomes that include:

Ability to affect positive change within their organizations and the larger profession through leadership that optimizes organizational performance and encourages collaboration and personal and professional growth by team members.

Ability to conduct effective research, including identifying problems and designing research studies, as well as analyzing, summarizing, and applying study results.

Solid foundational understanding of the ethical responsibilities and obligations in research, decision-making, and leadership in healthcare services settings.

Ability to communicate effectively and think critically.

Core Classes

Actual course titles vary from program to program. However, students can expect to complete coursework covering the following topics:

Leadership Policies and Strategies

Highly-developed leadership skills are at the very core of effective administration and management. In this course, students explore the range of theories, systems, and models of leadership, and their applications to the day-to-day practice of healthcare administration. Topics covered include principles of evidence-based leadership, workforce performance optimization, and how to use power and influence to impact healthcare policy and practice.

Healthcare Policy and Regulation

This course provides an overview of the relevant laws and regulations governing healthcare organizational practices, along with the impact of current policy practices and future policy trends on local, state, federal, and global levels. Students additionally explore key ethical principles and their application to healthcare practice settings.

Healthcare Organization Communications

Communication, both within the healthcare organization and between the organization and the outside world, is a primary responsibility of top administrators. This course examines a range of internal organizational communication disciplines including interprofessional collaboration, coaching and mentoring, and decision-making. Students also explore concepts and practices concerning public relations, marketing, social media, and more.

Advanced Information Governance

An area of primary importance for all healthcare administrators is the proper use and protection of their organization’s data and information. Students in this course analyze and evaluate the fundamental concepts and applications employed in managing corporate financial data and employee information, as well as the effective employment of information in the decision-making process.

Global Health

Today, global health issues have a substantial impact on the health of local communities and the organizations that serve them. This course examines the depth and breadth of global health challenges through an analysis of relevant topics like globalization and urbanization, politics, economics, social and cultural practices, health literacy, the environment, and more.

Ways You Can Specialize Your Online Healthcare Administration Doctoral Degree

Some online programs allow students to tailor their studies to explore specific interests within the larger healthcare administration field, either by offering formal specialization or concentration track options or through flexibility in their elective course choices. Below are examples of specialization areas students may be able to pursue within their online programs:

Healthcare Administration

This specialization provides a solid overall foundation of important knowledge and skills geared toward administrative-focused duties. Such duties include strategic planning, analysis, and application of evidence-based research, optimization of team performance, and effective communications within and outside of the organization.

Healthcare Leadership

Similar to the Health Administration specialization but with a particular emphasis on applied research and leadership competencies. The focus is on providing the knowledge and skills needed to create the changes that drive organizations and the larger healthcare services profession into the future.

Healthcare Analytics

The Healthcare Analytics specialization is for research-focused students interested in creating the information and data necessary to better understand all aspects of healthcare services, including organizational performance optimization, improved safety procedures, better patient care, and economic efficiency.

Advocacy and Policy

For students interested in the bigger picture. The Advocacy and Policy specialization teaches students to identify and evaluate current problems in healthcare services, then develop advocacy positions and communicate those positions to affect positive change throughout the industry.

Healthcare Professions

The Healthcare Professions specialization is for students interested in careers as interprofessional leaders in a broad range of settings, including clinical practice, social work, healthcare information systems and technology, quality assurance, staff training, and more.

FAQs About Earning a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration Online

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What can I do with a doctoral degree in healthcare administration?

Healthcare administration doctoral degree earners typically find careers that take them to the executive level of corporations and nonprofit organizations throughout the healthcare industry, as well as onto the faculties of prestigious colleges and universities. Advanced positions in research and administration are also available with both state and federal government agencies. Additionally, many graduates find satisfying and lucrative careers as independent consultants. Below are descriptions of three of the most common career destinations for health administration doctoral graduates. Information and data are collected from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*NET websites, and from PayScale.com.

