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This article features information about what a Ph.D. in healthcare administration is, and why earning one may be a smart decision. It contains information about the benefits of earning this doctoral degree and the types of topics and courses you will study. Also included are several online Ph.D. in healthcare administration programs to consider.

What Is a Ph.D. in Healthcare Administration?

Are you ready to learn the leadership skills that you need to manage patient needs, economic changes and major, industry-changing legislation? Earning your Ph.D. in healthcare administration could help you to effectively respond to such challenges so that you can improve the lives of whole communities, by enhancing your healthcare organization’s communications, operations and vitality.

Your Ph.D. will prepare you to be a  leader to effectively respond to the constant changes of the healthcare industry. You will be able to critically examine and evaluate key issues and trends, and be able to influence the future of our healthcare administration. Many professionals who earn this doctorate also go on to become leading university professors in the field of healthcare administration and policy.

The general mission of a Ph.D. program in healthcare administration is to develop strong, new intellectual leaders who will be able to provide strong leadership and insights into health policy and health administration. With clear thinking and strong research, professionals who graduate with this distinguished degree will be able to contribute in strong ways to the design and implementation of cost effective and efficient programs that improve health.

Most Ph.D. programs in this field train quantitative, multi-disciplinary graduates who are ideally poised to meet the strong demand for excellent health service researchers in various areas of government, private industry and at the university level.

Ph.D. students in healthcare administration need to possess very strong analytical abilities and have strong and deep interest in healthcare policy and administration. The coursework in one of these programs, which typically lasts four years, will provide you with a strong background in economics, organizational theory, and health services research methods.

Most Ph.D. students will focus their studies on such areas as aging and long term care; quality improvement in health care organizations; health disparities in children, youth and families; and demography and population health.

Why Earn a Ph.D. in Healthcare Administration?

Healthcare administration is one of the fastest-growing fields in the country: BLS states that job growth in this field will increase by 17% by 2024.

Graduates of this type of Ph.D. program often are leaders in research programs in health systems and managed care organizations. They also are employed in academia and as research scientists at colleges, and in private and public policy research facilities.

The most common position that professionals with this degree obtain is that of medical and health services manager. These highly skilled and trained professionals may also be called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators.

They are responsible for planning, directing and coordinating medical and healthcare services. Many healthcare administrators are responsible for managing an entire facility, and others may handle just a specific department. Others might manage a large medical practice of healthcare professionals. A Ph.D. in this field will prepare you to stay abreast of the newest healthcare regulations, laws and technology.

Medical and health service managers typically have the following job duties:

  • Working to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery
  • Developing the goals and objectives for a healthcare department or facility
  • Ensuring that that entire department or facility is compliant with all relevant healthcare laws and regulations
  • Accurately and properly manage the facility’s finances, including billing and patient fees
  • Creating work schedules for the department or healthcare organization
  • Keep proper organization of the records of the healthcare facility

A Ph.D. in health administration also will make you a strong candidate for these related positions:

  • Nursing home administrator: Manage the nursing home staff, admissions, finance and building operations. Also ensure that all residents are receiving optimal treatment and care
  • Clinical manager: Provide oversight of a specific department, including surgery, nursing and physical therapy
  • Health information manager: Ensure that security and maintenance is being adhered to in terms of patient data and records. Stay up to date with current IT standards, as well as new laws pertaining to health information data
  • Assistant administrator: Work under the lead healthcare administrator in a larger facility. As assistant, you may direct the various activities of a certain clinical area, such as surgery, nursing or therapy.

Professionals in this field with a master’s and/or a Ph.D. most often work in hospitals, which employ about 30% of all healthcare administrators.

Some of the other job titles you may enjoy in this field with your Ph.D. include administrator, director of business development, executive director, VP, chief nursing officer, or director of patient safety.

Also that publication notes that the median salary for many managers in this field is a healthy $96,000. Further, the top 10%, very often those with a doctoral degree, earn more than $144,000. Some of those professionals also are working as university professors in the field.

Top Cities for Ph.D.s in Healthcare Administration

As you are considering the many healthcare administration jobs available to you, you may find that some cities present better opportunities than others. Some of the most promising cities in this growing field are listed below. These cities may not be the big name type area such as New York City or Boston. Still, these are growing cities with a major healthcare presence, and generally, a low cost of living.

