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Find Your DHA Program & Earn Your Doctorate Online

Start your search for the online doctor of healthcare administration degree that’s right for you. Learn how you can pay for and successfully complete your online degree program.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Written by

PhDs.me Staff

Last updated

Apr 24, 2023

While job markets can be volatile, healthcare administration is a field that continues to see steady growth. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook projects a 32% increase in employment of medical and health services managers in the U.S. between 2019 and 2029 – a growth rate eight times higher than the average for all occupations. This surge in demand for healthcare services is due in part to the aging baby boomer population, which continues to prioritize active, healthy living.

The healthcare industry’s need for skilled administrators has driven the growing demand for healthcare administration degree programs, including Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA) programs. If you’re considering pursuing a DHA degree to advance your healthcare administration career, there are several factors to consider including:

Is earning a DHA degree necessary? Can I earn my DHA online? Will my online DHA program provide me with the high-quality education I need to succeed in my profession?

Answering these and other important questions is what this guide is all about. Below you’ll find information on the best online DHA degree programs currently offered. You’ll also find helpful advice on what to look for in an online DHA program, how to pay for your degree, and much more.

Best Online DHA Programs for 2023

When choosing a DHA program that’s right for you, it’s important to consider a range of factors, including your personal goals, learning style, and preferences regarding course format and study schedule (part-time or full-time). Additionally, there are several universal requirements that any DHA program should meet, including convenience, affordability, program comprehensiveness, and proper accreditation. By taking these factors into account, you can make an informed decision and find a DHA program that meets your needs and sets you up for success in your healthcare administration career.

or
1
Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI
Type: Public
Cost: $$$

Central Michigan University’s Doctor of Health Administration is the perfect fit for students who are passionate about health care leadership and are excited at the opportunity to collaborate to solve the real-world health care challenges facing clinicians and administrators alike. This DHA program is in a cohort format, so students work and research alongside a tight-knit group of senior-level managers who represent a variety of healthcare leadership experiences, disciplines, and institutions. As collaboration and management process skills are as important as content-based learning, this program is particularly well-equipped to advance skills in each domain to help propel students towards the apex of their careers as  health care administrators. DHA students should be motivated by the prospect of reporting new findings in the healthcare field, which they will demonstrate through a comprehensive exam and applied research dissertation to earn their degree.

Doctor of Health Administration

  • Credits: 63
  • Cost: $828 per credit hour ($1010 for international students)
  • Length: 3 or 5 years
  • Mode: Online with six in-person intensive three-day seminars
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
AccreditationHLC

Inside Look at Top Online DHA Programs

Central-Michigan-University

Central Michigan University, Doctor of Health Administration

The doctor of health administration degree offered by CMU’s Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions is designed to provide current health administration professionals with the theoretical knowledge, applied skills, and practical competence necessary to succeed as leaders in the HA field. The 63-credit hour program consists of 51 credit-hours of didactic coursework (15 online courses, six regionally-based 2 ½ day in-person seminars, and comprehensive essay exam) and 12 credit-hour dissertation on a specific area of health administration of the student’s choice. The program is offered in three-year and five-year courses of study presented in cohorts in which students proceed through a set sequence of courses with the same group of students from beginning to end. Cohorts begin once a year in August.

Admission is competitive and requires applicants to hold a master’s degree in healthcare administration or related major, or a medical-related professional degree (MD, DDS, DDO). The current tuition rate is $850 per credit-hour.      

Medical-University

Medical University of South Carolina, Doctor of Health Administration

The Medical University of South Carolina’s 54-credit doctor of health administration degree program is presented in a blended format combining online asynchronous didactic coursework with one weekend face-to-face session each semester on MUSC’s Charleston campus. Year two includes a week-long intensive policy trip to Washington, D.C. Health administrator and health professional tracks are available for students coming into the program from different professional backgrounds. These tracks determine the student’s first semester coursework. Following the first semester, the curriculum aligns for all cohort members.

Admission into the health administrator track requires a previously earned master’s or professional degree in healthcare administration or a closely related major and significant experience in a management or policy position in healthcare. Health professional track applicants must possess a professional or master’s degree in a clinical healthcare or related major and significant experience in clinical care or another healthcare workforce-related field. Tuition costs are currently $10,290 per semester for both in-state and out-of-state residents.

