Best Online PhD Programs in Healthcare Administration

With growing challenges posed by a rapidly rising population, globalization, and technological advancements, it isn’t surprising that the demand for leadership in healthcare is high. The BLS estimates the need for medical management professionals, including those with a doctorate in healthcare administration, to grow 17 percent by 2024. Pursuing an online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in healthcare administration is an excellent way of competing in this expanding domain, ensuring readiness for high-level positions within healthcare systems.

Healthcare Administration Defined

Healthcare administration refers to the leadership roles played by managers encompassing operations, finance, management, policies, strategy, and more in public and private healthcare systems. This includes hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, assisted living homes, and other healthcare facilities. Professionals in this field are crucial for ensuring efficient and effective healthcare delivery.

Types of Doctoral Degrees in Healthcare Administration

Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA) degree

Usual career path: Health Sciences, Healthcare Business

In the Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA) degree, the onus is on applied research, preparing candidates to assess and recommend solutions to burning issues in healthcare administration. Students aim for placement as managers, directors, and chief executive officers in healthcare. This graduate degree ensures that students graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary for leadership within the healthcare industry.

The PhD in Healthcare Administration

Usual career path: Academia, Teaching

The PhD in Healthcare Administration degree program emphasizes theoretical research, enabling students to deepen their field knowledge and acquire an advanced healthcare perspective. Students in this PhD program can pursue prospects in academia, think tanks, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations influencing healthcare policy.

Both online PhD. healthcare administration courses are the highest degrees earned by a healthcare administration professional; both enjoy equal status, standing and international recognition, but their goals differ.

The PhD student graduates armed with research and knowledge that can transform the industry, teach future business leaders, and contribute to the improvement of healthcare delivery systems. Their impact is more significant on policy, strategy, and the integration of technologies within the healthcare sector.

A DHA degree prepares students to make intelligent, well-informed healthcare decisions that improve the workplace. Eventually, the qualifications and experience translate to high-profile and high-paying leadership positions in healthcare.

How to Apply for an Online PhD Program in Healthcare Administration

The technological sophistication of the health industry and the complexity of healthcare administration need a highly analytical mind that can visualize the bigger picture even as it is immersed in the details. Hence, candidates applying PhD in online healthcare administration have to pass stringent admission norms:

  • A bachelor’s degree, possibly in health administration, health science, or business administration, with or without relevant experience, depending on the program. A master’s degree in a related field can be an additional asset.
  • A minimum cumulative GPA, often 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or equivalent, from undergraduate or graduate studies.
  • Completion of prerequisite courses and potentially some healthcare administration experience.
  • The doctorate in healthcare administration program usually only accepts applicants with bachelor’s degrees. Completion of prerequisite courses is mandatory. 
  • Institutions specify acceptable Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores. A waiver may be allowed only in cases of outstanding academic performance and peer recognized research papers.
  • The applicant’s academic record, character, skills, and work ethic must be attested by professors, supervisors, and persons of authority through recommendation letters.
  • Personal statements must be submitted in response to standardized questions in specified formats with word counts.
  • The candidate’s current résumé must be submitted showing relevant work experience and highlighting research projects.

For admission to the best online PhD programs in healthcare administration, exceptional academic performance and the potential for research projects are crucial. Shortlisted applicants undergo interviews to assess their intellectual caliber, motivation, and commitment.

Shortlisted applicants go through one-on-one interviews, which will assess the candidate’s intellectual calibre, motivation, perseverance, commitment, and passion. Lying ahead are four years of intensive courses and research; only candidates with demonstrable skills and proven potential will pass the grade.

Average Time-to-Completion

Applicants pursuing doctoral Healthcare degrees should be aware that inordinately long research commitments demand lengthier time commitments that are unavoidable. The median time-to-completion of doctoral degrees ranges between six to seven years. This period can be shorter if graduate credits from a related master’s degree, possibly in healthcare management or public health, are transferred. Online programs provide more flexibility, allowing for part-time, asynchronous courses, which can be beneficial for working professionals.

Most degree programs accept doctorate credits from regionally accredited institutions. 

When a full-time job is holding you down, and you’re juggling personal and professional responsibilities, the wisest option would be an online program that gives you more flexibility in determining the course schedules, allowing for part-time, asynchronous courses.

Format, Curriculum, and Courses

Online PhD programs in healthcare administration involve advanced coursework and extensive research, culminating in a dissertation.  A healthcare degree holder must display the calibre and capability, knowledge, and skills to be deemed an expert in the Healthcare administration sector.  

Major Examinations

Unlike their undergraduate counterparts, doctoral-level PhD healthcare administration online examinations extensively test knowledge gained and confidence built over the coursework regarding subjects in healthcare administration, which indirectly prepares students for the leading oral and written exams.

-The Qualifying Exam formalizes your entry into the program.

-The Preliminary Exam has written and oral components that assess the candidate’s readiness for the dissertation phase.

-In the final exam, candidates must defend their dissertations before faculty members and subject experts.

Students participate in workshops and seminars, make presentations for conferences, work alongside faculty members in their research projects, and get a hands-on feel of the expert’s viewpoints.

Doctoral Dissertation

Most Doctor of Healthcare Administration programs require applicants to submit an approved dissertation for graduation purposes, and students must present potential titles beforehand. Introducing original research in the dissertation phase is so tough that the Council of Graduate Schools published a study pointing to a 56.6% completion rate among PhD students in 2008.

