Healthcare in America is a complex industry. Beyond the medical advances, there have been advances in the overall industry structure which requires expertise in administrative and operational support. One avenue to participating in the management and policy creation in healthcare, is to earn a PhD (or Doctorate of Health Administration DHA).
It can be daunting to consider earning a terminal degree such as a doctorate, but it’s easier than you may think, thanks to the availability of online doctoral programs. These programs allow you to continue to work while advancing your education. Additionally, many of these accredited, online programs can be completed in less time than you may imagine.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average salary at $100,980 annually. Compensation ranges from $58,820 to the highest at $189,000.
Our Method: Ranking the 15 Online Health Management and Policy PhD Degrees
To rank the 15 Online Health Management and Policy PhDs Degrees, Best Degrees editors researched accredited, trusted programs of all kinds. From our initial pool, we ranked programs according to price, accreditation, reputation, and salary potential, using data from IPEDS and Niche, U.S. News and World Report, and other higher education rating publications.
1. Rutgers University
The School of Public Health at New Jersey’s flagship university has a hybrid PhD in Public Health with a Health Systems & Policy concentration.
This degree requires a minimum of 72 credit hours and you’re expected to enroll full time. The program requires you take prerequisites (in addition to the 72 credits) epidemiology, biostatistics, and health systems and policy. Additionally, you’ll take credit hours in ethics and public health theories. Major coursework will include data analysis, private and public health insurance, epidemiology, research methods, research and evaluation design.
Admission is processed through SOPHAS and you’ll need to provide GRE scores, official academic transcripts, work experience, goals statement, letters of recommendation, etc. Tuition is $903-$1,353, per credit hour, depending on residency status.
Fast Fact: Niche names Rutgers as one of the Best Colleges for Public Health in America
2. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Here’s an online Doctor of Health Sciences (DHS) degree, designed for current health professionals, which can be taken part-time and can be completed in nine semesters.
The 54 credit hour curriculum offers a Health Systems Administration focus and provides concentration coursework in Health Policy and Reform, Financial and Human Resource Management, and Transformative Leadership. You’ll also study healthcare trends, population health, and quality improvement. There are doctoral core courses which will expose you to research methods, evidence appraisal, and dissemination of your findings in the form of capstone projects.
Online tuition for this program is calculated at $990 per credit hour. A master’s degree is necessary for admission as is evidence of health professional experience or credentials.
Fast Fact: MCPHS was founded in 1823 and considered one of the Most Transformative Colleges in the U.S. by Money Magazine (2018)
3. Johns Hopkins University
You can earn this hybrid DrPh in Health Policy and Management from the venerable Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The curriculum was developed with the Malcolm Baldridge Health Care Criteria for Performance and is perfect for those currently employed in a range of healthcare organizations. Courses include studies in Performance Measurement in Healthcare, Fundamentals of Budgeting and Financial Management, Strategic Planning, Patient Safety and Medical Errors, Quality of Medical Care, and more. Other courses include healthcare economics and finance, research methods, as well as outcomes research.
You can expect to pay an estimated $57,456 per traditional academic year in tuition. Johns Hopkins University uses the SOPHAS application service for admission.
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report considers this public health school #1 in the U.S.
4. University of Alabama Birmingham
You may want to explore the Executive Doctor of Science (DSc) in Healthcare Leadership at UAB, if you’re looking for a blended program to solidify your management skills.
This is a three year program and will require you to attend three eight-day campus visits during the first two years. The third year will involve international travel to study healthcare organization and delivery abroad. A dissertation is required. Among the courses you’ll take over the years include Strategic Management Theory and Research, Comparative Health Systems, Health Policy, Process and Issues, Healthcare Quality Improvement, Strategic Planning and Management in Health Care Organizations, and others.
Admission to this program requests a current cv/resume, personal essay, academic transcripts, as well as an organizational chart of your administrative role. You must have five years of mid-to-senior level healthcare administrative experience. Tuition costs for this program is $36,600 per year.
Fast Fact: UAB is rated one of Niche’s Top Public Universities in America
5. Texas Woman’s University
Don’t let the name fool you, Texas Woman’s University has been admitting men since 1972, and has an online/hybrid PhD in Health Studies degree (currently awaiting Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approval.)
The hybrid classes will require you to attend two weekend sessions and requires 96 credit hours (39 hours can be transferred from your master’s program). Studies for this PhD will include health care health leadership and advocacy, program development, epidemiology, health science foundation, statistics, research methods, and more. A qualifying exam and dissertation are also necessary to complete this degree.
General admission standards require a bachelor’s degree, have a minimum 3.0 GPA, standardized test scores, academic transcripts, and letters of reference. Tuition ranges from $281-$690 per credit hour, dependent on state of residence.