University-of-Mississippi

University of Mississippi, Doctor of Health Administration

The UMC School of Health Related Profession’s doctor of health administration degree prepares health professionals for leadership and upper-level managerial positions in administration, education, and clinical areas of the healthcare field. The cohort-formatted program’s three-year (nine-semester) curriculum features primarily online didactic coursework along with a few mandatory face-to-face sessions on UMC’s Jackson campus. Applicants to the program must possess either a master’ or professional doctorate degree in a healthcare-related major, or master’s degree in another major along with at least five years of experience in healthcare policy, healthcare management, a clinical medical specialty, or closely-related field. Additional application requirements include GRE test scores, current resume or CV, and an essay describing previous professional experience in healthcare. Admissions are limited to 10 to 15 students annually. The current estimated total program tuition cost for both in-state and out-of-state residents is $40,344.

Benefits of the Online Doctorate in Healthcare Administration

Convenience and affordability are the big buzz words when talking about distance learning, but what exactly are we talking about? There’s certainly the time and costs saved in not having to travel to and from a physical campus every day to attend classes, but there’s much more to it than that. Here are two specific benefits you’ll enjoy by earning your healthcare administration doctorate online:

Coursework you can fit into your busy schedule:

One of the key benefits of online DHA degree programs is that they typically feature asynchronous coursework, meaning that you can access course materials such as lectures, assignments, quizzes, and readings at any time that is convenient for you. Unlike traditional in-person classes, you won’t be required to log in at specific dates and times to participate in class activities. This level of flexibility is especially advantageous for students who have busy work and family commitments and need to balance their studies with other responsibilities.

Flexible degree completion times:

Online DHA degree programs often offer flexible study options to accommodate the diverse needs of students. DHA programs, like other doctoral degrees, are typically divided into two phases: pre-candidacy and candidacy. The time allowed for completing the candidacy phase can vary significantly between schools. In some cases, students are given up to five years or more to complete all degree requirements. This combination of flexible study options and generous completion times provides students with ample time and resources to fulfill all program requirements at their own pace, while balancing other responsibilities in their personal and professional lives.

Types of Online Doctorates in Healthcare Administration

The trick to finding the online program with features that best meet your preferences and requirements is to consider your learning style and life requirements. There are two basic types of online DHA program formats to choose from.

Fully online

A few online DHA programs are presented fully online, meaning that students complete all of their degree requirements in the virtual environment. Fully online programs also provide online access to crucial support services such as reference materials and academic and career counseling. While some DHA programs bill themselves as “fully online” they may not be. When a program is described as fully online or 100% online, it may just mean that the program’s coursework is offered entirely online. These programs typically also include some in-person components such as on-campus orientations or residencies and face-to-face dissertation defenses.

Partially online

Partially online healthcare administration doctorate programs are more common, with courses that are presented in either entirely online or hybrid (combining online and in-person components) formats. Partially online DHA programs also typically include in-person orientation meetings, residencies, and dissertation presentations and defenses.

Timeline: Online Healthcare Administration Doctorate

Completion times for healthcare administration doctorate programs can vary substantially, which is by design. Colleges and universities realize that the vast majority of their DHA students are working professionals who will continue their full-time employment throughout the period of their degree studies. Study flexibility is a major concern. Most online DHA programs are designed to be completed in as few as three years, but some offer alternate program sequences, typically five years in length. How long it will take you to earn your DHA degree depends on a whole slew of factors, including your previous degree’s major subject, the number of previously-earned credits allowed to be transferred in, and the research and writing time needed to complete your dissertation.

The following timeline details the year-by-year progression that most students will follow in completing their online DHA degree courses of study.

Year
1

Whether you’ve chosen a three-year or five-year course of study, the first year of your DHA program curriculum will be devoted entirely to core coursework in subjects like healthcare leadership, health policy and regulation, research methods, financial management, current topics in healthcare, and similar topics. Some programs will include an elective or two as well.

The only real difference between three-year and five-year curriculums in year one is academic course load, with the course loads for five-year students essentially half that of their three-year counterparts. While most, if not all, coursework will be completed online, some programs may include on-campus orientations to meet program faculty and fellow members of your cohort or in-person seminars.