Expert Tip: Meet with the University academic advisor and former and current students to grasp challenges, expectations, academic support, and work ethics. These are the factors significantly impacting your ability to complete a dissertation.

Career Prospects with a PhD in Healthcare Administration

After the online PhD health administration doctoral degrees, the critical responsibility areas for Healthcare administrators are the planning, coordination and execution of healthcare services that vary according to the organization and position they hold.

Federal data reveal that health services managers draw a median annual income of $101,340, twice that of many other occupations. From 2021 to 2031, the health services sector is poised to scale 28 percent growth with around 56,600 openings anticipated yearly. 

Here’s a sampling of occupations a Healthcare administration degree can open for you:

CFO – Chief Financial officer 

Authority on financial management ensures financial statements’ accuracy, timeliness, and regulatory compliance with Federal Healthcare norms and global best practices.

COO – Chief Operations Officer

The day-to-day Healthcare operations authority ensures various departments work harmoniously, wedded to statutory compliances. 

CEO – Chief Executive Officer

The CEO is the highest authority in the organization and is tasked with strategic planning, asset growth, patient care, and market penetration. 

Community Health Director

In this position, you evaluate community-based health initiatives, including healthy lifestyle promotion, wellness consciousness, and disease prevention. You are involved in every stage of formulation, implementation and evaluation of healthcare services.


In the background, you would be researching various health sciences while you train batches of healthcare professionals to assume duties in the healthcare field.

Healthcare Consultant

Hospitals, clinics, and research organizations in the healthcare sector need professional advice for strategic planning and institutionalizing operational excellence. This role fits the consultant who provides recommendations for improving operations.   

The Top 5 Online PhD Programs in Healthcare Administration

  1. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Boston 

The Doctor of Philosophy in Healthcare Administration online program (54 credits) targets experienced healthcare professionals with career advancement goals. 

There’s no residency requirement, courses are conducted online, and applicants get two start dates for fall and spring terms, bringing flexibility and better work life balance.

The primary subjects covered are:

Demographics & Impact on Population Health

Healthcare Policy & Reform

Informed Decision-Making for Healthcare Leaders

Strategic Planning with actionable steps and specific goals

Financial and Human Resources Management

Applicants need a master’s degree or a doctorate with an overall GPA of 3.0 and 3 to 5 years of healthcare-related work experience to qualify for admission.

  1. Capella University 

Doctor of Healthcare Administration program (76 credits)

The program targets business administration, public health, and nursing students and focuses on leadership skills, medical ethics, problem resolution, and effective communication.

The principal subjects covered are:

Innovative and Best Business Practices in Healthcare

Strategic and Financial Management in Healthcare

Healthcare Policy Processes and Protocols

Survey of Research Methodologies

A capstone project and virtual residencies are necessary for the degree. Tuition concessions are available for 18 hours of credits and employer and association discounts.

  1. Franklin University

Doctor of Healthcare Administration online program (58 credits)

The doctorate can be earned in three years but is linked to the progress of your actual dissertation. Applicants transferring up to 24 hours of pre-earned credits can complete the degree faster.

The primary subjects covered are:

Doctoral Writing & Research Objectives

Quantitative Research Methodology & Design

Qualitative Research Methodology & Design

Introduction to Statistics and Applied Statistics

Advanced Mixed Methods Research Designs

A master’s degree from a four-year college or university with CHEA accreditation is necessary, and the minimum GPA requirement is 3.0.

The step-by-step guidance from academic advisors, library services and the Student Learning Center make the capstone project less burdensome and more result-oriented. 

  1. Walden University

Doctor of Healthcare Administration program (63 quarter credits)

The PhD Health Administration online course has a time-to-completion ceiling of 8 years. Students with master’s degrees in healthcare administration can quickly transfer 5 credits to complete the online degree.

The core subjects include:

Foundational Concepts in Healthcare Administration

Advanced Operations Management in Healthcare

Research Designs and Methods

Advanced Analytics for Data-Driven Decision Making

Strategic Management, System Thinking and Modeling

Over and above the capstone project, students must complete two residencies of eight days. A Doctoral Degree Coach aids students in tracking milestones, keeping targets, tapping resources, and connecting academic advisors. 

  1. Colorado Technical University

Doctor of Management – Healthcare Management and Leadership (100 credits)

The online Doctor of Health Administration explores the core concepts of business management applied to diverse healthcare models. The course comes with 100 credit hours, having a residency component, and the dissertation component is integrated into the curriculum.

Core subjects include the following: 

Management Theory

Leadership Theories and Development Models

Application of Action Research in Healthcare

Strategic Thinking, Execution, and Organizational Alignment

Consultation Theory and Interventions

The degree can be earned in three years with beneficial in-person symposia. Multiple start dates and online scheduling flexibility are favourable for working professionals

Tuition costs can be hedged through military discounts, transfer of credits, scholarships, and the Corporate Alliances Grant, providing many more financial aid options.


The online PhD in healthcare administration is the gateway to skills and knowledge that help you aim for top-level positions in healthcare organizations.

The satisfaction lies in helping hospitals, clinics, and research institutions make a big difference in people’s lives. You are assured of an apex role in a typically well-paying field with unlimited growth prospects.

In short, as a Healthcare administrator, you become a savvy blend of administrative acumen and business management, with humanistic understanding and compassion for patient healthcare services.