Fast Fact: TWU is ranked as a Top Public Universities in America and Best Value Colleges in America by Niche
6. George Washington University
The GW Milken Institute School of Public Health provides a PhD in Health Policy which will prepare you to assess and apply solutions to various influences on health care such as social, economic, political, etc.
Multidisciplinary in design, this PhD 48 credit hour program requires core coursework in areas such as economics and finance, payment and delivery models, public health leadership, and U.S. policies affecting healthcare. You’ll also study research methods, systems and policy research, as well as approved electives. Dissertation seminars in proposal development and dissertation research are included in the curriculum. An 8-hour Professional Enhancement experience in seminars, symposia, or lectures is also required; as is, a Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative. Of course, the program culminates with a dissertation.
A master’s degree (preferably in public policy, public health, etc) is required for admission consideration, along with GRE scores, prior economic and statistics coursework, etc. Tuition runs about $16,425 per term. You can also explore financial options offered through the school.
Fast Fact: This is one of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Public Health Graduate Schools
7. East Carolina University
Here’s a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) that is available online or on-campus and offers a Health Policy, Policy, and Administration (HPAL) concentration.
This terminal degree is practice and evidence-based, and has a focus on underserved, rural, and varied cultural communities. You’ll be trained to identify and create evidence-based community public health programs. Some of the academic studies involve health information systems, strategic planning, gerontology and public health, cost effectiveness and quality improvement.
You’ll need a MPH or equivalent degree, prerequisite courses, GRE scores (waiver is possible) as well as a minimum of 2 years public health experience. North Carolina residents are assessed $249 each credit hour and non-residents are charged $894 per hour.
Fast Fact: ECU is on Niche’s Best Colleges for Public Health in America list
8. Virginia Commonwealth University
You can complete this PhD in Health Services Organization and Research degree in two-three years, depending on your enrollment status.
This program concentrates on four areas of study in health services organization and research, health services research methods, organizational theory, and elective courses. Courses in support of those concentrations include Health Economics, Research in Health Care Financing and Delivery Systems, Foundations of Health Organization Theory, Organizational Behavior for Health Services Research, Applied Health Services Research, and more. Comprehensive exams and a dissertation complete the program including the requisite oral defense.
You’ll need to provide proof of a master’s degree, GRE scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and participate in a personal interview with the Admissions Committee. Some prerequisite studies are also required.
Fast Fact: VCU is considered a Top Public School by U.S. News and World Report
9. Samford University
Samford University describes the mission of this online Doctor of Public Health (DPH) to “prepare public health professionals to be catalysts for change.”
The Health Management and Policy concentration teaches the use of statistical methods, assessment of health problems, health policies evaluation, integration of program management, policies, organizations, financial, etc. to address public health. This curriculum includes studies in Visual Analytics & Predictive Modeling, Healthcare Policy & Law, Healthcare Management, Policy Analysis & Advocacy, and more.
You need a MPH, MHA, MSPH, or other relevant graduate degree for admission. Additionally, you’ll provide 3 letters of recommendation, a two page paper on a public health issue (using APA style guidelines), GRE scores, etc. Tuition for this 45-46 credit hour degree is estimated at $888 per credit hour.
Fast Fact: Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Samford University is considered one of Niche’s Top Private Universities in America
10. Grand Canyon University
GCU has a long history of online education and offers a Doctorate of Healthcare Administration.
Requiring 60 credit hours, this program will give you the evidence-based strategies necessary in today’s healthcare environment. You’ll take courses in strategic planning, health care organizations viability, regulations and ethics, developing a community culture in health care, research methodology and analysis, leadership, etc. You’ll develop your dissertation proposal and complete a dissertation.
Doctoral students pay $695 per credit hour (active and active reserve military receive a $618 tuition rate). A doctoral or masters degree, with a minimum GPA of 3.4 is required for admission. Those with a lower GPA may be admitted with specifications.
Fast Fact: Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949 as a Baptist educational institution
11. Colorado Technical University
This hybrid Doctorate in Healthcare Management and Leadership degree requires 100 total credit hours.
You’ll study management theory, ethics, organizational development, qualitative and quantitative research methods, strategic thinking, doctoral research principles, writing, literature review, health policy, healthcare informatics, etc. There’s also a Doctoral Symposium which will require you to attend a two-day, residential symposium in Denver. You’re given three years to complete the program.
There are multiple start dates throughout the year for this doctorate. Admission requires you to connect with an admission advisor as well as a doctoral interview, complete an application, and submit materials such as an official academic transcript, undergraduate degree, and more. Tuition is estimated at $59,800 for the program.