Year
2

Year two of your DHS studies will be very similar to year one, with a continuation of pre-candidacy core and elective coursework building on the foundational knowledge and skills gained in year one. Students in three-year courses of study will encounter advanced courses in applied research, health systems, health care informatics, communications, change management, and negotiation. Three-year students will finish the academic term by taking and passing comprehensive exams that mark the transition from pre-candidacy to the candidacy phase.

Five-year students will continue with courses similar to those that three-year students complete in the second half of their first year. Courses of study are filled out with additional specialization-focused courses and electives.   

Year
3

For DHA students in three-year courses of study, year three is entirely taken up with the dissertation or doctoral project process. Following admission to candidacy, students will meet with their advisor or dissertation committee for discussion and approval of their dissertation/doctoral project subject. This is followed by the hard work of the researching and writing of the dissertation/project. The year culminates with the dissertation/project presentation and defense and graduation.

Five-year students will continue on into the third year of their coursework.

Year 4 and beyond

Those in five-year courses of study will spend year four completing their final courses and passing their comprehensive exams allowing them to move on to their year-five candidacy phase. Year five is identical to three-year students’ third year. As discussed above, some degree candidates may be able to continue past year five to complete their dissertation or doctoral project.

DHA Learning Outcomes

To ensure that students have gained the necessary knowledge, skills, competencies, and attitudes to succeed in their healthcare administration careers, DHA programs typically include student learning outcome statements. These statements describe the specific outcomes that every student should achieve upon completing the program, and are often required by accrediting agencies during the accreditation process. When considering different DHA programs, you can typically find the program’s learning outcomes listed on their website. Here are five examples of learning outcomes that you may encounter in a healthcare administration doctoral program:

1

Research
Demonstrate effective research and related skills, including identifying and evaluating areas in need of research; formulating research problems; designing and conducting research studies; analyzing data; identifying prior research on the current subject and integrating it into the present analysis; and summarizing, presenting, discussing, and defending research results and conclusions.

2

Leadership
Demonstrate an understanding of the structure and culture of the health care organization, and how that understanding both impacts and influences leadership. Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively as both a health care professional and scholar. Demonstrate the ability to develop a strategic vision, identify priorities, and develop directional strategies to meet organizational goals.

3

General and specific knowledge, competencies, and problem-solving skills
Show advanced knowledge and competencies in the general field of healthcare administration, as well as at least one specialized area within the larger field. Demonstrate the ability to apply problem-solving skills at all levels (department, organization, community, regional, national) of healthcare administration practice.

4

Business
A proven understanding of general economic principles and realities and the roles that financial planning and decision-making play in effective organizational management. Specific areas include economic and organizational structure analysis, quality assessment, risk management, accounting principles, mergers and acquisitions, and an understanding of the roles stockholders play in formulating healthcare administration strategies.

5

Ethics and professionalism
Demonstrate the application of ethical and legal principles to healthcare administration practices and communication. Ability to model healthcare professionalism and ethical leadership through social accountability, community stewardship, and other sound professional practices and behaviors. Promote positive social change within the healthcare organization, its surrounding communities, and the healthcare administration profession itself.

Specialization in Healthcare Administration: Tailoring Your Degree Program to Best Suit Your Needs

Specializations in healthcare administration doctoral programs allow students to focus their studies on a specific area of interest within the healthcare administration field. By pursuing a specialization or concentration, students can gain a deeper understanding of a particular topic and potentially gain a competitive advantage in the job market. While most online DHA programs do not offer specializations, there are a few exceptions. However, even if the program you choose does not offer specializations, you can still customize your studies to a specific area of healthcare administration by choosing relevant elective courses. This can allow you to gain expertise in a particular field or career path, and help you stand out to potential employers.

Health Care Leadership

This specialization is for students seeking to develop advanced research and leadership competencies in healthcare administration through the study of a broad range of topics, such as contemporary leadership roles and strategic vision and planning.

Health Care Quality and Analytics

Students in this specialization are interested in improving health care quality through the collection and analysis of data in the areas of claims and cost, clinical research, pharmaceutical research and development, and patient behavior.

Health Care Policy and Advocacy

For students interested in the big picture of healthcare administration. Students in this specialization focus on a global perspective in advancing health policy and advocacy, as well as promoting community-level health outcomes.

General Health Administration

This specialization is for DHA students interested in promoting improved quality in healthcare delivery systems through top administration positions at large, complex facilities and organizations.

