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Online Doctorate in Health Administration

Do you want to make a difference and have a positive impact on the world? Do you have what it takes to successfully navigate the highs, lows, and changes in the rapidly changing field of medicine? If so, then health administration may be a great career choice.

Health administrators manage healthcare systems, such as hospitals, hospital networks, agencies, or other organizations involved with health care. Managing healthcare’s many challenges takes a strong, visionary leader who can develop long-term strategies and make difficult decisions that impact daily operations.

As a health administrator, you’re in a position to improve the health care experience for providers and patients and to have a positive impact on your community. A doctorate in health administration prepares you for career opportunities at the highest levels of this vital career.

As you pursue your degree, you’ll gain leadership skills, learn health care operations, and develop skills to engage with the public successfully.

On this page you’ll find: types of health administration doctoral degrees, the differences between online and campus doctorate programs, and tips on how to choose the online doctorate program that’s right for you.

Types of Health Administration Doctorate Degrees

The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), a professional society for healthcare leaders, explains there are different types of degrees available for those interested in a career as a health administrator. Each degree has a different focus and requirements. The number of credit hours needed varies depending on the degree you seek and the program you choose.

Requirements can range from as few as 42 credit hours to more than 60. Most require completion of a set of core classes and a dissertation. Knowing the primary differences between these degrees will help you select the right program.

Let’s look at some of the options:

Doctor of Philosophy

A Ph.D. in Health Administration is the best choice for those who want to conduct research and teach. It focuses on theory and research methodology, with a concentration in either public health, policy development, or informatics.

Doctor of Business Administration

A Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) in Health Management provides advanced training in professional management, emphasizing the study of the management of healthcare systems, including legal and ethical issues.

Doctor of Health Administration

Doctor of Health Administration programs blend theory and practical elements of healthcare with advanced education in business management. Students gain the knowledge and skills needed to improve and influence healthcare administration systems.

Doctor of Public Health

A Doctor of Public Health program emphasizes leadership roles in health departments, non-profit organizations, and national and international agencies. It focuses on population assessment, evidence-based health outcomes, leadership skills, organizational behavior in public systems, and current topics affecting public health. Candidates gain expertise in developing, implementing, and evaluating evidence-informed public health decisions.

Doctor of Science

Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) is an academic research degree awarded in countries throughout the world. It’s the equivalent of a Ph.D. with a focus on advanced study and high-quality, original research.

What’s the Difference between Online and Campus Health Administration Doctorate Degrees?

Both online and on-campus doctorate degrees provide advanced training and specialized knowledge. The amount of time required to complete the degree may vary, but that’s typically more about personal pace than it is differences in program requirements.

The process for completing a doctorate is similar for both methods of study, including completion of a set of core classes and a dissertation. Students begin with coursework, identify a problem to research, and get their research methodology approved.

The most significant differences between online and in-class programs are in the mode of communication, the student’s location while completing classes, and the flexibility of the schedule. Traditional campus programs require a student to be in class at specific times, while online students can usually complete the required work at their own pace.

Traditional campus programs provide for one-on-one in-person interactions with instructors and other students. Online program interactions aren’t in person, but there are many opportunities to interface with faculty and peers. Note that some online doctoral programs may include in-person residency requirements; the amount of time varies depending on the program.

Benefits of an Online Doctorate in Health Administration

Online programs may not be right for everyone, but they no longer hold the stigma they did in past years. Most higher learning institutions now have online offerings, and hybrid programs now provide both online and on-campus experiences.

While both online and campus health administration doctorate programs conclude with a degree, the learning environment of the two are very different. Many people find the advantages of earning a doctorate online to be a deciding factor. This consideration is particularly true for students who wish to keep working and remain in the same location while pursuing their degree.

Let’s look at some of the benefits:

  • Scheduling: Every program is different, but online programs often provide greater flexibility. You can build your schedule around the demands and obligations of your life, including a job. You also won’t have to fight traffic or leave work early to make it to class.
  • Interactions and Communication: At this point in your college career, chances are you’re comfortable writing and communicating through email and chat. As an online student, much of your communication is written. Many students consider it far more convenient to ask questions via email or chat rather than trying to catch an instructor during posted office hours.
  • Pace: The ability to review lectures and work on assignments on your schedule is one of the most appealing factors for students looking to pursuing a doctorate online. Students can also spend as much, or as little, time in each section as necessary. This option may allow online students to complete their degree in less time.
  • Cost: Online programs are typically less expensive than traditional campus. Even when tuition is the same, online students don’t incur travel and parking costs. They may also save money on other expenses, such as eating at restaurants during the dash from one class to the next.
  • Professional Advancement: Holding a doctorate in health administration helps you advance your career to the highest level possible.

Online programs may not be right for everyone, but many students can earn a degree that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

How to Pick an Online Doctorate in Health Administration

Once you’ve decided to pursue a doctorate degree in health administration and determined that online classes are right for you, it’s time to choose a program. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Accreditation: Only consider schools with accredited programs. Accreditation means the program meets an established set of standards, and your credits will be accepted by a traditional campus should you decide to go that route. Plus, your credentials will be accepted by employers who require graduation from an accredited program.
  • Reputation: The quality of the professors on staff influences a program’s reputation significantly, so do your due diligence and research the faculty. If you are interested in a particular specialty or topic, look for faculty with expertise in this area.
  • Program Length and Schedule: How many credit hours does the program require? How often are classes offered? The availability of classes can impact the amount of time it takes for you to complete.
  • Instructor/Student Ratio: This number can provide insight into how personalized instruction might be and how difficult it might be to communicate with your professor. A lower ratio may also make it easier for instructors to remember you, which can be important when you need a reference.
  • Graduation Rate: What is the graduation rate for students pursuing your desired degree? How many students enter the program, and how many receive their degree? A low graduation rate could be a red flag to problems at the school or within the program.
  • Job Placement: The program’s job placement rate is an indication of support for graduates. It may also indicate that the program well prepares students for a career in the field.