Postsecondary Healthcare Educator

Postsecondary educators are responsible for preparing the next generation of healthcare industry leaders. Duties include preparing course materials and evaluating student progress through assignments, papers, and exams. Most importantly, postsecondary educators must continuously keep themselves informed of all recent developments and future trends – theories, policies, and practices – in the healthcare management field by reading the latest academic journals, attending professional conferences and seminars, and consulting with fellow colleagues. Job titles include Professor, Assistant Professor, Instructor, and Lecturer.

Program-Requirements

Job Outlook

11% projected growth from 2018 to 2028

Median National Salary

Median National Salary

$97,370 (as of May 2018)

career

Additional Experience/Training Needed

Although rarely a strict requirement, many colleges and universities prefer to hire educators with substantial real-world work experience as healthcare managers or as researchers in the healthcare services field.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

The very top of the career ladder for many healthcare administration professionals, CEOs are responsible for all organizational operations. Specific duties include: formulating and implementing organization policies, objectives, and activities; creating budgets and coordinating financing activities such as funding and investments; evaluating organization performance and effectiveness, and seeking ways to cut costs and improve efficiencies; and appointing department heads and other management professionals, and delegating duties to them.

Program-Requirements

Job Outlook

2% projected decline from 2018 to 2028

Median National Salary

Median National Salary

$189,600 (as of May 2018)

career

Additional Experience/Training Needed

Extensive previous experience in healthcare administration and management.

Healthcare Consultant

Healthcare consultants provide a number of specialized services for clients of all kinds throughout the healthcare industry. Healthcare consultants meet with clients to identify and define problems and issues within an organization, and then conduct studies and reviews to find solutions to those problems and issues. Healthcare consultants are typically independent contractors working with a variety of clients, but may also be fully-employed by a single large private healthcare corporation, non-profit organization, or governmental agency.

Program-Requirements

Job Outlook

14%* (projected growth 2018 to 2028)

Median National Salary

Median National Salary

$76,957 (as of November 2019)

career

Additional Experience/Training Needed

Specialized knowledge in one or more areas of the healthcare services field, such as research and data analysis, regulation and policy, financing and marketing, etc.

* Based on growth projections for Management Analysts

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Are online doctorate healthcare administration degrees accredited?

Accreditation is the process through which academic programs – and the schools that offer them – are evaluated for quality, ensuring that these institutions and programs meet certain specified higher education standards. There are currently no U.S.-based agencies that specifically accredit healthcare administration doctoral programs, online or on-campus. Accreditation of colleges and universities as a whole (institutional accreditation) in the U.S. is administered by several national and regional agencies recognized by the Department of Education. Proper accreditation is an absolute must for any degree program you consider, so be sure to confirm your school’s institutional accreditation before you sign up. You can check a school’s accreditation by visiting the school’s website, contacting the school directly, or searching the Department of Education’s official accreditation database.

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What are the admissions requirements to get into a good online healthcare administration doctoral program?

Not surprisingly, specific admissions requirements vary from program to program, so check them closely before submitting any program application. Nevertheless, you can expect most programs to include requirements similar to the following:

  • Master’s degree in healthcare administration or management, or closely-related field of study. Most programs additionally require meeting a stated minimum GPA (3.0 is not uncommon) for the degree and/or other completed relevant graduate-level coursework.
  • Substantial work experience, typically in a position in mid-level healthcare administration or management, health policy, or closely-related field. Five years minimum is not uncommon.
  • Other requirements may include a current resume or CV, written career goal statement or personal essay, letters of recommendation, and proof of English proficiency (for non-native English speaking applicants).
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Can I earn my doctorate in healthcare administration completely online or will I have to travel to campus?

The vast majority of online healthcare administration doctoral programs feature fully-online coursework. Virtually all of them, however, also require some in-person student participation, typically in the form of one or more short-term residencies. These residencies normally take place on the school’s physical campus, but some programs feature off-campus options at locations throughout their state, region, or even the entire U.S. Specific in-person requirements vary from program to program, so be sure to carefully review all degree requirements – including those involving in-person participation – before you enroll.