Accreditation & Online Doctorates in Healthcare Administration

The most important rule to follow in your online degree search is to consider properly accredited doctorate in healthcare administration programs only. Accreditation in regard to postsecondary education is the process of recognizing and validating the quality of academic activities by colleges and universities. There are two fundamental types of accreditation associated with U.S. colleges and universities: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation has to do with validating of the entire college or university as an institution, indicating that any and all departments and programs within it contribute to meeting all of its academic objectives. Institutional accreditation of U.S. colleges and universities is administered by several Department of Education-recognized national and regional accrediting agencies.

Programmatic accreditation concerns the validation of degree programs themselves. Although healthcare administration master’s programs offered by U.S. schools are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management (CAHME), there are currently no agencies providing programmatic accreditation to DHA or other doctoral-level healthcare administration related degrees in the U.S.

Applying to a Healthcare Administration Doctorate Online Program

You can’t start working on your online doctorate in healthcare administration until first being admitted to a degree program. Each school has its own set of requirements for admission, but you’ll find that a lot of similarities in admissions requirements for DHA programs. Below are three important requirements for admission identical or similar to those for most online DHA programs:     

Master’s or professional degree

To be considered for admission to a healthcare administration doctoral program, most programs require applicants to hold a master’s degree in healthcare administration or a closely-related field, such as business administration, public health, nursing management, or a professional degree (e.g. M.D., DDS, O.D.). Some programs may consider applicants with a master’s degree in another field on a case-by-case basis. Admissions committees also typically take into account the applicant’s GPA for previous graduate-level coursework, and in some cases, may require GRE or GMAT test scores as well.

Previous professional experience

Applicants to many DHA programs must demonstrate professional competence through previous mid- to senior-level experience in healthcare administration or a closely-related field such as health management, nursing management, clinical leadership, and/or health or public health policy. This is especially true for applicants whose previously-earned graduate degree is in a non-HA or related major. The requirement of a minimum of three to five years of professional experience is not uncommon.

Letters of recommendation, personal statement and resume or CV

In addition to the requirements described above, most online healthcare administration doctorate programs require applicants to submit one or more of the following:

  • A copy of their current resume or CV.
  • Letters of recommendation from professors or professional supervisors or colleagues who can speak to the applicant’s potential to do doctoral-level work.
  • A personal written statement attesting to the applicant’s previous experience in healthcare and professional goals.

Tuition & Fees

Financing your education is a significant consideration when choosing a DHA degree program, and the cost of a particular program will likely be a key factor in your decision-making process. As you search for programs, it’s important to note that total costs can vary widely based on a range of factors, such as program length, total required credits (including any transfer credits), and whether the program is offered by a public or private institution.

To give you an idea of the costs you’ll take on earning your healthcare administration doctorate, we’ve put together the following table listing the current tuition prices for four online DHA programs. Bear in mind that your total price tag will be higher and include such things as additional fees and charges, books and supplies, computers and internet access fees, etc. Remember, though, that by pursuing your degree online you’ll save money on campus-specific items like transportation and parking costs.

SchoolCost per CreditTotal CreditsSubtotal
Central Michigan University$85063$53,550
Franklin University$74858$43,384
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences$99054$53,460
Northcentral University$92160$55,260

NOTE:
There’s one other very important thing to keep in mind regarding costs. Many colleges and universities offer their DHA students access to in-house financial assistance opportunities that reduce program costs. These may include program-specific scholarships and grants, enrollment discounts, tuition discounts for veterans, cost reductions for full-time students, and others. To find out if cost-reducing opportunities are available for your DHA program, contact your school’s financial aid office. For more on other scholarships opportunities and how to apply for them, check out our scholarship and grant guide.

Salaries for Healthcare Administration Doctorates

According to current figures provided by Payscale.com, the estimated national average salary for professionals with a doctorate in healthcare administration is $92,500. By comparison, PayScale’s current estimated national average salary for master of health administration (MHA) degree holders is approximately $77,000.

What any individual actually earns will depend on a number of variables, such as specific job title, geographic location, and level of work experience. The following table offers recent salary figures from PayScale for three job titles often occupied by health care administration doctorate holders. The figures do not include additional payment sources like profit sharing programs and bonuses.

Job TitleMedian Earnings90th Percentile Earnings
Practice Administrator$74,000$111,000
Government Program Manager$91,000$144,000
Consulting Director$150,000$201,000