Healthcare administration is an ever-evolving field, continuously changing and improving.
A PhD in healthcare management opens the door for a lucrative career as a leader in the healthcare industry. With shifts in public policy, new care models, varying demographics, and advancements in research and patient care, the field is continually changing. This advanced degree can help you develop the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to become a pivotal leader in healthcare management.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare management will grow by 20% by 2026. This rapid growth means lots of open jobs—and lots of opportunities for you.
What is a PhD in Healthcare Management?
Doctoral programs in healthcare management teach students how to be leaders in delivering excellent healthcare with an emphasis on research. Students will develop their skills in research, assessment, information technology management, healthcare and legal policies, and of course, leadership. Depending on the program you choose, the classes and curriculum may vary, but the basic classes will likely be the same across the board.
Most healthcare management programs blend theory with research methodology, allowing students to conduct original research in their areas of interest. Examples of classes include Introduction to Health Policy, Communication in Healthcare Organizations, and Principles of Epidemiology. Near the end of the doctoral program, each student must successfully write and defend a dissertation.
Requirements for healthcare management PhD programs vary, but you’ll typically need at least five years of work-related experience. Candidates must also have a master’s degree in health administration or a related field.
Careers for Healthcare Management PhDs
If you earn a PhD in healthcare management, your career options are plentiful and diverse. Here are some examples, but the field is large, so if you have something different in mind, you can probably pursue it.
Medical and Health Service Executives
Executives in healthcare take on responsibilities such as supervising staff, managing facility operations, and managing finances. Top administrators ensure that each department runs efficiently and adequately.
Director of Clinical Operations
Each registered hospital needs a director of clinical operations to ensure medical integrity. This role entails coordinating licensed doctors, managing budgets, hiring support staff, and providing quality patient care.
Analysts typically work as part of an organization to offer professional counsel and guidance to a healthcare facility. They work alongside administrators to design and carry out business plans.
Most people obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees in healthcare management. Fewer people seek doctoral degrees, but those who do can expect to enjoy lucrative careers.
Salary Potential for PhDs in Healthcare Management
A PhD in healthcare management can deliver strong returns, with potential income averaging between $100,000 to well over $200,000 a year, depending on your job title and experience.
According to Payscale, a senior director of operations makes an average of $168,000 per year. The average income for a hospital CEO is $200,140. A research director may earn slightly less. Salaries vary depending on your geographical location and job title, and of course, your qualifications. But you can aim even higher—the highest-paid CEOs at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and CVS Health make $47.46 million and $22.86 million each.
While those multi-million dollar salaries might be out of reach for most people, as the field grows, so should the potential salaries. And with one of the best online PhDs in healthcare management, you’ll be well-positioned for a lucrative career.
What Are the Best Online PhDs in Healthcare Management?
We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of College Rank use a unique ranking methodology based on the following three aspects:
40% Potential salary after graduation: Average mid-career salary of school alumni
30% Institutional accreditation: Regional and national accreditation
30% Overall degree affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school
At College Rank, we strive to do our best to guide you and your family toward a fruitful academic career. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble one, and we want to help you reach your goals. Please feel free to visit our dedicated methodology page for a step-by-step breakdown. For questions, comments, badge downloads, or data corrections, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Average Net Price
Improving the intellectual landscape since 1789, The University of North Carolina is not only one of the three oldest universities in the United States, but it is the cornerstone of the 17 campuses in the UNC system.
UNC-Chapel Hill offers an Online Executive Doctoral Program in Health Leadership (DRHP) for working healthcare professionals who want to become leaders in the healthcare industry. It’s known as one of the best online PhDs in healthcare management.
Currently, the Online Executive Doctoral Program includes 1,620 enrolled students. Women dominate the field, with 72% of the program’s students. Eleven percent of the current students are international. The program includes 45-51 credit hours, and it takes approximately three years to complete.
To apply for the Doctoral Program in Health Leadership at UNC Chapel Hill, you will need a master’s or doctoral degree and at least five years of full-time managerial/supervisory experience in healthcare. In addition, American students will need either the GRE or GMAT test scores, while international applicants will need to complete the TOEFL/IELTS.