  • Columbus, Ohio: This capital city is doing better in recent years as unemployment has dropped in the Buckeye State. Also, major healthcare employers are expanding in Columbus – including OhioHealth and the Ohio State Medical Center.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Some of the big employers in this city are Children’s Hospital and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. There also are many biomedical and pharmaceutical companies expanding their operations in the City of Brotherly Love.
  • San Antonio, Texas: San Antonio is one of the fastest-growing cities in the US with low taxes, high job growth and a booming population. Real estate is also cheaper than nearby Austin. Major healthcare employers include Baptist Healthcare, University Healthcare System and the US Army and Airforce.
  • Austin, Texas: This is one of the fastest-growing cities in terms of jobs. Healthcare administration jobs are growing fast with St. David’s Healthcare, Cornerstone Hospital and Austin State Hospital.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The education and healthcare sectors are growing quickly here, and are major drivers of local economic growth. The biggest healthcare employers in Pittsburgh are Pittsburgh Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Some of the best states in terms of pay for health administrators are:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York

Between high job demand and good salary, it is clear why many professionals in healthcare are opting to earn their doctoral degree in healthcare administration.

Online PhD Healthcare Administration No GRE Options

If you are considering this advanced degree, please review these online options for your Ph.D. in healthcare administration:

A.T. Still University

A.T. Still University offers a Doctor of Health Administration that will prepare you to become an innovative healthcare leader and problem solver. This three year program blends both theoretical and practical learning, as the coursework gives you the holistic health administration knowledge that you need to be a positive influence upon healthcare administration systems.

Major subject areas in this health administration program are:

  • Healthcare law
  • The economics of medical care
  • Organizational theory and its effect in the health industry
  • Health policy
  • The financing of healthcare
  • Effectiveness/cost-benefit analysis in the healthcare industry
  • Health information systems
  • Quantitative methods
  • Management science

Courses are in leadership and ethics; research methods; population health; quality improvement and performance excellence; health policy, law and regulation, and healthcare economics and financial management.

Some of the roles that past graduates of this program have eventually taken in the healthcare industry are:

  • Chief executive officer
  • Chief nursing officer
  • Director of patient safety
  • Director of risk management
  • Healthcare consultant
  • Healthcare insurance administrator
  • Practice manager
  • Healthcare marketing administrator

More Info

  • Campus: Online
  • Type: For Profit
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
  • Per Credit Hour: Inquire
  • GRE/GMAT Required: No
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On Campus Requirements: None
  • Request Info: T. Still University

Northcentral University

With such large changes in the healthcare system today, as well as growing numbers of people relying on it, a doctoral degree in healthcare administration will prepare Northcentral University students to be a leader in public or private sector healthcare organizations.

Your studies in this four year, online degree program will focus on healthcare research, strategic administration, comparative healthcare system analysis and total quality management.

This doctoral program is taught by an all doctoral faculty. All of them are experts in various aspects of healthcare administration. The instruction you receive is designed to deal with the many regulatory and political changes that are occurring in the modern healthcare industry.

NCU’s approach is one of one-on-one mentoring, and you will explore resolution, identification, analysis and intervention regarding complex healthcare administrative issues. Most graduates will secure a high level position in healthcare policy, healthcare education and financial management.

More Info

  • Campus: Online
  • Type: For Profit
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
  • Per Credit Hour: Inquire
  • GRE/GMAT Required: No
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On Campus Requirements: None
  • Request Info: Northcentral University

Colorado Technical University

Colorado offers a Doctor of Management in Healthcare Management and Leadership. It will help students who wish to pursue opportunities in administrative and academic positions in the healthcare industry. Students of this program commonly move on to work as an executive in a healthcare organization, healthcare consultant for large healthcare companies, or to teach at the college level.

Required courses in this four year online program are:

  • Management Theory
  • Management and Ethics
  • Leadership Theory and Development
  • Application of Action Research
  • Practice and Theory of Consulting and Intervention
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Quantitative Research Methods

Graduation from this program requires you to complete an approved dissertation, which will document your healthcare management research processes.

More Info

  • Campus: Online
  • Type: Non Profit
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
  • Per Credit Hour: $57,408 total
  • GRE/GMAT Required: No
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 48 months
  • Request Info: Colorado Technical University

Walden University

Students who want to explore social justice principles that affect healthcare decisions and practice, as well as theoretical foundations of public policy and governance may consider this Ph.D. in Healthcare Administration from Walden University.

This program will help you to prepare to manage and implement new healthcare programs and services. Learn how to apply new best practices in ethics, leadership and strategic planning. Also, learn the most effective and collaborative approaches to working with all types of communities and workforces.

Required courses include:

  • Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
  • Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis
  • Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
  • Mixed-Methods Reasoning and Analysis
  • Preparing for Dissertation
  • Healthcare Financial Management and Economics
  • Principles of Population health in Healthcare Administration

More Info

  • Campus: Online
  • Type: For Profit
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
  • Per Credit Hour: $525
  • GRE/GMAT Required: No
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On Campus Requirements: Yes – one, four day residency
  • Request Info: Walden University

Summary

Healthcare professionals who choose to obtain their Ph.D. in healthcare administration may anticipate a rewarding and productive career as a healthcare change leader, with a solid salary and excellent long term career prospects.

Additional Resources

References

Sady Brown
Written by Sady Brown
Sady Brown is Editorial Strategist for Nogre.com