PhD in Healthcare Administration

What is a PhD in Healthcare Administration?

A PhDs in Healthcare Administration aims to prepare students to lead, conduct scholarly research, and teach within their chosen areas of expertise.i They often are found in the form of a Doctor of Business Administration - Health Care Administration, or a Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration - Health Care Administration.

Programs blend theory with research methodology, providing students with the chance to contribute new knowledge to an area of interest. This could include subjects such as policy development, public health, high-level management, or informatics.

Because of the range of sub-topics, Doctorate Healthcare Administration programs may be found in a university's school of medicine, public health, allied health or business administration.

  PhD in Healthcare Administration Management

Alternative Doctorate Healthcare Administration Degrees

Students who seek an alternative to a PhD in Health Administration might explore other types of doctorate programs. These degrees are more closely associated with leadership and service.

  • Doctor of Health Administration (DHA)
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Healthcare Management
  • Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) in Health Sciences

What Is the Difference Between a DHA & PhD in Healthcare Administration?

At its core, the PhD in Healthcare Management is an academic degree. The expectation is that candidates will conduct a fair bit of theoretical research, then write and defend a dissertation. Their original thought, based on their data and conclusions, may be published and reviewed by peers.

While research areas must be approved, they might pertain to a specific area of healthcare management. Public health, health policy, medical care processes, patient care and human resource management are a few examples.


Many policy analysts have a degree related to a specific area of expertise, such as when a healthcare analyst has a medical degree.ii

PhD Healthcare Administration Program Requirements

Not all Health Administration PhD programs require a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration degree for admission. Some may have masters content rolled into the Ph.D. and may be open to students who hold a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college.

In those cases, a good GRE or GMAT score may be required. A solid background in health administration of some type (or a related field such as public health) may also be necessary, especially for executive PhD programs.

Other materials, such as letters of recommendation and personal interviews with the university's admission staff might be required. Programs vary.

How Do I Earn a PhD in Healthcare Administration ?

PhD in Healthcare Administration programs may require doctoral students to complete about 60 credit hours (20 courses). While time to completion varies by university, a full-time student might take between two and four years to finish their program.

Usually in this time, advanced courses are taken first, followed by a comprehensive examination. Students also start to research and prepare for their dissertation, although this may be early on or in the second part of their program.

Popular Healthcare Administration Graduate Programs

ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
Public HealthBoston UniversityDPH
Health Services PhD ProgramUniversity of WashingtonPhD
Management and Policy SciencesUniversity of Texas Health Science Center At HoustonPhD
Graduate Programs in Health Science AdministrationUniversity of Tennessee - MemphisPhD
Health Services Organization and Research, PhDVirginia Commonwealth UniversityPhD
Doctor of Health AdministrationCentral Michigan UniversityDHA
Health Administration and PolicyUniversity of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterPhD
Health ServicesOld Dominion UniversityPhD
Health ResearchLancaster UniversityPhD
Doctor of Public HealthJohns Hopkins UniversityDPH
Doctor of Business Administration - Health ServicesNational UniversityDBA
Ed.D in Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration (Qualitative Research)Grand Canyon UniversityPhD
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What Is a DHA Degree?

A PhD in Health Administration, or DHA degree, is a practice degree in the field of health care management. In contrast to the PhD in Healthcare Administration, the DHA degree focuses on the application of the available evidence to executive decisions in the field of health care.

DHA programs often cover advanced business strategies needed to manage healthcare delivery demands. For this reason, they may be called ‘applied research’ or professional doctorate degrees.

Whereas a PhD graduate may pursue academia and hope to publish their research, Doctor of Health Administration graduates may pursue administrative leadership careers.

DHA Degree Requirements

Students who apply into a DHA degree program may have earned a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree, or hold a masters degree in a discipline other than healthcare administration.

DHA Degree - Course of Study

MHA graduates may be required to complete about 76 credits. These are usually allocated to core topics, research methods, an area of emphasis, and capstone project. While course names vary, some general topics may draw from the list below.

  • Data-Driven Decisions
  • Global Health Issues in Disease Prevention
  • Governance, Law and Policy for Healthcare Leaders
  • Strategic Financial Management
  • Program Evaluation in Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Health Data Analytics

DHA vs DBA in Healthcare Management

The Doctor of Business Administration - DBA in Healthcare Management is a professional doctorate degree in business administration. As a contrast to the DHA, the DBA degree is formed around core business courses, similar to the MBA.

Candidates who choose the Healthcare Management major may develop practical skills to prepare for the business side of healthcare. For example, DBA students may take courses in risk analysis, quality improvement, budget control, health care law, and human resources. 

Doctor of Management: Healthcare Management and Leadership

Like the DBA, the Doctor of Management is a postgraduate degree where students can choose the Healthcare Management major. Often designed for those who wish to pursue administrative leadership positions, the DM provides in-depth courses in management theory. There is also usually a fair amount of qualitative research, and courses may dive into economics, finance, and economics.

Like the PhD in Healthcare Administration, a dissertation is required. However, the focus may be on the scholar-practitioner model and the application of research to current issues like health policy.

What Is a DrPH Degree?

A Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)degree is a postgraduate degree designed for the student who already has an MPH or equivalent degree and who intends to pursue a leadership position as a public health professional.

Areas that may be highlighted in DrPH programs include Biostatistics, Leadership, Environmental Health, and Health Promotion/Disease Prevention.

Doctor of Education (EdD) Executive Leadership

The Doctor of Education (EdD) in Executive Leadership is a degree that is built around core education courses. While these may help students fine tune their instructional skills or build curricula, elective courses highlight operational leadership in healthcare.

Often designed for practitioners, educators, and managers, graduate may either want to pursue or boost their careers in healthcare education, administration, or leadership. As a result, courses may revolve around strategy, how to develop and manage an effective team, or balance the economics of a decision with how it is timed.

Salary and Career Outlook Statistics

Whether you prefer research or practice, the demand for medical and health services managers is on the rise; the BLS forecasts a 17 percent jump in employment from 2014 to 2024.iii

While salaries vary, those who were employed in general medical and surgical hospitals earned a median annual salary of $117,630 (May 2015).iv Whereas the projected employment growth for Chief Executives is 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, the median annual salary was higher, at $175,110(May 2015).v

Potential Career Paths After Earning A PhD in Healthcare Administration 

Graduates of PhD Healthcare Administration programs might pursue careers such as the ones listed below.

  • Researcher-Professor i
  • Health Policy Analyst ii
  • Chief Nursing Officer vi
  • Executive Director v
  • Clinical Director vii

Entry level education requirements vary. Those with a bachelors or masters degree may qualify. However a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration program may provide a strong foundational base of knowledge and could help set your resume apart.

Top States for Employment: Medical and Health Services Managers
StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
New York20,140$121,420

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Medical and Health Services Managers
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$146,1902,110
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA$145,440520
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$125,5005,150
Salinas, CA$124,660260
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA$124,1302,300

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Accredited PhD in Healthcare Administration Programs

It is possible to earn a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration at a regionally accredited university.

In addition, some universities may be members of the ACHE. The American College of Healthcare Executives is an international professional society of 40,000 healthcare executives who lead hospitals, healthcare systems, and other healthcare organizations.viii

[i] |[ii] |[iii] |[iv] |[v] |[vi] |[vii] |[viii]

Top 43 Graduate Schools with PhD in Healthcare Administration Programs

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