Fast Fact: CTU is a for-profit institution owned by Perdoceo Education Corporation
12. Liberty University
This Doctor of Business Administration degree from Liberty University is offered 100% online.
While a PhD will help prepare you to teach in academia, a DBA will be better suited if you want to work in the business of healthcare. This program will examine supply chain management, research methods, legal and ethical considerations, healthcare finances and economics, healthcare marketing, and others. You’ll also take classes in Healthcare Administration, Managing Human Capital in Healthcare, as well as Case Study Research Methods & Consulting Techniques, etc. Doctoral research projects are required.
The program’s tuition estimate is $39,970 for the 60 credit hours. Liberty University offers discounts for military personnel and First Responders. Additionally, scholarships are available to help with your costs. Academic transcripts of your undergraduate degree, statement of purpose, letters of references, and the like.
Fast Fact: Liberty University was founded in 1971 and offers over 700 programs to 100,000 students
13. Thomas Jefferson University
The PhD in Population Health Science at Thomas Jefferson University is designed to earn the skills to improve health and quality of care in communities. This is a hybrid program.
You’ll complete 62 credit hours (including dissertation and competency exam) and you can choose from five specialities, one of which is Health Policy. The curriculum is created for students with a MPH, healthcare professionals working in a variety of settings, as well as those working in other health areas such as pharmaceuticals. There are core courses in Population Health, Research Methods, along with Health Policy specific studies (Medicare & Medicaid, Health Law & Regulatory Issues, Comparative Health Systems, and more.)
Tuition is $1,310 per academic credit. Admission to this program is fairly straightforward.
Fast Fact: Thomas Jefferson University was established in 1824
14. Walden University
You can receive a PhD in Health Services, with a Public Health Policy specialization, from Walden University within 106-108 quarter hours.
The curriculum includes coursework in quantitative and qualitative reasoning, research theory and design, financial management and economics, population health principles, analysis of public policy, health policy and politics, program implementation and analysis, and a dissertation. The degree requires 4 residencies (equaling a minimum of 16 days.) Two of the residencies may be virtual. You’ll study the implication of public financing on policy decisions, macroeconomics and microeconomics, and learn to analyze the influence of social programs.
You can expect to pay approximately $590 per credit hour in tuition costs with additional fees for the residencies, dissertation, etc.
Fast Fact: Niche ranks Walden University as one of its Best Value Colleges in America
15. Northcentral University
Northcentral University also offer a Doctor of Business Administration designed for those in senior leadership in health services.
This program takes approximately 39 months to complete and has a concentration in Health Sciences. As part of this degree, you’ll study ethics, health law and policy, healthcare economics and finance, healthcare quality management, statistics, quantitative and qualitative research design, literature review, and dissertation proposal, components, Institutional Review Board (IRB) along with data collection. You’ll develop a dissertation proposal for approval, and of course, write and defend your manuscript.
The Admission process takes approximately 30 days for completion. Northcentral University estimates the program costs $56,066 total. Be sure to talk with your admission advisor about possible financial assistant that may be available.
Fast Fact: NCU was founded in 1996 and is a private, online school with an emphasis on graduate education
1. Why Should I Get My PhD in Health Management Online?
Earning a doctorate can seem impossible, requiring multiple years of study, research, and writing. True, it takes approximately eight years to obtain a doctorate, between coursework, research, and writing a dissertation. However, online doctoral programs has condensed that time, depending on your ability to devote to studies. A PhD degree in Health Management can be earned in three to four years. Typically, coursework requires around two years with an additional one to two years involving research and a dissertation. That time may be extended if your program requires an internship or immersion study.
Having 24-hour access to classes, research material, literature reviews, etc. offered online, can help you reduce the time required for you to complete your degree requirements of a comprehensive exam, dissertation proposal, research, and writing.
You’re also able to communicate with your professors easier than ever before. Faculty are readily available via instant messages, video conferencing, and email, etc.
Online doctoral programs allow you to schedule your time around work and family. Geography is also no issue with online programs being able to cross state lines. Distance education students frequently pay the same tuition and costs as in-state students.
2. Is a PhD in Health Management and Policy Good for My Career?
Healthcare is one field where the more education you have, the better it is for your career. Advanced degrees provide you the skills to apply theories (i.e., organizational development, strategic plans, etc.) to real-world situations.
Having a PhD does a couple of beneficial things. One, it demonstrates you’re commitment to your health profession and that you’ve developed the leadership skills necessary to head a health system, hospital, physician group, etc.
Secondly, the contacts you gain while in a PhD program, and ability to conduct research, will be invaluable in an administrative role. It also provides you a collaborative environment as you develop policies and approaches to healthcare issues.
Third, the more education you have, the higher you can climb in your organization which frequently equates to a higher salary.