All unofficial university transcripts are required, along with three letters of recommendation. Students may be located in the United States or overseas but must travel to campus once in the fall, spring, and summer of each of the first two years of the program. The third year of the program is focused on your dissertation, so it can be completed exclusively online.
University of Mississippi
Average Net Price
A liberal arts college that consistently ranks among the nation’s top 10, the University of Mississippi, aka “Ole Miss,” is also home to a handful of national centers of research and study. Ole Miss offers a 54-hour Doctor of Health Administration (DHA) program—and you can complete almost all of it online.
To qualify for the online DHA, you will need either a master’s degree or a doctoral degree from a regionally accredited university with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00. In addition, you need five or more years of experience working in healthcare management, healthcare policy, clinical medical specialty, or a similar field.
You’ll also need to submit your academic transcripts and your official GRE scores from within the last five years. Finally, you will write an essay where you discuss your healthcare experience. Apply for the summer session by February 1. The DHA program accepts 10-15 students per cohort each year.
The program should take you three years to complete. While this is an online degree in healthcare management, you will need to travel to campus a couple of times.
Texas Women’s University
Average Net Price
Texas Woman’s University is the nation’s largest university primarily for women, with an average enrollment of 15,000 students. Another perk is that Texas Women’s University has continually ranked as one of the nation’s most affordable colleges.
TWU offers a PhD in Health Studies, in both an online and a hybrid delivery program. With this degree, you could become a university professor, a postdoctoral fellow, or a public health educator.
This is a 96-credit hour program, but up to 39 credits can be transferred from your master’s degree. The remaining credits will include 24 hours of health studies, 12 hours of research, six hours of electives, six hours on your dissertation, and nine hours on one of three concentrated studies: higher education, population health, or environmental health.
To apply, you must first contact a potential graduate faculty advisor in Health Studies. You will need a master’s degree in health promotion, public health, kinesiology, or a related field. In addition, you will need GRE scores that are less than five years old, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and a 500-word summary of three primary research articles relevant to your research interest in Health Studies.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Average Net Price
With a mission of “inspiring and empowering the creation of knowledge that changes the world,” the University of Alabama has a detailed “blueprint” of its strategic plan in academics through 2023. Its goals are evident through its program offerings, including an online Executive Doctor of Science (DSc) in Healthcare Leadership, which is essentially a PhD in healthcare management.
The DSc is for experienced healthcare executives who either currently hold or are preparing to hold leadership positions. The program blends distance learning with three on-campus sessions per year. You will be able to complete this degree in three years: two years of coursework and one year of dissertation work.
To qualify, you need a minimum of five years of mid-to senior-level managerial experience in healthcare, along with a master’s degree in health administration or a related field. You will also need three letters of professional recommendation, transcripts from all universities you’ve attended, an organizational chart highlighting your position within your current workplace, and short essay responses to nine topics listed on the admission page.
According to UAB’s website, “100% of graduates who rated our program, rated their overall education experience as ‘excellent.’” Here is a list and profiles of some of the alumni from the DSc program, who clearly consider this one of the best doctorates in healthcare management.
University of South Florida
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Average Net Price
A research university located in the heart of Tampa, the University of South Florida serves more than 50,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, and doctoral degrees. Students from 128 countries attend USF, with international students forming about 10% of the total student population.
USF offers a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree that concentrates on public health education and training to prepare students for leadership in healthcare settings. You can complete this healthcare management degree online along with three on-campus visits each year.
To apply for the DrPH, you will need to complete your application online and send in your transcripts and GRE scores along with two letters of recommendation. You will also need to submit a graduate-level term paper, thesis, or research paper that you wrote and published, as well as a detailed personal statement (up to five pages) that describes why you wish to earn a Ph.D. in Public Health. To tackle this online doctorate in healthcare management, you must be prepared to register as a full-time student for at least one full academic year.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out the 25 Best Online Colleges!